December Vacation Camps for Boston Kids

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had the day off every time the kids got a day off from school?  If you’re scrambling to find childcare for December vacation, take a look at these camps in and around Boston. You may not have the day off, but you can rest easy, knowing that your kids are safe, staying active and having fun (while you toil away at work).

If you're planning to be home for the holidays and need some fun things to do with the kids during those long school-free days, check out our Holiday Fun Guide for ideas aplenty.

Free & Cheap Indoor Fun for Boston Kids (While You Get Your Shopping Done)

Shopping with kids (groan). It can be a drag, both for the children and the adults. But sometimes it is necessary, especially during the holidays. Some Boston stores really go out of their way to make kids and families happy, and we love ‘em for it. Many offer free activities, a few have play spaces, and others are like theme parks! Check out these places to take the kids during your shopping excursions to add a little (or lot of) fun to running errands.

Want more ideas for free things to do with kids in Boston? Take a look at my posts about visiting museums for free in the city of Boston and in Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline

Outdoor Gift Picks to “Gear Up” the Kids for Winter

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.

Winter, blustery weather, and the holidays are upon us, and it’s good to have a few strategies in place, especially when you have kids. Here’s a list of some cool products that can make winter even more fun for your family, and they all make great gifts as well.

Poppins Parents: Amber Bobnar, Wonder Mom

In our Poppins Parents series, we’ve featured the founder of a local nonprofit organization, a Boston Marathon runner who raises money for homeless children, a passionate advocate for getting kids outdoors, a musician who helps kids sing their way through cancer, and a yogi whose parenting blog provides reassurance that we're all in this together. It’s a diverse group of people with something in common: They are all local parents who make a difference in the lives of Boston families.

Our newest Poppins Parent hasn’t lived in the Boston area for long, but she’s already made quite an impact. She is a writer, an avid proponent for Boston’s many talented children’s musicians, and the creator of, an invaluable resource for parents of children with special needs.

Meet Amber Bobnar; find out what drew her from Hawai‘i to Boston, discover what's on her list of Boston's best venues for children's music, and learn which local resources she has found most helpful for raising a child with special needs.

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.


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