In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in locations around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their child’s development, their child learns to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of preschool knitting circles.
Noreen Williams-Raines (known as Dr. Nitro to her young clients) founded Big Thinkers Science Exploration to ignite kids' curiosity and teach them the importance of the word "why." She and her team of lab-coated entertainers—all trained in science and classroom management—turn elementary-age kids into engines of inquiry with slime-making, smoke rings, and other quirky demonstrations and hands-on experiments. Big Thinkers Science Exploration takes their programs on the road with after-school science clubs and birthday parties that entertain while imparting the analytical skills necessary for tykes to survive in the robot apocalypse. The staff also offers summer camps that continue education throughout the balmy months with topics such as Gadgets and Gizmos, Chem Lab Extreme, and Rockets & Sprockets.
A pediatric physical therapist, Marc Castelo has witnessed impact of play and therapeutic touch during his work with infants and in early child development. Recognizing that babies could benefit from massage just as much—if not more so—than adults, he created Play 2 Grow. At his child-care center, techniques such as loving touch and innovative play are a vehicle for improved growth and caregiver-child bonding. In that vein, he and program director Jenny Smith-Davids interweaves play, games, and socialization, all with an eye toward improving infants’ developmental capabilities and future cribbage skills. Parents are also welcome to take part in the learning process through “scaffolding,” during which they are active participants in family play activities.
The stylists at Eco Beauty Salon Spa cultivate natural beauty by using natural products—those made by Aveda, to be precise. Each of the company's haircare, skincare, and cosmetic formulas are made with plant- and flower-derived ingredients, and at least 89% of those ingredients hail from organic sources. These natural products elevate every one of the salon's treatments, from the essential-oil scalp massages that begin each cut and style to the slate of facials that rebalance complexions using customized masks and essential oils. Meanwhile, a happy hour menu available from 11–2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday includes brow, lip, and face waxing packages, hair cuts and colors, and makeup touch ups.
You love your dog, but since you can’t always take them with you, it’s important to have a place you can trust to care for them just as you would. Wagging Tails Doggie Daycare is such a place; the facility gets consistently good consumer reviews, and is a cage-free environment where canine companions won’t feel cooped up and unhappy. Best of all, there are web cams for checking in with your pooch, so you can make sure they’re happy while you’re away. Your dog will enjoy the big open space and cheery blue walls, and you’ll be impressed as the staff learns your dog’s name immediately. The dedicated team is also responsive to any individual pet needs, and each pet receives personal attention during his stay.
Informed by an ever-growing body of developmental research, classes at The Music Class introduce tots to tunes and concepts that boost creativity and listening skills. In Music Pups (a $72 value) courses, children under 4 years of age gleefully sing, dance, and bang away on rudimentary instruments such as the drums or theremin. Four and 5-year-olds learn concepts of tone and rhythm in the Music Cats course (a $77 value), which lets kids experiment with keyboards before defending their dissertations on the narrative redundancies of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." Each 45-minute course meets four times in one month-long segment, and includes CDs for parents to play at home to follow up on in-class tutelage. This Groupon may also be used toward The Music Class' ten-week music courses.