A Far Cry: A Fun Introduction to Classical Music for Boston Families

If you frequent Jamaica Plain, you already know about the many awesome places to make music with your kids. But you might not know that Jamaica Plain is also home to one of the most unique and critically acclaimed up-and-coming chamber music groups in the country, the conductor-less string orchestra, A Far Cry.  This group -- they call themselves Criers -- invites a new generation of young people to embrace classical music by making their concerts participatory, varied, and inexpensive. And they have afternoon recitals, perfect for the younger, post-nap set.

How to Organize a Babysitting Co-op in Your Neighborhood

As a parent, finding time for doctor's appointments, job interviews, or the much-coveted date night out can be challenging enough -- finding someone to watch the kids can be even more difficult. Turning to your virtual village to organize a childcare cooperative is a great, free alternative to costly babysitters or drop-off centers.

A babysitting co-op lets you trade time watching each other's kids for time to do real grown-up things like go to appointments, clean the house, or just take a break. Lots of parents do this informally in a "you get my back this time, I will get your's next time" approach, where the only reckoning of debts owed is karmic.  This works great among friends, but tends to involve only a small group of select people.  Creating a more formally organized cooperative allows parents to expand their network of willing sitters while accurate tracking keeps things fair and equitable. Here's how to get started:

Five Picks for Kid-Friendly Biking Trails

Local mom and “Outdoors with Kids Boston” guidebook author, Kim Foley MacKinnon, shares her best family outing tips and picks with you as part of our guest blog series with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kids Outdoors Boston free online community.

This is a gorgeous time of year to take a family bike ride, which is even more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry (too much) about traffic and other distractions on the road. Here are five top-notch places to take the kids, whether they are on a trail-a-long bike, using training wheels, or biking on their own. For more trip ideas, as well as some smart tips, check out advice from outdoor experts and bicycling trip leaders at Great Kids, Great Outdoors.

Poppins Parents: Pam Hess, Appalachian Mountain Mama

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has helped us discover local playgrounds with shade, easy Boston area hikes for preschoolers, nearby farms, and family friendly tent camping. Now, AMC has a new endeavor: A unique kind of prescription program called Outdoors Rx. Through the program, healthcare professionals at MassGeneral Hospital for Children give families in Waltham and Framingham prescriptions for regular outdoor physical activity. Then AMC fills the prescriptions with free, easy, and fun local outdoor programs.

Pam Hess, AMC’s Director of Youth Engagement, is one of the primary architects of Outdoors Rx and is AMC’s Outdoors Rx Program Director. We interviewed her to find out how the program started, why she’s so passionate about getting families outdoors, and what her family does for fun.

New Museum Exhibits Opening in Boston This Fall: Inspired Installations for Families

Fall brings pumpkins, hay rides, corn mazes, spooky fun, concerts, and festivals. But what really piques my interest is a different fall tradition (nerd alert!): The opening of new museum exhibits. I get excited just reading about the investigation of how humans change over time at the Museum of Science, going beyond human at the Peabody Essex Museum, the meditation on a single color at the MFA, stretching the definitions of art at the ICA, and redefining the topography of the deCordova Sculpture Park. All that, and some STEAM (that's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery and MIT Museum. Even if you don’t find it quite as exciting as I do, take a look – there’s something new for every family this Fall in Boston’s galleries. 

Best Kid-Friendly Neighborhood Brunch Spots

Breakfast and brunch are the meals we tend to eat out most often; toddlers are early risers, so by 10 or so, we're ready for (second) breakfast, and kids really, really like breakfast food. I enjoy whipping up muffins or pancakes, but I will gladly pay for the privilege of getting someone else to make them for me while I happily sip a mimosa or bloody Mary. It may only be 9am, and I may have a weekend's worth of stuff to fit into one day, but hey! If you're looking for fancy brunches to celebrate a birthday or special event, check out Tara's piece from last spring, but here are a few of our family's favorite casual neighborhood spots around town.

6 Cheap & Easy DIY Halloween Decoration Crafts To Do with Kids

Who's ready to spook down the house? If your family loves Halloween, it's time to show the neighbors - all over your lawn, balcony, front steps, or whatever bits of outdoor space you command. We've got a few ideas for Halloween decorations that don't involve a shopping spree at a Halloween store; in fact most of the ideas below are made entirely out of things you're likely to have at home already (and may even be looking to recycle). The best part is a spooky decorating frenzy makes for quality family time - turning a happy home into a haunted one. (Looking for even more ideas? Our Boston site has some way-cool DIY Halloween decorations, too!)


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