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New Jersey Playgrounds Cool Enough for Big Kids

Playgrounds are the perfect destination for a warm, sunny day in New Jersey. Your kids get fresh air and exercise...for FREE! But what happens when your school-aged children decide they’re too cool for their once-favorite neighborhood parks? My 8-year-old former playground-enthusiasts have recently begun to turn their noses up at the local swings and slides. And if I do talk them into a playground visit, we last about five minutes.

Playground moms—don’t give up yet. I haven’t! There are some destination playgrounds in New Jersey with features and contraptions novel enough to satisfy even the pickiest playground cynics. These play areas include zip lines, crazy slides, Spiderman-type climbers, and other structures that will challenge the ages 7-and-up crowd. We've rounded up some of our top picks across the state, and please note: these playgrounds all feature plenty to entertain the younger siblings as well.

Find more romping spots in our Parks & Playgrounds Guide for Jersey Kids.

New Jersey Art Studios that Encourage Kids To Play with Glass

Broken glass at home often leads to warnings of keep back and be careful, but at a number of art studios across the state, kids are encouraged to play with the stuff. Don't worry, cuts and scratches are not involved. In these studios, kids (and adults) can cut, glue, blow, and fuse colorful bits and pieces of glass to make sun catchers, jewelry, picture frames, and other unique designs—often with the help of trained studio artists. We've searched out some spots with open studio times and classes where kids and adults can express their inner Chihuly.

Picking the Perfect New Jersey Preschool for Your Child

Selecting the best preschool for your child is no easy task. You can lose sleep over finding an environment that's just right for your little one. The questions are seemingly endless: Will the teachers prepare my child for the academic rigors that lie ahead? Will she be given the proper outlets to express her creativity and independence? Will his transition to preschool be smooth, and will he make friends? Will she nap and eat properly?

The process can be a bit less overwhelming if you first identify a school philosophy that you feel works best for your child, and go from there. To help you get started, we've laid out six of the most popular approaches, from co-ops and Montessori and Reggio Emilia to full immersion programs, along with some examples of New Jersey preschools that follow them. 

NJ Candy Stores & Sweet Shops Kids Will Love

There are plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with the kids in New Jersey, including fun family events, craft projects, and more. Another way to celebrate, of course, is with a special sweet treat, be it chocolate making, or cute cake pops, or heart-shaped candies.  

We've rounded up some top sweet shops and candy stores around the state to bring your little monkeys some yummy goodness this Valentine's Day.

Kidoolo Is a New Play Space with an Upscale, Club-Like Vibe

NOTE: As of January 2019, Kidoolo is not offering open play for toddlers. It does offer open laser tag sessions for kids ages 6 and up, along with arcade and video games, and it is available for birthday parties and events. 

Kidoolo Play Club, a new indoor play space in Springfield, aims to appeal to kids and parents alike. The stylish space is currently open for business but will celebrate its grand opening on January 28. It's located next to PM Pediatrics between BMW and Fiat on Route 22 East. 

Top Indie Bookstores for New Jersey Families

New Jersey has many wonderful independent bookstores run by dedicated bibliophiles that offer children's programs, storytimes, indoor activities, and books galore for mom, dad, the tween, the toddler and the middle school age kid. Stop in during the holiday season to shop local, or year-round for children's birthdays. We know we don't need to tell you, dear reader, but there is nothing quite like a good book. 

After-School Programs in New Jersey with an Academic Focus

Back to school means a return to classes, tests, homework, and book reports. It can be stressful when kids struggle with the curriculum, especially for full-time working parents. Students might be learning new concepts in math and language arts with which parents aren't familiar. If you are concerned about your kids falling behind academically, or just want to give them a leg up on the new school year, you are in luck. New Jersey is home to a bunch of great after-school academic programs. Check out some of our top picks below. 

For some great tutoring options, read our post on New Jersey Tutoring Centers, or find more great enrichment programs in our Classes Directory.

Immersion Preschools in Northern and Central New Jersey

With brains like sponges, preschoolers are the perfect age to begin learning a second language. Studies have shown that kids who learn a second language during the preschool years go on to speak more fluently than those who begin to learn at an older age. In addition, bi-lingual children tend to be more creative, have better critical thinking skills and a better understanding of humanity and culture.  One of the reasons young children learn a new language so easily is because they learn through exploration and play. By immersing them in one of these outstanding foreign language preschools, you will be giving them them a lifelong gift that will allow them to succeed in the global economy of tomorrow. If you're looking for some after school language programs for kids of all ages, check out these Language Classes for NJ Kids.

10 Fun Ice Cream Joints in New Jersey

What is it about summer that makes even the most uptight parent want to bend the rules a bit? Like healthy dinner rules? How about ice cream for dinner? Go ahead....we won't tell. As temperatures sore to sweltering heights, and we look for new ways to cool down, ice cream has become a must-have. And as luck would have it, our state has some delicious ice cream joints!

Whether you’re looking to dazzle your taste buds with a quirky flavor or go for an old-fashioned milkshake, we've rounded up a list of amazing ice cream shops that will have New Jersey kids and parents celebrating all that is summer.

Best Baseball Schools in New Jersey

When we near the Fall Classic, it means baseball season will be over for the year, and parents and kids look for ways to keep their head in the game. Luckily, New Jersey kids have more than a few options when it comes to playing baseball and softball during the cold winter months. We've put together a list of great New Jersey baseball schools that offer indoor lessons, leagues and clinics all year long. For even more fun indoor activities be sure to check out our Indoor Play and Activity Guide.

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