New York City

A Kid's Guide to New York Underground: Subways and Beyond

Some kids are obsessed with the subways of NYC. They memorize the maps and know the trains inside and out. Other kids amble along the city streets never giving a second thought to what lies beneath. But at some point every kid wants to know what those big steam chimneys are for and if there really are alligators in the sewers. Here's some really cool places you can start to explore the world beneath our streets.

Unicorns, Dragons, and Mermaids, Oh My!: A Kids Guide to Mythical NYC

 

 

The current Mythic Creatures exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History is loaded with the fantastic stuff that kids love. Whether kids appreciate the underlying premise of the exhibit, that there are natural explanations for all of the occurrences of mythical creatures throughout history, or they just enjoy checking out all the great displays of cool mythical beasts, there's no reason to stop once you leave the museum.

We've dug up the best places for kids to see more mythical beasts around NYC so your dragon or mermaid-obsessed children can get their fill of fantasy fun.

No place in NYC has more unicorns than The Cloisters. With a whole cycle of unicorn tapestries, it's high-brow art that will surely engage children in it's bittersweet story of the unicorn hunt. The Cloisters are located in Fort Tryon Park which has been spruced up considerably and is now a nice place to enjoy a walk in the woods. Keep your eyes peeled for unicorns!

What a great way for kids to explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art than to treat the museum as a scavenger hunt for dragons and other beasts. There are about 25 pieces in the permanent collection that have dragons, the most prominent possibly being St. Michael and the Dragon. (Hint: do a search for dragons on the Met site so you know what you're looking for.) The Arms and Armor exhibit is a must for little would-be knights and damsels to continue the fantasy of slaying dragons.

For more imaginative play walk over to Belvedere Castle in Central park. It looks just like the real thing and is a great backdrop for playing knights and princesses.

A different kind of dragon hunt can be had in Chinatown where you can see all kinds of dragon puppets, masks and more for sale. Great for decorating a dragon-lover's bedroom. Make sure to come back in February for the Lunar New Year Parade when performers do dragon dances throughout the streets of Chinatown.

To see the real thing, head to The Bronx Zoo, home to the Komodo dragon where not only can they see the real thing behind glass, but toddlers will love climbing on the bronze dragon sculpture in the reptile house.

For more mythical beasts to climb on, take your kids to one of the carousels in our Carousel post last week or to Imagination Playground's dragon fountain in Prospect Park.

A day out looking at mythical creatures can be made more meaningful by coming home to read some great books on the subject.

A classic like the Three Tales of My Father's Dragon or tales of dragons and unicorns from other cultures will give kids perspective on what they are experiencing and expose them to some great culture.

Dragons: A Pop-Up Book of Fantastic Adventures, in addition to beautiful pop-up illustrations of dragons, gives kids a taste of some of dragon stories from different cultures including Beowolf and Japanese dragon tales.

The Unicorn Treasury: Stories, Poems, and Unicorn Lores includes unicorn stories and poems by some of the leading fantasy writers.

And, of course, every child should have a copy of Greek Myths for Young Children, an excellent introduction to Greek Mythology for children and the magical world of mythical creatures that inhabit it.

Lastly, next June don't forget to go to the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. It's the perfect thing for little mermaids who love to get dressed up and see everyone else in their finery.

 
Find more tips for NYC art and kids shows in our Culture Guide.

 

Music for Aardvarks Rocks

 

Last week's post about Little Maestros got a bunch of interesting comments which shows how individual choosing classes for your child can be. Everybody has their particular likes and dislikes, another reason to be thankful we live in NYC where there are so many choices that we can find classes that suit our own tastes. My personal favorite for music classes is Music for Aardvarks. I just love David Weinstone's songs which are fun and groovy for kids and adults. The quirky lyrics and song subjects really relate so well to our lives here as city kids and their grown-ups. Classic songs like the "Taxi" song, "City Kid" and "Subway" celebrate the experiences of growing up in an urban environment, but I also love songs like "Lollipop Doc":

"I said okey dokey you know best 'cuz you're the doc but before I go, I'd like to know, hey, where's my lollipop?"

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.

Read (and eat and splash) your way around the Lower East Side

Just walking around New York City can be a great experience for kids to learn about history, not just of New York, but American history as well; and there's no part of NYC more full of history and color for kids than the Lower East Side. Perhaps that's why it's been the inspiration for so many wonderful children's books. A walk around the Lower East Side brings some favorite children's books to life and, at the same time, brings the story of immigrants in America to life as well. Here's some wonderful children's books that you can read that will send you off on a great outing in the city with the kids to experience the history of immigrants in NYC first-hand while having fun, getting wet, and, most importantly, eating very well.

More Free Outdoor Movies for Kids and Families

BloggyMcBlogBlog has a theory that soon there will be so much scaffolding in Lower Manhattan that they will have to build scaffolding on top of the scaffolding and then there will be a war between the people who live below the scaffolding and those that live above it...

Likewise, I'm beginning to think that soon there will be so many outdoor movie festivals in NYC that people will no longer need televisions, we'll just watch giant projected entertainment from the comfort of our living rooms because every available surface in the city will have programming projected on it.

Not that I'm complaining. I love outdoor movies. And this new one that I discovered thanks to A Brooklyn Life is particularly good, especially for NYC families with kids.

The Red Hook Movies in the Parks series is playing a great batch of films every Thursday through August 16th and they're all kid-friendly, good movies, including Happy feet, Mad Hot Ballroom and Akeelah and the Bee.

The outdoor films are closing in...

 

Is it a pool or a beach? Either way, it's cool.

Have you heard about the brand new floating pool in Brooklyn Heights? They've docked a barge that's been retrofit with a 25 meter, 7 lane swimming pool right on the water in Brooklyn. There also a sandy beach area with pick-up volleyball and soccer games, a snack shack and umbrella rentals, which is good because when you arrive you are given a one-hour swimming slot (first come first served). After you get your time slot you can just hang on the beach until your time comes up. A little beach, a little pool.

I didn't include the new floating pool in my previous post about free pools because it hadn't opened yet and I wanted to find out more about it before I recommended it. I still haven't been to the floating pool since it opened yesterday, but at least now I can share with you some of the opinions that are circulating around.

Curbed has links to three reviews on mcbrooklyn, Brooklyn Heights Blog, and The New York Times. The overall takeaway? People are loving it and say it's the cleanest pool in NYC...and the water's really cold.

Outdoor Summer Festivals in Every Borough are Fun for the Whole Family

The great thing about New York City's outdoor festivals is that everyone can enjoy them. If it's kids music, at least the grown ups can enjoy being outdoors on a lovely day or evening, relaxing. And, generally kids will put up with an outdoor concert or performance if they can run around, dance, play and picnic while you enjoy a little grown up entertainment for once.

The following free outdoor festivals are not specifically children's festivals, but they, for the most part, each have at least one kids performance and otherwise offer great performances in great outdoor environments around NYC, making a fun day or evening out with the kids either way.

Celebrate Brooklyn is considered by many to be NYC's best summer festival. Located at the Prospect Park bandshell, Celebrate Brooklyn is a great venue with a diverse range of excellent performances. You'll find music, dance, films and more. We already wrote about the child friendly outdoor movies that are part of Celebrate Brooklyn. Another great kid event at Celebrate Brooklyn will be the Dan Zanes concert on July 22; sure to be packed with toddlers, children and adults alike rocking out to the king of kid rock.

Lower Manhattan's River to River Festival has hundreds of events including dozens of children's and family events. As part of the River to River Festival you'll find children's workshops, story times, fairs, singing and dancing and more. Check out the calendar for the full list of children's events.

Everyone is familiar with Central Park's Summer Stage. Many of the Summer Stage events will be enjoyed by children, but for sure kids will love the Summer Stage Global Family Day on July 15th. Led up by Hip Hop Harry, a Kangol cap bearing big yellow bear described as Barney "if he had lived in the South Bronx in the '80s." Hmmm. Well, there will also be a marionette show of Cinderella Samba, a performance by hip kid rockers, The Sippy Cups, a performance outlining the history of break dancing, and finally, some good 'ol Brooklyn barbecue from The Smoke Joint.

The NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks Festival travels to all five boroughs plus Long Island and New Jersey, making classical music from the oldest philharmonic in the United States available to all for free. While there are no children performances, classical music under the stars, followed by fireworks is sure to be enjoyed by the entire family. Or it's a least a good way to sneak a little classical music into your children's repertoire.

The last festival we were planning on featuring was the NYC Fringe Festival which has a series of FringeJR events designed for families. Unfortunately, they have not published their calendar yet and haven't yet replied to our inquiries. We'll keep you posted or you can check the Fringe NYC site.

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.

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