Chocolate Show - New York: Sweet Stuff for Families

Yes, we realize your kids will be unwrapping their trick-or-treat loot for weeks to come. But if your family is as serious about sweets as mine, it's worth checking out the 14th annual Chocolate Show - New York, which takes place Thursday, November 10-Sunday, November 13. While the tickets are pricey ($30-$40 for adults), children under 12 get in free and once inside, all tastes and activities are included. The only additional cost is if you want to buy chocolates to take home. (For me, resistance is futile.)

My children and I attended Chocolate Show - NY last year and just loved it. (I mean, it's chocolate. What's not to love?) It's very family-friendly and even includes a Kids Zone, where creative youngsters can draw and paint with chocolate, make chocolate-flavored pasta and decorate cupcakes with—wait for it—chocolate. New this year is the Chocolate Grab game. Just like a scene out of Willy Wonka, kids will grab handfuls of chocolate and the child who finds the specially wrapped piece will win a prize, like tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or the upcoming revival of Peter Pan.

Here are other some other sweet things you can do at the 2011 edition of Chocolate Show - New York.

Used Kids' Books in NYC: Where to Buy Second-Hand Children's Lit

As a novelist myself, I’m all for people supporting authors by purchasing brand-new copies of their books. However, as a budget conscious mom who has watched her two small children spill/drool/color all over expensive picture books, I know that sometimes buying used titles makes a lot more sense.

While there are lots of ways to snag second-hand kid-lit online—I see tons of kids' stuff up for grabs on sites like freecycle.org and paperbackswap.com—I really enjoy browsing used books in person. I always end up finding wonderful, weird vintage tomes, and I don't have to wade through all of the branded characters stocked by big box bookstores.

Here are my top shops in New York City to find used children's books.

Eataly Italian Food Market near Madison Square Park, but is it Kid-Friendly?

When I first heard that Eataly, the gigantic new emporium of enticing Italian edibles, would be recreated in the Flatiron District (the first one is in Turin) by uber-chef Mario Batali and a few of his big-name buddies, I figured the prices would be off the charts and the food would probably be too fancy schmancy for the younger set. To hear it described it certainly doesn't sound like a magnet for your munchkins, but think again. Eataly (which sounds like "Italy" as spoken by the heavily accented chef in Disney's Lady & The Tramp) is full of super snacks, sweet and savory, convenient lunch options, and plenty of tempting take home eats to boot.

What's more, because it's just across the street from the ever-popular Madison Square Park, it's a massively welcome kid-friendly alternative to the ridiculously long lines at nearby Shake Shack.  Stroller-friendly and offering heavenly coffee for the grown-up set, you'll be pleased to know about this new addition to the neighborhood. Read on for the full scoop (or two, if you like gelato!).

Toys of Yesteryear, Batteries Not Included

As adults we often have a great deal of nostalgia and affection for our favorite childhood toys and such strong sentiment has long kept the antique and vintage toy market alive.  Luckily for our kids, our ongoing cultural fascination with old toys has also prompted museum curators, famed collectors, and even toy manufacturers to create public venues right here in NYC, where cool antique and vintage toys can be displayed, admired and celebrated.  Nearly hidden in plain sight, all of them are worthy destinations for you and your kiddos. Keep reading to find out more!

TADA! Youth Theater's B.O.T.C.H. is Bang On

If your little New Yorker already thinks they've seen it all, you might consider hustling them down to TADA! Youth Theater's production of B.O.T.C.H. The musical follows seven wayward subway riders into the tunnels beneath New York, where they stumble onto several curiosities even life-long top dwellers couldn't lay claim to.

Don't Miss: Bhutanese Dancing Monks on NYC Streets


Sometimes the streets of NYC can be the most magical place in the world. This will become true for the next nine days when Bhutanese ritual dancers will be appearing throughout the city every day to perform their mesmerizing ancient Tantric Buddhist demon subjugation dance, called Cham. The elaborate costumes of the 13 monks who will be performing are enough to make this event spectacular, but the performance, a kind of danced yoga, makes this a once in a lifetime occurrence.

Bhutan is a tiny, secretive and isolated kingdom in the Himalayas, with very little outside influence and extremely limited tourism is allowed, making the opportunity to see the Bhutanese monks dancing on the streets of our city, for free, an absolutely not to be missed opportunity.

Foreign Language Playgroups for NYC Kids

[UPDATED: August 17, 2012]

Whether you want to preserve your heritage, develop your child's brain, or prepare them for the eventual Chinese world dominance, there are many foreign language playgroups in New York City, ready to help you out. Studies show that even brief, regular exposure to a foreign language at a young age can help your child's ability to pick up languages later in life as well as developing their ability to think abstractly and to focus.

Here are some foreign language playgroups to try out:

More Free Demo Classes

This is the second in a series of posts listing free demo classes for this Fall. Find more free demo classes and exclusive discounts in our first free demo class post.

New Manhattan Movement and Arts Center Children’s Program – Meet the teachers, try out classes, and enjoy additional fun and surprises at an Open House from 9:30 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 14, at Manhattan’s newest arts center. The MMAC Children’s Program, launching September 15, offers classes ranging from Mommy & Me to art, music, dance, theater, yoga and martial arts, for ages toddler to teen. Information: (212)787-1178. 

SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR Mommy Poppins Readers - $25 off when you enroll at the Open House; use discount code “MOMMY POPPINS".

Apple Seeds- Demo reservations are taken on a first come first serve basis, check out their website to see which class fits your little one. To reserve a spot, call 212.792.7590 - note that there is a limit of 2 demos per family, per semester.

HOLA! A Playgroup in Spanish

HOLA! A Playgroup in Spanish is a unique language program where children learn to love Spanish because it's taught in the most original way.

HOLA!'s method and philosophy have proven to be most efficient with young age groups because HOLA! follows a natural approach to teaching in order to help develop oral skills. The program focuses on a very wide repertory of concepts to build vocabulary and to acquire the correct use of phonetics on topics of interest in the child' world.

Children are given the space to express and create freely while having fun and learning much more than language skills! The classes are taught through the use of original and traditional music, movement, props, games, visuals and art. HOLA!, provides a great introduction to Spanish, and a great way to reinforce Spanish to an already bilingual young child.

Programs run for 12 months-6 years. Multiple locations in Manhattan:

Summer HOLA! language programs, Ballet and Flamenco en Espa????offered at multiple locations: Appleseeds in the Flatiron District, Aha! Learning in the Upper East Side, Brooklyn Heights at The New York Kids Club and Chelsea. 

Summer Camp at the Kids Corner in Chelsea!

From July 6th -August 14th

Half (9am-12pm) and Full Day Options (9am-5pm) 

Please call us at (917) 648-5006

E-mail: info@holaplaygroup.com

Web: www.holaplaygroup.com

And for more great camp ideas, check out our Summer Camp Guide


Little Maestros is Music to Moms Ears

Sherri Margulies is a an awesome film editor who happens to be the mom of an adorable little babe in NYC and, now, is Mommy Poppins' first contributor. Her first two posts, featured today and tomorrow, are about music activities for babies in NYC. Welcome, Sherri!



Just like everyone else in Manhattan, I learned quickly that I needed to register my little one for some classes in order to get her resume going to get into a good preschool. My nanny, who rocks, thought it best to demo some music classes. Demo classes for a 6 month old, sounded crazy, but I thought she must know something I didn't, and indeed she did. After trying out Music Together and Music for Aardvarks we came across Little Maestros and she was blown away.


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