My little 1 year old is the youngest of 3 and often gets lumped in with her siblings when it comes to outings and playtime. With 2 older brothers, she gets to play with cars and trucks and is, quite literally, at the bottom of the pile when the boys decide to play rough. Whilst I’m sure this is stimulation enough, I also wanted to make sure that she was doing some age appropriate stuff, hanging out with other babies and spending some time with mama – the next step was to choose a class from the multitude of options out there. Many mamas have been raving about Toptots, a fun class which combines music, gross motor activity, creative/texture time and interaction with other children so I decided to give it a go.
The Toptots programme was put together by a team of professionals including speech therapists, occupational therapists, music specialists and teachers in South Africa. The franchise here in Dubai is run by Tammy, a mama of 2 boys who just understands little people and has an amazing ability to captivate their attention. Arriving at appleseeds in the Gold & Diamond Park for the ‘Little Toddlers’ (12 – 15 months) session, we were shown to a room where mamas and their babies sat in a circle on floor mats strewn with colourful paper and textured squares. The little ones were busy exploring the space, touching and playing – and it wasn’t long before Violet had joined them, thrilled to be let loose amongst new objects and fascinated by the similar aged faces around her. After allowing the minis to roam and the mamas to chat, Tammy started the class by introducing the Toptots puppet ‘Tom-E’, a friendly clown like/rag doll character who Tammy wears almost apron style, saying hello to each of the babies by name and giving them a little hug and kiss before playing the ‘clean up’ song to get us (and littlies) to clear away all the touchy-feely stuff. We quickly moved on to ‘brag time’ where Tammy asked each mama in turn about her little one – a chance to say a few lines if the bubs had mastered any new milestones (and have a little moan about teething and sleepless nights!)
The class always follows the same routine which helps little ones feel secure while building self-esteem and confidence and next on the agenda was ‘valuable activity time’ where the little ones got to show off their fine motor skills and intellectual development with a task – in this case posting skinny little sticks into teeny holes (honestly quite impressive!). Having never done anything like this with Violet before (oh the guilt!) I was worried that she wouldn’t have a clue but she both surprised and delighted me (and herself) – and Tammy was on hand to explain the importance of allowing a baby to develop these abilities and the stages of each child’s development. Boxes were cleared away to a ‘put away the boxes’ song and we moved onto ‘gross motor activity’, posting wooden tubes through a cardboard tube and into a tin can – the noise fascinated the tinies and I loved watching the concentration on Violet’s little face and her absolute delight when she got it right and was rewarded with a big mama kiss!
Toptots is as much about fun as it is about learning – it stimulates our little ones minds and embraces curiosity while also being a really lovely mama/baby hour of quality time and bonding. Each section is long enough for the babies to have a go at each of the tasks or activities on the agenda that day but also short enough for them not to lose interest. The next few parts of the routine all involved music as the mamas billowed a colourful parachute for the babies to crawl under, helped them to ‘strengthen their core’ while having fun bouncing and moving on a mini exercise ball and then participating in a good old jam session with instruments galore where the minis got stuck into shaking, rattling and rolling and making a lot of noise! My absolute favourite part was the ‘I love you’ song where Violet and I got to have a very special kiss and cuddle while singing along to each other – so sweet!
After one final building up the blocks and knocking them down activity, Tom-E reappeared to say goodbye to the group and we all sang a farewell song with the babies being encouraged to say bye-bye to their friends as a way of promoting social skills. The hour long class covered everything from fine and gross motor activities, sensory development, singing and dancing whilst also providing great bonding time and a chance to meet other mamas while babies practiced all their newly acquired skills.
Violet and I had an absolute blast and will definitely be returning next term for some dedicated mama/baby time without the older sibs.
Toptots will recommence in September but classes are getting booked up so if you are interested in registering your little one then contact Tammy at: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (+971) (0) 50 6854 977
Classes are held at appleseeds, Gold & Diamond Park and at the Step Up Academy, Motor City
The cost of a 10 week term is Aed 1000 and this includes all materials needed for each class.
All new members have the option of paying Aed 100 for the first class only and the remaining Aed 900 before the second class.