Things To Do in Connecticut this Weekend: Pumpkins, Scarecrows, County Fairs

This week the calendar says we are officially entering fall...and that means we can turn our attention to pumpkins and harvest fun. Head over to Seymour for the annual Pumpkin Festival, or travel to Pumpkintown, USA to see the famous collection of jack-o'-lantern people. Kids love making their own scarecrows in Simsbury. And corn mazes are cropping up everywhere!

There also are plenty of other activities this week. Newtown is hosting a free program about polination and Norwalk is celebrating its first-ever Norwalk Strong. And this isn't even counting all the traditional county fairs, like these in Guilford and Orange.

These fall weekends are particularly action packed so make sure that you subscribe to our weekly newsletters and follow us on Facebook and Instagram so that you won't miss any of the fun! As always, our event calendar is constantly being updated with the latest activities. Have fun!

20 Unique Birthday Party Spots for New Jersey Kids

Painting party? Been there. Pool party? Done that. If you're fresh out of ideas for your child's next birthday, fear not. We've pulled together some of NJ's most unique birthday party venues for kids, whether they're into sports, arts, or science. From flying high at an indoor skydiving center to starring in a Broadway-style birthday performance, these birthday parties break the mold. 

Be sure to check out our Birthday Party Guide for even more options.

Things To Do in Chicago this Weekend with Kids: Youth Art Fest, Oz, Free Museums

Kid-friendly art walks, harvest festivals, and cultural celebrations top the calendar for Chicago families this weekend. To start with, there's the usual full complement of fun fall festivities, including the Oak Brook Autumn Fest, Oak Park's Oaktoberfest, the Autumn in the Park Festival in Palos Park, Bolingbrook's big End of Summer Carnival, the Geneva Autumn Fest, and Naperville's activity-packed Harvest Pow-Wow where kids can learn about the harvest traditions of Native American cultures. The Chicago Japanese Matsuri bids summer farewell in traditional Japanese style with games, crafts, and tasty food.

The day culture fans have been waiting for arrives on Saturday with Smithsonian Free Museum Day: 20+ museums and institutions offer free ticketed admission, including the Adler Planetarium, but don't wait to book your tickets. Also on Saturday, the YAS! Youth Arts Showcase Fest in Millennium Park highlights the creativity of Chicago kids with exhibits and performances. Stick around for another creative, only-in-our-city event that night as the Moonlight Parade at the Bean fills Millennium Park with drummers, glow sticks, and lanterns.

This weekend is also opening day for the Chicago Children's Museum's exhibit devoted to the art of Mo Willems, much-loved author of the Knuffle Bunny and Elephant and Piggie books. Art-loving families can also stroll the Beverly Art Walk or explore the Andersonville Arts Week Fest this weekend. 

Ready for Halloween yet? Pull out your ruby slippers and your lion costume early for the weekend-long Midwest Wizard of Ozfest in Tinley Park, with puppet shows, performances, and photo-ops on the Yellow Brick Road. 

And those are just the highlights! There's lots more to do in this weekend's roundup and in our jam-packed Event Calendar.

HudsonWay Immersion School Brings Mandarin and Spanish Bilingual Education to NYC and NJ

Founded in 2005 by an expectant mom committed to giving her soon-to-be-born twins a bilingual education, HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) has grown from a home-based class of five kids into an academically rigorous, full immersion Mandarin and Spanish language program for children ages 2 through grade 8. Beginning in PreK, HWIS's core curriculum is taught in both English and the selected foreign language, with the goal of helping students develop advanced cognitive skills, higher second language proficiency, strong social skills, and an increased awareness of the many diverse cultures in our ever-changing world.

Over the last 14 years, the bilingual school has expanded to two campuses in Stirling, New Jersey and New York City, including a brand new facility in Midtown West that just opened in time for the 2019–20 school year. With all this momentum, we sat down with the mastermind mom behind HudsonWay Immersion School, Sharon Huang, to learn more about the unique dual language program and the new Manhattan campus.

14 Not-So-Scary Halloween Events in NYC for the Preschool Set

With a little one who gets tired after one or two blocks of trick-or-treating, I find myself hunting for Halloween events that are more geared towards his age group. Luckily for us, NYC boasts plenty of less spooky, pre-bedtime events for the littlest ghouls and goblins. 

With that in mind, we've put together a list of 14 Halloween events perfect for the preschool set, many of them FREE. Enjoy these gentle Halloween events while you can—your kids will be celebrating at the Village Halloween Parade before you know it.

Find even more festive happenings for all age groups in our Halloween guide (including kid-friendly costume parades around the city), and of course in our events calendar, which is continually updated with new, fun events as we find out about them.

Music Classes for Children in Hartford County and Central Connecticut

Not simple a source of creative expression, music has been known to be critical for brain development, fostering self-esteem, improving language, and building many other great skills. Here's an extensive list of schools that offer instrument lessons (piano, violin, and more) or other music class programs (from movement-based classes to vocal instruction). For even more fun ideas, check out our Connecticut Classes and Enrichment Guide.

Indoor Party Spots with Mega Play Spaces for LI Kids

Throwing a birthday party is hard work. We all want our kids to feel special on their birthday, but feeding, entertaining, and mingling among your kid's adoring fans (and their parents) can seem like a job. Choosing a birthday party venue—as opposed to your home—can save you a whole a lot of stress, and you don't have to worry about cake on your carpets. In these indoor party spots, kids can run free in a safe environment, while parents mingle. Not to mention someone else does all the cleanup. Added bonus: You never have to worry about the weather with one of these mega indoor play spaces. 

For more birthday party ideas, see our birthday party guide for Long Island kids, with recommendations on party spots for toddlerstweens, and more.

Popular Upper West Side Preschools (and How to Know Which One Is Best for You)

Gearing up for the great preschool hunt? In neighborhoods like the Upper West Side where preschool spots are in high demand, some preschools may require you to send your application in September the year before your child will enroll, after which you'll be invited to visit and confirm your interest in the school (some have early admissions and wait lists!), with final acceptance letters going out in February or March. If that sounds unsettlingly like college admissions to you, you're not alone.

But never fear. The Upper West Side is home to a lot of great preschools, and your odds of finding a comfortable fit for your family are excellent. We've compiled our best Preschool Admissions Tips as well as 10 Questions to Ask During a Preschool Tour, and don't forget that our Preschools Directory is an excellent resource. And to start your preschool search on the right foot, we've highlighted some of our favorite preschools in the Upper West Side and broken them down into categories to help you decide which may be best for your family. Good luck!

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