Kidtown USA came from the minds of educators and recreation specialists who created a program licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Each location’s activity stations cater not only to entertaining kids, but also helping them develop skills for creative self-expression and social engagement. Kids explore the indoor play area, which consists of climbing structures—including a pirate ship and a train—before watching puppets act out classic kids’ tales such as Uncle Vanya Goes to the Zoo at Storytime Theater. Make Believe City’s open air and small, miniature rooms emulate imaginative settings such as a firehouse, veterinarian's office, or construction zone. Elsewhere at The Diner, red-and-chrome furniture and a classic checkerboard floor sets the stage for cooking lessons or snack time.
After running a daycare for 10 years and coming home at night to raise her own three children, Tiffani Wilson realized that sometimes parents need a night out. To meet this need Tiffani opened Just Kidding Around, offering parents the flexibility to drop off their kids aged 18 months–12 years for hourly stretches with no long-term commitment, contract, or promises to bring back their leftovers for the staff. Visitors are greeted by a DCFS-, first-aid-, and CPR-certified staff at the pristine, socks-only play area that combines a classroom, indoor playground, and kid-sized lounge. While under the care of Tiffani and her crew, kids take part in age-appropriate learning activities, such as studying math, science, phonics, and art, with plenty of time left over for educational games and video games. Additionally, healthy snacks are provided by Quality Catering for Kids for $5 per meal.
At three brightly colored locations, Children's Land Learning Center fosters imaginations and cognitive abilities with early-childhood educational programs that seek to inspire children's enthusiasm for learning while meeting social, intellectual, and physical needs. In addition to state-licensed kindergarten classes, programs nurture and cultivate the minds of tots as young as 15 months, and daycare for children from six weeks to five years old. Activities cover topics such as art, music, dance, Taekwondo, math, and foreign languages.
Lake County Family YMCA urges households toward healthier living with a supportive staff, fitness classes, and a treasure trove of gym and poolside amenities. Hearts and legs get pumping aboard ellipticals and stationary bikes while limbs and cores sprout muscle with the help of free or machine weights. Active Mature Adult classes hone balance, strength, and flexibility with a light to moderate workout that eschews the games of medicine-ball dodgeball found in more intense exercise classes. Alternately, Zumba classes motor hips into calorie-torching dance moves set to Latin music, and yoga courses pose physiques into fluid Vinyasa sequences. After sweat-inducing workouts, members can relax, letting the whirlpool's jets power wash stress from bodies or the dry-heat sauna's warmth melt pounds and tense muscles. The Vernon Hills location fosters watery fun with a children's aquatic play area and water slide, and the Waukegan complex lets joggers peer down onto the gymnasium below from an overhead running track. Both sites welcome whippersnappers into their drop-in babysitting service, where staffers entertain youngsters for up to two hours or however long it takes parents to stage one-person renditions of Logan's Run on the treadmills.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.