Hackney & Islington

Hackney & Islington

Open for prebooked classes only! Give us an email or call to get booked in for a free trial or a regular session!

About Us…

If you are on the lookout for an amazing place which offers fun, high quality and educational classes for your children you need to look no further. You cannot do better than Gymboree Play & Music’s award-winning sessions delivered by our fantastic Islington team. Come visit us, we can’t wait to welcome you and your little ones!

Register your interest in having a free trial today by emailing us at islington@gymboreeclasses.co.uk or calling 07818153700.

Our Location…

Our site is located at 60 Highbury New Park between Highbury & Islington roundabout and Newington Green. The building is located inside the estate, so it can be easily be reached from both adjacent roads – either Highbury New Park or Grosvenor Road. If you arrive by train we’re about 4 minutes walk from Canonbury train station.


If you arrive by car there are multiple Pay-and-Display bays nearby. If you live in Islington and have a local parking permit you might be able to park for free in the local resident parking bays during the designated times.

Sock Policy…

Please remember to bring your socks! We want our site to be the cleanest children’s activity site in the area. It is our policy that adults must wear clean socks at Gymboree Play & Music. If you forget to bring them along there will be a pair on sale for £1, half of which we will donate to the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity.

rainbow trust logo


Please note that ALL classes must be prebooked and paid for in advance!

Due to many of our members having built up a stack of make up classes during numerous lockdowns we are adding weekend make up only sessions into our timetable for May and June.

Islington timetable 2021

Just drop us an email on islington@gymboreeclasses.co.uk if you would like to get booked in.


Newborn babies through to children up to age 5 can enjoy a wide range of classes at Gymboree Play & Music Hackney & Islington. Introduce your baby to the world of play at our cosy Sensory Baby Play class, then watch as they progress and work all the way up to imaginative play! (Level 5 and 6)

Sensory Baby Play (0-6 months)…

Our Sensory Baby Play classes focus on developing your baby’s interest in the world through sensory exploration. Stimulating age-appropriate activities such as tummy time, scarf play and auditory exploration help to build trust and security and emotional connections with others. Parent discussion time helps you to connect with other parents in the group and learn more about your child’s development.

Level 2 (6-10 months)…

At this level children learn how they can make things happen as they explore cause and effect and work on strength building activities by using our ramps, slides, climbers and tunnels. The songs and movement of our ‘baby boogies’ are a fun way to encourage social awareness and stimulate early brain development. Introducing your child to new sights, sounds, and movements helps build confidence.

 Level 3 (10-16 months)…

Two way communication has started!  Children are gaining skills that allow them to show you what they want, think and feel as they participate in a range of developmental activities on our range of exciting equipment playscapes. You can experience, observe and guide your child’s new sense of balance, co-ordination and strength and observe how your child interacts and plays with other children as their learning style begins to emerge.

 Level 4 (16-22 months)…

Motor planning is key for our children at this phase of development. We explore patterns, sequences of action and cooperative play using our equipment as a tool for physical, cognitive and social development. Early vocabulary is introduced (e.g. in/out; up/down) and parents help children learn to be competent problem solvers: from how to get in and out of the tunnel, to taking turns, to sharing and more.

 Level 5 (22-28 months)…

Imaginary themes and creative play support the development of “symbolic thinking” in these classes. We transform our slides, tunnels and climbers into doghouses, fire engines and more. We use special props and games to encourage language development and social skill development at an age when many children begin pre-school and can benefit from learning these important skills.

 Level 6 (28 months – 5 years)…

Through more advanced imaginary play, storybooks, equipment play, group and independent play, our Level 6 children learn critical listening and language skills that support their Pre-School readiness. Our activities also focus on co-operative play, building your child’s imagination and thinking skills.


Our Music classes are a fabulous way to start exploring rhythm and movement with your child, and are set to a different genre of music every two to three weeks.

Music I (6-16 months)…

Children are very receptive to musical learning at this age. Research has shown that infants can have memory for songs heard while in mum’s tummy, and babies as young as 5 months can remember musical sequences and detect changes in pitch, melody and rhythm! Participating in Music I impacts all areas of your baby’s development. You’ll learn songs that boost memory and language and explore music elements like beat and rhythm through age-appropriate instruments and playful movement activities. Learn lullabies from around the world to help to build those important connections between you and your child and support their emotional development.

Music II (16 months – 2 1/2 years)…

Our active approach to musical learning introduces your child to 16 different musical styles. Through singing, dancing, movement games and instruments, your child learns important musical “building blocks” like rhythm, beat, tempo and melody and builds a foundation of musical skills to grow on. These activities provide powerful tools that impact your child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development too.

Music III (2 1/2 to 5 years)…

Your child’s ability to express musical rules, structures and elements dramatically increases. Cognitive and physical growth leads to more complex and accurate responses in singing, critical listening, moving and instrument play. Our playfully structured activities encourage interaction with peers and support group cooperation through music making.


Budding artists will love our Art classes! Get messy and creative with activities involving playdough, paints and plenty of glue and glitter. Then, take home your masterpiece to show off to the rest of the family.

Art 1 (17-24 months) Art II (24-36 months) Family Art (17 months-5 years)

Art provides skills for learning and self- expression at any age. That’s why a Gymboree Play & Music Art class is an essential introduction to a world of colour, form and texture that shape a foundation of creative possibility for your child. Our imagination building activities will invite exploration of a collage wall, tactile station, painting, song, story-time and gentle movement to inspire the littlest of artists.

Nothing inspires the imagination quite like art. An Art class sends your child home with far more than a finished project. Children leave our class with an enhanced creative spirit and a positive means for self-expression. Unleash your child’s imagination in a world of hands-on discovery with painting, sculpting, drawing, collage, song, dress-up and other imaginative activities.

Theatre Arts (3-5 years)…

Your little one will sing, dance, paint and create with the opportunity to perform to friends and family at the end of each term. This new programme will promote confidence, self expression, peer interaction and task completion through a variety of creative art forms such as drama, text work, singing, dancing and set and costume making. At the end of each course you have the opportunity to watch your child in a live performance!  In both Key Stages 1 and 2 of the UK National Curriculum music, dance and drama are seen as ways for developing control, co­-ordination, poise and expression of feelings, mood and ideas. The Theatre Arts programme develops all of these important skills and in doing so promotes independence and school readiness in a fun and exciting way!

School Skills (3-5 years)…

This class will equip your little ones with key social, emotional and intellectual skills needed for school and life. This programme will encourage curiosity and build self confidence in your Pre-Schooler using art, science exploration, play and more. Activities help develop confidence, communication, perseverance and co-­operation, giving your child a solid foundation for future learning environments. Teachers also read books that explore and nurture key social and emotional skills, and encourage communication with peers.

This School Skills class includes both independent and group learning activities to promote the important personal and social skills your child will need for a successful transition into school.


We are not currently taking booking for birthday parties but do feel free to get in contact if you would like any further information. Register your interest now by emailing islington@gymboreeclasses.co.uk or calling 07818 153 700.


Normally we offer tailor made birthday parties on Saturday and Sundays – the whole site to yourself, as well as Parties on the Go – meaning we can come to your home or hired venue.  Our themes include Jungle Safari, Under The Sea, Pirates and Princesses, Superheroes, First Birthday and lots lots more!

There is no better place for your little one’s party than our amazing site.




Art Classes…

We are thrilled to announce that our amazing art classes are back! They are taking place on Thursday mornings with sessions starting at 09:45 and 11:00. Currently they are both Family Art classes for the age group 17 months-5 years.

Art sessions are wonderful for inspiring the imagination and encouraging sensory exploration. We will be kicking off with an Autumn theme, so think shiny apples, crunchy leaves, fluffy turkeys! Come and get messy and creative, then take your masterpiece home to show to the family!

Baby Massage…

Babyin BabyoutBaby massage is back! Roz will be here leading her wonderful baby massage sessions on Wednesday afternoons in our upstairs room from 13:45-14:45 and 15:15-16:30.

‘We start with a lovely relaxation for you followed by a gentle massage for your baby. It is a wonderful way to relax into parenthood. You can come from 6 weeks to crawling. More information and reviews can be found at Babyin Babyout and also on the Facebook page. Please get in touch with me on roz@babyin-babyout.co.uk to book a space.’


Gymbo At Home…

We have had so much fun creating our Gymbo At Home classes for the past few months and we have had some incredible feedback! Thank you to everyone who joined us on this journey. We couldn’t have done it without you!


Valentine’s Day…

We managed to raise an amazing £202 through our lovely Valentine’s Day Party that happened on 15th February. This has been split between two wonderful charities – The Rainbow Trust Children’s Trust and Sense. We all had so much fun and can’t wait for the next one!


This year we are sponsoring the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity which seeks to support families with terminally ill children through support workers. Keep an eye out for all our charity events coming up this year! In 2019 we managed to raise an amazing £1361.81 for them through our Halloween and Winter Wonderland parties so let’s aim high in 2020 and see if we can do even better!

rainbow trust logo


  • National Weaning Weak

    7. May 2021
    Child eating in a highchair

    One minute you’re in the delivery room and the next, before you know it, your little terror is reaching for your dinner plate. When did that happen? Well, don’t panic! Our friends at Piccolo have put together a list of the best kit that you can get while weaning, which will help to make your journey as easy and enjoyable as possible.   They’re also offering you 45% off their Ultimate Starter Weaning Bundle if you’re quick!

    Making the switch to solid foods will be an adventure and probably a pretty messy one. You’ve now got a little food critic on your hands who when they love something, they’ll really love it, and when they don’t, they’re probably going to fling it across the room.

    Just know this — perseverance is key. When they’re finally enjoying your healthy home-cooked grub, it feels just like getting Greg’s approval on Masterchef, we promise. So, as you start prepping for weaning, here are the things that can help you to get set up.

    • Tupperware

    For those of you who haven’t fully discovered the joys of tupperware, these will take your organisation skills through the roof. These plastic containers are, without question, ware it’s at…hoho! Sorry about that.

    From snacks on-the-go, to leftover storage, to freezing your extra batches of delicious baby food. Tupperware are a great help all round.

    Just remember not to de-frost and freeze again.

    • Food Processor or hand blender

    If you’re planning on flexing your culinary skills in the kitchen and blending your own baby food,  you’re going to need a food processor. The good news is that they can be used for almost anything, from making sauces, soups, dips, smoothies, and even ice-creams – so you can whizz up your own lunch as well as your little one’s!

    As long as it purees it’s perfect.

    • Wipes or muslins                                            

    Muslins and wipes are a parent’s best friend. But, of course, you already know that ;)

    • High Chair                      

    Your baby is going to need to sit somewhere to eat and your knee isn’t always going to be free. Plus, if you are already weaning your baby, they should already be able to sit up all by themselves.

    High chairs make life a lot easier, allowing your baby to be safe and secure when they explore their food.

    An added bonus is that your little one can eat at the table with their family and start learning about food culture, or ignore everyone and just throw some food around.

    • Mess Mats and Table Mats

    There’s going to be mess, let’s not pretend there isn’t going to be. So, unless your favourite hobby is mopping up food debris (we know ours isn’t), then you may want to look into putting a messy mat or splash mat, or even just some newspaper, under their highchair.

    This’ll make the clean up after meal times a lot easier and pain-free.

    FYI, as a bonus, if you do get one of these mats, it’ll be invaluable for painting, water play, and any other messy baby activities. Easy to wipe down and no curious stains on the carpet. Win-win!

    • Bibs and Coveralls

    Now that you are weaning, the food no longer goes straight from bottle-to-mouth. This means it has the potential to go absolutely everywhere. Welcome to a whole new world of mess.

    You’ll probably need to step it up from the towelled bibs and muslins you’ve been using. Opt for an easy-wipe latex or silicone bib with a pouch at the front to catch those wayward mouthfuls.

    We also recommend sleeved bibs or coverall bibs because they have more surface area to catch any flying food and have a pouch to catch any crumbs.

    • Bowls, plates & spoons                        

    Metal forks and spoons could hurt your baby’s mouth. And your nice plates? They’re best saved for those dinner parties you’ll have… once you find the time.

    Plastic crockery is soft on your baby’s gums, won’t shatter into a million pieces when dropped and doesn’t retain heat, making it the perfect material for baby bowls, plates & spoons. Get them used to eating with durable ‘if it gets thrown across the room, it will not break’ cutlery and tableware. Bamboo or silicone are also perf materials for crockery used for that kind of activity.

    Piccolo have recently launched an exclusive weaning bundle that will get you started on this adventure and for this week only you can enjoy 45% OFF!

    Get your Piccolo Ultimate Starter Weaning Bundle here!

  • You call that a mess?

    10. March 2021
    Nimble and Gymboree Play & Music

    You call that a mess?

    We’re super excited to share that we have teamed up with Nimble, safe and effective plant-based cleaning products inspired by the messy moments parents face every day.

    Founded by a chemist and a dad, Nimble make a range of cleaning products to reduce stress around mess for every parent.  Their powerful and safe solutions use precise, gentle chemistry, no animal testing, and are 100% vegan.  Just the exact ingredients you need for an effective clean, and plant-based power you can count on.

    messy children

    We’re both all about creating safe environments for your little ones to play, learn and explore in and we know only too well that this often ends up in a whole lot of messiness.

    We have some exciting activities planned together but to start we wanted to celebrate the chaotic mess that only our little ones can make as they start to explore the world, express themselves, and build their confidence.  Whether that’s splashing in some puddles, or trying a new food or hands-on art activity, let’s make some mess this March!

    Share a snap of your little one at their messiest best for a chance to win plant-based cleaning bundles from Nimble (to clean up after the fun) or one month’s membership at your local Gymboree Play & Music.

    Just hop over to Instagram to get involved.  After all, it’s the messy moments that make a big life!


  • Fingers crossed for 12th April!

    3. March 2021
    light at the end of the tunnel image

    UPDATE – it’s go go go for Monday 12th April so get in touch with your local centre to book your little one in!

    So if everything goes to plan we should be re-opening our doors in England on 12th April – fingers crossed!  Hopefully our centres in Scotland should be able to open around the same time, but no specific dates have been published yet.

    It’s been such a roller coaster of a ride over the last year and we’ve missed seeing you and your little ones so much, but we hope you’ve kept safe and well at home.  Lots of our centres are still offering Gymbo @ Home so do get in touch with your local branch to find out more about our short, pre-recorded and live action videos delivered via Facebook.  We’ve also been running a series called Practise @ Home on our main Facebook and Instagram accounts showing you how you can practise key movement skills in the safety of your own home, so do look out for that!

    When we do re-open we’ll be sticking with our new play policies including face coverings, social distancing, smaller class sizes, and lots of cleaning, so we can continue to keep our staff and members safe.  We hope you’ll feel happy to come back to class when we do open.  But if last time is anything to go by demand will be high and our classes will fill up quickly, so if you’re an existing member do get in touch with your local centre very soon to reserve your place in class.  And if you’re yet to come to a Gymboree Play & Music class and want to know what all the fuss is about enquire now and get booked in for a trial class!

    Fingers crossed 🤞

    not long to go graphic
  • Benefits of the Tubee

    29. January 2021
    benefits picture

    Introducing Gymboree Play & Music’s famous Tubee!

    This firm air-filled ring is used in our classes for tummy time, sitting in, jumping in and out, crawling through, and peek-a-boo!

    The Benefits

    • Sense of space
      • Developing a sense of space is a vital component for any baby or toddler so they can confidently move through their many milestones. Our Tubee is an excellent piece of equipment for this from birth to age five. It can be used in the early stages for sitting inside and feeling the space around them, we can then turn it on its side to create a tunnel, or for older ones use it to jump inside from a distance. Learning the size of the space will enable little ones to explore freely and succeed at completing different tasks!Tubee
    • Body control
      • Body control is vital for all stages of life and to start from birth with developing this skill really will give your baby the best start in life. We help little ones develop their body control with tummy time, by placing baby on the edge and encouraging them to hold up their head. You can also place a toy inside it and encourage them to reach and grab. For our older ones they may lift the Tubee above their head or dive through the centre of it, both of these activities require the body control learnt at a younger age.
    • Object permanence
      • Object permanence is the understanding that objects can continue to exist even when they are out if sight. A great example of this would be to show your little one a ball then place it inside the Tubee. The height of it will make it seem as if the ball has disappeared. The game can continue as your little ones begin to explore inside of the Tubee for what they can no longer see.
    • Imagination
      • As your little one continues to grow throughout their Gymboree Play & Music journey we will start to work on building their imagination play.  The best bit of this is you get to play too, after all parents are always their favourite playmate! Our Tubee may be a watering hole in the jungle, a giant cup of tea to dunk our biscuits in, or even a bath tub! The possibilities are endless.
    • Confidence
      • Confidence is one of the biggest and most important lessons we aim to teach at Gymboree Play & Music as it’s the foundation for your little one to always try new things. With a Tubee we can do this by sitting baby on the edge and bouncing them up high letting them feel the motion and be confident their grown-up has them safe. A toddler may throw a bean bag from a distance miss a few times but when they achieve it their confidence will grow.Drawing of the Tubee
    • Sense of touch
      • Touch is such a vital part of little ones’ development. Little ones can touch the Tubee and feel the smooth vinyl cover, and how firm it is because it’s air-filled. We can use it to hold lots of different tactile objects and young babies placed around the edge can reach in and explore. With older ones we can ask them to distinguish the difference eg. fill it with hard playballs or spiky playballs, asking them to use their sense of touch to spot the difference.
    • Depth perception
      • Depth perception is an important skill to learn in order to keep themselves safe, for example when identifying edges and drops. This will start by baby sitting inside the Tubee crawling through then eventually jumping in and knowing the depth is safe for them to do so.
    • Upper body strength
      • This skill is vital for little ones to develop so they can at first crawl, pull themselves up, and roll over. Then to cruising around the edges of equipment before mastering tough tasks such as climbing to big heights or the monkey bars.  Little ones can use the edge of the Tubee to lift up their heads and for tummy time, then pushing off of it to stand. Older ones can work with a friend to roll it across the playfloor, build high in a tower, or even lift it above their heads!

    That’s the end of this series, the Benefits of our Equipment, we hope you’ve found it useful and interesting. We’d love to hear about your little ones’ favourites in the comments below.  If you’re not already a member and have felt inspired to come along, get in touch with your local centre to find out more!

    Back to the Short Slide.

  • Benefits of our Short Slide

    28. January 2021
    benefits picture

    Introducing Gymboree Play & Music’s Short Slide!

    This short, smooth, wooden ramp is used in our classes for climbing, balancing on, cruising around, and obvious sliding down.

    The Benefits

    • Sense of balance
      • Balance is a staple part of your child’s development, it refers to the ability to keep a controlled position or posture when completing a task. This could be sitting, walking, and of course climbing. Our short slide allows babies from newborn up to pre-schoolers to practice these skills by sitting on it, climbing on or even across it as it as it also doubles up as a bridge. short slide as a bridge
    • Body control
      • Our short slide is excellent for working on body control for your little ones. In our sensory class we will lie little one on a soft blanket and gently pull them down whilst supporting their torso. As they get older they’ll sit with support, then ultimately they’ll slide independently. We will also explore tummy time and climbing up it to improve body control. Using a piece of equipment such as our short slide is so important in early life as it supports baby gaining the strength to hold their head up. It’s the foundation on which the development of all your baby’s other movement is based.
    • Hand-feet co-ordination
      • Really young non-mobile babies can work on their hand and feet co-ordination when we place them on top of the slide and hold a favourite toy just out of reach and encourage them to move gently towards it. When they start crawling they can move up the slide or use it as a bridge.  When they get to their feet they can also cruise around the edge or our short slide.  With older ones we can also encourage stomping and clapping at the same time as they slide or climb. Having good hand and feet co ordination is vital for your little one to reach all their milestones and our short slide is an excellent starting point.
    • Gross motor development
      • To develop gross motor skills your little one needs to engage in activates that involve movements of the large muscles of the arms, legs and their torso. Our short slide is excellent for this for little ones of all ages, and we can always increase the challenge by adding a mat for speed or adjusting the height higher or lower.
    • Bilateral co-ordinationDrawing of our Short Slide
      • Bilateral co-ordination refers to the ability to co-ordinate both sides of the body at the same time, for example crawling and walking. Most little ones begin to master the art of walking from roughly a year onwards but in fact we encourage crawling for all ages on our short slide regardless if they are walking or not as crawling helps to develop the foundations necessary for future activities such as reading, writing, and physical activities.
    • Sense of touch
      • Touch is one of your baby’s key senses, especially in the early weeks of their lives.  We use the short slide as a platform for sensory stations, adding on various textures and sensory objects so little ones can really start to explore with them. As your little one grows throughout the programme we may add in questioning such as ‘can you pick out the spiky ball?’ or ‘where’s the soft duck?’ so they start to distinguish the difference between objects.

    Back to our Rainbow Barrel.  Next up it’s our Tubee!

  • Benefits of our Rainbow Barrel

    27. January 2021
    benefits picture

    Introducing Gymboree Play & Music’s famous Rainbow Barrel!

    This large, soft, tactile tunnel is used in our classes for pushing, rolling, rocking, crawling in, sitting in.

    The Benefits

    • Sense of balance
      • Our exciting Rainbow Barrel can be used to help develop your child’s balance from a very young age. We can place little babies on their tummy supporting them around their torsos. As they grow we can progress this to sitting with support, to eventually being able to do so independently. Balance is a key part of your little one’s development and they will need it in all areas of life, for example standing on one leg to dress themselves, or climbing up and down stairs with no railing.
    • Core strength
      •  Core strength is the development of the torso muscles that stabilise, centre, and move the trunk of the body. Lack of core strength can contribute to things such as poor posture which in turn can affect gross motor and fine motor skills. We use our Rainbow Barrel to encourage little babies to do tummy time, then progress to sitting, then they use it as a giant walker, before finally pushing it using their core strength from one side of the room to to the other!
    • Sense of safety
      • Our Rainbow Barrel is a very sturdy piece of equipment with a smooth vinyl finish. It can take up to two children on top plus little ones inside, and it doesn’t dip in the middle, it maintains its shape. This allows your little one to feel safe whether they are rocking on top, climbing inside, or rolling it with friends. Having a sense of safety whilst playing will allow your little one to build self confidence and new skills in each class they attend.
    • Depth perception
      • The development of depth perception helps your child learn to gain confidence in their body. Our Rainbow Barrel is perfect for this as it can be used up against a slide allowing a child to drop something from a height, landing inside – we call this ‘problem solving’. You may find your child likes to drop things from a height in their highchair once we have explored the game at Gymboree Play & Music!
    • Dynamic balance
      • Our Rainbow Barrel can be used to work on your child’s dynamic balance by using it as a giant walker. Your child will walk with their feet and push with their hands and you can stand behind to support them.
    • Sense of space
      • Our Rainbow Barrel creates a fantastic tunnel that your little one can crawl though to develop their sense of space. We can also make it more challenging for our older ones by attaching a cloth tunnel to one side so that the space gets longer and then shorter.  Another way of working on this is rolling a ball though or placing a child’s favourite toy inside to encourage them to take the challenge. It can be daunting for little ones so always start by just placing their head slightly inside and make sure they can see you from the other end, that will give them confidence.
    • Colour perception
      • As little babies can only initially see in black and white our Rainbow Barrel is an excellent piece of equipment for them to use as they start to view life in colour.  It’s also excellent for our little ones as they grow throughout the programme and can start to put the correct names to the colours.
    • Hand-feet co-ordination
      • Hand and feet co-ordination is a staple part of your child’s development. We can use our Rainbow barrel to develop this with tummy time for little babies, placing a small toy in front so they can reach out and grab it, crawling inside once they get moving. Then using it as a walker to co ordinate the hands and feet at different times, and also tapping on the outside and stamping our feet to the beat of music.
    • Co-operation
      • We often use our Rainbow Barrel in group activities such as collecting objects and placing them inside. Or working together to push it on its side. And for little ones working with a partner to roll it across the mats. Learning co-operative play from a young age is such a key skill and it will serve your little one well as they move into the next stages of their education.
    • Sense of achievement
      • Learning to make it to the other side of a tunnel for a little baby can be a huge challenge so it may take weeks to achieve. But once they do make it through the sense of achievement will feel great. We always encourage a big celebration on the small wins to really build your little one’s confidence from a young age. Older ones will finally master jumping inside our Rainbow Barrel from the end of the Airlog.  There are so many elements to this activity and once they complete it your child will feel a huge sense of achievement.

    Back to the Wavy Wavy Slide. Next up our Short Slide!

  • Benefits of our Wavy Wavy Slide

    26. January 2021
    benefits picture

    Introducing Gymboree Play & Music’s Wavy Wavy Slide!

    This smooth, bumpy, wooden slide is used for climbing and sliding, on bottoms, tummies, head first and feet first.

    The Benefits

    • Body control
      • We use our wavy slide for newborns up to pre-school to work on our little ones’ body control. In sensory class we may put little ones on their tummies and let them use the waves in the slide to support their upper body.  Our older toddlers can enhance this skill by using the slide at different speeds or in different directions all the while making sure they make it safely to the top and the bottom.
    • Hand-feet co-ordination
      • Little ones work on their hand and feet co-ordination when they use the wavy slide as a bridge or climber, whether they are just starting to crawl, cruise around the edge, or run to the very top!
    • Gross Motor Development
      •  Gross motor skills are important for major body movement such as walking, maintaining balance, and co-ordination. We can adjust the angle of the slide, so it can go from steep to flat like a bridge, so this increases the ways in which it can be used for climbing, balancing, and walking.
    • Sense of Balance
      • Your 6 month old can work on their sense of balance while being gently pulled down on a slide ride working to stay seated and balanced. Later on your toddler is building on this skill whilst climbing it and holding two play balls.
    • Bilateral co-ordination
      • Bilateral co-ordination refers to the ability to co-ordinate both sides of the body at the same time. Our Wavy Wavy Slide is an excellent piece of equipment to use to work on this development goal. For young babies we will place them on a blanket and parents fully support them, then as they gain more strength and confidence they will start to master the process independently with the support of their grown-up and teacher.
    • Sense of achievement
      • Celebrating the achievements of your little ones is so vital as it builds confidence and self esteem. The wavy slide is an excellent way to work on this with your little one. The process of getting to the top, letting themselves go, and then reaching the bottom gives them a clear route to success, and a big well done from their grown up and teacher once they achieve it.  The waves in this slide and the ability to make it higher or lower can add continual challenges for your little ones.
    • Imagination
      • As your little ones grow throughout our programme we work on building their imaginations. Our wavy slide has endless uses from being an elephant’s trunk to a kitchen table, or sitting up high to go fishing in the ocean. With our lessons changing every two weeks you will see this wavy slide in many different forms!
    • Sense of space
      • When a child is developing their spatial awareness they begin to become aware of their placement in relation to the things around them. We not only use our slide for the obvious up and down motion but also for activities such as rolling a ball up and down to a friend or parent. We may even add a cloth tunnel on top for an extra challenge, all the while working on developing your little one’s sense of space.


    Back to our Handle Ball. Next up the Rainbow Barrel!

  • Benefits of our Handle Ball

    25. January 2021
    benefits picture

    Introducing Gymboree Play & Music’s famous Handle Ball!

    This large, soft, smooth, bouncy ball with handles can be used for lifting, pushing, rolling, sitting on, rocking and bouncing on.

    The Benefits

    • Sense of touch
      • Touch is one of your baby’s key senses, especially in the early weeks. Our Handle Ball has many different elements to explore; its smooth vinyl surface, the rough texture of the handles, and its firmness.  When it’s filled with air it’s very firm, but when we release a little air it’s soft and squidgy. Sense of touch is essential to children’s growth of physical abilities, language, cognitive skills, and social-emotional competency.
    • Support
      • Our Handle Ball can be used to support your little one during play time. For our younger babies we place them on their tummies, gently holding them round their torso. The firm air-filled Handle Ball helps them to strengthen tummy and neck muscles which are vital to early development. Later on, they can work with their adult or friends to either push or lift it together which continues to develop key muscles and strength.
    • Imagination
      • As our little ones develop we encourage the use of our imaginations in class. Imagination play enhances social development, language development, and builds self confidence. Our Handle Ball may become a banana tree in the jungle, a rocket to the moon, or even a wrecking ball on a construction site.  The possibilities are always endless!
    • Hand-feet co-ordination
      • One example of hand-feet co-ordination is using our Handle Ball as a giant walker, our little ones will walk and push with their hands whilst the grown-ups walk behind them to offer physical support and verbal encouragement. Hand and feet co-ordination is a vital skill to develop from a young age to support us in all aspects of our daily lives.
    • Visual impact
      • drawing of our handle ballA bright, cheerful object with many colours helps stimulate your infant’s vision development. This is also true when their eyes follow moving objects. A great example of how we work on this with our Handle Ball is pushing it to top of one of our large wedges and encouraging little ones to watch it roll to a stopping position at the bottom of the ramp. Or they could roll it to a friend or their adult.
    • Colour perception
      • When babies are born, their vision has not fully developed, and their vision will go through several changes during the first few months of life. By the time a baby is 5 months old, their colour vision will have developed fully. We use our Handle Ball in class to introduce them to new colours and then as they grow we can start to also encourage them to name the colours that they see.

    Back to the Cushion. Next up our Wavy Wavy Slide!

  • Benefits of our Cushion

    24. January 2021
    benefits picture

    Introducing the Gymboree Play & Music Cushion!

    This soft crash mat is used in Levels 1-7 and our pre-school classes for walking, standing, jumping, lying, rolling, and sliding.

    The Benefits

    • Body control
      • We use our Cushion for little ones from birth to 5 years. It has a lot of resistance and we describe it as trying to walk or crawl through mud! Body control starts from little ones using it for tummy time and lifting up of their heads, to forward rolls and big jumps!
    • Parent-child relationship
      • The Cushion really encourages the trust between grown-up and child.  The little one sits on the edge whilst the grown-up encourages them to reach out and fall into their arms. Similarly, a 5 year old is about to master a star jump and their grown-up is on the side cheering them on!
    • Lower limb strength
      • We use the crash mat in the early stages for tummy time and crawling, then start to encourage little ones to walk across. Bouncing is a tricky skill and unlike a trampoline our crash mat doesn’t actually have much bounce so really encourages the muscles to build up and your little ones to do the work!
    • Sense of balance
      • girl on cushionAs our Cushion isn’t a solid surface to make your way across, so whether it be crawling, walking or running, your little one will have to engage their tummy muscles and sense of co-ordination in order to make it to the other side.
    • Sense of achievement
      • We use our crash mat to create activities of repetition such as jumping from a height or successfully completing a jump in the centre of it.  We will repeat these week on week so that your little one can continue to improve, and once they complete the task, feel that sense of achievement. Celebrating this with them will build their confidence.
    • Upper body strength
      • Our Cushion is used to develop upper body strength by crawling across it. We encourage crawling in all stages of pre-school development as it continues to build that upper body strength which they will need for other activities such as monkey bars and climbing and also in their day to day life when getting dressed, and in and out of bed.
    • Social interaction
      • In our younger classes we use this for our sensory stations. This allows an opportunity for not only the babies to interact, but also the parents. This provides another key part of classes, we want you to make friends too!  We also use the crash mat for imagination group play, for example a sand pit or giant muddy puddle.
    • Sense of space
      • Having a sense of space is vital for your little one’s development, one way we will do this by using hoops on the crash mat and asking them to stay in their own space.
    • Confidence
      • Our crash mat has so many uses, and whether they’re floating on it as a boat, or being a bear climbing over it as a mountain, or crawling across it, each time they achieve one of these steps their confidence will grow and grow.
    • Body co-ordination
      • Having good body co-ordination is a vital skill to learn as it will mean they will be less likely to fall and injure themselves. One way we use our crash mat for this by learning to balance on one leg.
    • Tactile experience
      • The feel of our crash mat is unlike any of our other pieces of equipment, it’s dense and squidgy with a vinyl finish. Tactile experience is vital for little one’s development as they use their senses to explore and try and make sense of the world around them.
    drawing of the cushion

    Back to Airlog. Next to the Handle Ball.

  • Benefits of the Airlog

    23. January 2021
    benefits picture

    Introducing Gymboree Play & Music’s famous Airlog!

    This long, soft, colourful, inflatable cylinder is used in our classes throughout the levels for bouncing, climbing, pushing, sliding and tapping. As your little ones develop we also use it to build on imagination play. From a boat to an alligator or even a toaster, the possibilities are endless!

    The Benefits

    • It helps little ones understand texture.
      • This is a key for our little ones’ brain development, it gives them early exposure to the multi texture environment we live in and can help avoid sensitivities later in life.
    • Great for body control.
      • Babies will develop control of their upper body in the first few months of their life, we use the Airlog for tummy time, rocking, and also to introduce sitting up whilst being supported by their adult.
    • Builds confidence.
      • From starting in younger classes with sitting, rocking and bouncing, all heavily assisted by their adults. As our little ones move into Level 3 we start to encourage some independent play such as pushing it along to encourage walking. By the end of your little one’s Gymboree Play & Music journey they will be running across without any assistance and jumping off the other end! Its a real journey.
    • Develops strength.
      • We use it as a ‘tummy time tool’ for babies, a ‘giant walker’ for our little ones who are up on their feet, and then for our older toddlers we even explore lifting it above our heads as superheroes.
    • Sense of balance.
      • Balance is such a key developmental goal for all little ones as it comes into play in so many areas of life. We use it from a young age to build up tummy strength then upper body, before co-ordinating the two to start walking across it. A lot of balance also comes from confidence that we won’t fall, or if we do, what will happen? We use our teachers and parents to encourage little ones both physically and mentally that they can do it!
    • Hand-feet coordination.
      • A great example of this is one of our famous activities the ‘FREEZE’ dance. We mainly use this with our slightly older toddlers but also sometimes with our little ones too. We play music and encourage tapping, always starting with both hands, then one hand, and then we alternate. This encourages the crossing of both sides of the brain.
    • Motor development.
      • This is the physical growth and strengthening of a child’s bones and the ability for them to move though their surroundings. They can do this by ‘cruising’ around, pushing, tapping, banging, walking, or running across our Airlog.
    • Reactivity
      • One of the fun sides of the development of our little ones is watching their reactions as they take part in a new activity or complete one they have been working towards. The more you encourage with your face and words the more positive their reactions will be. It’s ok if sometimes your little one looks shocked or unsure, it’s all part of the journey!
    • Rhythm sensation
      • We use the Airlog by tapping our hands or bouncing on top to create rhythm, this skill will enable your little one to identify sound patterns and learn through repetition.
    • Social interaction.
      • We often use the Airlog for group activities such as pushing it from one side of the room to together, chopping it down like a tree, or playing peek-a-boo with another baby.  Learning to communicate and work alongside other children is a vital life skill.
    • Vestibular sense.
      • This is our inner ear balance mechanism. It is vital for your little ones to balance on one leg when they get dressed for example. We encourage our older ones to walk across the Airlog as we gently wobble it to further develop this.
    • Parent-child relationship.
      • This is a key part of everything we do, and the Airlog is only a successful activity if our parents are right by their little one’s side. Knowing your grown-up is your biggest cheerleader, and will catch you if you fall or encourage you to try again, is why any Airlog activity can make a huge positive difference to the early development of your child.

    Back to the ‘Benefits’ introduction.  Next up it’s our Cushion!




Updated Policies…

Our classes will continue to focus on fun with social, cognitive, and physical development goals at their heart. We do however require your help to make this ‘new normal’ work. Rules set by government, instructions we received from our council’s Environmental Health Department and steps we have undertaken have resulted in an inevitable change in procedures at our site. We have tried to summarise them here. Feel free to ask us any questions and provide your recommendations.     

Make up classes

  • Due to the need to operate each class as a ‘bubble’ we have been advised that make up classes cannot be booked as one off sessions. Therefore, every class that you cancel will be added to your account as a ‘second class credit’. Once you have four, or more make up class credits we will be able to book you into a second class as a regular member to use these sessions up.

Open Gym

  • Open Gym sessions represent a Free Flow Play opportunity which would now pose an increased risk due to the presence of a mix of different children. The government and the council have currently forbidden this type of activity. This means that we will not be able to run Open Gym sessions until the official guidelines permit us to do so.

Arrival and departure

  • We ask you to arrive 5 – 10 minutes before your class start time and to wait in a socially distanced manner until we invite you to enter. This ensures that there is enough time to register you into the class, check your temperature, and for you to wash and sanitise your hands before you enter your session.
  • Once in the building you will follow the one way system that is in place to reach the Playfloor or upstairs room. The art/music room has been converted to help as an additional buggy parking space.
  • Once your Play & Learn class has finished we ask that you leave the Playfloor from the reception side and exit the site promptly. This ensures that we keep the flow of people going between classes with no overlap, and also means that we can immediately start the cleaning between sessions.


  • Our timetable has been adapted for smaller class sizes. We ask that only one adult attends at a time per little one.
  • For now we are not going to be offering Open Gym, Art or Drop Off classes. We hope to be able to reintroduce them to the timetable soon!
  • We ask that you stick to the same class time each week so they can operate as ‘bubbles’ with the only exception being if your little one reaches an age that they need to move to a higher level class.
  • All adults (including staff) must wear a face covering on site and in classes. All adults must wear clean socks.
  • No external items to be brought into class. Please leave them in the buggy. Valuable items to be kept on your person if necessary.
  • No mobile phone use in class to ensure you can commit to social distancing.
  • There will be less singing in classes (alongside Government guidance) and quiet recorded music will be used to ensure no raised voices.
  • You will not be able to share toys between households. You will be allocated individual boxes on arrival.

General notes

  • If you, your little one, or anyone else in your household display symptoms of Covid-19 then you will be asked to follow the government guidance for self isolation. This also applies if there has been any travel to areas which require quarantine. We ask that you cancel your classes and you can then rebook them in accordance with our updated make up class policy.
  • There will be no highchairs available for meals or snacks before or after class . If you do wish to have a space to breast feed somewhere other than in the main class area then do ask at the front desk and we will be more than happy to check you into our lounge area where we will provide you with a comfortable chair. Unfortunately we have been asked not to use any couches.
  • We ask that you email or call us for any queries you may have or any bookings/payments that need to be made.
  • If you wish to buy anything from our retail wall then do feel free to do so! We ask that you don’t touch any of the items unless you are going to buy them. We will be operating a cash free site so do be prepared to purchase items via card or contactless payment.
  • We have adapted our way of working to exclude – Gymbo stamps, Gymbo kisses, blowing bubbles by mouth and some toys and props.

Payment Rules and Policies…

  1. One off joining fee: The joining fee for Gymboree Play & Music Hackney & Islington is per child and is valid worldwide. Children remain members until their 6th birthday and pay only once.
  2. Fee payments: The joining fee and first payment (pro rata) will be due on the day of registration and will be charged to your card on the same day or in the following two weeks. Thereafter, your monthly fee will become due on the last day of each month and is payable via direct debit. At the time of signing up we will ask you to fill out a direct debit authorisation form either in person or via a secure link. Your commitment to these payments is for at least three months. Payments will generally be taken within the two weeks following the payment due date.
  3. Cancel membership: You can cancel your membership any time after your initial three month period with one month’s notice. This needs to be in writing (email is fine!) On receipt of your written cancellation we will issue with a confirmation email.
  4. Holidays and illness: We do not automatically give credits if you miss your class and ask that you do not attend if you, or your little one, are poorly. You can cancel your class in advance via email or phone and this will then be added to your account as a ‘class credit’. This can be booked in accordance with our updated make up class policy (please see above)
  5. Closure: If classes do not run due to the site remaining closed over Christmas, Easter or on a Bank Holiday, you will be due a make up class credit. If you would rather freeze your membership during these times then do communicate to us in writing with one month’s notice.
  6. Teacher absence/shortage: We reserve the right to change the format or genre of your class, as appropriate for your child’s age, without reimbursement, in the event of teacher absence or shortage. Should we cancel your class, clause 5 will apply.
  7. Freezing membership: If you wish to take a break we ask that you give us one month’s notice in writing via email. This needs to include your end date along with your recommencement date. We will reduce your monthly payments accordingly. You get 8 weeks of freeze period per year in addition to any freezes made over Christmas or Easter (see clause 5)
  8. Withdrawal of service: In months where we are unable to provide our onsite or online class service for any reason, we will reduce the monthly payment by the equivalent weekly fee.
  9. Bank authorisation failure: In the event that your bank will not authorise a transaction for any reason we may charge a £5 administration fee. To avoid this, please ensure we always have your up to date payment details.
  10. Open gym: When open gym sessions are on our timetable they are included for all active members. If an active member wishes to bring along a sibling who is not a member/no longer an active member, they can do so for £5.
  11. We reserve the right to change our membership and payment rules.
  12. By providing your details you are consenting to our Privacy Policy which can we viewed at our website gymboreeclasses.co.uk
  13. By giving us your card and bank details you are agreeing to the terms and conditions set out above.