Top 10 NYC Play Spaces to Encourage Language

Winter is almost officially here! We seem to get less active during the winter months, but that doesn’t have to be the case for our NYC kiddos. Instead of sticking to sedentary activities such as the iPad, TV, and computer, get your children crawling, running, and jumping! We as speech pathologists have done workshops and speech therapy sessions in some of the city’s most fun indoor play spaces! This month we will be talking to you about our absolute favorites.

Play can be structured, semi-structured, or even free play!  It serves as a perfect opportunity for socialization. It allows your child to naturally work on skills such as: turn-taking during a game, initiating play with a new friend, maintaining a conversation, using polite language, etc.  Receptively, your child will be targeting following directions and answering questions without it even feeling like “work”. Expressively, the natural language models for your child will encourage him or her to say new words as well as join words together to make longer sentences. Overall, it not only leads to improved speech and language skills, but also long-lasting friendships!

Our top 10 faves include:

New York Kids Club – A big upside for this program is that they have locations all over the city! All of their equipment is state-of-the-art and they offer supervised, unstructured play regularly. Children are free to manipulate their environment and build their muscles by climbing, sliding, and jumping. We especially love parachute time!  Activities range from gymnastics to martial arts. It is the ultimate way of staying active during these winter months! http://www.nykidsclub.com/.

Frolic!  Play Space – Perfect for families that are all about fun and rock”n”roll. We ourselves couldn’t resist going down their tongue slide!

They have activities ranging from dancing to sports. The classes are open to members and non-members and the playground is reserved for members only. An extra perk – private coffee lounge before and after classes! http://www.frolicplayspace.com/classes/

Art Farm – Mondays to Thursdays from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM children can come by to enjoy their awesome playroom that encourages creative play. They even have a petting zoo! Your child can pet and feed different types of animals such as rabbits and turtles. It is $20 per child. http://www.theartfarms.org/afic/drop_in.php

Kidville – They offer various creative classes for a range of ages at many locations throughout NYC. During gym classes, children are encouraged to practice their gross motor skills during obstacle courses. Our favorite is stacking the super-sized blocks! Not only do the classes make them stronger, but it increases their confidence. Specific sports include:  gymnastics, basketball, baseball, and soccer. Caregivers must be present for newborns to 2-year-olds, for 3-year-olds it is optional, and for 4-6 years old, there are drop-off programs. http://www.kidville.com/classes-and-programs/

City Treehouse – From water play to climbing and sliding down the tree house, this place is heaven for kids! The best way to learn is via exploration and this place promotes an interest in science at a very early age. Their baby playgroup is on weekdays from 1-3 PM and is $10 per child. You can also join a playdate for 10 children…what better way to target social skills! http://www.citytreehouse.com/playspace.php

Jodi’s Gym – The range of classes is huge. It begins  with  “Teeny Tumblers” that targets basic exploration involving  tumbling, clapping and movement. It then goes onto “Mighty  Muscle Movers”, which involves higher level gross motor skills that builds more spatial awareness. Free play and circle time is also incorporated. The programs are endless…  They offer programs for children ages 9 months to 12 years old – including gymnastics, art and music. http://www.jodisgym.com/nyc/nyc_home2.html

My Gym – This program has it all from structured sports to classes geared toward cardiovascular health. The teeniest of babies can even join in the fun from 6 weeks to 6 months. It is never too early to start exploring your environment and it also strengthens the bond between the caregiver and the child. http://www.mygym.com/classes

Gym time – They have tons of enrichment programs to choose from. Their gymnastics program is a perfect way to get your little ones to start jumping, stretching, balancing, tumbling, and flipping. The Tae Kwon Do classes are also top notch. These are some of the best ways to increase confidence! http://www.gymtime.net/schedule/calendar.php

Scandinavia House – First off, we LOVE the architecture in this place. It is inspired by Scandinavian design. The playspace includes a climbing corner, tunnel, Lego area, and train table among many other activites. Overall, they try to give children a sensory experience and what better way to learn language than through our 5 senses! It is open to the public on Saturday from 12-5 PM and the cost is $15 per child. http://www.scandinaviahouse.org/playing_and_learning_center.html

Museum of Motherhood – This is another great program that involves your child’s 5 senses – specifically shapes & colors. They also focus on tracing and coloring shapes to help improve fine motor skills. Drop-off can be from 9:30 am and pick-up at 11:30 am. The total number of sessions is 19. They also have a play space open almost every day.
http://www.mommuseum.org/abc-co-op/

Happy playing indoors!!

Special thanks to Deborah Baruh for photographs.

Gift of Gab Resources 1-855-SPEAK-HELP www.giftofgabresources.com are:
Debbie Shiwbalak, M.A., CCC-SLP [email protected]
Alpin Gundem, M.A., CCC-SLP [email protected]

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Alpin Rezvani, M.A., CCC-SLP, graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.  She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (ASHA) and has New York licensure in Speech-Language Pathology.  She is a speech-language pathologist for the New York Department of Education and was an adjunct instructor at New York University.  She co-authored two chapters (Community-Based Speech-Language Pathology and Joint Action Routines) in “Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism”, and is PROMPT trained.  She is also the co-founder of Gift of Gab Resources and has been in private practice since 2008.

Debbie Shiwbalak, M.A., CCC-SLP, is an undergraduate of St. John’s University where she received her Baccalaureate of Arts in Speech Pathology in 1999, and is a graduate of Long Island University-CW Post Campus, where she received a Master of Arts in Speech Pathology in 2001. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is licensed by the state of New York to practice speech-language pathology. Debbie is PROMPT trained and has had 13 years experience as a speech pathologist in the New York City area and has been in private practice for 7 years. She is also the co-founder of Gift of Gab Resources.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.

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