Bubbles Academy Opens First Suburban Location in Highland Park

The early childhood arts enrichment center and preschool will be offering classes, open play and parties.

Bubbles Academy, Chicago’s leading early childhood arts enrichment center and preschool in Bucktown and Gold Coast, recently opened its first suburban location in Highland Park in the former WeOrbit Play Space.

With the same playful, colorful and fun vibe as its other locations, the new space located at 1736 1st Street, Suite 102B boasts a large open play area with a bigger play structure, including a slide, that caters to older kiddos. There is also a separate classroom and private party room. 

Bubbles Academy Highland Park is currently holding Music, Movement, Art & Preschool Prep classes Tuesday-Thursday for kids ages 0-5. You can also stop by for an Open Play session on Monday-Friday, or host your child’s birthday party in the bright play space and private party room on Saturday or Sunday.

Natalie Monterastelli, Bubbles Academy co-owner and executive director said families have been asking when they’d move north for at least a decade.

“The timing finally lined up for us,” says Monterastelli. “Between the location of the space right across from the Metra stop and having the facility managed by Cara Turner, a former Bubbles mom and fixture in the Bubbles community, we knew it was a good combination to provide a quality experience for families.”

Bubbles Academy is a play-based environment that focuses on nurturing the whole child – body, mind and spirit. 

“We are not about any fear-based academic pressure,” she says. “Bubbles is all about nurturing the social-emotional development and language right alongside with the cognitive development to ensure that the whole child is supported through arts education.”

Monterastelli said that when making the decision to open a new space or offer any new classes, it is important to ensure they are in line with the Bubbles Academy philosophy of igniting wonder, curiosity and compassion in little ones.

“Whether they remember it or not, we want to offer a formative experience by exposing babies, toddlers and children to all different sensory experiences and socialization,” she says. “It is an honor to be able to impact children in the very early years.”

As with any Bubbles Academy class, a portion of the proceeds benefits Whole Child Arts, a nonprofit founded by Monterastelli that takes the popular Bubbles Academy class model to underserved areas in Chicago and beyond at no cost. 

Bubbles Academy will celebrate its 20th anniversary in September, and although they continue to expand in locations and offerings, their commitment to providing deep care to children and families has never wavered.

“Whether it is prepping materials for a class, setting up for a birthday party or sanitizing instruments, everything we do is thoughtful and intentional,” she says. “We are also focused on being an inclusive community – we want any family who walks in the door to feel like this is a place for them.”

Registration is now open for classes at Bubbles Academy Highland Park. Families who attend classes will also receive a free Open Play session on the day of their class. Monterastelli said families can also look forward to new offerings like Sensory Bin Mondays, private playgroups and pop-in art classes.

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Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.


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