Sock-footed children scamper around 7,000 square feet of indoor space that, like most office buildings, has specified zones for different age groups ranging from infants through preschoolers. In the back area, older kids strengthen eye-hand coordination with video games such as Madden NFL, while bounce houses help youngsters expend their boundless energy. In the playset area, kids can play house in a pretend kitchen, play train engineer on kid-sized railroads, or play Godzilla by sticking their hands in dollhouse windows. Infants and toddlers wander around a simpler play area near the parents' lounge, where guardians can keep one eye on their kids and the other on a TV or computer screen. At the end of the day, all surfaces are purified by a professional cleaning service with hospital-grade disinfectant.
Back in 1950, when it was still known as the Miami Beach Municipal Auditorium, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and Frank Sinatra could be seen in the audience acting like average Joes while enjoying song-and-dance shows and boxing bouts. Throughout the following decades, the entertainment mecca has remained a magnet for famous entertainers. In 1964, when the city of Miami asked famed funnyman and honeymooner Jackie Gleason to move his television variety show from New York to Miami Beach, he relocated in a bang-zoom, declaring “Miami Beach audiences are the greatest in the world,” then muttering under his breath, “and New York audiences smell like Art Carney’s hat.” Rechristened as The Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts in 1987, the theater hosted the best in Broadway shows, dance and classical-music performances, and concerts throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. In 2007, the venue underwent a multimillion-dollar face- and body-lift, adding even more glitz to the sleek columned entrance and the spacious multichandeliered auditorium. Now merged with California’s famed Fillmore chain, the theater has inherited a rich rock ‘n’ roll history to add to its already lofty annals.
Green Children's House works toward a better future in two ways: by maintaining eco-friendly practices, and by doing its part in creating the next generation of environmental leaders. Established in 2008, the non-profit school has built its educational approach on the findings of Dr. Maria Montessori, making it a Montessori school.
This approach emphasizes activity-based learning, allowing children to pick up skills at their own pace instead of forcing them to join packs of street-wise cats. During class time, students aged 3 months to 10 years interact with staff members while learning about science, math, arts, and even non-traditional subjects such as gardening. No matter the subject, though, the school makes good on its Green name by using paper only when necessary and utilizing technology that adheres to the same earth-friendly philosophy.
Sunshine Learning Center’s full-time tutors work closely with students to address their academic stumbling blocks and improve test scores. After identifying each pupil’s learning style and holdups, tutors tailor lessons to suit the student’s individual needs. While some may benefit from traditional instruction, students with test anxiety may need to work on confidence-building problems before tackling larger formulas. Using these and other tools, instructors can help students prepare for standardized tests or improve their grades in a difficult subject, such as math, English, or classroom-hamster care 101.
For students as young as 5, Human Horizons Art School and Gallery is a place to let their artistic flags fly. During oil-painting and drawing classes, instructors work with pupils of all ages and experience levels, whether fostering a fledgling painter or helping more focused students develop cohesive portfolios for magnet programs. Setting up at easels or along the community tables, artists choose the subject matter of each composition.
As a mother of four with a corporate career, Leigh Kendall longed for a break from her relentless daily duties. When she left work to stay home with her second and third children, she longed for a respite from the house, some outside place where she could relax with her kids. After searching unsuccessfully and hearing the pleas of other moms, she decided to fill that need, and A Latte Fun was born. The indoor playground and café brims with happy chatter, which drifts from regular classes, special events, and open playtime seven days a week. Children frolic across multicolored carpeted floors in a 6,000-square-foot playroom, exploring climbing structures, foam pits, and a floor-level trampoline that is kept safe by rounded edges, extensive padding, and declawed teddy bears. The playground eschews video games, prize games, and violent toys, instead letting older children don animal costumes in the dress-up area, while toddlers younger than 2 romp in their own play pit and toy bins. Cool zephyrs of air conditioning sweep contented sighs away from zebra-print sofas or onyx-hued wooden tables, where adults peruse a gourmet café menu. A boutique toy store extends the center's positive attitude toward play into homes with a slew of unique gifts and rare and eclectic toys. A private room reverberates with the youthful energy of A Latte Fun's classes, formal functions, and parties, which staff members provide with refreshments, cake, and decorations. At least two assistants remain on hand at kids’ events to provide full setup, cleanup, and supervision to ward off squabbles that arise when imaginary friends show up wearing the same outfits.