The Toy Shop's founder, Lori, the proud mother of four daughters, has plenty of practice throwing entertaining birthday parties and shepherding excited kids through her neighborhood toy emporium. There, boys and girls of all ages delight at the shelves filled with Legos, kitchen and science kits, RC trucks, and stuffed animals. Four different playrooms entice the imaginations of kids with age-appropriate toys, including crafts, puzzles, and building sets for older kids, and cold-fusion playsets for toddlers up to three years old.
There has never been a rain delay at Southern Maine Sports Zone. More than 3,000 athletes use the indoor sports facility each week to play soccer, volleyball, basketball, and field hockey. As athletic battles rage in the 62,500-square-foot field house, spectators can chant encouragement or order refreshments from hang-gliding vendors on the second floor. For more tot-friendly extravaganzas, the sportatorium also shelters an enormous bounce-house zone and children's camps.:m]]
One Stop Fun grants children and parents alike a lighthearted escape from the rigors of daily tasks and chores with a multicolored jungle gym, kid-sized climbing wall, and entertaining pool area. A three-story indoor playground's plastic tubes fill with toddlers and oversized bank transfers traveling between a collection of ball pits and bouncy bridges. Inside another room, primary-colored handholds protrude from a graphite-hued climbing wall that lets children safely explore its 40-foot surface with a maximum height of 8 feet. The fun center also lends out its facilities for birthday parties and other gatherings. For more organized activity, USAG-certified gymnastics instructors teach tumbling as part of a programs portfolio that also instills coordination and discipline with karate and dance classes. As children play and learn, adult chaperones can lunch at the snack bar or take advantage of conveniences such as complimentary WiFi for staying in touch and a changing area for concealing the secret identities of super children.
By combining thorough education services with modern technology, Babbel's interactive learning tools help students speak a second language by connecting with potential friends and business contacts across the globe. Babbel offers programs for 11 languages, including French, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish, German, and Spanish, with integrated speech-recognition tools and review managers that adjust exercises according to each learner's progress. The online lessons can be accessed from home computers. Babbel's Web-based software also connects users to an online community of learners and native speakers who offer assistance by chatting with users, commenting on writing exercises, and posting obituaries for dead languages.
Gently Loved Baby buys and resells gently used wearables, playthings, and nursery accouterments, helping families conserve space, money, and the environment. Rather than toting a Charlie Chaplin marionette to celebrity ice-cream tastings, parents can bring real-live sons in pint-sized tuxedos ($35–$40, sizes 1–8). A little girl will flutter with delight when a fairy throw pillow sprinkles across a Laura Ashley quilt, pillowcase, and twin sheets ($35 for set). The shop’s stable of Razor scooters ($12–$35) encourages tykes to play outside, and its corral of rocking horses ($15–$40) helps families gallop indoors without rousing the spirit of their polar-bear rug.
At Scuppers for Kids, colorful displays of boutique-style clothing beg for attention from customers who include babies, toddlers, tweens, and mothers. Onesies and kimonos that are 100% organic give babies a head start in the fashion world while allowing for easier dressing procedures with cleverly designed side openings and envelope necks. Two-piece tutus, Hatley pajamas, and French terry hoodies properly outfit boys and girls to be the stars of any lavish slumber party. While they’re shopping for little ones, moms and moms-to-be can peruse items tailored specifically to their lifestyles, including stylish, semi-fitted Hatley Anchors Away tees made of comfortable Indian cotton or pregnancy journals, where expectant moms can record their memories, emotions, and reasons for not naming their baby after their husband's favorite interstate. Fairy Tales bath and body products—which feature organic oils and nontoxic ingredients—and a collection of plush toys fill out the stock by adding the finer touches to dynamic family living.