Bay Ridge

NYC Restaurants Where Kids Can Make Their Own Food

When you have four kids like I do, eating out can be more of a chore than just staying in and cooking. A "kid-friendly" restaurant isn't going to cut it; we need a place where our brood will be truly engaged. That's why I'm always on the lookout for interactive restaurant experiences so eating out feels like a fun activity, not just another meal.

In the past, we've covered New York City restaurants where kids can play and eateries with family entertainment. But there are also a handful of local restaurants that offer make-your-own-food activities. My family has tried a few of them, and they're worth seeking out. Where else can you encourage your kids to play with their food and mean it?

Favorite Birthday Cake and Cupcake Bakeries in New York City

Whether it’s good old-fashioned angel food or trendy Southern red velvet, birthday cake is still the highlight of any party for kids. These days, however, the definition of “birthday cake” is expanding to also include cupcakes (amazing what one little episode of Sex and the City can do). Cupcakes are a good party choice because they can be cheaper, easier to serve, and more customizable than regular party cakes—the perfect answer when half your guests want chocolate and the other half crave vanilla. Whichever way you go, consider the following places. They’ll make any birthday party a sweet celebration.

Baby Fingers and Other Baby Sign Language Classes in NYC

Russian is my first language, so when I became a mom, I resolved that all of my children would be bilingual. I now have three kids and failed with all of them in their own way (not unlike what Tolstoy said about unhappy families). They are all definitely English dominant.

But I did do one thing right with my now eight- and five-year-olds: In addition to speaking Russian to them from birth, I also enrolled them in baby sign language classes. Not only were they able to communicate through sign months earlier than their mouths and tongues were capable of physically producing words, it created a perfect bridge from one language to the other. When I spoke to them in English (if their father was around), I signed the words. If I spoke to them in Russian (when we were alone), I signed the words. Making the same sign whether I was speaking English or Russian crystallized the point that all three–English, Russian and sign–referred to the same thing, and really helped them keep it all straight.

Here are some places where families can take baby sign language classes in New York City.

NYC School Zones: Where to Find Accurate Public School Zone Maps

New York City got an F in geography this month as news got around that 311 (the official New York City info line) has been giving out inaccurate information about elementary school zones. Over the past few years, there has been an unprecedented amount of school rezoning due to the introduction of several new schools to help ease overcrowding. Apparently even the DOE and NYC.gov can't keep up with the changes, so what are parents supposed to do—especially with the deadline for kindergarten applications looming?

I spent several hours sussing out where NYC parents can find accurate school zoning maps. It was not an easy task as there literally is no one place to find accurate school zoning maps for NYC... until now. Read on to see how you can get the right information when looking up your zoned schools.

Old New York Soda Fountain Restaurants

New York has changed a lot in our lifetimes. When I was a kid we really didn't have that many chains stores and restaurants in Manhattan. I used to see ads for Red Lobster and Beefsteak Charlie's on TV and pine for the suburbs. Now, of course, I know better and pine for the old neighborhood places. Most of them are long gone, but there are a few places left that have miraculously survived.

You can take your kids to any one of these old-fashioned soda fountains and it's like stepping into a time travel machine. Each of these kid-friendly restaurants is a great place to stop by for ice cream drinks and desserts and is a window into a long-gone NYC. Experience old New York at an old-fashioned soda fountain. Isn't history yummy?

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