To celebrate the upcoming launch of the Everyday Play Deck, Lisa Zaretsky author of the #everydayplaydeck and founder of playAGAIN, will be sharing invitations to play with recycled, repurposed and natural materials. Like the invitations offered in the Everyday Play Deck, the ideas in these posts are meant to inspire you to shift your lens and explore the possibility of all that surrounds you. What can you do with what you already have?
Is there anything better than the combination of kids and water?
We all know that water helps us beat the summer heat: submerge, splash, refresh, revive. But in this post, I want to share how water can be a tool for children: a source of artistry, discovery, and transformation.
The next time you go to wipe up water that escaped from the tub or splashed from the sink .... Stop. Let your children do it. Hand them a dry paper towel or a dry sponge and watch the magic happen. The water weaves, snake-like, through the fibers of the paper towel; it’s mesmerizing. A hard sponge transforms, right before your eyes, into a squishy, squeezy, wet mass.
These moments, that make the ordinary extraordinary, are the foundation of the Everyday Play Deck.
If it’s a warm summer day, extend this experience by moving outdoors. Reuse an empty plastic produce container and fill with water. Your child can dip a sponge and squeeze the water onto a dry sidewalk. Stomp in the puddle with bare feet, “fingerpaint,” or make designs. Then walk away and let the sunshine do its thing! Check back a short while later and take notice.
Your child can also dip the end of a paper towel in the puddle you’ve created and “paint” some rocks, a fence, the table, and some chairs. It’s amazing how children require so little to make their mark.
After, you’ve enjoyed that experience, here’s another:
Collect some simple (water safe) household items (a beaded necklace, a handful of buttons, metal lids from jars, corks, paper clips, hair ties, etc...) and fill the same container halfway with water so your child can drop the items in. She can dip her hands, grab big handfuls, and roll the materials between her fingers. Take a moment to notice what sinks and what floats. Create a game out of it and make predictions, discuss why a small thing may sink and a larger item may float, and brainstorm other things to add.
Try dropping the objects in the water from different heights and angles. Enjoy how everything glistens when wet and how the SPLASH may differ depending on where your child is positioned, in relation to the water, when she drops things in.
When you’re finished, tuck all that away and head to the kitchen to use water to transform just a few ingredients into something new and exciting: homemade play dough!
Play Dough Recipe
1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 cup salt
food coloring (optional)
Mix all ingredients
Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly.
When mixture solidifies, remove from heat and cool.
Store in airtight container
I hope these ideas engage, delight, and awe your children. And, I ultimately hope they inspire you and your children to think of many more ways to play, the repurposed way.
PLEASE NOTE: all of these activities (and materials) require CLOSE ADULT SUPERVISION. Never leave a child unattended, especially around any amount of water, a hot stove, or small items.
Earlier this summer we had the opportunity to open our first San Francisco experience at BATCH SF! To celebrate, we joined forces with SF Mama Darby Gaynor, to host a morning of mindfulness, play and giving back centered around the Calm Mind Kit. Our founder, Allison Klein, shared ways that the kit can help families achieve family zen through a play-based approach to mindfulness. Through conversation, a mini meditation and a group visualization, the goal of teaching children the art of pausing to be present was explored and celebrated. After finding some zen ourselves we enjoyed snacks from Yumi and had some playtime on the comfiest (and chicest!) playmats from Toki Mats. It was a special morning that left us all feeling centered and connected. In fact, we loved being in San Fran so much that we decided to stay! Visit us at BATCH until August 24th.
Our next Rose & Rex #VID is Vlad Dragusin, founder of Candylab Toys, a collection of Americana-inspired vehicles made in Brooklyn. We couldn’t love the Candylab mission more: “...to create a line of heirloom wood toys that are elegant, durable, and simple, giving children a chance to create their own stories around the objects they play with”, and the collection has long been one of our favorites that we carry on the site, with design & quality that is second to none.
Tell us a bit about the Candylab mission & inspiration for how the brand came to be.
My wife and I created the initial seed idea around two concepts. First, that design-focused toys should be accessible, not luxury items. We all should be exposed to good design and thoughtful, keepsake products that encourage us to reduce the mountains of inexpensive plastic toys. Second, that the brand should reflect a shared interest. In my case it took the shape of toys and cars, both items that are dear to me! Lastly, we wanted it all to be wrapped in sense of wonderment, like a kid in a candy store, hence the name.
What are your biggest learnings as a dad and how have they influenced your work at Candylab?
Bonding over something shared is the key ingredient! As a dad, I can find no bigger pleasure than doing something with my daughters that we all enjoy or have an interest in. I contribute some life lessons and they have a fresh perspective and unexpected take on things. Finding commonalities in play informs our toy and product design; we seek to add cues that we hope all generations will enjoy.
How are your kids involved at Candylab?
They were in our first Kickstarter video ever, and a few after that. They are interested in what we do here, and offer feedback that actually results in concrete tweaks to the toys we were developing.
Favorite Ritual / Hobbies / Activities with Kids
Sunday park time, skiing in winter, and best of all, bedtime snuggles!
Describe your ideal Father’s Day.
Off-roading in a beat up 4X4 truck, somewhere in Costa Rica.
What is your favorite Candylab toy?
One of my faves is the Surfin Griffin (P.S. it's Rose & Rex's toy of the month!): the beasts are special unto themselves and the Griffin is sitting high in that line.
As a female-founded business, we talk a lot about fellow female founders and mom entrepreneurs. As we approach Father’s Day this month, we want to take a moment to shine a spotlight on a few of the VIDs (AKA Very Important Dads) behind some of our favorite Rose & Rex brands. Throughout the month of June, we’ll spotlight a different Dad and their brand as we get to know a bit more about their families & inspiration.
First up is Will Haughey, Dad of 5 (!) and co-founder of Tegu, the award-winning magnetic block set system made of sustainably sourced wood. Tegu blocks are our go-to building material for children of all ages and a staple at all Rose & Rex events. In fact, Tegu was the first brand that we ever decided to carry. Read on to learn more about Will and the company he has created!
Tegu is one of the first brands that we selected for Rose & Rex. We are such fans of your product and mission. Tell us a bit about the Tegu mission & inspiration for how the brand came to be.
Tegu's mission is "to awaken the joy of service." In 2006, my brother Chris was contemplating what he wanted to do professionally after a successful start to his career in management consulting. He and I had long talked about working together and doing something entrepreneurial. And at that time he was traveling extensively through Latin America and specifically had connections to Honduras. He began sharing with me a vision for a company that would sustainably use local resources in Honduras to create jobs and opportunities through commerce. In the end, we were taken with the beautiful woods of Honduras and began thinking about starting a wood products company. We found ourselves considering furniture, flooring, cabinetry, but eventually got excited about starting a toy company. Then, we had to figure out what toys we would make and began studying children and childhood development. That study led to the inclusion of magnets, and Tegu's magnetic wooden building system was born. Tegu is short for Tegucigalpa, where we set up shop and today employ 150 people. Tegu is now sold in over 80 countries; it’s been humbling to see the brand and the idea go forth into social impact.
What are your biggest learnings as a dad of 5? How that has influenced your work at Tegu?
Well, our vision is “to restore play to its rightful place”, and I am determined to see this happen in my home as well as in the business. What does this mean? It means we create time and space, the conditions, for the unexpected to happen. And this cannot happen if the family is over-scheduled or if their activities are super scripted.
In order to draw out the genius of your child, we believe that step number one is removing the instruction manual; you cannot script the play if you want something brilliant to happen.
And the same thing is happening with our staff. We want to create the conditions where they can creatively improve and adapt every day. In order to do this, we must create time and space for creative contribution, top to bottom. Every day we start the day cleaning for 30 minutes, showing respect for each other and the environment, and then we spend the next 30 minutes sharing with each other about improvements we’re making. When we do this across our staff, with consistency every day, we are amazed at the ideas that come forth from the team. In essence, give your kids space to do it their way, and you’ll be amazed. The same applies for our team of collaborators making Tegu every day. I love watching ideas come to life, and we’re so much more powerful when we use all of our people to solve our challenges and make great things happen.
How are your kids involved at Tegu?
Well, my kids are in the sweet spot age for Tegu, ranging from 9 months (baby Samuel) all the way to Hannah (almost age 5). Of course they are product testers and in our photography from time to time. Most impactful to me, though, is that we say prayers every night, and I am always bowled over when my kids pray for the people that work at our factory. It’s so humbling to hear them care for Dad in this way, and we connect deeply here. Any business has challenges, and it's comforting to know that my kids appreciate some inkling of that, even if they aren’t caught-up in the details!
Favorite ritual / hobbies / activities with kids
We have 5 kids currently under the age of 5. To say it’s a handful is an understatement, and the hero of our story is my wife Rachel. Fridays are pizza night at our favorite local joint, Fat Cat Pie, and it’s fun to have a few fixtures like that. The kids love it because we don’t eat out much, and it’s a treat every time. I also LOVE the game of soccer and really enjoy it when I get to take them out and have fun.
Describe your ideal Father’s Day
Just hanging with the kids. I travel constantly, so weekends are such a joy. They can be tiring, but in a great way, the best kind of way. A perfect Fathers Day probably involves a great coffee and donut, too! I love breakfast time with my kids.
What is your favorite Tegu toy?
Our new Baby & Toddler toys debuted last year, and I love them (even though they are designed for kids 1-3yrs in age). The “Floating Stacker” is unlike any other product on the market, as is our Magnetic Shape Train. It’s amazing to see what you can do with just a few pieces. In general, the fewer pieces, the more the creativity comes out. I see this happen every time I get these toys out with my kiddos, and I love it.
When we first met Rachel Kirson we immediately connected with her warmth, deep understanding of the whole child and commitment to helping children develop speech and language through play. We've shared some of your most asked speech and language questions with Rachel to provide you with her insight about supporting your child's language.
As a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Mother of a toddler (Mother should always start with a capital M, because it’s a job title, am I right?), parents often reach out seeking advice on all things play, language development, and toy selection. Thankfully, our friends at Rose & Rex have listened to your questions!
How can play support language development?
Would a surgeon operate without learning basic biology or chemistry? Of course not. Higher level skills require the mastery of basic skills, known as prerequisites. Play is an essential prerequisite for language development. We can’t expect our children to go from docile newborns to chatty threenagers. In fact, they need the opportunity to explore, create, observe, and connect with the world – PLAY!
Are there specific building blocks, or foundational skills, that children need to have in order to effectively communicate?
There’s an abundance of visuals out there, but I’ve taken the liberty of creating one that clearly and accurately depicts the building blocks of communication development. Skills on the bottom must be mastered before higher level skills can be learned.
What are your favorite fun, organic ways to support speech and language development?
This is a tough one as there are so many! I’ll start by saying there’s nothing more valuable than quality face-to-face interaction with your child. From playing peek-a-boo, to talking about the colorful spring flowers and chirping birds as you go for a stroll outside, or the savory chicken and rice he/she is enjoying for dinner– these are all valuable social interactions that give your child an opportunity to learn in his/her natural environment. Playing, learning, bonding, all wrapped up in a bow!
Follow your child’s lead! Think back to your school-age days when you were forced to learn Trigonometry. Wow – what fun. The point is, many state approved curriculum lessons lie ahead once our children enter Kindergarten.
Let’s remember that their first few years on this Earth are solely meant for exploration, discovery, imagination, and connecting with the world! So, follow their lead. Whether your child loves trains, letters, stuffed animals or blocks – embrace it. You can learn language using any item, it’s all about interest and motivation.
And last but surely not least, provide your child with new experiences. I’m not suggesting scheduling field trips Monday through Friday, but allow them to meet new people, explore new items, and adapt to new environments. Simply going to the playground and letting her follow other children around. Change the hanging toys on the mobile so he’s always looking at something new. Coordinate a Mommy & Child playdate with your neighbor who you always mean to introduce yourself to. Check out local blogs and family magazines to find free activities and events happening near you. Take him to a restaurant, on a plane, and to the beach. Think about all the language she will learn as you share these experiences together.
What steps should you take if you think your child is having an issue with speech?
If you suspect your child has having speech and language difficulties, or any developmental difficulties for that matter, there is help. I strongly urge you not to wait, as the earlier a delay is identified, the sooner progress can be made!
In terms of evaluation and treatment, you have three options.
1.) Every child is entitled to a FREE evaluation from the state (speech-language, occupational, physical, psychological). Depending on your child’s age, you will contact the following agencies/committees listed below.
Ages 0-3: Early Intervention – Contact an Early Intervention agency near you. You can ask other moms in your area, search on google, or consult your pediatrician for a recommendation. If your child qualifies for services, he/she can receive therapy within the home, daycare, school, or center-based clinic.
Ages 3-5: Committee of Preschool Special Education (CPSE) – Contact your local district administrator and request a full evaluation. If your child qualifies for services, he/she can receive therapy within the home, daycare, school, or center-based clinic.
Ages 5+: Committee of Special Education (CSE) – Your child is now in Kindergarten. If he/she received services through CPSE, and continues to qualify, the services will be transferred over. If you’re child hasn’t received services before, contact the school’s Child Study Team or District Administrator.
2.) Health Insurance: Contact your health insurance provider to find out your benefits. Everyone’s plan is different, so be sure to ask what is needed for coverage (referral, diagnosis, # of sessions/year, etc). If you have coverage, request a list of participating therapists and/or clinics in your area.
3.) Private Speech-Language Pathologist: Ask your fellow Mamas, school teachers, or Pediatrician for a recommendation, or feel free to reach out to me! Depending on the practitioner, evaluations and sessions can be held in an office, home, or school setting. While these sessions are more costly, they are often more time efficient, flexible, and specialized in a specific area of speech-language pathology. More often than not, children do not qualify for state services, and/or your health insurance does not provide adequate coverage. Also, busy families and working parents may only have specific times available for therapy. Hiring a Private Practitioner is your solution! If cost is an issue, ask for a package rate. And remember, therapy isn’t forever.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Rachel (hint: toys are involved)!
Stay in touch with Rachel at www.rachelkirsonslp.com and on Instagram @rachelkirsonslp
Let’s face it, the world can feel pretty overwhelming these days. From natural disasters impacting people and our planet to deep political divisions to safety concerns, it can be hard to feel optimistic about the world that our children are inheriting. In a time when propagating negative beliefs and language has become commonplace, many of us find ourselves wondering how we can raise children that buck cynicism and develop into compassionate, kind and positive individuals. While we can’t hide our children from the anxieties that life will inevitably present, we can bolster their social and emotional health so that they develop tools to face a tumultuous world with optimism.
Get to Know the People in Your Community
One of the most powerful things for children to understand about the world is that we’re all in this together. We are each a member of our community and we all have the privilege of learning from each others stories. Getting out and exploring your community is an immediate and impactful way to breed positivity about people and planet. Where to start? Go outside, observe and ask questions. Visit a farmer’s market with your little one and learn about where food comes from. When a mechanic comes to your home to fix something that’s broken, watch the work he or she is doing and invite your child to ask questions. If your child is eyeing a construction site (and it’s safe, of course!) pause to watch the action and ask a worker about his or her job. Going out and exploring your neighborhood opens the hearts and minds of children, while helping them to make sense of the larger world and their place in it.
In my view, the best antidote to cynicism and negativity is gratitude. Teaching children manners like saying please and thank you only goes so far, as it tends to be a directive experience. Supporting children into becoming grateful people, however, is an ongoing process. When we help children cultivate an attitude of gratitude, research has shown that happiness, contentment and optimism levels rise. So how is it done?
One of the most important initial steps is to help children understand the emotion of gratitude by labeling it. If someone does something kind for your child and you can tell that they are thankful, label the feeling by saying something like, “That was very kind of him to think of you, it looks like you are feeling really grateful.” When children truly understand what feeling grateful means, it will be easier for them to notice and express when they experience the emotion.
Once children understand what being grateful feels like, it’s time for us, the adults in their lives, to model gratitude in action. Children pick up on our energy, our actions and our habits. If we intentionally model a grateful outlook to our children consistently, it will help them to be more thankful themselves. Next time you’re outside on a beautiful day or are touched by a sweet sentiment your child shares comment on it by saying something like “Wow, I’m really grateful for such a gorgeous day.” or “What you just said means a lot to me, thank you.”
Last, make giving back central to your family ethos. A great tip I learned from our Director of Education, Lauren Vien, is to use the word “enough” when discussing why giving back is essential. She notes, “Chat with your children about how grateful you are that your family has enough. Enough food to keep your belly full. Enough toys to enjoy. Enough books to read before bedtime. Enough clothes to keep your body warm on chilly days.” From there help your child to understand that some children and some families do not have enough of what they need. “Together, brainstorm ways that your family can share with others. Be sure to involve your child in every step of the process: choosing toys or books to share (in great condition), sorting through clothes that no longer fit, packing items in boxes or bags and accompanying you to donation centers.”
We live in an over-stimulated, “what’s next” world. What’s for dinner? When is the dance recital? Where is our next vacation going to be? Anticipating the future instead of living in the present can cause children to experience feelings of disconnection, worry and stress. To combat this experience, it’s essential that we teach our children the skill of being present...but how?
One of the most effective ways to help children practice presence is to utilize mindfulness techniques like visualization, deep breathing and intentional noticing (yes, that’s a thing!). Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is going on inside and outside of the body right now. It is simply being aware of where you are and how you are feeling, NOW. With as little as ten minutes of mindful practice a day, children have been found to experience increased happiness, reduced stress and a greater ability to control their emotions and behavior. One of my favorite, simple mindfulness exercises is to ask children to notice five things that they can hear right now. By simply tuning into their senses, they begin to relax their central nervous systems. Some of my other favorite mindfulness exercises can be found in our Calm Mind Kit, which introduces mindfulness to children in a playful way through activities like “the noodle,” which teaches progressive muscle relaxation and “wave breathing,” which encourages deep belly breathing.
Develop New Perspectives through Dramatic Play
We’re play people over here so it’s no surprise that I firmly believe that imaginative play is one of the most powerful ways to help children process their feelings about the world. Each and every day, encourage your children to have uninterrupted play time with quality materials like stuffed animals or wooden blocks. When children engage in dramatic play they are acting out things that are happening in their own lives, exploring emotions, and experimenting with new ideas.
When children try on a role, such as mom, baby or police man, they must take on the perspective of who they are pretending to be, which helps to shift the way they perceive the world and their relationships. Play also offers children the time to wrestle with concepts and feelings that they may not fully understand, like welcoming a new sibling or authority. Through this playful exploration, children develop empathy, which is the ability to connect to the emotional experience of another person.
Meet Angela Sutherland, CEO and Co-Founder of innovative baby food brand, Yumi. Yumi is a science-based early childhood meal delivery program that provides over 60 varieties of chef-curated and nutritionally dense baby meals made with fresh, organic ingredients and high-quality superfoods. Just like Rose & Rex, Yumi gives parents tools and expert resources to help their baby explore the world around them, which fosters well rounded development. With delivery right to your doorstep, Yumi makes it easier to expose your little one to a variety of colors, tastes and textures through fresh foods, which shapes their palate and supports their growing bodies. Below Angela shares more about her journey with Yumi, life as mama to Elodie and Ronan and her best on how to #cultivatecalm in the midst of it all!
First names & ages of your little ones:
Elodie (4.5), Ronan (2.5)
We are huge fans of your science-based early childhood meal delivery program. Tell us about your mission and how Yumi came to be:
It wasn’t always an intention of mine to run my own business; my background was actually in private equity helping other people manage and build companies! The idea for Yumi was inspired by my own experiences as a new parent. When I had my first child, I did a great deal of research on all the steps I should be taking to have a healthy pregnancy, as well as how I could continue to nourish my baby after delivery. I came across this landmark study around the “First 1000 Days” (a period of life from in utero to age 2) which scientists have identified as the most important time in a person’s life in terms of nutrition.
Introducing your baby to solids is such an important milestone, and yet, when I looked at what was available at the grocery store that were marketed as a "healthy" baby food, everything was overly processed, full of fructose, and had been sitting on a shelf for months. Not to mention, the flavors are quite unappealing (....beef stew in a jar? No thanks).
In this day in age where adults can order virtually any type of fresh cuisine to their doorstep in less than an hour, I saw a massive opportunity in the marketplace for something designed just for babies; a freshly prepared, gourmet, nutritionally-perfected baby food with the added convenience of being beautifully packaged and delivered right to you. Our mission from day 1 has been to raise the bar for baby food, and serve as a 360 degree support system for parents through community, content, and an elevated product.
As a successful entrepreneur & mom - what are some ways that you #cultivatecalm personally and with your family?
Because my work schedule is so jam packed, I’m definitely protective over the downtime I have with my family and try not to over-commit to outside activities, especially on the weekends. I try to keep things simple at home - you can usually find us cooking together, drawing, reading, doing puzzles, listening to music, etc. It’s easy to forget that our kids can easily get overwhelmed and energy-zapped during the week too. So, when we have some downtime together we keep things really low key, and I can sense that my kids really enjoy when we're able to relax together with no agenda.
What is one piece of advice you would give to mamas trying to balance motherhood and a career?
Firstly, I think we should all throw the idea of "perfect balance" out the window. As parents, everyone is working off of a different playbook and we're all doing the best we can. It's not constructive to compare yourself to others who seem to have it all together. Secondly, I believe having a strong community and support system is so important. Raising kids truly does "take a village", yet less and less millennial parents are able to live in close proximity to their own families. After you become a mom your kid(s) effectively turn your life upside down - and despite all the joy a child brings, parenthood can be a bit isolating at times. I would encourage women, especially new / first-time moms, to nurture some of the existing relationships in their lives who are authentic, positive and have their best interests at heart; and also lean into new friendships with other new moms who can understand and empathize with some of the hardships that come with having kids. I think there are so many mental + emotional health benefits to not only having good friends, but also being a good friend.
What does being mindful mean to you?
To me, mindfulness means taking the time so show gratitude and appreciate what you have, even if it’s just a moment.
In today’s fast-paced world with constant stimulation and a 24/7 connection to social media, we’re living our lives at a lightning fast pace -- work, emails, travel, phone calls, family, more work -- the days really fly by and can leave us feeling scatterbrained.
I have made a conscious effort in recent years, especially after becoming a parent, to take a step back as often as I can and reflect on the little victories and special moments as they happen. I don’t think mindfulness means that you have to meditate for hours at a time; in my opinion it’s more about taking smaller, more frequent pauses during your day to recognize and appreciate what is happening in real time.
What is your favorite toy / activity in the Calm Mind Kit?
Hands down, the play dough. My kids could play with this endlessly, the color & texture are so soothing, and I love that it sparks so much creativity. But unlike the many other play doughs we have bought in the past, the guided exercises outlined in the beautifully designed cards really take things to the next level. Also, bonus points for the fact that it’s made with natural / healthier ingredients...That would make any mom happy!
This woodland friend is as cute as it comes! Bambi features a peaceful closed-eye expression on one side and a curious open-eyed gaze on the other—perfect for helping children create happy bedtime and morning routines.
When we first met mama and #girlboss Jamie Kolnick we were instantly captivated by her playful spirit, warmth and enthusiasm. Jamie is the founder of Jam With Jamie, which is a nationwide children’s entertainment company. Whether it's a music class for toddlers, a musical playgroup or a birthday party, Jam With Jamie offers the most playful and engaging interactive music experiences for children that we have ever seen (and trust us, we've seen a lot of classes!). Read on to get to know this amazing mama and the incredible impact she is having on children through the power and play of music!
Jam with Jamie is one of the most dynamic children's music classes, and group of party entertainers we've come across. Tell us a little bit about your approach and how Jam with Jamie came about.
Jam with Jamie is all about having fun and PLAYING! We tend not to take ourselves too seriously. Any party, class, or event you find us at we are there to have as good of a time as you are. All of the performers on our team curate a personal experience with each family- caregivers and children. It’s an incredibly special environment that we strive to provide, and most importantly we want everyone leaving every music session with full hearts and a big ol’ smile.
I have been working with children for 15+ years as a musician, teacher, and performer. As an actor in New York City, you can imagine I had every job under the sun but one of my biggest loves is singing with children so it was a natural move to start Jam with Jamie in 2008. For five years I hit the NY Pavement, running music classes during the week and up to 6 parties in one weekend. When I booked a role in the Off-Broadway musical Wanda’s Monster, with music by Laurie Berkner, it was time to find some back up for Jam with Jamie. I then began to hire and train performers for the company. Once I realized I didn’t always have to be at the party for it to be a success and that I could find amazing childrens' musicians to perform the shows and classes I created, I ran with it! We have now expanded the business to eight states with over 40 musicians and various types of children’s entertainment working with the company.
Walk us through what a Jam with Jamie class and party look like.
We can bring everything you need for a party or event when it comes to children’s entertainment. As for music , our sessions run anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour but we customize for the clients needs. From solo guitarists to full band options- we come with dynamic props and instruments including bubbles, parachute, shakers, scarves, and animal puppets. We do small intimate settings up to 300+ events. The age range could be anywhere from 0-8 years old. We recently added a Big Kids Party for the 5-8 year old age range that can feel a bit like a mini bar/bat mitzvah. Fun dance songs, games, giveaway props like sunglasses, hats, necklaces, and a fun limbo session! We also work with fantastic balloonists, face painters, photographers, have custom cake options and more!
For our musical playgroups, we curate to the group. It is always a fun intimate environment where we explore props and instruments that are age appropriate and sing songs that are customized to each group. You’ll find a lot of sing-a-long, movement, song variety from pop/rock to classic children’s tunes. We keep it fresh and fun so that the kids AND the caregivers are having a great time.
We also run educational programs in preschools and have a full music & movement curriculum. Our specifically formatted, musical enrichment program uses age-appropriate, research-proven methods to further develop children's relationship with music.
One of the things we love about JWJ is that the playlists appeal to adults, too - it's not only about the kiddos. How do you find inspiration / curate your songs?
It is so important for us to stay fresh with our song-lists. Most of our inspiration comes from the people at our parties and classes! We get multiple song requests and once they’re under our belt and we know it works and gets a crowd going, we will make adjustments to the set. Also, a lot of the “jammers” on our team experiment with songs and medleys and will share with the rest of the group. We all inspire each other!
As a party entertainment expert, and now a mom to 2 delicious boys, what's the secret sauce for creating the perfect kiddo celebration?
We have a lot to offer, but honestly- keep it simple- you don’t need every single corner of your space to be filled with something different. If someone is working with us, my recommendation is to have one music session bookended by face painting and/or balloonist. Don’t feel like you need a whole craft table or a million things (echem bouncy house), the kids will get overwhelmed. Find one activity and the rest of the time the kids will eat, play and enjoy each other. I notice when a client does too much, not only are they overwhelmed but the party guests and kids are overwhelmed too!
What have been the surprises—both terrific and trying—about parenting and running a business?
Finding the time to do it all. Before kids I thought it was hard BUT IT WAS SO EASY! The amount of time I had pre-kids, omg I really had no idea how much time I had on my hands. Now it feels like I have two or three full time jobs, and juggling it all isn’t easy. But the secret is knowing it doesn’t all have to be done today. To turn off at 9pm, have some me time and start it all up again in the morning.
Since we're play people, we have to ask, what are your favorite ways to integrate play / toys into your classes, as well as your kids' daily routines?
We are big on exploring, providing a prop or instrument for the children to have and letting them discover what to do with it. We will lay out props in front of the children and not force little hands to play but rather let them find the prop for themselves. It’s so much more rewarding for the child that way! I am the same way with my own children.
We know that JWJ is constantly growing. Tell us what you are most looking forward to this year?
There is so much that we are up to right now and it really is exciting. I am thriving when I am collaborating, and I feel incredibly grateful to be working with a lot of amazing partners. I am looking forward to inventing and continuing the current projects I am working on and exploring new opportunities as well!
What are your favorite Rose & Rex toys?
This is hard because I love them all but here goes:
Scarves, shakers, and puppets- that’s always my jam for play exploration and I love your take on them!
On February 26th we're excited to bring the Calm Mind Kit to life with an event on Finding Family Zen with MNDFL at the HATCH collection store in NYC. In advance of the event, we asked mom, HATCH founder and all around source of inspiration, Ariane Goldman, for a few thoughts on cultivating calm in the midst of it all!
We are huge fans of HATCH and how your clothes are all about celebrating women at every stage -- before, during, and after pregnancy. We also love how you’re supporting your customers and creating community with your retail stores. Tell us a bit about what you’ve set out to create and what’s inspired you along the way.
Having a physical space allows us to connect with women outside of our clothing and to provide them with a place where they feel protected and understood. It's the beginning of the next chapter for HATCH as being more than just a solution-driven product company, but a community-driven brand that sells really great product.
What's inspired me along the way are women who meet at HATCH and thank us for bringing them together - whether they're moms who were due three months apart and made a new friend, or a woman who just had a miscarriage and now has a community to share the experience with, or a woman who simply didn’t know what a doula did.
As a successful entrepreneur & mom - what are some ways that you #cultivatecalm personally and with your family?
Personally, either a yoga class or a martini. With my family, we get out of the city to hibernate together and get out of the noise.
What is one piece of advice you would give to mamas trying to balance motherhood and a career?
Don’t be too hard on yourself!
What does being mindful mean to you?
Being mindful is connecting with what I define as what “truly matters”. What truly matters to me is my family and children, in which case I often readjust my life to figure out everything around them. So "being mindful" is prioritizing based on what brings me happiness.
What is your favorite toy in the Calm Mind Kit?
I think it's safe to say that my girls both love the exercises with the Natural Eco Dough the most!