Free Festivals and Weekend Events in New York City for Kids: June 5 - June 6, 2010

I am really glad we are staying in town this weekend and I hope you will, too. There is SO much to do that you don’t want to miss any of it. Seriously, not only is Governors Island opening with a huge family festival, but also, the lower east side is hosting the fabulous Egg Rolls and Egg Creams event.  And, there is the super-fun World Science Festival Street Fair in Washington Square Park plus other smaller but still very cool events, like Taste, a day of fine food tastings to support The Lab Schools or the community-minded festival at The Glass Garden in NYU or one of the other 22 festivals taking place in June.

If a huge festival isn’t quite your thing, there is also the Atlantic Avenue ArtWalk where you can visit with artists at work (and a lot more), a couple of high end craft fairs, great author-led book readings or the Fish Tales Extravaganza at the aquarium.  Parades, concerts, nature activities, chess and even an old fashioned subway ride are all on offer for you.

Don’t forget that this is the first weekend of June and some area museums have free admission and special family programming, including CMOM on Friday night, The Brooklyn Museum on Saturday night and The Queens Museum of Art on Sunday.

This weekend is packed with lots of fun events. Choose one or two from the list below and have a great weekend.

Toddling the Upper West Side: 10 Spots in 10 Blocks For You and Your Toddler in the West 60's

Ah toddlers, so full of energy and always on the go, much like our beloved NYC!  I've been getting a unique new view of my neighborhood on the Upper West Side through a toddler's eyes with my one-and-a-half-year-old.  It's a very child-friendly area from Columbus Circle at 59th Street Columbus all the way up to 100th Street.   You're sandwiched between two amazing parks, but there are loads of other places to explore as well.  So we're taking you and your toddler on a tour of the Upper West Side, 10 fun-filled blocks at a time. There will be lots of child-friendly play spaces and food options,  and a little something for the adults to enjoy along the way too.  In this first part of the series we tackle the West 60's. Here we go! 

 

Don’t Miss the Temporary Toy Theater Museum and Festival

You might have heard that there’s a cool Toy Theater Festival in town until June 13th, but betcha didn’t know about the terrific and virtually un-advertised Temporary Toy Theater Museum that accompanies the festival or, better yet, that it’s totally free to see and well worth taking the kids!

10 Greek Festivals on Long Island

Visit a Greek festival for a taste of Greek food, Greek music, Greek culture, Greek dancing, great family fun and entertainment. At Greek Festivals, you will typically find ethnic Greek foods, traditional Greek folk music performed by a live band, and cultural presentations, such as dancers performing in costume. 
 
Additionally, there are usually carnival rides, raffles and shopping for Greek jewelry, books, music, spices, etc.  Some festivals even include a display of fireworks.  A Greek Festival is an event that you should not miss!

 

Memorial Day Weekend Kicks off the Summer Season with Pools. Beaches, Sprinklers, Weekend Travel and Fish

Photo of the Week: This guy was waiting for the bus with us on Randall's Island last weekend and was dyin to show us the colassal striped bass he caught out of the East River. Believe me, it wasn't the worst smelling thing on the bus that day.

Woohoo, long Weekend! Memorial Day Weekend unofficially kicks off the summer season, meaning the beaches, sprinklers and swimming pools are all opening starting this weekend. Also opening this weekend is the new Luna Park amusement park at Coney Island.

New York Transit Museum's Summer Nostalgia Train Rides

[UPDATED: May 27, 2013] I'm sure I'm not the only one who has visited the New York Transit Museum and wished for a chance to ride on one of the old trains or buses on display. It would really be something to go back to an era when New Yorkers rode the tiny rattan seats on the BMT or held onto the leather straps of the IRT as the subways noisily bumped and jostled their way through the tubes.

Well time travel isn’t possible, but you can hop on some of New York City’s old trains and buses when the Transit Museum pulls out some of its vintage fleet for three special, all-day summer excursions. The trips each have different destinations and sound like a lot of fun. In fact they're filling up fast! If you have a little train fan in your house, don't miss this.

Our New Family Travel Guide

We love New York City as much as the next guy (maybe more), but, as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder—so we love getting out of the city too. As Memorial Day Weekend rolls around we get pretty excited about summer day trips and weekend getaways and hopefully plans for a longer summer family vacation too.

In order to get organized for all those family travel plans, we've created our new Family Travel Guide, a page dedicated to all our posts about family travel destinations, family-friendly resorts, car-free day trips and some frugal family travel tips, including our great lists of 30 Family Friendly Day Trips From NYC and 75 Best Family Vacation Destinations to get you started.

Preschool Co-Op: How to Start an At-Home, Parent-Led Program

One of the urban legends spread to NYC parents is that you have to sign your children up for preschool while they're still in the womb. This isn't true. In fact, preschool is optional and there are lots of options out there from full day preschools to half day, preschool alternatives and enriching and nurturing day cares.

Our family decided to do something completely different and join some friends as part of a parent-led preschool co-op with our 2-year-old. I recently met with other moms who've done it before to hear their experience and tips on making it a success. 

Memorial Day Weekend Events for NJ Kids and Familes: Memorial Day at the Jersey Shore, Kite Festivals, & Battles Galore

Memorial Day is one of New Jersey's most important holidays: it means that it is time to hit the beach and the boardwalk!  And this weekend the Jersey Shore promises to deliver the best, including one of the nation's biggest kite festivals!  Kids can also get a taste of the country at sheepshearing festivals or by hopping on a hayride at a historical farm.  For those who want to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day, consider a trip to a historic farm or battlefield for a live reenactment or visiting some of NJ's naval or aviation museums...

Using the NYC Public School Report Cards to Find the Best Public Schools for Your Child

In the past few years the DOE has implemented many new standardized assessments for NYC public schools. Internally, there has been some grumbling, particularly from school administrators who have felt like these reviews do not paint accurate portraits of their schools and are unfair assessments, but are these reports useful for parents? What can you learn from these reviews when looking to choose a school for your child? And what other tools are available for parents?

Below find an overview of the different DOE school report cards, what each one will tell you and other useful tools in researching the best NYC Public Schools for your child.

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