So maybe you’re not quite ready to drop your little one off for preschool, but you’re also looking for something with a little more structure than a playgroup. Well, I have the solution to your dilemma: check out the Stay & Play class at the Glastonbury Y!
This class is open to anyone, from any town. You do NOT need to be a Glastonbury resident. You just need to have a wee one between the ages of 1 and 3.
To be totally honest, until August, I didn’t even realize there was a Y in Glastonbury. And I was shocked to find out that it is located in the same plaza with the Glastonbury Whole Foods, a place I go to at least once a week! How could I have missed that?! I think it might have something to do with this ill-placed tree that almost completely blocks their sign.
Anyway, over the summer, a friend of mine mentioned that she’d heard about this class, and we decided to try it out. The course description went something like this: This adult/child class is an interactive experience consisting of story time, crafts, and free play. Sounded fun.
Currently, the class has two sessions, one meets on Mondays and the other meets on Fridays. We took the Monday session because the Friday class was already full by the time we got around to registering. That Friday session seems to fill up fast! The class size is also really small, just 6 children per class.
The class lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., and runs for 7 weeks. I will tell you that at first I was a little nervous about the length of the class. It seemed long. After all, I had trouble getting Boo to pay attention for a half hour library class! Sure, his My Gym class was an hour, but that was mostly running and jumping and climbing. I was having visions of tantrums and meltdowns.
But you know what? Boo did great! The Stay & Play class is the perfect mix of free play and structured activities to keep your little one busy busy busy for the whole time. Which makes it a nice break for the mommies too 🙂
Like I mentioned before, the Glastonbury Y is located in the Whole Foods plaza (a.k.a. Fox Run Mall) where there is plenty of parking.
It’s all the way to the right (if you’re facing the storefronts), nestled between the GNC and the new Petco. Head underneath the GNC sign to find the entrance.
Once inside, the classroom is at the back. It is pretty much the most amazing playroom you could ever imagine.
Obviously, the first thing the little ones want to do when they enter this space is explore. That’s okay because the class begins with about 40 minutes of free play (that was also good news for me, since I am perpetually running 5 minutes late to everything). The class is led by a teacher, who interacts with the kids throughout the free play and then leads the class through the structured activities. Our teacher was fantastic (she currently teaches all sessions at this location). She was so great with the kids that by the last few sessions my clingy-like-Saran-Wrap Boo actually wanted to play with her and not me. Shocking! What’s more, I could even–gasp–escape to the restroom on my own without him even noticing. Small victories, right? 🙂
Those 40 minutes would absolutely fly by. There were so many things for the kiddos to do. There were always puzzles and Play-Doh set up on the center table (and yes, we adults sat in those little bitty chairs too–don’t worry, they’ll hold up!). Plus lots of opportunities for pretend play.
Crayons and paper too.
And a kitchen set, a giant tool bench, a race track…even a mini slide! Plus all kinds of toys lined the shelves, from bead mazes to toy pianos to toy cars and trucks.
One of Boo’s favorite toys was this modular race track. He’s big into putting things together these days. And cars. So this activity was perfect!
As you can imagine, the kiddos kept themselves pretty busy during free play, which meant that the moms got a chance to hang out and chat. I really enjoyed this mini-playgroup portion of the class. It was very laid-back. The kids had a ball. And I could relax a little. Now, if I could just have gotten myself out of the house a little earlier so that I could have picked up a latte on the way, it would have been perfect!
After free play, it was time to clean up to the familiar tune of the clean-up song. Then it was time for the structured, preschool portion of the class. We’d form a circle with the chairs in this corner of the room.
For this part, the sequence of activities was always the same. That’s so important because it takes the kids a few weeks to figure out what’s going on, and then they are really able to participate because they know exactly what to expect. We’d start with singing along to a CD of some old favorites like Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes; Open Shut Them; and The Wheels on the Bus.
Next we’d play a game where the children each had to wait their turn to come up and “pick” a felt item off a board while we all chanted a cute little rhyming song. Here they were picking pumpkins, but earlier in the session we picked apples off an apple tree (clearly, this was taking place in the fall 🙂 ). Boo looooved this part.
Then it was time to shake and shimmy to the bean bag rock song, which involved shaking the bean bags but also putting them on various body parts as directed by the lyrics in the song. Fun and educational!
After circle time, it was time for a simple craft project. Basically, it involved a glue stick and pre-cut pieces to adhere to an already prepared form. They were adorable, and also coordinated in theme with our storytime book (which came after craft time). Here’s an example of one with an owl theme.
Most of the kids were not able to complete these crafts on their own, but the simplified nature of the tasks made it easy to let them be involved in the process. And by the last class, Boo was getting pretty good with the glue stick. Plus, it was still fun to have some of his artwork for the refrigerator when we got home. Boo is so proud of it!
As you may have noticed, the craft and story themes tend to revolve around the season (apple harvest, falling leaves, Halloween, etc.). I think that was such a nice touch. It was great to be able to connect our class experience to things we were doing outside of class (i.e. apple picking, playing in the leaves).
After everyone got some wipes to clean the glue off of sticky hands, we wrapped up class with snack and storytime. Boo loves his snacks! He was always very excited for this part.
Some days it was pretzels, other days it was animal crackers or Boo’s beloved Goldfish.The kids would get some water in little mini Dixie cups too. I don’t have any pictures of Boo drinking from a “big boy” cup because I pretty much needed both my hands free to keep him from spilling it on himself 🙂 But practice makes perfect, right?
The kids would munch on their snacks and listen to our teacher read one or two stories.
Then, all too soon, it was time for the goodbye song. I must admit that I dragged my feet a bit getting ready to leave after class. Boo had such a great time, and I enjoyed hanging out and chatting with the other moms in this casual, laid-back environment.
So if you’re searching for an activity that will entertain and engage your little one, give them time to play and explore, but also help them develop essential skills they’ll need for school programs later (like being able to sit still, pay attention to a teacher, follow directions, share, wait their turn, etc.), Stay & Play at the Glastonbury Y gets an A+ 🙂
Stay & Play Class (For children 12 months to 3 years old with a parent or caregiver)
29 Welles Street (Fox Run Mall), Glastonbury, CT 06033
Get directions here:
Schedule & Fees
Sessions are currently offered on the following days at the Glastonbury location (select one when registering):
Mondays 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Fridays 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Click here to view the current schedule (next session begins in January) and to register online.
There is a waiting list if the session is full.
The Glastonbury YMCA office is open Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cost per child (approximately 7 weeks/7sessions): $101
Register online, by mail, or in person. You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to take this class. You do not need to be a Glastonbury resident to take this class.
Click here to see a list of other preschooler offerings at this and other locations.
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