I got caught smelling the daisies

Light posting this week for Spring Break. FOr April we're going to be focusing on kid crafts. So stay tuned for some fun stuff.

Spring is here. Let's watch it grow.

The crocuses are blooming in Central Park!

Get thee and thy kids to a park, zoo or botanical garden and catch the wonders of Spring first hand. Besides just enjoying some sunshine for the first time in months, early Spring is a great time to impress toddlers with the wonders of nature.

So take the kids to the park and check out all the different stages of development the plants are in. You'll see shoots just breaking through the earth, buds just forming on the daffodils, and crocuses in full bloom. Toddlers also like to see the leaf buds just forming on the trees. It brings the whole cycle of the seasons home.

When you get home let the kid plant their own seed in a little pot. Take a look at this earlier post to learn about planting a mango pit. Or you can buy some seeds at the hardware store.

If you don't care to play in the dirt at home, you can buy some potted bulbs at the Greenmarket or the florist and watch them grow up into flowers too.

Do you have a favorite nature craft or project you like to do? Share it in the comments.

Find More Teachable Moments With Your Kids

We've been talking about the best schools in NYC on this site all month, but many experts will tell you that what happens at home is much more important than what school a child goes to. You don't have to be a homeschooler to find teachable moments during the course of your regular day. But, where do you begin? How do you know what to do and how? What is appropriate and at what ages?

Even though we don't homeschool, I like to read a homeschool curriculum each year. I read the outline of what the course will be focusing on and copy down the reading list. Then I keep those themes in the back of my mind and look for opportunities to work them in to our everyday. I get the books on the reading list from the library and those become our bedtime or anytime books. I find that this helps me feel involved in my children's education and also makes me feel confident that they are on track by my standards, not slipping through the cracks.

Up until now I have mostly focused on the social sciences because I think the schools do a good job of teaching reading and math in the early grades. The book that I like to follow is called The Well-Trained Mind and it is based on a Classical Education. Click on the link for an in depth definition of a Classical Education, but it basically means that the early years are spent absorbing the basic facts that every well-educated person should know and only later do students focus on expressing themselves creatively.

5 Only-In-NYC Birthday Party Ideas

You don't have to be a hipster parent to not want to have your child's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Do the kids love it? Yes, they do. Is it not exorbitantly expensive? No, it's not? But, you don't pay a gazzilion dollars a month in NYC rent to live in a dresser drawer so that your children can have their birthday parties in a mall. So, Mommy Poppins' elfin detectives have dug up some unique, educational, creative, decidedly New York ideas for kid birthday parties that won't cost a mint.

PS 3 vs. PS 41: Choosing a School for Your Id

Starting in 2014, these schools will be in separate districts. For the most up-to-date information on school districts, call the school you're interested in directly. Families in Greenwich Village are faced with a true embarrassment of riches when it comes to schools. Forced to choose between two of the best public elementary schools in NYC, parents are often left divided and confused. Hang out at any of the downtown preschools around this time of year and you are apt to hear heated debates among parents who have already chosen one school over the other for their kids and will fiercely defend their choice. Choosing a school is one of the toughest problems parents face in NYC and very emotional. The PS3 vs 41 debate is a perfect platform for exploring the approach that parents take to this issue all over NYC, whether looking for public or private schools.

Family Activity: Create Your Own Holiday

How often do you wish you could just slow down and spend a quiet day together with your family? How about creating your own family holiday? You can do anything you want. It could be around a theme, you can exchange gifts, or just hang out together for a day with no distractions.

Won't Someone Think of the Children!

Which of these scary AG doll clones is the real doll?

Which of these scary AG doll clones is the real doll?

Read the story of six year old Etta (via Consumerist), who was coldly turned away by American Girl Place's hair salon because her doll was a Tarjay "fake" and you can't help but feel a little weepy. But, read the comments written in to her mom's blog post about the incident and you can't help but get a little chuckle.

I am insulted that American Girl did this, That's even less class than Macy's has!!!

What do Hipster Parents Sound Like to Kids?

Simon Rich has written a hysterical version of what grown up conversation sounds like to kids in this week's New Yorker Shouts and Murmurs. It made me think about how much I enjoy The New Yorker now and how much I hated it as a kid.

In tribute to Simon Rich's piece, here's how I imagined my parents when reading The New Yorker as a kid:

DAD: This magazine is so great. It has so many words in it.

MOM: Look at the cover. It makes no sense. That's so clever.

DAD: (laughing) And, this cartoon isn't funny. That's the kind of cartoon I like, black and white cartoons that aren't funny.

MOM: I have an idea. Let's pick a movie based on these reviews to take the kids to. They'll love that.

OK. That got my juices flowing, so let's keep going with this.


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