Get Hands-On with Nature and Science at Brooklyn Environmental Center

Ever wonder what type of fish swim in the East River, or which species of trees dot the perimeter of the adjacent Brooklyn Bridge Park? The recently opened Environmental Education Center, which sits under the Manhattan Bridge along the Dumbo waterfront, will answer these questions and more for NYC kids and adults who can explore hands-on exhibits during FREE drop-in hours or sign up for a paid STEM-inspired class to learn all about the ecology and history of the surrounding waterfront habitat. And yep, this family spot is hosting both weekend and weekday drop-in hours!

News: STEM Apps, Kid Environmental Center Opens and Extended Beach Days

New York City kids are privy to some of the best museums in the world, and this week, the city's cultural institutions seemed to be trying to outdo one another with great family programming.

The New York Hall of Science launched a suite of apps poised to bring STEM-inspired fun straight to your iPad, while the Staten Island Museum's new location at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center prepares for a grand-opening, Lincoln Center expanded free family programming to the outer boroughs and the Metropolitan Opera kicked off its late Summer Festival lineup.

In other news, don't pack away your sunblock just yet. For the first time in decades, NYC beaches will remain open past Labor Day! With additional funding for lifeguards and other beach workers, New Yorkers can now enjoy the city beaches through Sunday, September 13. NYC public pools, however, still close on Labor Day.

Read on for more news throughout the five boroughs.

10 New NYC Destinations to Check Out with Kids This Summer

New York City is brimming with things to see and explore with kids, from world-class museums to the great outdoors. No wonder our town is called the city that never sleeps! And yet sometimes you fall into a rut, visiting the same old favorites over and over, never leaving your comfort zone.

Well, it's time to break that habit. We've rounded up 10 new-to-NYC destinations that are worth putting on your family's summer fun bucket list. Get ready to trade the familiar for the fresh!

Recess in Dumbo Offers Drop-In Play for Brooklyn Kids

Any business that already has regulars just weeks after opening must be doing something right. Recess d.u.m.b.o., a brand-new play space in Dumbo, Brooklyn, certainly qualifies. While NYC has no shortage of indoor play spaces, especially in Brooklyn, we're always game to check out fresh ones around town. As soon as my 5-year-old and I walked in to Recess, we were hooked! This unique romping spot is a welcome addition to Dumbo's kid-friendly offerings. We've got the scoop on what to expect from the nabe's newest drop-in indoor play space.

Best New Classes for NYC Kids Fall 2014: 13 Enriching After-school Programs

When it comes to enriching after-school programs, NYC kids are totally spoiled—and their choices seem to get more plentiful and diverse every year. Our Classes Guide is already packed with a wide variety of posts, from coding classes to cheerleading, robotics to circus arts, as well as more traditional sports and arts lessons.

This fall's crop of brand-new classes brings a bunch of fresh options for all ages to the mix, including preschool music lessons developed by kindie rock queen Laurie Berkner, a program for tween entrepreneurs, hardcore computer coding for teens and an in-depth intro to the likes of Shakespeare and Socrates. In all, we rounded up 13 notable new kids' classes that either launch this fall or recently debuted. See which ones pique the interest of your young learner.

You can find out about even more excellent programs in our Classes Guide and our Class Directory, which allows you to sort listings by age, interest and neighborhood.

Free Kayaking with NYC Kids: Places to Kayak and Tips for Families

We may live in a concrete jungle but there are still plenty of great ways to connect with nature in New York City. And with the renewed interest in waterfront access in NYC, it's easier than ever to get out on the water to row, canoe and kayak during the summer months.

As part of our ongoing commitment to highlighting interesting nature outings for families in NYC, Mommy Poppins is proud to launch a series of guest posts by the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kids Outdoors New York City. Kids Outdoors is a FREE online community for families filled with ideas on outdoor activities in the NYC area and expert advice on how to get started. Our first post is by Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert, Outdoors with Kids New York City authors and local parents. They took their children, ages 7 and 10, kayaking in NYC for the first time and shared their experience and important tips for families. They've got the scoop on the best places to go kayaking with kids for FREE in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

World Science Festival: Free Science Street Fair, Hands-on Workshops for Kids & a Discount for Cool Ticketed Events

You don't need to be a nerd to enjoy the World Science Festival, a five-day, multidisciplinary science celebration featuring plenty of programming for kids. In fact, its FREE Ultimate Science Street Fair is one of our favorite FREE annual festivals for families. This year, the organizers have made a number of changes to the fest and there are more hands-on science experiences for kids than ever before. Many of these events are FREE, and we have an exclusive discount for two of the most popular ticketed youth programs: Cool Jobs and Scientist's Apprentice.

More than 40 events are taking place at various NYC venues from Wednesday, May 28 to Sunday, June 1. In addition to the Ultimate Science Street Fair on the last day, there are several cool new attractions with lots of kid appeal, like a traveling NASA exhibit, a giant animated weather globe at NYU, a replica of a comet in Brooklyn Bridge Park, plus face time with real-life scientists and astronauts.

Here are the best things to do with kids at the 2014 World Science Festival:

Where to Buy Cool Easter Candy in NYC and How to Get Rid of It Post-Holiday

Time to break out those baskets: Easter is nigh! And here I feel like we were just making New Year's resolutions the other day.

If you feel the same way, and one of your resolutions was to, ahem, get in shape before summer, chocolates and jelly beans and Peeps, oh my!, could derail those plans.

But everything in moderation, I say! If you're going to indulge, do it with candy you love. We've rounded up some sweet places to stock up on unique treats, and we've also got tips on what to do with your leftovers (because you know your kids can't eat it all).

And if you're looking to fill those baskets with non-caloric goodies, we've got ideas for those too. Now let's hop to it!

Ahoy Mateys: Pirate Fun for NYC Kids - Festivals, Sails & Shows

Pirates is one of those words that elicits completely different reactions from kids and grown-ups. Although everyone pretty much pictures lawless bands of marauders in search of booty, as an adult, I think about awful, ripped-from-the-headlines stories while my son imagines Johnny Depp in eyeliner. Thankfully for children, pirates don't have any scary real-life connotations—they're as make believe as princesses, unicorns and dragons. So indulging your child's pirate fantasies can be fun for the whole family.

There are lots of interactive ways for kids to play pirate in New York City that are much more stimulating than spacing out to yet another episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates. From swashbuckling festivals to pirate shows and exhibits to sailing the high seas (a.k.a. New York Harbor) on a pirate-themed cruise, here are five ways for kids to get their pirate on in NYC.

Free Dumbo Arts Festival: Children's Museum of the Arts Debuts Cool Hands-on Activities for NYC Kids

Sadly, the Dumbo Arts Fest was discontinued in 2014 after 18 years. Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood is full of funky, family-friendly art experiences all year-round. But every September, the area's creative spirit explodes onto the streets as part of the three-day Dumbo Arts Festival. Although this free fest isn't specifically aimed at families, most of it is kid-friendly, and over the past few years the organizers have added a bunch of hands-on activities for children to the lineup, making it even more enticing.

This year, the fest takes place Friday, September 28 to Sunday, September 30 (yes, the same weekend as the equally awesome World Maker Faire. Terrible timing!) and there are a lot of new attractions for families. We're particularly excited to check out the brand-new Art Village, a section of interactive projects being curated by the Children's Museum of the Arts. We've got the scoop on this new attraction and all of the other cool things to do with kids at this year's Dumbo Arts Festival.


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