________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 19 . . . . May 16, 2008


Play & Learn: 1001 Fun Activities for Your Baby and Child.            

Nancy Hall & Susan Elizabeth Davis; Roni Cohen Leiderman & Wendy Masi, consulting editors. Illustrated by Christine Coirault.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books/Gymboree Play & Music, 2008.
240 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-55470-033-2.

Subject Headings:
Preschool children-Recreation.
Child development.
Child rearing.


Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4


Play & Learn: 1001 Fun Activities for Your Baby and Child is a product of the Play and Music division of Gymboree, a large corporation based in San Francisco which operates a chain of 600 retail stores specializing in children's clothing across America. The Play and Music division of Gymboree operates over 400 centres in 14 different countries. It was created by a young mother in 1976 and is dedicated to helping parents stimulate their children's emotional and intellectual development through play.

     "Play is universal and it's the natural way for parents to connect with newborns, toddlers, and preschoolers" reads the foreword to the book. "Playing with your child isn't just about fun and closeness; it's also one of the best ways to teach new skills, foster imagination, instil a desire to learn and build self- esteem." To help parents and caregivers of young children make the most of this world of play, authors Dr. Roni Cohen Leiderman and Dr. Wendy Masi, have gathered together no less than 1001 activities to make up the pages of this sturdy, colourfully illustrated paperback volume. According to the authors, many of the activities in the book originated from Gymboree's Play and Music programs and, therefore, have been tested by thousands of children around the world to ensure they produce laughter and learning.

     Play & Learn: 1001 Fun Activities for Your Baby and Child is divided into 11 sections; the first 36 months appears in eight colour-coded six month segments, starting with zero to three months all the way up to thirty to thirty-six months. The last three sections are geared to three, four and five year-olds. Each of the 11 chapters is introduced by a sidebar outlining a general milestone and three specific milestones in the development of children in the age group targeted.  An index gives fast and easy access to each activity. The collection of 1001 ideas has an excellent balance of physical, creative, musical, imaginative and craft-y activities, all clearly explained and brightly illustrated with paintings by artist Christine Coirault. None of the activities requires lengthy preparation, hard-to-find or expensive materials (or artistic talents!). What is required, is energy, time and a certain level of organizational skill.

     Skimming over the 1001 "fun" things to do in this volume, a reader will be forgiven for assuming that just about every activity ever shared by big and little people since time began appears therein. The inevitable question thus arises: "Just who is the book meant for?" The massive collection of activities is far too exhaustive (not to say exhausting) for a busy parent (or grandparent) of more than one preschooler in the family. Play & Learn: 1001 Fun Activities for Your Baby and Child is, however, likely to be highly useful in a child care establishment which accepts children from newborn to five years of age or in a community parent resource centre.


Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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