Ft Greene

Coding Classes and Camps for NYC Kids

In our increasingly tech-driven world, knowing how to code is an invaluable skill. But kids who code don't really look at it that way—they just think it's lots of fun to design video games, create websites, and make robots move. Take my 10-year-old: He first caught the coding bug in second grade after attending a demo led by RoboFun where he learned about the wonders of Scratch, an easy-to-use programming language specifically aimed at children ages 8 to 16. Ever since, he's continued to learn how to code at home thanks to FREE educational websites like Scratch's official site at MIT and CodeAcademy.

Even though he can work on his own, I'm a big believer in kids learning from other kids (not to mention the benefits of socializing with peers and getting him out of my hair for a few hours). So I recently researched coding classes for children in New York City to locate a program or two that would work for him. What I found were 11 high-quality classes and camps for kids who have an itch to try Scratch or another computer programming language. You can find even more tech fun for kids in our Geek Guide and more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Best Summer Theater and Shows for NYC Kids (Free Options Too!)

New York City's family theater scene is hotter than a heat wave. Some people might think the dog days of summer are a cultural wasteland and that all the cool openings won't start again until fall, but that's not the case when it comes to the stage.

There are shows for all ages, interests, and budgets throughout the season, including a FREE page-to-stage adaptation of the Pete the Cat picture books, family-friendly outdoor Shakespeare, the launch of new kid-friendly matinees for a long-running Harry Potter parody, and a rare revival of the musical Really Rosie based on Maurice Sendak stories. Best of all, many of our picks cost less than $25 per ticket, and four are 100 percent FREE! Plus, we found discount codes for the pricier ones.

Sweet Mother’s Day Brunch Spots in Brooklyn for Kids and Mom

Celebrating mom with a special brunch is a time-honored tradition. This year we’ve rounded up 11 of our favorite Brooklyn restaurants, where the food is outstanding and the vibe is special yet still family friendly. Mark your calendars: Mother's Day is Sunday, May 14.

Each of our picks serves a standout brunch—and offers high chairs. Be sure to reserve or show up early as these spots fill up quickly. If you’ve got young kids in tow, consider packing a few snacks and small toys to keep them busy while you wait to be seated.

Need more ideas? Check out our suggestions for Mother's Day brunch in Manhattan or in Queens.

Best NYC Children's Bookstores to Spend an Afternoon In

Only a small number of dedicated children's bookshops exist in NYC—Books of Wonder and Bank Street Bookstore, we're looking at you!—but there are a number of other indie stores with impressive children's book sections. Many of these lit havens host children's activities, including read-alongs but also author events, and writing workshops.

My kids have a particular weakness for books, possibly because it's the one thing I never deny them—as evidenced by the overflowing bookshelves at home. We love exploring new-to-us, local shops and spending lazy afternoons getting lost in the stacks, so we've rounded up some of our favorite bookstores around the city, including two new ones coming soon.

Whether shopping for a birthday gift or looking for a local storytime, the neighborhood independent bookstore is a great bet for NYC families.

Interactive Digital Installation with VR Opens for Kids at BAM

Hands-on art is almost always fun for families, but BAMkids' interactive high-tech playground Teknopolis is truly mind-blowing. At this multifloor installation, which is on view through March 12, school-age kids (and their parents) can enjoy augmented-reality storytelling, virtual-reality simulations, motion-capture dancing, and other cutting-edge technological experiences that you might already know a bit about.

But what really makes Teknopolis special is its immersive first-floor gallery, a darkened room featuring 10 interactive stations, where visitors can manipulate a variety of digital landscapes via touch, movement, and even breath. Just like Alice stepped through the looking glass, you'll feel as if you've slipped through a screen into a shimmering world of black and white, where everything reacts to your presence. It's totally trippy and completely unforgettable.

But before you run off to buy tickets, we have some tips to share, including don't-miss highlights, appropriate ages, and, most importantly, how to get in since it is sold out. (Don't worry—there's a way.)

Best Winter Shows for NYC Kids: Dinos, Circus Acts, Peter Pan

Winter 2017 in New York City is loaded with cool children's theater. Recently, we spotlighted a pair of high-profile family musicals coming to Broadway this season: long-running London hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a screen-to-stage adaptation of the animated movie Anastasia.

But you don't need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC—plenty of engaging family productions are playing Off-Broadway for a lot less. This winter there are wonderful options for toddlers to tweens, including interactive shows created specifically for the preschool set (Shadow Play and Ear, Nose, and Tail ), eye-popping spectacles for all ages (Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live and Cirque-tacular's Snowkus Pocus), and stage adaptations of popular picture books such as Elephant & Piggie and Please Bring Balloons. Best of all, most of these shows cost $25 or under, so you can take the whole family for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.

Foreign Language Camps for NYC Kids

New York City is home to an estimated 800 languages, and by virtue of living here, our kids are exposed many of them. It's no surprise, then, that NYC has a number of language-immersion summer camps for kids interested in going beyond hola! and bonjour. Whether your child yearns to master Chinese, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, or Spanish, summer is a great time to give language learning a try in a relaxed camp environment. Many of these programs include swimming, yoga, cooking, arts and crafts, music and dance, games, and other typical summer camp activities to supplement and enhance the instruction. Instructors and counselors are fluent or native speakers and not only teach kids the language but also expose them to the culture through activities and field trips.

For more ideas on summer camps, check out our Summer Camp Guide for NYC Kids. Got a preschooler? We've also rounded up immersion preschools for dual-language learning in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Busy Bodies in Clinton Hill: New Play Space for Brooklyn Kids

There's no doubt that Brooklyn is the play space epicenter of New York City, boasting about two dozen indoor romping spots for little ones to shake their sillies out. Even so, when Clinton Hill momtrepreneur noticed a need in her Brooklyn nabe, Busy Bodies was born. Offering drop-in play, a full range of kids classes, and even workshops for parents, Busy Bodies is a welcome addition to local families. 

14 Free Concerts for NYC Kids This July

Thought there were a lot of FREE family concerts in June? Well, NYC's no-cost kiddie music scene really heats up as summer continues. For July, we've rounded up 14 complimentary concerts for families that are worth the time, energy, and effort. The entertainers range from big names to local bands who reflect the diversity of our city.

Most of these performances take place in NYC's attraction-filled parks, meaning you can make a day out of it. So pack a picnic, stake out a spot, lay down a blanket, and soak up some no-cost culture. You can find more family fun in our jam-packed Summer Guide or our list of 100 Free Things To Do This Summer in NYC.

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