Weekday Picks for Connecticut Kids: Superheroes, Campfires, and Luaus, July 20 - 24

We are finally settled into our summer routine, and once again I've been reminded of the value of planning: having a few activities penciled into my calendar (or bookmarked in my browser) gives me a plan of attack the moment I hear that dreaded summer whine, "I'm boooooooooored!" This week there are some terrific activities all over the state, including free concerts, a campfire, and even a luau.  If you're looking to beat the heat, our Summer Fun Guide has lots of great suggestions including a rundown of beach day trips, and our event calendar is updated throughout the week!  Stay cool, and have fun!

5 Day Trips with Water Features: Lakes, Beaches and Water Parks Close to NYC

As the city hits a full summer boil, many of us are looking for a little escape, preferably one where we can dunk our roasting selves in some sort of body of water. Whether you prefer cool beach waves, an afternoon of kayaking or tubing along the river or maybe dashing down a winding water slide, water features provide instant relief to sweltering summer heat.

While I love getting out of the city for a weekend trip, sometimes all the planning, packing and finagling of kids' sleep schedules can really take a toll. Instead of an extended stay, why not sneak away for a quick day trip? Luckily you don't have to go far. We've rounded up five destinations under two hours from NYC by car, so you'll be back before bedtime!

Indoor Tennis for NYC Kids: 10 Programs with Youth Lessons & Family Play

Summer feels like the height of tennis season: FREE outdoor lessons abound, and watching tournaments like Wimbledon and the US Open always inspires my family to hit the court. Then, just as we're getting back into the (literal) swing of things, the cold weather comes—but there's no need to put away our rackets. NYC is home to many indoor facilities that offer high-quality tennis lessons for kids year-round. A few even offer family game play!

5 Spelling Word Games to Help with Spelling for Kids

English is a tricky language with a lot of words and a whole heck of a lot of crazy rules (and exceptions to rules) about how things should be spelled. When I watch a kid learning the English language I honestly don't know how any of us do it. It's truly amazing that any of us learn how to read and spell.

Parents can support their kids learning to spell and write in school by spending time with them at home, reading and playing word games. Word games can help early writers just learning how to spell, as well as more advanced writers to increase their vocabularies. I've picked out a few word games that help kids with spelling words and tried them out with my seven year old. Not only have I been impressed with his growing ability and comfort (sometimes that's the most important thing) with spelling words, but we've had a lot of fun too.  And great warm up for back to school.

School Lunch and Snack Tips and Ideas for Back to School

It's back to school time and so we are thinking about all those little details of preparing for the school year. Making healthy school lunches and snacks is a big one. We asked the moms of Mommy Poppins what their best tips for easy healthy snack options and school lunch recipes were and they came up with a bunch of really original school lunch box ideas, as well as some old standbys.

Read on to find out what we're putting in our kids' lunch boxes for school lunch and snacks:

Drive-In Movie Theaters in Lower Hudson Valley

Despite big chains’ efforts to spruce up their movie theaters (recliners and dine-in service, anyone?), there is still nothing quite like a drive-in movie experience—a summer tradition for our family. Perhaps it’s nostalgia—or the fact that my 4-year-old can chatter throughout the movie without bothering anyone (except his older brother). Before the show, kids play Frisbee and tag in front of the monstrous theater screen and since the movies start on the later side (it must be dark, after all), half of them are clad in pajamas.

Lower Hudson Valley is home to several drive-in theaters—a real treat, as these theaters are rapidly diminishing across the U.S. We've got details on theaters in our area, as well as useful tips for enjoying the drive-in with kids.

20 Classic Educational OT Toys To Help Children Prepare for School

Last week there was an article in the NY Times, “Watch How You Hold That Crayon,” about OT and handwriting. In the article Anthony DiCarlo, a Principal stated, “In the last five years, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of kids who don’t have the strength in their hands to wield scissors or do arts and crafts projects, which in turn prepares them for writing."

He goes on to say that while many kids head back to school with accomplishments like music, yoga and sports classes, they may not have logged enough time in open-ended play. “I’m all for academic rigor,” he said, “but these days I tell parents that letting their child mold clay, play in the sand or build with Play-Doh builds important school-readiness skills, too.”

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