Nothing says summertime fun like bubbles, but add a little color and take your bubble play to a whole new level. This simple project is a little bit art, a little bit science, and a whole lot of fun. Little kids love the anticipation of watching the bubbles burst into blooms of color. You can also experiment a bit with mixing colors each time you blow a new bubble. This is probably the one time my daughter was not sad that I burst her bubble!.
Seeing Theatreworks USA's annualFREEshow at the Lucille Lortel Theatre is as much of a rite of summer for me and my kid as hitting the beach, the pool and the playground. But I was a little worried when I heard that this year, the family theater company was going to musicalize The Lightning Thief, the first novel in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. My kid doesn't get into fantasy stories so she's never read the books about the 12-year-old demigod and his pals. I figured this show just wouldn't be her kind of thing. Boy was I wrong.
The hour-long Lightning Thief is a fast, funny and pop-tune filled introduction to his adventures as he takes on mythic Greek characters like Medusa, Hades and the Furies while dealing with modern-day challenges like dyslexia, ADD and fitting in with his peers. Aimed at children ages 7 and up, the show also seems to be a hit with fans of the book—as we left the theater we heard readers of various ages (kids and grown-ups) saying how well it captured the spirit of the series.
As a Staten Island mom with a toddler and a tween, I've been to the Staten Island Zoo many, many, many times. I don't really need an excuse to visit this eight-acre animal oasis filled more than 350 different species, including lots of reptiles, two rare Amur leopards and the weather-prognosticating/mayor-biting groundhog Staten Island Chuck. But now my family has a great new reason to go: The zoo's recently opened Conservation Carousel featuring two-dozen handcrafted wooden creatures to ride.
The Staten Island Zoo is my family's favorite place to see animals in NYC because it's intimate (we love the Bronx Zoo, too, but it can be overwhelming), rarely crowded and secluded, so you feel like you're going on an out-of-the-city adventure. But since it's an independent institution (it's not affiliated with New York City's five other Wildlife Conservation Society zoos) and located in the so-called "forgotten borough," it's often overlooked by families who don't live on the isle. I'm here to tell you, it's worth the trek. It's near public transportation (there's also a free parking lot) and has lots of special attractions for kids, including a petting zoo and the new carousel, so it's a great daycation destination—then you can stick around and check out some of the other cool things to do with kids on Staten Island.
Fishing is a classic summertime activity but it can only be done outside of NYC, right? Wrong. My husband and I have been fishing with our nine-year-old son in the five boroughs since he was a preschooler. It's relaxing and a great way to bond, plus it teaches patience (you definitely need it for this sport).
Not only does NYC offer different kinds of fishing experiences (freshwater, salt water, catch-and-release), there are organizations that even supply the rod, reel, tackle and bait so all you need to bring is a good attitude. Children under age 16 don’t need a license to fish in New York State, however grown-ups do, so make sure you get one if you're looking to drop a line, too. If you have your own equipment, NYC's shorelines offer great saltwater angling while our inland bodies of water are perfect for freshwater catch-and-release fishing. Our rivers, lakes, ponds and beaches are truly teeming with fish, and we've got the scoop on where you and your kids can catch them.
If you were raising your kids in, say, Utah—or any other place that doesn't have a Mommy Poppins daily calendar to point you in fun directions—you'd have to work a lot harder to keep your summer days playful. Our SUMMER OF PLAY partner, KaBOOM!, works with community leaders around the country to create more spaces and ways for kids to enjoy balanced and active play. Mother of three and registered nurse, Cyndalynn Tilley, is one of these community leaders in Woods Cross, Utah, and she's shared some of her favorite ideas for finding opportunities to play while doing ordinary daily activities. Backyard games are great when you have the time and space, but what about when you have to bring kids along to do chores like shopping and laundry? Even then grown-ups can help kids get the play they need to thrive.