East Village

Review: Spring-a-Ding Ding! It's Circus Arts for Younger Kids

If the idea of heading to a full-fledged circus seems overwhelming for younger kids, especially the preschool and pre-K crowd, we might have found the perfect in-between show: Spring-a-Ding DING!

The one-hour performance playing in downtown NYC at the 14Y is filled with lively music, storytelling, acrobatics, dancing, contortions, and more—all performed with a younger audience in mind (Read: They'll be too entranced to wriggle out of their seat or your lap) from the small but mighty circus-arts company Cirque-tacular.

And if they're loving the theater experience, check out the best Broadway shows for kids and families for ages 4 and up.

8 New Summer Camps for NYC Kids in 2017

Does the summer camp search already have you stressed? While there’s no need to panic just yet, it’s definitely the right time to start your search, as New York City’s most popular picks start to fill up with repeat customers and parents eager to catch those early-bird specials.

If you’re looking to narrow down your search a bit, take a peek at these eight summer camps that are featuring new programming or locations—or that are just plain new in 2017. You can’t go wrong with one of these fresh and exciting offerings.

Looking for even more ideas? Take a look at our Summer Camp Guide or browse our directory, and don't forget about those ongoing camp open houses.

Hobby Shops for NYC Kids: Model Trains, Planes, and Robots

Just like authentic New York soda fountains and ma-and-pa stores, old-fashioned hobby shops are seemingly an endangered species in NYC. But they're not dead yet.

Thanks to the popularity of the maker movement, hobby shops are enjoying a resurgence as kids (and grown-ups) look for fun, hands-on projects that range from assembling intricate models to flying remote-control airplanes, building robots, and racing model trains. That last option is one of my 9-year-old's favorite pastimes.

Although you can buy most of these kits online, visiting a brick-and-mortar hobby shop can be an inspiring experience for children who like to tinker, experiment and create. Plus, they get a chance to meet their fellow enthusiasts and learn from the vets. Whether your kids are into planes, trains, or automobiles, here are 10 hobby shops across the five boroughs where families can stock up on all their DIY model-building needs.

NYC Museums Open Doors for Free on Inauguration Day

As the country swears in a new president Friday, January 20, a number of New York City museums are opening up their doors for FREE. Many others will host American- or historical-themed events, or even protest sign making at one.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that in a city where residents overwhelmingly voted against President-elect Donald Trump, that NYC is in less of a celebratory mood than a reflective or even defiant one. Protests continue, including the Women's March on NYC, this Saturday. But the museums' outreach, a sort of taking in of those looking for camaraderie on Inauguration Day, is a welcome touch.

And in the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, we've rounded up 11 ways to commiserate your Inauguration Day away. Whether you spend it taking in one of the city's cultural institutions FREE of charge, or in the company of like-minded friends we wish you the best on what still strikes us as a truly surreal day.

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.

Summer Camps for Kids with Special Needs in the NYC area

It's tough to find the right summer camp for any kid. But if your child has special needs, like autism or ADHD, sensory-motor challenges, social anxiety, or learning differences, choosing a program can be especially nerve-racking: we want our kids to enjoy a traditional summer-camp experience, complete with swimming and lanyards and new friendships, while also receiving the kind of individual attention they need and with the option to avoid activities that might cause undue stress.

We've rounded up a number of camps favored by NYC families for their kids with disabilities or other challenges. Camps outside of New York City and on Staten Island provide bussing, so don't be discouraged by the seemingly far-flung locations: it can be especially therapeutic for kids to get out of the city for the summer.

While most of these camps cater exclusively to special-needs children, other traditional summer camps often offer inclusion programs for those with mild special needs (a few are mentioned below). Please consult our Summer Camp Guide for NYC Kids for a list of our favorite summer camps across the city to see if there are any that might work for your child.

15 Popular Preschool Summer Camps in NYC

Finding a cool and enriching summer camp that's right for your kid always takes a bit of work. Finding one that's a good fit for your first-time, preschool-age camper can be downright nerve-racking. You want their initial camp experience to be fun, safe, and memorable, but not over-stimulating or overwhelming. With so many high-quality camps for NYC preschoolers, it's hard to figure out which one to choose.

That's why we turned to the experts: our friends at the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey. They've selected 15 awesome New York City programs that offer preschoolers a well-rounded summer experience filled with games, arts, sports, socializing, and plenty of outdoor time. Best of all, many of these camps grow with your child taking kids in elementary school and beyond.

Keep in mind, every camp has its own philosophy and program so check out the website, call the director and, if possible, attend an open house to get all the information you need. Want more help? The ACA of NY and NJ also offers FREE camp consultations with its experts. Plus our Summer Camp Guide Directory allows you to search for camps by location, age range, and focus.

Basketball Classes and Lessons for NYC Kids

Baseball may be our national pastime, but drop by any of NYC's parks and it seems like basketball is our local favorite.

In New York City, there are many basketball programs that teach kids the basics in friendly, non-competitive environments. They differ from basketball leagues, which assume players are ready for full-on competition. With these intro-to-basketball classes, kids learn the rules and fundamentals, and work up to one-on-one or small-team play.

Here are 16 basketball programs for kids in NYC, along with info on where to find one-off FREE clinics. You can find more posts about kids' sports classes in our Classes Guide and Directory of Class Listings

Manhattan's Best Kid Play Spaces and Gyms

Finding a non-membership, drop-in play spot for your toddler or preschooler in your neighborhood is like gold to New York City parents—almost as good as scoring a deal on rent. Because when it gets too cold for the city's many playgrounds, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, let's be honest, stressful), taking your kid to a cool indoor kiddie gym or other play space, where everything seems new to them and someone else will do the cleaning up, is a relief to the whole family.

While outer boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn dominate the indoor play space market, Manhattan has some of the more creative kid spaces. Some of the 11 awesome spots we rounded up allow families to drop in while others ask that you make reservations, but none require any kind of long-term financial commitment. And if you've got a child under the age of 5 to entertain, you might also check out our roundup of a dozen indoor play spaces perfect for the pint-sized set.

10 Summer Music Day Camps for NYC Kids

Whether your child is drawn to Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, or Mozart, is an accomplished musician or just getting started, summer camp is a great way to explore the craft while having loads of fun and making new friends. We've lined up 10 of our favorite music day camps for New York City kids with an eye toward striking a good balance between theory, practice, musical styles, and ability levels. A few of our picks offer multiple programs divided by age, others split things up by experience level and one even takes campers on a daily visit to a popular indoor climbing facility—sometimes even accomplished musicians need to work out the wiggles.

Don't forget to browse our Summer Camp Guide for additional options or use our Camp Directory to search for programs by interest, age, and location. It's also worth noting that many camps offer financial aid, as well as discounts if you sign up early, or for multiple weeks. 

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