Michelle Vames's blog

New NJ Play Space Genius Gems Sparkles with STEM Fun for Kids

"Goodness, have you ever seen so many Magna-Tiles?!" a mom exclaimed to her toddler on a recent day at Genius Gems, the brand-new STEM-based play space that opened in Millburn on May 3. It was an incredible sight: thousands of brightly colored magnetic tiles lay strewn about—in kaleidoscopic piles on the floor, in towering formations created by little builders, in geometric patterns on a giant magnetic wall—and the sunlight that poured in through the floor-to-ceiling windows set everything aglow. 

My first thought was that this was an amazing place; my second was, "I'm so glad I don't have to clean up all these tiles." 

Happily, my only job was to hang out in the bright, beautiful space and watch my 3-year-old play, occasionally jumping in to build alongside him. My son was engaged and entertained for a solid two hours, and I was impressed—not only with the clean, modern aesthetic of the place, but with the simple yet ingenius offerings on hand. Between Genius Gems and The Busy Bee, which opened in Millburn in March, Essex County parents now have two great indoor play space options, without having to schlep to Routes 10 or 22.

May GoList: Best Things To Do with NJ Kids This Month

May is bursting with springtime fun. It's the perfect month to fly a kite, celebrate moms, and check out the gazillion fairs and festivals happening across the state. You can explore New Jersey's amazing shore at Ocean Fun Days, and travel back in time to the Renaissance and the Wild West.

When the weather's not cooperating, head indoors to see a performance, including The Wizard of Oz and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It all culminates in Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of summer fun with the opening of many water parks and amusement parks, including the tot-friendly Land of Make Believe

Read on to see our 20 top picks for the merry month of May. For even more things to do, be sure to check out our Event Calendar, with new activities and events added daily, as well as our Spring Fun Guide for New Jersey Kids. Spring is finally here—soak it up, NJ!

New STEM-based Play Space Will Offer Magnetic Fun for NJ Kids

Calling all Rosie Reveres, Ada Twists, and Iggy Pecks! A new play space is coming to Millburn this spring, and it's sure to capture the imaginations of young engineers, inventors, and creators of all kinds.

Genius Gems, the brainchild of educator and founder Jennifer Romanoff, is a STEM-focused play space where kids can build and design with a collection of more than 24,000 magnetic tiles—and that's not all. The facility will also offer a variety of classes and camps focusing on art, architecture, engineering, chemistry, coding, robotics, and circuitry. A soft opening is scheduled for May 3.

April GoList: Best Things To Do with NJ Kids This Month

April is packed with celebrations of spring, starting with Easter on the first day of the month and continuing with the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival in Newark, the Earth Day celebration in Jersey City, Daffodil Day at Reeves-Reed Arboretum, and many more spring festivals and fairs.

Other signs of spring include the season openings of amusement parks like Sesame Place and Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari, which will remain open throughout the first week of April for spring break. (And speaking of spring break, don't miss our roundups of things to do with kids during their days off, whether you're planning to make it a spring break staycation or you're looking for an easy getaway that's close to home.)

If April showers are in the forecast, head indoors to see a show! Tons of favorite characters are taking the stage this month throughout NJ, including Daniel Tiger, Paw PatrolPJ MasksWild Kratts, and the gang from Sesame Street.  

Read on for our 26 top picks for April. As always, you can find even more options in our Event Calendar, with new activities added daily. And for even more spring fun, check out our roundup of the best things to do this season with toddlers and preschoolers.  Happy spring!

Affordable Summer Camps for New Jersey Kids

Summer camps in New Jersey vary wildly in price, so it’s important to choose a camp that’s right for your child AND your pocketbook. Many camps let you register by the week or even the day, so you don't have to commit to an entire summer. Other options, like three-day weeks and half-day camp, also allow you to keep costs down. The cost of certain camps can be applied against the child care tax credit for children of single parents/two working parents, and some camps offer financial assistance—especially ones that get money from donors. 

Here we've rounded up 15 affordable day camp options for NJ kids. To find more New Jersey summer camps, check out our Camp Guide and Full Directory of Listings

Great Amusement Parks for Preschoolers and Toddlers in New Jersey

Looking for a place to take your little ones for gentle thrills and kid-friendly amusements? We've rounded up 15 NJ amusement parks that are perfect for the younger set. Some, like Storybook Land, are geared exclusively toward small children, while others, like Morey's Piers and Jenkinson's Boardwalk, offer a solid selection of kiddie rides in addition to bigger thrills. 

We've limited our list of amusement parks to those located in New Jersey—to search for more tot-friendly spots in surrounding areas, check out the Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC.

March GoList: The Best Things To Do with NJ Kids This Month

There's a lot to love about March, including St. Patrick's Day, train rides with the Easter Bunny, and other signs of spring. We've rounded up 21 things we're most looking forward to this month, from springtime celebrations to a huge selection of kids' shows. 

This month is packed with performances—the Sesame Street gang, Marvel superheroes, performing pets, the Runaway Bunny, taco-chomping dragons, and many more cool characters are coming to stages throughout NJ. You can celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday with storytimes or a birthday partybuild an entire New Jersey town out of Lego; and celebrate the Holi Festival with a burst of color and music. And amusement parks are reopening for the season at the end of the month!

Read on to see all of our top picks for March awesomness. And for a complete list of this month's happenings, be sure to check out our Event Calendar. Happy (almost) spring!

A Dozen Museums for Kids and Families in Central and Southern NJ

Winter's not over yet, and if you're running out of ideas, don't despair—there's plenty of indoor fun to be found at museums throughout central and southern NJ. At these wonderful and varied spots, you can explore a battleship, learn all about insects, ride a vintage train, see the stars, and even see a shrunken head.

For more educational fun, check out our list of the best museums for kids in northern NJ, or take a ride across the river to check out one of the many excellent museums in Philadelphia.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Michelle Vames's blog