Best of the Back to School Guides

As Seen at Cool Mom PicksI culled through the blogosphere looking for the best back to school guides and bring you the best of 2007 blogging back to school guides. Here's where you'll find the best of what kids going to school need in NYC and beyond.

Best Style: Cool Mom Picks wins hands down for having the coolest, well, mom picks for school this year. Fun fashion, back packs, lunch boxes, school supplies, and a little something for mommy too. This is the list to send your kids back to school in style.

Most Informative: Download a comprehensive guide to getting through the school year with tips on everything from healthy snacks to dealing with bullies at Healthy Perspectives. There's a lot of this kind of information out there, but this 36 page well-organized document seems good and tackles unusual but real issues, like what if you don't like your kid's teacher.

The Greens: Environmentalism is all the rage now. This is supported by the fact that several of the back to school guides I found were "green guides." The guide at Green Moms, the iVillage Green Back to School Picks, and the Green Back to School Guide are not all that different from each other and I would be hard-pressed to pick one out as the best, so here's a run-down of what I took away:

Labor Day Weekend: Wrap Summer Up at 5 NY Fairs

Labor Day Weekend is the last weekend of the summer for NYC kids. Time for one last fling with fun. One last chance to lose yourself to the joys of summer. Labor Day Weekend is also the time for The Fair.

Just a short drive from NYC families can find themselves in 4H country. State and county fairs boast agricultural exhibits where farm kids compete for the best rabbits, chickens, goats, pigs, cows, crafts and more. It's a wonderful view into a completely different type of childhood experience, not to mention a great big petting zoo.

After the jump, a run-down of the state, county and other fairs in the area this weekend. Plus find out how any NYC child can participate in the county fair experience right here in NYC.

You Deserve a Break Today at Mommy Poppins: Win a Night Out

You may have noticed a new addition to the sidebar on Mommy Poppins last week. College Nannies and Tutors is running an ad on this site and offering a great deal exclusively to Mommy Poppins readers - and just in time for The Great Fall Baby Sitter Shuffle too. Even I am looking for a new baby sitter as my son goes off to elementary school for the first time and we will cut back to part time care. But I digress.

College Nannies and Tutors is holding a contest for one free "date night" coverage. That's five hours of baby sitting at no charge with one of their trained professional nannies. Free babysitting and a night out just with grown-ups - I know that's something that every one of us could use.

To enter just click on the ad and a new email window should open up. Just add your name, location and children's ages and hit send. The drawing will be held at the end of the month.

Have Parenting Podcasts Jumped the Shark?

Last week the iTunes store did a spotlight on Parenting Podcasts. Since then, I've been trying to decide if that meant that parenting has become cooler or if podcasting has become less cool. After long, hard philosophical soul-searching I've decided...the answer is both. (That was productive.)

Kaboost Portable Chair Booster Gives Booster Seats the Boot

There are certain products that come out that almost make me wish I had a baby again so that I could use them (A couple of minutes of thinking about a sweet baby quickly turn to the reality and I become sane again). The Kaboost portable chair booster is one of them. This cool, new, ingeniously-designed booster seat alternative would not only have made my life a lot easier with my booster seat refusing son, but is just a neat looking piece of furniture.

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.

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