New York City

ArchiCamp: What could be more appropriate for city kids?


Country kids are to trees as NYC kids are to architecture. Maybe that's why ArchiCamp is such a cool camp idea for NYC kids.

ArchiCamp is a fun day camp where NYC kids, 9-13, travel around New York City, studying the architecture, going to museums, and doing workshops related to an architectural concept of the day. Kids gain new perspectives on the city they live in, take advantage of the unique resources all around them, learn 3D creation and get to display their work on the ArchiKids website.

Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Camp Still Has Spots

This is our first entry in a series of posts about last minute camp openings for kids in NYC. Every day for the next week, we will be posting more exceptional camps for children of all ages that still have openings. If you are interested make sure to register soon because these spots will go fast.

Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Programs (BCAP) is the only camp in the world on a campus composed of an art museum, botanic garden, children's museum, historic house, nature center, landmarked park, state-of-the-art public library, and zoo! Campers enjoy carefully crafted curriculum led by instructors at each site, often combined with behind-the-scenes access.

9 More Free Museum Programs in All 5 Boroughs

Wrapping up our week of free museum family programs, we're sending you off with some frequently overlooked museums that offer free classes for kids and toddlers. We're traveling to all five boroughs for lots of free family fun.

The Queens Museum is home to the NYC panorama and World's Fair memorabilia. They have free family drop-in art classes on Sundays and weekend scavenger hunts. Website is not updated, so check or call for summer schedule.

In addition, in July and August The Queens Museum resumes their Passport Fridays, a dance and music festival that features the culture of a different country every week. Brazil, Columbia, India, Mexico, South Africa and Tunisia will all be celebrated with live music and dancing followed by a film. Free children's art workshops are offered between 6:30 and 8PM.

MoMA's Free Family Programs Are Great for Parents, Too

The Museum of Modern Art hosts many incredible free family programs that introduce children and adults to the richly varied world of modern art through guided walks, art workshops, artist talks, film screenings, special events, activity guides and Web sites. Programs provide an approach to looking at and talking about art that enable people of all ages and all levels of experience to enjoy art together. Moms and dads will truly get as much from these fantastic art classes as children will. These are no "let's glue tissue paper to construction paper" workshops. Added bonus: these free classes include free admission to MoMA for kids and adults.

Children Blossom at Free Brooklyn Botanic Garden Programs

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden's outdoor adventure garden is designed especially for young children to explore plant life from a kid's perspective. Filled with butterflies and birds, The Discovery Garden allows children and toddlers to pump water down a bamboo waterfall to a stream, hide under a tree, and hike a nature trail, all while exploring the wonders of plant life around them. The Brooklyn Botanic Discovery Garden hosts drop-in programs throughout the week for children 3-10. The programs are free with admission (which is always free for children under 12 and $8 for adults, but if you go on a Tuesday Adults are free too.) All of their free children's programs are from 2-4 and no registration is required. In addition to their free kid programs, they offer gardening classes and camps for a fee which you can find at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden website.

Free Outdoor Movies to Take the Kids to This Summer

There's something just totally magical about outdoor movies. Maybe it's just that we don't get to go out after dark that much any more since becoming parents, but sitting outside on a summer evening in New York under the stars and relaxing to enjoy a movie is just the kind of old fashioned, yet hip, kind of fun we love.

It's the best way for grown ups to go see kid movies because you can just enjoy being out on a nice summer evening with a nice picnic and the stars even if you don't care for the film. And, depending on your kids, it can be a great way to get out to see a grown up movie without spending the college savings on a sitter, as many kids will enjoy the classic films frequently shown or will just enjoy being out at night enough to sit (or sleep) through it.

Here's a rundown of the best free outdoor movies for kids in NYC this summer:

RiverFlicks in the Hudson River Park is the only kid-only film series. Shown at Pier 46 on Fridays, the 2007 series will be Charlotte's Web, Open Season, Back to the Future, Babe, Wizard of Oz, Happy Feet, and Willy Wonka. Grown-up movies are shown on Wednesdays at Pier 54 and a few, such as Rocky Balboa, Nacho Libre, Stripes and Superman Returns, might work for kids.

Bryant Park Film Festival shows classic films that many kids will at least tolerate if not enjoy. Not all of them are appropriate, but kids might like The Thing-From Another World, Paper Moon, The Sting, Bus Stop or Casablanca. You can buy a picnic dinner at kiosks and the park is a wireless hotspot to help pass the time while reserving your spot. Films are free every Monday starting June 18th.

Movies with a View, at the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park under the Brooklyn Bridge, has some real winners for family movie viewers, including The Princess Bride, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Hair, The Natural, and West Side Story. The setting is lovely, there's DJ music to entertain you while you wait for the movie to start and child-friendly food from RICE restaurant is available. Free films are on Thursdays in July and August.

Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell only has three films this summer, but all are accompanied by live music adding an additional level of magic. Another nice thing about this venue is that the screen is so large that you can sit back on the lawn behind the general audience and little kids can run around and play. The best bet for kids would be the Laurel and Hardy shorts.

Movies Under the Stars are shown in that other Hudson River Park, Hoboken Pier A Park. If you're coming from Manhattan just hop on the PATH train and watch films like Happy Feet, Flushed Away, and Charlotte's Web with Manhattan as your backdrop. Films are shown on Wednesdays beginning June 13th.

Summer on the Hudson shows films on Wednesdays at Pier 1 in Riverside Park South (72nd St) in July and August. All the films offered require parental discretion, but the best bets for kids would be North by Northwest, Caddy Shack, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

 

Visit Kid-Friendly Dumbo

One of my absolute favorite things to do with the kids on a nice day is to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge into Dumbo. This excursion has all the makings of a perfect day out with the kids; a little relaxing exercise, great ice cream and pizza, a great park and a boat ride. I can't think of a better way to spent a day.

This weekend is an especially good time because Saturday, June 2nd is the Dumbo Block Party. So pack up some sunscreen and water (in your new aluminum water bottles and head to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. (You can start from Brooklyn and follow this backwards if you prefer.)

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is stroller friendly, just stay right, out of the bicycle lane.. You can stop under the arches to take in the view, snap some photos and read the plaques which describe some of the amazing history of the Bridge. When you get toward the other side, your first opportunity to exit will be a set of stairs. Take the stairs down from the walk way and walk around the corner and back toward the waterfront.

If you're hungry from your walk, stop by Grimaldi's Pizza, considered by many to be NYC's best pizza. Then walk over to Brooklyn Bridge Park which has a great playground, a pebble beach with lapping waves and all, a large lawn surrounded by a sculpture garden and incredible views.

If you're in the mood for shopping head over to ultra-hip children stores Half Pint and Pomme (this store is now closed. If you can resist buying anything, then you definitely deserve a chocolate reward from artisan chocolatier Jacques Torres Chocolates.

At 56 Water Street, gaze at the beautiful and fully restored original Coney Island Carousel. Rides are not allowed until they find permanent home for it, however, so you might want to avoid this just as much if you've got a little one ready for a melt-down.

But, tears will come to a screeching halt if you head back toward Fulton Ferry Landing for ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. The ice cream here is unbelievable. If you ever splurge on a sundae, this is the place to do it. The caramel tastes like crГѓВЁme brulee topping and the fudge is out of this world.

When you've had enough, the easiest, fastest and most fun way to get back to Manhattan is to just hop on the Water Taxi to the South Street Seaport or around the harbor to another destination in Manhattan. Kids especially like to ride upstairs in the open air.

MOMMY POPPINS TIP: The story of the Brooklyn Bridge is really quite amazing and has lots of elements that kids will love. Here are a couple of book ideas for children of different ages that will add an additional layer of interest and excitement for kids when visiting the Brooklyn Bridge.

Twenty-One Elephants is a picture book that tells the story of a little girl who helps convince grown ups to trust that the bridge will hold. It is well researched and based on the real story of PT Barnum's participation in the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge:The Story of the World's Most Famous Bridge and the Remarkable Family That Built It tells the amazing story of the construction of the bridge for older kids. It is part of a series of Wonders of the World Books.

Under the Radar Preschool: The Downtown Little School

See updated information about The Downtown Little School in our Preschool Directory.

The Downtown Little School is old school. By that I mean it reminds me of what nursery or preschools were like before they became the first step to getting your child into Harvard. The program focuses on the social development. The school claims not to focus on academics, but, perhaps unavoidably, many activities teach counting and pre-reading skills). Children in the 2s start out with separation, potty training, etc and later, "Me." The 3s study "My Family," the 4s "Growing Up." Basically they play with blocks, paint, do clay, and dress-up while learning about how to be part of a community. You know, old-school preschool stuff.

An Overview of the NYC Preschool Admissions Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To say there's a lot of hype around the preschool admissions process is an understatement of epic proportions. Anecdotal evidence regarding every aspect of the game flies back and forth across the playground like, well, children. While this post won't answer all your questions about preschool admissions, we hope it provides a solid overview.

While, for the most popular preschools, the admissions process can be very competitive because many more people apply than there are spots, outside of the most popular schools there are many other schools that one can easily find a spot in without having a nervous breakdown. The most difficult thing may be finding a spot in the exact program and schedule that you want, but if you can be flexible there are plenty of spots in very good schools.

Why are the most popular schools so sought after? One reason is that some of them are considered "feeder schools" for the most popular ongoing schools. Whether this is true is hotly debated. The truth is probably that it is partly true and partly not true. It is true that the directors of certain preschools have relationships with the directors of certain ongoing schools, but that does not necessarily mean that going to one of these "feeder schools" will give you a better chance of getting in to the ongoing school.

5 Museums You've Never Heard Of

The Museum of Natural History is great, but there's only so many rainy days you can stand staring at those damn dinosaurs. The Met and MoMA feel virtuous, but, depending on the kid, not necessarily reliable alternatives.

Wouldn't it be great if there were other museums - museums that offered a wide range of experiences, had free family programs and weren't as crowded as a Japanese subway car? If only NY had museums like this, families would never even think of moving to the suburbs.

Well, Mommy Poppins, ever eager to keep the price of family-sized apartments astronomical, has sleuthed out 5 museums, all within walking distance of each other, that offer a day of educational and creative fun.

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