Real Life Ruggish: Alanna Gallo of Play Learn Thrive

Alanna Gallo is “freaking good at making spaces come to life.” And she is incredibly picky about what she puts in her children’s playroom.

The playspace expert behind @playlearnthrivekids, Alanna is a firm believer in a less-is-more approach to playtime: curating a small collection of high quality open-ended toys rather than stacking playroom shelves to the ceiling. 

“Open-ended play provides children with opportunities to learn and explore on their own, using their own imagination,” Alanna explained in an Instagram post. “When children are given time and space to play, they develop better social emotional and cognitive skills.”

Along with open-ended toys (think Waldorf- and Montessori-inspired wooden playthings, magnetic tiles and play silks), Alanna recommends rotating toys and using simple, accessible open storage that makes it easy for children to find — and put away — their own toys. Her mission? “Bringing calm to the chaos of parenting.”

“‘Good parenting’ isn’t about buying all the things, signing your kid up for all the activities, having the perfect 1st birthday cake smash picture, or the coordinating holiday pajamas,” Alanna wrote to her Instagram followers. “Good parenting is about NOT getting it right the first time. It’s about a parent's commitment to growth. Learning right alongside your kids.”

Both as a parent and as a playspace consultant, Alanna is all about creating an “intentional playspace” — which is why we were so excited to see our Ruggish play rug in her children’s playroom!

Alanna’s children have been playing on their Ruggish for years, and it has stood up to countless hours of rambunctious, imaginative fun, serving as a landing pad for sliding, jumping and tumbling, as well as a soft, stable surface for stacking blocks and pushing cars and a safe space for tummy time and first steps.

“It gets roughed up daily and still looking good as new!” she said. She even enlists little helpers to keep it wiped clean with an earth-friendly, kid-safe mix of Dr. Bronner’s soap and water.

This summer, Alanna and her family are embarking on a new adventure: Becoming full-time travelers! Follow along with their adventures on Instagram @playlearnthrivekids and at

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