ChooChoo Chicago: Where Arts, Cultures and Learning Come Together

12141504_10156149872390076_4752737885596325531_n      ChooChoo Chicago is a home based daycare welcoming kids from 15 months to 4 years of age. We are a junior preschool serving parents in the East Lakeview neighborhood and surrounding area of Chicago. While maintaining our Illinois state preschool license, we  provide a service with two full-time childcare professionals and additional part-time help, in a setting where your child will love a structured, age appropriate junior preschool learning, art and play program. Our focus is on arts and creative movement.We see our program as a child’s first step into the real world of school, friends and social norms.  We provide a program in a welcoming and nurturing environment where every child is welcome and their well-being is our main priority. We pride ourselves with a diverse community of families who’s first language is often not English, but rather from all over the world. Our cultural differences, love for education and children place us among one of the very affordable and unique preschools of East Lakeview.
          ChooChoo Chicago offers a creative early childhood curriculum which we explore through play, games, music, creative movement and arts.We expose children to all aspects of developmental needs and we cater to unique needs of each child and their families. We believe children deserve to be children as long as they can and we encourage that by supporting free play, imagination and outdoor exploration as much as possible. While children learn through creative, self paced channels, our role as teachers is to guide them in this process and allow them the freedom to express their inner selves. We do believe in structure and discipline which we impose through routine and carefully planed daily activities.
            A great advantage of a home based school is an intimate setting within a small group of friends where personal attention, a feeling of community and support of one another is our imperative. ChooChoo Chicago is a place where kids can play learn and grow in a home away from home.

Contact us and join the ChooChoo community!

3172 N Hudson Ave, unit #7

Chicago, IL 60657

Monday — Friday 8am-6pm



Happy Day Child Care: An In-Home Daycare Family

By Lois Chen

Happy DayHDCC 1HDCC 2 Child Care (HDCC) was founded in 2013 with the goal to create a clean, safe environment for children of all ages. We are a DCFS licensed in-home daycare in Hoffman Estates, Il and service children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 6 years old. HDCC believes that childcare is the foundation of how a child will learn in their school years. With this in mind, HDCC uses a certified preschool curriculum to provide a basis of learning. Although we teach a preschool curriculum, we are a play-based daycare. We spend most of our days learning through play, whether it is indoor or outside on the playground.

One of our most recent additions to our daily curriculum is a series called “Masters of Art”. In this series, children learn about a new artist each month and use the techniques, mediums, and styles that made these artists famous. Children ages 2 years old and up learn about the artist and what made him/her famous, what type of style they used, if there was a particular item they gravitated towards, and the techniques the artist mastered. They then see paintings/pictures of the artist’s work and try to replicate the work with different mediums, tools, and techniques.

One of the reasons why HDCC was founded was to create an environment that is personal; an environment that allows parents to feel like they are dropping their child off at a relative’s house. This allows parents to feel comfortable leaving their little ones (maybe even for the first time ever). We provide daily communication through text, picture messaging, and Instagram which allows our parents to see their babies and what they are doing throughout the day without being with them.

One of the greatest thing about an in-home daycare is the different age groups. Many may be nervous bringing their child into a daycare with children of all ages interacting together. But the fact is, the children absolutely love it and thrive in this type of environment. The older children watch after the younger children, the younger children learn from the older children. It is truly a win-win for everyone. One thing that HDCC prides itself in is the community aspect of our daycare. I let all my families know that when they choose HDCC they become part of our family. This has held true and clients who have left due to job changes, moves, or unforeseen circumstances still have a line of communication with us and we are still able to see their little ones grow months or years after they have left.


If you would like to join a family orientated daycare  please visit us at, or call us at 847-650-8646.

Sonnets Academy: Four Locations, One Play-Based Curriculum

BELONG …to our early learning community.

Your child’s haven in the big city – a preschool community with a passion for play-based learning. Sonnets Academy has selected the best preschool locations in Chicago that match the unique feel of each neighborhood. Sonnets Academy celebrates the individuality of children and inspires boundless learning through play in its private infant care and preschool programs for children six weeks to six years.


1932 N. Clark St.

(312) 951-1024


430 W. Erie St.

(312) 344-1926


229 S. Peoria St.

(312) 733-7580


5548 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

(773) 891-0029

GROW …from infancy to pre-k, we support and prepare your child.

Our play-based curriculum begins at early infancy and continues through prekindergarten, concentrating on the process through which children learn. Discovery-based play expands imagination, encourages sense of wonder and provides a diverse and comprehensive foundation for cognitive, social, emotional & creative growth that will shape their adolescence and adulthood.

PLAY …ignites a child’s natural desire to learn.

Through play, children discover their surroundings – socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically. This is unique for each child at each stage of development. Sonnets Academy teachers celebrate diversity in their classrooms – understanding each child’s distinctive style of play and the cultural and developmental factors that contribute to these differences among children. Our teachers create classroom activities that each student can build upon in their own way – focusing on strengths.

Sonnets Academy

LEARN …through experience, children develop their unique learning style.

Children learn how to navigate their future interpersonal relationships from their social interactions in early childhood. When children play together, they learn to celebrate differences as they cooperate and collaborate – creating empathetic problem solvers. When a child’s play is guided and encouraged by their teacher, the child establishes trust, respect & confidence – essential to a lifelong love of learning.

Each Sonnets Academy Preschool follows the same monthly theme from which our teachers create their own lesson plans. This guided curriculum structure gives our teachers the ability to build their classroom activities from where their students take the most interest while following age-specific learning and development objectives in the following categories:

-Fine & Gross Motor Skills


-Cognitive Development

-Creative Expression

-Music & Movement

-Social & Emotional Development


DISCOVER …self expression through the arts, language & wellness.

Sonnets Academy’s dedication to whole-child development provides a diverse and well-rounded learning environment in our discovery-based curriculum and enrichment programs. From teaching the basics of physical and emotional well being in yoga class to expanding linguistic horizons in Spanish class, Sonnets Academy exposes our students to a balanced and comprehensive variety of learning opportunities. Sonnets Academy’s weekly Spanish, yoga & music enrichment classes for every age group are included in the cost of tuition.


Make the best choice for your child’s early learning environment. Bring your child along for your Sonnets Academy tour to help them feel comfortable and confident in their school community from the start. A warm welcome and a bit of encouragement are key to building excitement about belonging to the vibrant and bustling atmosphere that Sonnets Academy teachers and students create – together.

Sonnets Academy welcomes new touring children by introducing them to each classroom and teacher, letting them get to know the space, and inviting them to circle time, stations, & free play. Your child will feel welcome, valued & important. Sonnets Academy emphasis on individuality and strengths is the foundation for our cooperative learning community.


Promoting Healthy Development of Babies and Toddlers with Special Needs at Daycare Centers

By Nat Vikitsret

10987340_812278188809644_1219972131345270481_oAs an infant and toddler teacher, you play an essential role in facilitating the unique development of each child under your care. It is no small feat to adapt a curriculum to maximize each child’s potential, to provide quality care enriched with play and exploration, and to nurture the child’s curiosity and empathy. What happens when one day you see that one of your children lags behind developmentally? A week later he has various visitors from early intervention who go by various acronyms- DT, OT, PT, SLP. You may wonder what you can do to advocate for this child in your classroom while empowering his caregivers to be active advocates as well. As a former early childhood special educator, I know that any progress made by children with special needs depends largely on the collaboration among the classroom teachers, caregivers, and early intervention therapists. This article aims to answer the question: “How can we, infant and toddler teachers, start…getting everyone to collaborate?”

Collaborating with Caregivers

11051913_826059987431464_1318807604859156802_oTeachers who are in sync with the parents with whom they work continuously assess which developmental milestones are important to the parents and respect each family’s cultural parameters. For instance, suppose that a child in your class needs more support in expressive language development, based on your academic assessment. However, her parents want her to work on using utensils for self-feeding. You have a choice between viewing this asynchrony as a point of contention, or as an opportunity to strengthen the school-home partnership. Simply asking families about the skills and values they want their children to have and the ways they teach those things at home can go a long way towards establishing a constructive and collaborative relationship with caregivers.

Collaborating with Early Intervention Therapists

10955625_828329727204490_5399705204282023459_nI remember vividly how hectic (and fun!) my days were when I was a lead teacher. The thought of collaborating with therapists — of adding another item to my to-do list — seemed very daunting. However, it is very likely that when you work with therapists, you will come up with ideas and strategies that will benefit all the children in your classroom. For instance, not only does a visual schedule help children with special needs transition from one activity to the next more smoothly, it also quells the excitement of other inquisitive minds in the classroom (so that you do not have to tell each child 15 times that art activity is coming up). Talking to the therapists at the end of their sessions is an excellent way to learn about strategies that you can implement throughout the day. For example, if the therapist is working on getting the child to use both sides of her body at midline, it may be worthwhile to brainstorm which toys facilitate bilateral integration during free play or what support you can give the child during art/sensory activity. By doing so you give the child more opportunities to practice bilateral integration, and you collaboratively enhance the effect of the therapist’s intervention. Similarly, if the therapist is working on increasing engagement with an infant, you can brainstorm what strategies you can use during diaper change, sensory play, mealtimes, and free play time to maximize the baby’s reciprocity, joint attention, and early problem solving. The therapist is with the child for an hour or two every week; you are with the child many hours every day.


Do not forget to inform the parents of all the hard work you do so that they can implement some of the strategies at home as well. When everyone — teachers, parents, and therapists — works together for the best interest of the child, it is a win-win-win situation!

             Lastly, if you suspect any developmental delay in your children, contact Child and Family Connections (CFCs) in your local area, ( or refer the family to pediatric therapy clinics. I offer a free 30-minute developmental consultation at the ( For more information, please contact





Birdhouse Montessori: A Place for Discovery

By Miss Anna Rae

Birdhouse Montessori is an in-home school for infants and toddlers that is influenced by Montessori and RIE philosophies and materials.  We are located on the cusp of the Albany Park and Ravenswood neighborhoods.  We officially started our child minding adventure in April of 2015.  Birdhouse Montessori has a maximum classroom of four children led by Anna Rae Gilbert who has ten years experience teaching in Montessori, public, charter, non-profit and private classrooms.  With an MFA in Interdisciplinary Fine Art, Miss Anna provides a comfortable and beautiful space for children where everything is at their level, physically, to promote independence and autonomy.


The environment is prepared to cater to their needs for discovery and care of themselves.  The main room used is filled with natural light, child-sized furniture, and shelves with their materials at their reach and appropriate “academic” level.  The works are a mix of traditional Montessori materials, handmade materials and materials that are “Montessori inspired.”  The Montessori philosophy influences most of our materials on the shelves as well as a majority of how we observe the child develop.  We like the child to use their senses with concrete materials when being introduced to an idea.   The children have a  es.and.cglarge portion of the day to have uninterrupted work periods off the shelf which allows the child to cherish their discoveries.  RIE integrates easily as it is seemingly a parallel to the Montessori method.  We let the child develop at their own pace, express their emotions (even if they aren’t yet verbal), give them the trust to lead themselves, give them our full attention, and communicate authentically.  Most importantly, at Birdhouse Montessori, we provide a model of behavior.  The relationship and communication with our families is constant and active in hopes that the caregiver and the family are providing consistency.  With every child we are all working together to provide them with the best possible environment and care for them which starts as being an example.

The impetus to start this program, like many other in-home childcare providers was the birth of Anna’s daughter combined with her teaching experience.  She felt that she had the tools and knowledge to provide an atmosphere that caters to like-minded families who also want affordable ways to raise children with a love of discovery and wonder while being in a safe and challenging environment.

We are located at Lawrence and Albany. Contact us to learn more at

Daycare Discover Note: Birdhouse Montessori is exempt from daycare license in keeping enrollment under 4.


The Green Bean Day School & Nursery: Homelike and Hands-on Learning

By Melissa Johnson

preschool-outdoor-classroom-and-bradenThe Green Bean Day School & Nursery is a family-­owned, eco-­friendly child care center located between the Lincoln Park and Bucktown neighborhoods. The Green Bean originated in 2009 as a home daycare and opened at our current center location in November of 2011. In the summer of 2014, we expanded and now are licensed for 107 children. We have nine classrooms in total including three infant nurseries (6 weeks to 15 months), two younger toddler rooms (15 months to 24 months), two older toddler classrooms (2 to 3.5 year olds), one preschool classroom (3 to 4.5 year olds), and one pre­-k classroom (4 to 5.5 year olds). Our facility features an adjacent fenced in playground and an indoor movement studio.

10857369_10153294216281874_2053380882350628164_oThe Green Bean inspired me to focus on providing what I believe is the ideal learning environment for young children; one that is positive, inclusive, individualized, nurturing, and educational.

The parents love the great community and teachers at the Green Bean. We work to establish a warm, welcoming, homelike feeling at the Green Bean where children, parents, and staff feel welcome. We offer a play-based, Reggio inspired curriculum and teachers develop lesson plans that are developmentally appropriate and focus on the individual interests of the children.


The Reggio Emilia Approach is central to our curriculum. We believe that children are competent, curious, and are naturally interested in the world around them. We view teachers as researchers, that work alongside children to ask questions, explore through hands-­on learning, and to co-­construct knowledge. The environment is viewed as the “third teacher,” it is intentional, thoughtful, and promotes exploration. Our classrooms are set up to mimic a calm, home-­like environment, where plants and natural light are integral to every classroom. Our future vision for the Green Bean is to continue to provide high-quality care and education for children from infants to pre-­k. Our focus is on providing a great child care option for parents in Chicago. Our teachers are an important part of our future vision, and we continually work to provide professional development opportunities, supportive supervision models, and a positive working environment.

We are excited to welcome you to the family. Visit our location on Elston and Fullerton. Feel free to call and learn more about us! 773-360-1941

City Bird Schoolhouse: Mixing Love and Art in Early Learning

By Sarah Simanskey

I decided to start City Bird while I was still in graduate school for education. At that time, I just welcomed my son and faced the challenge of finding care so I could complete my studies. A home daycare sounded like the perfect fit in theory, early learning at a cozy home environment, but I was disenchanted with the options I toured. Upon speaking with other parents who were in similar situations, I decided that my talents would best be used by providing extraordinary care in a relatively unserved market. Then, City Bird Schoolhouse is born.

IMG_5157City Bird Schoolhouse is an art-integrated, play based home daycare located on the edge of Bucktown and Logan Square. We hold a “Group Home Daycare License”, which allows us to have twelve children enrolled (due to our backgrounds and experience) instead of the typical eight children allowed with a regular home daycare license. City Bird is run just like a center daycare would be run, but it also has the cozy qualities of a home daycare. We view our jobs as more than teachers. We are friends, story tellers, playmates, role models, care givers and your support system.
IMG_5159City Bird provides infant – through preschool care. Once a family becomes part of our flock, they know that the teachers are here to support them and honor each child as an individual. We take early child education very seriously, that’s why we require that all staff members hold a teaching license. Our teachers all have experience implementing creative art based lessons in the classroom. Not only do we have experience working with children in the classroom, we’ve also been private nannies, camp counselors, and parents!

Our biggest mission is to provide a level of care for children that is unsurpassed. It’s extremely important to us that the families we work with know that their child is loved, cared for, and having a great time with their friends. The teachers at City Bird are responsible for lesson planning and curriculum development. We separate our children into three “classes” so that the children are paired with others who are developing the same emotional and physical skills. Each teacher has their own group of children and is responsible for their daily routines and communicating with their parents. This allows us to ensure that the needs of each child are being met, and each child is working on age appropriate goals and milestones.

IMG_5155Parents love City Bird’s individual approach to each child. We believe that every child is unique and should be taught and cared for as such. Parents are very comforted to know that the three teachers at City Bird are dear friends who spend a whole lot of their free time outside of work, together. We truly respect each other as teachers and as friends. As the role models of City Bird, we believe that our close friendship and ability to work so well together inspires the children. City Bird started out as just a small idea. We are proud that it has grown to change the lives of every family we work with.

Come take a tour at our nest near Fullerton and Western. For more information feel free to email me at We are excited to meet your little bird.