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Early Childhood

Tot Lot - 09.24.21.jpg

What people are saying:

"Through Tot Lot we have become so much more connected to the community. When we moved here, it was hard to adjust to life in a bigger city. But we immediately plugged in to Tot Lot and started meeting so many friends. Now it seems like everywhere I go I see somebody from Tot Lot. It makes me feel like I belong here.

- Tot Lot parent

Tot Lot

Tot Lot offers opportunities for children 0-5 to experience the world outside their home with their caregiver. Hosted in our expansive gym, children have access to mats, riding toys, play structures, balls, and open-ended building materials. A separate area is available for non-walking children to safely play, explore, and observe. 



Monday mornings: 9am-12pm

Tuesday mornings: 9am-12pm

Wednesday afternoons: 1:30-3:30pm 

Thursday mornings: 9am-12pm

Friday mornings: 9am-12pm

Saturday mornings (beginning Jan 14): 9-10am 

See below for the activity schedule 

Cost: Pay what you can! Consult the chart below for contribution suggestions

We design our programs with the whole family in mind. Tot Lot is a time for caregivers to build strong networks and to boost their mental health through relationship and connection. For young children, our goal is to create a safe space for them to explore their physical limits, build friendships, and experience new and challenging sensations within the context of loving, attuned, and supportive care.

Self-directed play with peers is intentionally at the core of our programming, because we know that this is the most direct way to foster: 

  • Healthy social and emotional development

  • Self-regulation and self-monitoring

  • Joy, curiosity, and wonder

  • Motor, language, and problem-solving skills through real-world experience negotiating with peers

  • Confidence and sense of self

Winter schedule of activities: 


  • Caregiver Fitness (9:00-10:00) free adult registration required, available here

  • Corita's Corner* - 2nd and 4th Mondays starting Jan 9


  • Messy Art* (10:00-11:30) - Messy Art will move to Fridays starting on March 24

  • Music classes through Marsha's Music  (separate registration required, available here


  • Special afternoon hours (1:30-3:30) 


  • Musical Storytime with Ms. Sarah* on 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month from 10:30-11:15


  • Exploring the Cello with South Side Suzuki Co-operative (FREE registration required, available here) every other Friday starting Jan 13

  • Messy Art (beginning March 24) 


  • Gym Tot Lot 9-10am

  • Classroom E available for open play from 9a-2p when not rented separately

Pack and Play kit assembly with EveryMom Chicago (select dates) 

Child Care Resources & Referral (CCRR) drop-ins* in the Snack Area with Sarah Diwan (10:00-11:30) on the following dates:

  • Friday, March 10

  • Friday, March 24

  • Friday, April 7

  • Friday, April 21 

  • Monday, May 1 

  • Monday, May 15

  • Monday, June 5 

*Please note that many activities are run by volunteers and may be cancelled if the volunteer is unavailable.

Tot Lot Holiday Parties for 2022-23

Throughout the year, Tot Lot celebrates a number of holidays with with our children, caregivers, and parents. Holiday parties take place from 10a-12p on regularly scheduled Tot Lot days, with Tot Lot open for drop in play from 9-10a. 

  • Halloweenie Party - October 31 (Costumes encouraged!) 

  • Winter Holidays from Around the World - December 20

  • Valentiny Party - February 14 

  • Spring Fling - April 10


All parties feature themed crafts and activities for children ages birth to 5 and their adults. If you are interested in supporting Tot Lot Holiday Parties by volunteering, please contact Community Engagement Coordinator Chanel Easter at

What does "pay what you can" mean? 

HPNC aims to make our programs accessible to families across all income levels. As such, we are pleased to offer Tot Lot as a pay-what-you-can program. Please consult the chart below based on your family’s size and monthly income to determine the suggested contribution relevant to your situation.

Tot Lot suggested contribution chart.png

Tot Lot and all of HPNC's programs would not be possible without the support of donations from our friends and neighbors. If you are in a position to do so, we ask that you consider helping cover the cost of another family's participation with a tax-deductible donation. 

Tot Lot is additionally made possible by volunteers contributing their time to this special community. If you would like to give your time to make Tot Lot happen, please email Chris at


Kids and Family Yoga

This class is designed for children ages 1–8 years and the adults in their lives. Anna Counts - an experienced yoga instructor and Hyde Park mom - has designed the class to involve every member of the family. Older children, younger children, parents and grandparents, all benefit from this mixed-age style. Expect guided movements that strengthen body awareness and mindfulness as well as music and games that provide opportunities for laughter and connection. No prior yoga experience is necessary. This class is recommended for children who can move comfortably between sitting and standing. 

Look for additional Kids and Family Yoga offerings in spring 2023


Caregiver Fitness

Join parents, caregivers and neighbors to move your body! Caregiver Fitness is a FREE informal group-led workout session that takes place during Tot Lot, so caregivers can workout while their kids play. All are welcome to join us in the gym and work up a sweat in a low-pressure and kid-friendly environment. Adults are welcome to attend with or without their own children.

Sessions are free, but registration is required. 


Nature Club

Did you know that kids who spend time in nature have stronger self-esteem, are more creative and cooperative, are better at following directions and problem solving, and are physically and mentally healthier? 

We invite you to join our nature-based, child-directed play club intended to ignite a love of the outdoors for our youngest explorers. Activities can be adapted for kids ages 6 months – 5 years.

Expect developmentally appropriate games and conversations about nature and environmental stewardship. We plan to watch the seasons change together, hunt for bugs and the first signs of spring, search for outdoor treasures, dig in the mud, and splash in puddles. Come dressed for the weather and ready to take in the full range of sensational experiences that the outdoors has to offer. 

We’ll be gearing up to plant our garden this summer and may begin some seedlings indoors that the kids can tend and watch grow. 

Nature-based activity offerings will include: 

  • Natural materials for building, climbing, and balancing

  • Nature-based sensory enrichment experiences

  • Movement and mindfulness activities to build body awareness and interception skills

  • Opportunities for early season planting and bug catching

  • Periodic special guest gardening and local wildlife experts to share experiences about city gardening and environmental stewardship

Look for additional Nature Club offerings in spring 2023


Infant Massage 

Caregivers with pre-crawling infants are invited to this class focused on parent-child bonding through gentle touch. 

Infant massage can:  

  • help develop social-emotional skills

  • support parent-child communication

  • regulate behavioral states and promote sleep

  • support digestive discomfort

  • improve muscle tone and body awareness


We encourage you to sign up for the full session if possible as a primary goal of this class is to connect caregivers with pre-crawling infants to a community of local parents. 


This class is led by pediatric occupational therapist, Hayley Younkin-Wilson. Hayley has experience using massage and gentle stretching therapeutically with infants and young children. 


Participants are welcome to stay for Tot Lot after to meet more families and continue connecting and playing. 

Look for additional Infant Massage offerings in spring 2023

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