Teachers at the Old Town School

Laurie Empen

Playgroup for Wiggleworms

Laurie is the director and creator of Ms. Laurie's Play Group (formerly Lake View Play Group) and now Playgroup for Wiggleworms! She is an experienced childcare provider and a specialist in child development, both of which have shaped her vision for this unique play group. Laurie wanted to create a playgroup focusing on the needs of children while offering a relaxing, supportive environment for caregivers. Her enthusiasm and passion, along with her early childhood development expertise, make her playgroup very special for all the children and their caregivers who attend.

In her hometown of Forreston, Illinois, Laurie began caring for babies and children. This developed into a cherished career in childcare, spanning newborns to pre-schoolers in both Chicago homes and classrooms. Her extensive experience includes over 15 years as an independent childcare provider, teaching at Kid's Work Chicago (lead teacher in an infant room) and Rogers Park Montessori (assistant teacher in a preschool classroom) and practicing as a postpartum doula with Birthways Inc.

Wanting to offer more to the families she worked with, Laurie earned a Masters of Science in Early Childhood development from the prestigious Erikson Institute where she was awarded the Irving B Harris Scholorship for Excellence. She was an active member of the Child Development Advisory Board of Truman College and of Chicago's Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN) including writing the published article "Why Play"(Parent-to-Parent Newsletter January 2015)

Laurie's other passion is performing. With a BA in Theatre, she is a professional actress and singer who has performed in theatre productions in and around Chicago, including children's theatre with the Emerald City Theatre Company. She also co-produced ‘Callin’ all Kids,' a Children's Music CD favourably reviewed by Chicago Parent Magazine. Her two passions complement each other nicely with her stage presence and personality drawing children to her.

In creating Playgroup for Wiggleworms, Laurie wanted to focus on the needs of children in having the freedom to play, which is how they learn, while offering the environment for caregivers to also relax, enjoy their children, create new friendships with other parents-caregivers as well as discover avenues of support. Laurie observes each child and offers her insight into their development – physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially. She comes to know the caregivers and creates meaningful relationships with them, too. Community is the heart of this program. Listed TWICE, in the #6 spot of “101 Things for Families to Do in Chicago” by TimeOut Chicago Kids, and "Best Place to Get Your Game On" Finalist by Chicago Parent magazine, Ms. Laurie’s Play Group for Wiggleworms is well on its way of becoming a premiere program for children and families.

Started at the Old Town School in August of 2015

No classes found

The Old Town School of Folk Music, Inc.
4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago IL 60625  •  773.728.6000