Little kids have such a pure zest for life, so it’s a thrill to watch them play and develop in a great class or program designed especially for them. These 13 classes and programs for babies and toddlers will enrich and delight young minds through music, nature outings, sign language, yoga and more! Read on to learn about the latest and greatest classes for tots––and book your kiddo’s spot!

photo: San Diego Youth Symphony

San Diego Youth Symphony ChIMES Program

The ChIMES program by the San Diego Youth Symphony is playing your little one's tune! ChIMES stands for: Childhood Introduction to Music Education, with Smiles, and it's designed for kids from infants to age 5. Classes provide meaningful music-making experiences that encourage family bonding, at-home learning and pave the way for future musical development. These interactive classes develop motor and aural skills by incorporating singing, movement, rhythm activities, hands-on instrument play and lots of fun. Classes often feature guest musicians and families might learn about the French Horn one week (and get up close to touch it and see how it works) and the next week they might watch a young violinist or cellist come in to demonstrate their instrument and play a few tunes. 

Good to know: Babies are welcome! Although this program welcomes all young kids up to age 5, it's extremely popular with the “baby crowd.” ChIMES is one of the only music classes around that allows and encourages participation from families with very young babies. It offers a great way for new moms to get out, bond with their baby and meet other parents.

Seasonal sessions (6-8 weeks) of 45-minute classes are offered in Balboa Park for parents/caregivers and their 0-5 year olds.

The next session of ChIMES classes begins in January 2019 and will run for 7 weeks. Info will be posted soon on www.sdys.org/chimes

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Free Forest School of San Diego

There's no greater teacher than Mother Nature and little kids absolutely love basking in the splendor of the great outdoors. Join in the fun of San Diego's Free Forest School so your tots can unplug and enjoy some carefree childhood moments reminiscent of the good ol' days of your youth.

Click here to read our full story on the Free Forest School for more info.

Tinkergarden

Spending time with your toddler can be a walk in the park, literally. Your kiddo will love classes like mud play or bubble time. Even more, you'll love that it's at your local park. Led by a group leader these classes encourage meeting friends, exploring nature and just plain old fun. Let your little one tinker in the outdoors today.

Cost: $135+ for 6-8 week sessions

Classes at Parks in the Carlsbad area. Check online for a class near you.
Online: tinkergarten.com

photo: If I Was a Bird Yoga

If I Was a Bird Toddler Yoga

Put a little om in your outing with your budding yogi with a class at this kid-friendly yoga studio. Classes for tots warm up with an art project, continue with yoga poses, song and movement. Then wind up with a healthy snack. Your tot leaves happy, calm and full.

Cost: Introductory class, $20

Locations: Flower Hill Promenade, Uptown Hillcrest, and Liberty Station
Online: ifiwasabirdyoga.com

Baby Sign Language Class

For wee ones just walking, but not quite talking, sign language is great to learn. Classes are fun and interactive with reading, songs and playtime to help you and your little learn sign language. Even more, there are tips and tricks about incorporating signing outside of class. Further, little ones meet new friends who inspire learning. If you want to check it out before signing up for a class, attend a library storytime for free!

Cost: $145/child for 7 weeks of signing

1947 30th St.
San Diego, CA 92102 
619-987-4834
Online: babysignlanguage.net

photo: Lenya McGrath

Toddler Time Gymnastics

The La Jolla YMCA is home to a state-of-the-art gymnasium that’s chock-ful to the brim with young kiddos taking part in classes, camps and weekend gymnastic activities. Did you know that each weekday morning it opens its doors for a freestyle toddler playtime? Your minikins can have run of the gym at this toddler only session. While Disney classics play overhead, they’ll be able to jump, roll, swing, climb, balance and dance through activity stations like the trampoline, obstacle course, mini balance beam and swinging rope. With a bouncy floor, staff on hand and moms and dads playing with their kiddos, you’ll be assured your kids have a fun and safe time. Each 30-minute session winds up with some bubble and stamp time to top off the fun.

Cost: Free with membership
Hours: Weekdays, 8:30-9:30 a.m. (in the gym)

8355 Cliffridge Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037
858-453-3483
Online: ymca.org

Toddler Art at Pachis

If you have a mini Picasso on your hands, set him/her on the right artistic path at Pachis Art Studio for Kids. Located in Liberty Station, Pachis offers classes and camps that encourage kiddos to embrace their creativity and explore their artistic expression. Pachis offers a toddler art program for little ones age 18 months to 3 years. Pint-sized artists enjoy "stations designed to promote sensorial and skill development. Focus is on process art and personal stimulation through open-ended activities and art play." Each class is 1 hour long and is based on parent participation (bonding time!).

Cost: $150 for five week program
Hours: see schedule varies

2820 Roosevelt Rd.
Suite 102, Building 201
San Diego, CA 92106
619-320-8057
Online: mypachis.com

photo: New Children's Museum

Toddler Time at The New Children's Museum

The New Children’s Museum is THE place to take your toddler if you want a guaranteed fun time. Beyond super toddler time sessions, the Museum boasts three floors of interactive exhibitions, play areas, craft stations, a chicken pen, an expansive outdoor organic garden and even an oversized kitchen sink the kiddos can play in! On Friday mornings the museum hosts toddler time – a one hour activity session designed for kiddos ages 4 and under that supports a healthy mind and body with music, movement and social play. Each week is different to keep things new and fresh, but you’ll be able to find things like Finger Painting Friday, sing-a-long sessions, toddler yoga and sensory exploration play classes. Parking can be found on the street or check out the museum’s parking garage for a $10 fee.

Cost: Free with $14 per person entry fee ages 1 and over
Hours: Daily, 10:30-11:30 a.m. (except Fridays)

200 West Island Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
619-233-8792
Online: thinkplaycreate.org

Young Scientist Program at The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

If you have a budding scientist on your hands, then the Young Scientist Program at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center may just be the thing for you. This four-week program is designed to help mini science lovers (and an accompanying mom or dad) check out the scientific wonders of the world. Sessions are held around the museum and include an hour-long exploration into earth checking out water, plants, seeds, rocks and landforms. There’s also an adventure into astronomy investigating planets, moons, stars and rockets, a mighty meteorologist breakdown where you will learn about measuring weather and wet, sunny and winter weather. Lastly, there’s a cool kids chemistry lesson with radical reactions, states of matters and mixtures. Classes include access to the Fleet’s awesome exhibits and galleries so you can stay and play after the formal learning ends. The program is best suited to mini Einsteins, ages 3-5 years-old.

Cost: $75/session for members, $85/session for non-members
Hours: schedule changes; check online

1875 El Prado
Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101
619-238-1233
Online: rhfleet.org/events/young-scientists

YMCA Pee Wee Sports

The YMCA loves working with kids, but don’t just think that means your school-aged kiddos. The YMCA Pee Wee Sports Clinics and Leagues are especially designed for toddlers 3 and up. Held at more than 10 locations from East County, up north, all the way to the sea and down south, you can choose from a variety of classes like basketball, soccer, t-ball, football and track and field. Your active little ones will discover the basics of the sport all the while learning about sportsmanship, building confidence and of course having some good old-fashioned fun! You’ll love that participation is the name of the game, effort is praised over ability and it is most definitely a competitive free zone. Classes are separated by age and held at a variety of times and days so you’ll be able to choose what’s best for you. Non-members are able to participate but you’ll need to pay a slightly different rate. Check individual class listings for age recommendations, times and costs.

Cost: From $42/members and $56/non-members for one month
Hours: Mon. – Sun.

Various YMCA locations
Online: ymca.org/branchprograms

Dance Classes at Dance to Evolve

For some toddlers, there's nothing better than shaking to the beat, twirling those arms in the air and spinning those tootsies around. So if dancing is their thing, then check out the dance classes at Dance to Evolve. Classes range in dancing styles from a combination of ballet and tap to a parent participation class to an urban hit of hip hop. Lessons are a short-attention-span friendly 45 minutes and include a mixture of games and exercises to make learning fun. There are locations throughout San Diego County, including Point Loma, UTC, Poway, Tierrasanta and Scripps Ranch and they’re scheduled at a range of times so you’ll be sure to find something that works with your nap/school/making it work with siblings schedule! If you aren’t sure if your tiny dancer is going to want to get into the groove, you can schedule a free trial lesson before you enroll for a term.

Cost: From $153 per session (varies by location and schedule)
Hours: Check website for class schedules

Various locations
Online: dancetoevolve.com/san-diego

Yoga Story Time at The Library

Your local library is a treasure trove of free classes, activities and resources perfect for keeping busy toddlers minds and bodies active. Take for example the yoga story time at the Allied Gardens/Benjamin Branch library. Kids will be able to transform into a stretching monkey, a downward dog or a silly elephant as they partake in an hour long session of stories and songs matched to yoga poses and breathing. Plus, your yogis will benefit from learning about being mindful and calm. Classes are geared towards toddlers ages 2 and up. No registration is required and a mat isn’t necessary (unless you want to bring one).

Cost: Free
Hours: Weds., 3-4 p.m.

5188 Zion Ave.
San Diego, CA 92120
619-533-3970
Online: sandiego.gov/allied-gardens-benjamin-library

Music Fun for Little Ones at Nightingale Music School

What tot doesn’t love dancing around to fun music, playing with puppets, jamming with instruments and playing with bubbles? Nightingale Music combines all those awesome elements into an 8-week class for toddlers (they also have classes for infants and preschoolers too). Each week, class participants learn new songs, play instruments, participate in games and dance together, all while enjoying the magical world of music. Each session is themed differently. “Hooray for the Holidays” is a theme from Oct. – Dec. Other themes include “Spring Has Sprung,” “Mother Goose Rock-N-Rhyme,” “Splash Into Summer” and “Jungle Jive.” The session fee includes all classes (and a make-up day), CD, songbook and final gift.

Cost: $156/session (they prorate too)
Hours: Varies by location

La Jolla
5631-C La Jolla Blvd.
La Jolla, CA 92037
858-488-3244

La Mesa
8060 La Mesa Blvd.
La Mesa, CA 91942
858-488-3244

South Park
1947 30th St.
San Diego, CA 92102
858-488-3244
Online: nightingalemusicschool.com

—Lenya McGrath, Nikki Walsh & Beth Shea

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