Five things Gather taught me.

First off, I could honestly name a hundred things that Gather taught me, but I feel like my hands would hurt after typing them all out 🙂 As summer comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on everything I have learned these past few months, because I  believe everyday is a learning experience. When I joined the Gather last summer, I had no idea what to expect. Before working here, I was a camp counselor at a sleep away camp and my summers consisted of making sure kiddos wear bug spray and LOTS of outdoor activity. Last summer I made the decision to switch paths and instead of returning to camp, find a summer job that would help me gain experience in the communication management field. After searching and searching, and having no clue where I was going to spend my summer days, I decided this was a job for some coffee. My mom and I went to Peet’s Coffee in Evanston and decided to walk around a little afterward. My mom and I are extremely chatty gals, so our conversations disallowed us to take time to peak into the stores, until we passed Gather. Just by walking past the space, I saw creativity take over. And all of the sudden, I was writing a cover letter and sending my resume to a place that would soon become such a special space to me. very_large_Gather_3.jpg

Although I have only been part of the Gather team for two summers, this space truly has a piece of my heart and I have learned so many valuable lessons that I will carry with me lifelong.

  1. There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to creativity, ANYTHING can be turned into art. A paper bag, a marker cap, even an apple. Definitely learned to see the creativity potential in everything.
  2. Patience is key. Not only should you be patient while paint dries, it’s important to be patient in everything you do. Kiddos are constantly learning and patience really helps them take the time they need to do that learning.
  3. Be silly and find humor in everything. When a kiddo puts a bucket on their head, giggle. Laughing doesn’t only make you feel happier, but philosophers weren’t kidding when they said laughing is contagious. Giggles really brighten up the room, which is how Gather stays so bright.
  4. Always encourage creativity. Whether a child is painting blobs or a detailed farm, tell them that they are doing a great job. The more confident kiddos feel when creating, the more they will branch out and enjoy it.
  5. And lastly, connect with the community. I am so thankful for Gather and love seeing such a strong community of kiddos, parents, and caregivers come together every single day.

xo- Aubrey


Teamwork, tunes, takeoff

I don’t even think I am that old so I feel weird saying this, but “back in my day”, entertainment was built around team building activities. Yes, I watched my favorite VCR’s on our boxy television and yes, I played my fair share of computer games, but I grew-up realizing the importance of imagination and teamwork. I was very shy when I was younger and in hopes of me coming out of my shell, my parents enrolled me in many acting with imagination classes. After years of taking and even teaching theatre classes, I have not only become more confident, but  actually study communication management in college, try telling my shy five-year old self that. To this day, I still believe that it was the loads and loads of imagination that my teachers so strongly encouraged that gave me the passion to find confidence in myself and ultimately, encourage others to embrace imagination. Maybe it’s my previous “camp-counselor spirit” in me or my love to be energetic, but I have always been a fan of team-building and theatre games. We have an afternoon summer camp at Gather and after a planned camp activity, I have been teaching and playing so many simple games and activities with the kiddos and thought I would share some of my favorites. Each activity does an amazing job of encouraging imagination and I have totally seen such a confidence boost in so many of our campers.

  1. Feed The Shark– Angela and I taught a Art and Theatre camp last week called Under the Sea for Drama Kings and Queens. This week of camp focused on the ocean and the creatures that live within. We had a shark theme day and I made a shark head using cardboard boxes from Costco, cut-up blue paper for the teeth, and a red cloth for the tongue. I totally forgot to name the shark until campers were patiently sitting a circle and decided to call our shark Earl. I asked the kiddos to feed Earl using our plastic food and they absolutely LOVED it. I would tell them that Earl needed some veggies and they would throw some cucumbers and carrots into its mouth. And when I was feeling generous, I would ask them to give Earl some cookies and cake. This was a great way to get the kiddos to listen and move around, while also working together.
  2. Sharks, squids, and crabs!- We have a colorful mat here at Gather with different colored squares and I would have the kids skip around while I would play a song on the speaker. Every few seconds, I would say, “watch out, the blue squares are sharks!” and the kiddos would need to avoid the blue squares while still skipping around. Then I would say, “watch out, the red squares are crabs!” and the red squares would need to be avoided. After a couple seconds, I would tell the kiddos that the purple squares were squids and that they couldn’t step on them. Towards the end of the game , I would say that they needed to avoid the red, blue, and purple squares and we would run around pretending to be scared of the sea-creatures. This was a great way to have the kids move around and also practice their acting skills!
  3. Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy- The Wiggles have a song called “Fruit Salad” and during our Cookie Camp with Chef Mamata, I would have the kids throw different kinds of fruit in a basket and have them name different colored fruit. This is a great learning activity and also gives the kids a chance to relate the music with an activity!

These are some of my favorite activities and they are super simple, you could even tweak them a little bit and play them at home! I would also recommend Simon Says if you are in need of an activity that helps with listening to instructions 🙂

And remember, “The man who has no imagination has no wings”- Muhammad Ali

Bye for now!

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Celebrate Summer at Gather


From decorating a huge flower pot, to making a nest out sticks and yarn, all the way to enjoying delicious frozen yogurt generously supplied by Yo Fresh Yogurt Cafe, Celebrate Summer was nothing short of exciting. We are so fortunate to have such an amazing Gather community that truly makes this space such a happy and creative place to be.  We are so thankful for everyone who came to Celebrate Summer and we hope you had as much fun as we did. Huge thanks to Stomp and Shout for making awesome music with the kiddos and their tall assistants and Rich Centeno, the Magical Balloon Man, for making such fun balloons that the kids, and parents, absolutely loved. The Lyonsmith’s embarked on there forth year as Gather owners and they were so thrilled to celebrate this accomplishment during Celebrate Summer with their family and yours. This is only my second year at Gather, but I am overjoyed to be apart of this wonderful Gather community and loved meeting so many of you during Celebrate Summer. I could go on and on about all the aspects of Gather that make it amazing, but you truly need to see it to believe it. During Celebrate Summer, I loved seeing the kiddos dive into art projects, sing their heart out, and feel so inspired by all the play space has to offer. We celebrated so much at Celebrate Summer and it brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. We celebrated creativity. We celebrated kindness. We celebrated music. And most importantly, we celebrated you, both new families and old. The energy in the space was incredible and we are so fortunate that we were able to celebrate with you all. Celebrate Summer is a milestone for Gather and one of our favorite events of the summer, but there is still so much more to look forward to. Gather has some exciting events and programs coming up, including a summer camp! Gathers afternoon summer camp starts July 10th and we offer weekly sessions until the week of August 14th. Camp goes from 3:30PM to 5PM and we have so many fun projects planned for each session. Please visit or call us: 847.859.2312 for more info about summer camp!

DEALS!!! We are offering a special Celebrate Summer pass (5-pass for $45.00), which goes until this Saturday (July 1st) and we are offering $10.00 off summer camp until this Saturday (July 1st) as well, so make sure to check that out!

“You can’t use up CREATIVITY. The more you use, the more you have.” -Maya Angelou



The Importance Of Letting Kids Be Creative

Hi Gather fams, I am SO happy to be back at Gather this summer and can’t wait to get to know more of you! During the school year, I attend the University of Dayton and study Communication Management, as well as English. I have always been so passionate about writing and am always finding myself writing about something. I love sharing my ideas, my inspirations, and expressing my gratitude for so many things that the world offers, creativity being one I am particularly thankful for. Picasso once said “every child is an artist”, and that could not be more true. Creativity is something so special in the sense that it truly is a one of a kind way of expressing yourself. When creating, there are no boundaries. You are able to explore your style, your emotions and your values through something as simple as paint and paper. Anyone has the ability to create, but to be creative requires confidence in knowing that there are no “rights or wrongs” when it comes to your artwork. I have always been extremely passionate about promoting creativity in children and as a kid myself, I was always coming up with ways to turn something simple into a creative project. Whether it be making necklaces out of uncooked macaroni or gluing beads onto old flip-flips. As I grew up, my curiosity for creativity only got stronger and I found myself continuing not only to fulfill my passion for creativity, but encouraging kids to be creative. Planting creativity in kids does not only give them the tools they need to continue exploring creativity, but it also inspires them to not be afraid to be different and to go against the “expected” to create something one-of-a-kind.

I am so lucky to be able to work at a play space that does just that. Seeing the kids little faces light up when you hand them a piece of paper and paint is so special and watching them create is even more amazing. Gather in Evanston, Illinois is not just a play space. It is not just an event venue or an art audio, it is a space where creativity is both built and encouraged.

And just like I started, Albert Einstein once said “play is the highest form of research” and if one of the smartest in history is saying this, it must be true. So put down that calculator, pick up a paintbrush, and create.

xoxo- Aubrey

Candy Making Gather Style



One of my favorite movies as a child was the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with the hilariously odd Gene Wilder. In tribute to the role the book by Roald Dahl and the movie had in my own life (encouraging imagination, laughter, kindness and gratitude), this week in Art Adventures we made lollipops inspired by the incredible, edible imagination room in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Gene Wilder, no offense Johnny, will always be the real Mr. Willy Wonka to me.



1. We started by cutting circles out of heavy weight, white paper. I love Strathmore’s mixed media paper as its subtle surface texture and weight stands up to some serious painting, gluing and embellishing.



Art buffets are wonderfully inviting for makers of all ages.



At Gather and anytime I am making art, I like to set up of a buffet of art materials; an art feast that feels bountiful, organized, colorful and inviting. This buffet also included a box lid to house the inevitable glitter messes that are about to ensue.

2. Decorate your circles in whatever way you chose. I like to demonstrate mark making first, laying a foundation of color(s) and then embellishing with all sorts of things.




How about markers and colorful rice? or fabric scraps? The possibilities are endless, but there must be glitter, right? That big, flaky iridescent glitter gives every piece that sugary, sweet confections feel.


3. Hot glue a colorful paper straw of your choice to your creation and voila, an amazing lollipop! “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it…” I hope the song is stuck in your head now too.


For our even younger artists, I started with a sturdier, double-sided base. The popsicle stick variety is easier for small hands to navigate and making it double-sided allowed for more art making and planning if using glue on either side.


4. Ask your little ones about the flavor of their lollipop. Invite storytelling by asking questions that lead to creative thinking. Who would like a lollipop like this? How would the “lion doctor” get a “chocolate mousse, blueberry cake” lollipop? The ideas and stories that kids making art come up with can be incredible. I think it is our job to give them space and inspiration to create fantastic realities as that ability to think big, think different, think outside of what currently is, is what will help them solve problems as they grow.


IMG_5023.JPGThe fun didn’t stop with lollipop making. This collection of amazing swirls at the play dough station came to life too. Over the course of the afternoon they were cookies, candies, treats for baby dolls and hammerhead sharks. I never stop being amazed how setting the stage for creativity allows magic to happen for the maker and those who discover what is made.

“We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams” ~Roald Dahl.  Thank you Gene Wilder for encouraging us to laugh and to dream.




When I say summer, you say camp!

During our summer hours, Gather hosts themed weeks of summer camp in the afternoon, and we’ve had such a blast so far! From a camp dedicated to music and art with Angela and Jocelyn to learning about all things Brazil & Ninja with Yoli , a professional yoga instructor, and even cooking classes with Chef Mamata, we’ve all learned so much and can’t wait to continue the excitement of creative camps throughout the summer. A typical day of summer camp starts off with a healthy snack and the ever so famous “Hello Song”. Then our planned activity based specifically on the week’s theme begins. Below are some of my favorite highlights of our summer camp so far!

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Week 1: Music Makers

During Music Makers, the kiddos got to create a lively mural on a giant piece of paper with paint and pastels of all colors while we listened to classical music. Next a scale was drawn onto the paper and the campers had the chance to compose original scores with music notes they could stick on the scale. Once that task was complete, Jocelyn, a music expert, sang the composition that the kids created. I thought this was such a creative project that the kids and parents seemed to love as well!


Week 2: Brazilian Celebration!

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Brazilian Celebration was all about exploring Brazilian culture through children’s books, dance, music, and elaborate costumes. My absolute favorite part of this week’s camp was seeing the kids dressed in their Brazilian headpieces and jewelry that they created themselves. They were all so colorful and unique. I also loved seeing how excited the kids were when they got to “travel” to Brazil by crawling through a rainbow tunnel. At the end of the week, the kids donned their costumes for a mini parade. It was wonderful to see how proud they were of their Brazil inspired creations.


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Week 3: Kitchen Garden

This was definitely a yummy week, filled with lots of homemade snacks for the kiddos and their tall assistant. Taught by Chef Mamata, the kids learned all about different types of healthy and fresh foods from apples to kale and don’t worry, we didn’t leave out homemade mini pizzas. Each day, Chef Mamata taught the kids how to create a healthy but delicious snack that they could enjoy! Some of my favorite, and tastiest, snacks the kiddos created were apple turtles with chive eyes, and green grapes as the head, arms, feet, and tail. Not only did I think this project was super creative, but the kids learned all about the different types of apples and got to determine whether they were more of a granny smith or honey crisp person. I also loved the fruit pizza and smoothie project. The fruit pizza was definitely the sweetest with a sugar cookie “crust”, marshmallow fluff “sauce”,  and delicious fruit toppings. But the children seemed to love the kale & fruit smoothies just as much! They learned about all the different types of kale and got to try greens from Chef’s garden. I learned that a great way to get your little ones to eat their veggies is through curiosity.


Week 4: Ninja camp Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 2.07.42 PM.png

The kiddos had a blast at this exciting camp taught by Yoli and learned the secrets and skills of being a Ninja! One of my favorite parts of this camp was seeing the kids decorate their special Ninja belt as they incorporated their own personal style into their creations. I also loved exploring Sumi-e, Japanese watercolor painting. With all the excitement of camp, it was awesome to see the kids relax and let their brush stroke the paper. The kids were so proud of their painting, and parents even got a chance to dabble as well!




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Week 5: Flour Power!

A spoonful of “flour” definitely helps make yummy pastries. During this camp, Chef Mamata and the kiddos made delicious recipes that they could take home and bake. From Chef’s favorite birthday brownies to chocolate chip cookies all the way to giant pretzels, this camp never failed to create a sweet afternoon! The kids got to practice combining ingredients, measuring and even cracking eggs. Using sensory play, the kids had a blast using their little hands to create delicious snacks!


Camps coming up: 

Festivals of India with Yoli: August 1st-5th

I Heart Art: Be Green, Be Creative with Angela: August 8th-15th

Zookeepers: Tales, Teamwork & Tactile Art with Allison: August 15th-19th

All of Gather’s creative camps are from 3:45PM-5PM Monday through Friday. Please visit summer-camp or give us a call 847-859-2312 for more information on our summer camps or to register!

xoxo- Aubrey

Welcome Aubrey

Greetings Gather:

Hi there! My name is Aubrey and I recently joined the Gather team and will be working there during the summer months. For me, art has always been a part of the plan and creativity was a trait that I seemed to show starting at a young age. Instead of playing soccer or basketball, I would spend hours creating little improvised plays in my family room or coloring every possible ounce of paper that caught my eye, sometimes even my parents business files…oops. So it’s easy to sayIMG_1771 I’ve always had a passion for creativity. When I was younger and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would confidently say something along the lines of an actress, singer, artist, and yes, I didn’t leave out princess. Fifteen years later and my answer is very similar, minus the princess part but I mean I wouldn’t be opposed to a tiara.  I want to take a creative path. Instead of sitting behind a desk, I want to be in front of it. Meeting new people, forming connections, and embracing the creative side in everything. I am an incoming sophomore at the University of Dayton studying Communications Management with a concentration in special events, yup it’s a bit of a mouthful, but it is a lot of fun. My absolute favorite thing about studying communications is that you learn to always be 110% engaged in everything you do, which makes you appreciate so many more things in life. You also learn the significance of each and every conversation and connection you make. Before working at Gather, I was a counselor at a sleep away camp, an assistant director for the Winnetka Children’s Theatre, and a babysitter, as you can probably tell, I’ve always loved working with kids. Although I truly loved all of my previous jobs, I knew that this summer I wanted to expand my passion for creativity, communications, and event planning. I am a huge believer in fate, and fortune cookies, so when my fortune said something about an opportunity coming my way, I was on the lookout.  A few months ago when I was walking on Davis Street with my mom, we found ourselves in front Gather. I peeked into those glass windows, saw all of the amazing and colorful artwork, and I was hooked. I joined the Gather team towards the end of May and I have absolutely loved every single second of my time at Gather so far. I am beyond thankful for everything Gather has taught me in the few weeks that I have been working here from running a smooth birthday party to using creativity to turn pretty much anything into art. When I see kids paint something for the first time or play with their favorite toy, a smile never fails to take over my face. I am so happy that I will be at Gather for the summer months and I can’t wait to meet more of you. From drop-in art and play to birthday parties to our summer camp, Gather is always the highlight of my day and has truly amazed me in so many ways! Thank you all more being so welcoming and I cannot wait to create more #GatherMemories.


“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.” -Paulo Coelho