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For busy mom Erin Phelan, owning a children’s play center blends personal and professional pursuits. Because she believes that storytelling and imaginary play develops essential skills, she has made both core foundations of her space. When the Play Plus for Kids owner comes to work, her youngster often tags along with her, zigzagging through the facilities during open-play time and exploring the indoor treehouse or bounce house alongside other inquisitive tots. Phelan's facility, which brims with opportunities for imaginative play, helps parents encourage their little ones to step away from the video-game controllers or tax audit forms in favor of hands-on recreation and classes such as family yoga and baby sign language.

+Storytelling and imaginary play are core to her business

2740 N Harbor City Blvd
Melbourne,
FL
US

When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree Play & Music spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills. The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a six-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.

3688 N Wickham Rd
Melbourne,
FL
US