Hello GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago families, volunteers, and community! We are so excited to talk about our free purposeful and progressive programs that we offer here at the Chicago Playhouse. We want to talk about some of our most popular programs and highlight some ones you may not know about. Listed below are the current programs we are offering virtually until we reopen for in-person programming. Likewise, we have the pleasure of highlighting two occupational therapy students in their third year of their doctoral programs from Rush University who have been assisting with our 1-on-1 math and literacy tutoring program! We are grateful for the students’ time and energy spent investing into our participants and their families!

Group Programming

LMNOP – Language, Music, N’ Our Peeps

  • (Ages 0-3)
  • LMNOP is an interactive and engaging program designed to guide parents and young children through learning basic sign language and other forms of communication using music and language-based activities.

Crawlers and Walkers

  • (Ages 0-3)
  • Focuses on the development of gross and fine motor skills through activities that are hands-on and fun! Social skills and language development will also be addressed, with a focus on learning new words, following directions and interacting with peers.

Speech & Language Group

  • (Ages 1-4)
  • Practice new speech and language skills through informal interaction with other members of the group, with the guidance of a speech therapist program leader.

Dance & Yoga

  • (Ages 7-12)
  • Introduces basic dance styles, techniques and movements while improving gross motor skills, increasing mental and muscle memory and increasing cardiovascular conditioning, strength, flexibility and coordination.

Cooking & Dance

  • (Ages 13+)
  • This program is geared towards building safety awareness in the kitchen, preparing healthy meals that taste great.

Teen Tastic

  • (Ages 13+)
  • Focuses on building social skills with friends without Down syndrome by participating in team-based activities in a casual and fun setting. Skill development includes understanding compromise, turn-taking and problem-solving abilities.

Art Explosion!

  • (Ages 13+)
  • Opportunity where participants can test their ability with multiple types of art media. Will resume once Playhouse reopens for in-person programming.


  • (Ages 18+)
  •  Participants work on vocational, communication, and social skills to boost confidence and encourage independence through goal-oriented objectives.

EPIC: Quincy’s Corner

  • (Ages 18+)
  • Participant-led, safe space where individuals with Down syndrome can meet, socialize, and connect with their peers.

EPIC: Journaling Club

  • (Ages 18+)
  • Provides opportunities for young adults to explore their personal strengths, interests, and goals while practicing written expression.


1-on-1 Tutoring Programs

(All tutoring programs are for ages 3+)

Math Tutoring

  • Uses a multi-sensory, strength-based approach to build confidence and success for our students. The Math tutoring program supports the increase of the range of math skills, self-esteem, confidence, critical thinking, problem solving skills, independence and autonomy, and fine motor skills.

Literacy Tutoring

  • Provides instruction based on the interests and inspirations of each student. The Literacy tutoring program supports the increase of sight word recognition, vocabulary, comprehension, articulation, self-esteem, speech clarity and fine motor skills.

Amina Grace Speech and Language Tutoring

  • Provides youth, teens and adults with greatly expanded opportunities to evolve and refine their speech and language skills in a 1-on-1 setting.


There are so many programs we are grateful to provide for our community and participants. Check out this link for the full calendar and schedule of programs. Have any questions about any of the programs? Please reach out to our Program Coordinator, Jennifer Puma, at jpuma@gigisplayhouse.org


Program Highlights:

First, we would like to highlight Kate Williams. Kate is a third-year occupational therapy student from Rush University, and will be working with GiGi’s throughout her Level II Fieldwork as well as her doctoral project. Many GiGi’s participants will get to know her through the literacy tutoring program this spring. For Kate, becoming a part of the GiGi’s community through literacy tutoring has been such a pleasure.

A note from Kate:

“I have learned so much about GiGi’s participants through their work, whether it be through making power points, writing stories, creating art, or even having dance parties. Virtual learning can be difficult, but I think GiGi’s programming is making the best of it! I am really looking forward to finding ways to build skills for living through reading, writing, and speaking with participants. I am also very interested in social relationships and will be interviewing participants and their caregivers about their experiences as part of my doctoral project. Feel free to reach out to me if you are interested in learning more!” Kate, we are so grateful for you- thank you!


Our next highlight we want to mention is Jessi Zuba! Jessi is also a third-year occupational therapy doctoral student from Rush University.  She is currently assisting with math tutoring at GiGi’s through the end of March as part of the clinical portion of her school program.


A note from Jessi:

“I enjoyed getting to know each one of my clients and their families as we work together to try and make math fun and exciting! I have especially enjoyed watching some of my quieter clients grow and learn over the past few weeks. One of my families has noticed their child is more confident at school and I am thrilled about this progress. In my free time, I love to exercise, hike, read, and play with my dog, Morgan. Fun fact: I also have a turtle named George. I have a background in personal training which I think blends nicely with occupational therapy as I enjoy helping people live healthy, active, fulfilling lives.” Jessi, thank you for being a part of our community!

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