Essential Reading for Living in NYC with Kids

New York can be an overwhelming place. Once you have kids the overwhelmingness multiplies exponentially. This site aims to make NYC with kids more manageable, interesting and fun, but there are loads of other resources out there too. We've dug up some of the best books for living in NYC with kids, covering schools, activities, apartment living, neighborhoods and more.

Unicorns, Dragons, and Mermaids, Oh My!: A Kids Guide to Mythical NYC

 

 

The current Mythic Creatures exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History is loaded with the fantastic stuff that kids love. Whether kids appreciate the underlying premise of the exhibit, that there are natural explanations for all of the occurrences of mythical creatures throughout history, or they just enjoy checking out all the great displays of cool mythical beasts, there's no reason to stop once you leave the museum.

We've dug up the best places for kids to see more mythical beasts around NYC so your dragon or mermaid-obsessed children can get their fill of fantasy fun.

No place in NYC has more unicorns than The Cloisters. With a whole cycle of unicorn tapestries, it's high-brow art that will surely engage children in it's bittersweet story of the unicorn hunt. The Cloisters are located in Fort Tryon Park which has been spruced up considerably and is now a nice place to enjoy a walk in the woods. Keep your eyes peeled for unicorns!

What a great way for kids to explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art than to treat the museum as a scavenger hunt for dragons and other beasts. There are about 25 pieces in the permanent collection that have dragons, the most prominent possibly being St. Michael and the Dragon. (Hint: do a search for dragons on the Met site so you know what you're looking for.) The Arms and Armor exhibit is a must for little would-be knights and damsels to continue the fantasy of slaying dragons.

For more imaginative play walk over to Belvedere Castle in Central park. It looks just like the real thing and is a great backdrop for playing knights and princesses.

A different kind of dragon hunt can be had in Chinatown where you can see all kinds of dragon puppets, masks and more for sale. Great for decorating a dragon-lover's bedroom. Make sure to come back in February for the Lunar New Year Parade when performers do dragon dances throughout the streets of Chinatown.

To see the real thing, head to The Bronx Zoo, home to the Komodo dragon where not only can they see the real thing behind glass, but toddlers will love climbing on the bronze dragon sculpture in the reptile house.

For more mythical beasts to climb on, take your kids to one of the carousels in our Carousel post last week or to Imagination Playground's dragon fountain in Prospect Park.

A day out looking at mythical creatures can be made more meaningful by coming home to read some great books on the subject.

A classic like the Three Tales of My Father's Dragon or tales of dragons and unicorns from other cultures will give kids perspective on what they are experiencing and expose them to some great culture.

Dragons: A Pop-Up Book of Fantastic Adventures, in addition to beautiful pop-up illustrations of dragons, gives kids a taste of some of dragon stories from different cultures including Beowolf and Japanese dragon tales.

The Unicorn Treasury: Stories, Poems, and Unicorn Lores includes unicorn stories and poems by some of the leading fantasy writers.

And, of course, every child should have a copy of Greek Myths for Young Children, an excellent introduction to Greek Mythology for children and the magical world of mythical creatures that inhabit it.

Lastly, next June don't forget to go to the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. It's the perfect thing for little mermaids who love to get dressed up and see everyone else in their finery.

 
Find more tips for NYC art and kids shows in our Culture Guide.

 

Let's Get Together: 10 (or 12) NYC Parenting Groups

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED. READ THE NEW VERSION HERE.

When you are a new parent New York can be like a sea of humanity: people, people everywhere, but not a soul to commiserate with. Finding the right parenting group can give you an instant social network to share the trials and tribulations of parenthood. Some mothers groups plan events and get-togethers, some offer seminars and discussions on pertinent topics, and some are just a place to chat on-line. Here are ten twelve NYC parenting groups for moms and dads of every stripe.

Local Produce: toys and more for kids at the NYC Greenmarket

Eating locally is all the rage now, and the Greenmarket in Union Square is the place to go to stock your fridge with great local produce. But you can get local when it comes to shopping for kids too and you don't have to go any further than the southern edge of Union Square Park. Local New York artists set up stands along the southern perimeter of the park and we found some wonderful unique items there.

Music for Aardvarks Rocks

 

Last week's post about Little Maestros got a bunch of interesting comments which shows how individual choosing classes for your child can be. Everybody has their particular likes and dislikes, another reason to be thankful we live in NYC where there are so many choices that we can find classes that suit our own tastes. My personal favorite for music classes is Music for Aardvarks. I just love David Weinstone's songs which are fun and groovy for kids and adults. The quirky lyrics and song subjects really relate so well to our lives here as city kids and their grown-ups. Classic songs like the "Taxi" song, "City Kid" and "Subway" celebrate the experiences of growing up in an urban environment, but I also love songs like "Lollipop Doc":

"I said okey dokey you know best 'cuz you're the doc but before I go, I'd like to know, hey, where's my lollipop?"

Mommy, Can I Have a Puppy, Sometimes?

Kids love pets. Especially furry ones. Double especially big, furry, drool-y, ones that need to be walked and run and scooped up after several times a day and kenneled when you go on vacation and given expensive shots. Except they don't like all that stuff so much.

And the whining and begging and pointing out of cute dogs can wear a parent down to the point where maybe having a cute little doggie doesn't seem like such a bad idea, even if you do live in NYC in an apartment the size of a toothbrush holder and work 60 hours a day to pay for it. Which can lead to post traumatic pet ownership.

But, dogs are forever. You can't just get a cute puppy and keep it for a little while and then return it when the charm wears off...or can you? Urban travel guide, Gridskipper, reports on a new service that has come to NYC that may be the final answer to that perennial question, "Mommy, can I have a puppy?"

Travel Days

Just a couple more days of vacation for me and the family. I'm going off-line for these last few days and I'll be back to regular posting on Monday.

Little Maestros is Music to Moms Ears

Sherri Margulies is a an awesome film editor who happens to be the mom of an adorable little babe in NYC and, now, is Mommy Poppins' first contributor. Her first two posts, featured today and tomorrow, are about music activities for babies in NYC. Welcome, Sherri!

 

 

Just like everyone else in Manhattan, I learned quickly that I needed to register my little one for some classes in order to get her resume going to get into a good preschool. My nanny, who rocks, thought it best to demo some music classes. Demo classes for a 6 month old, sounded crazy, but I thought she must know something I didn't, and indeed she did. After trying out Music Together and Music for Aardvarks we came across Little Maestros and she was blown away.

Be a tourist in the South Bronx

In my last post, I said that my current favorite outing with kids in NYC is to take the trolley to explore the South Bronx. I thought I'd write up some more details so more of you can enjoy this great excursion. And thanks to everyone who has contributed their favorite outings.

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