New York City

Mother's Day Fun: Great Activities for NYC Moms and Kids to Do Together

On Mother’s Day, matriarchs are treated extra-special, whether it's a fancy brunch, a thoughtful gift or just some well-earned time off.

But talking to other moms (and from our own experience), we've realized that what we love most about Our Day is getting the chance to spend some downtime with our kids—no screens, no chores, no studying. It's a day to enjoy each other's company, pure and simple.

In honor of that sentiment, we've rounded up some great things your kids can do with you (instead of for you) on Mother's Day that you'll enjoy as much as they will. But why limit these great activities to Sunday, May 8? All of these activities can be done year-round, so any day can be your special day together.

The Festival of Ideas for the New City StreetFest: Innovation Meets Family Fun

Albert Einstein once said, "If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." The folks involved in the four-day Festival of Ideas for the New City certainly embrace that sentiment of innovation.

From Wednesday, May 4 to Sunday, May 8, more than 200 downtown organizations, including founding partner the New Museum, will put pool their brain power to think up ways to improve NYC. The fest is organized into three parts: lectures (informative to be sure, but not for kids); 80 related projects, exhibits and performances at various downtown venues; and a very cool sounding street fair that will take over the Bowery and beyond on Saturday, May 7 from 11am-7pm.

The StreetFest is definitely the highlight for families. More than 75 organizations and businesses will show off their ideas, including cooking demos with urban farmers, gardening classes, bike tours, locally grown food, art and technology projects, and more. We've got the scoop on the most kid-friendly activities at the fest.

Handmade Gifts for Teachers for NYC Kids and Families

Now that spring break is over the countdown to summer has begun. But finding the perfect camp isn't the only thing on the agenda. It's time to start thinking about how your family will acknowledge your children's teachers for all of their hard work this past academic year.

We've rounded up fun, handmade ways you and your kids can say thank you—besides a gift card. If you do go the cash or gift card route, have your kids decorate the envelope with pictures and stickers. That personal touch is sure to get you an A+.

Handmade doesn’t necessarily mean homemade, so if the thought of crafting in your apartment scares you or you'd like professional help, we understand. We've got the goods on fantastic local spots where you and your children can make great gifts without trashing your place.

Teacher Appreciation Week kicks off this Monday, May 2 and goes through Friday, May 6, so this is the perfect time to get crafty. But if you can't get any of these projects together by the end of this week, don't worry: Public school kids have until June 28 to get creative for teacher, and independent schools don't let out until the end of the month. 

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2011 with NYC Kids

Here at Mommy Poppins, we love to party, so we never let a holiday go by without celebrating. That includes Cinco de Mayo, which takes place this Thursday, May 5.

Cinco de Mayo officially commemorates the day the Mexican Army defeated French forces at the Battle of Puebla back on May 5, 1862. But it's also a general celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

Of course a lot of college students also use the holiday as an excuse to drink way too much tequila. (Pre-kids, we used to raise our margaritas on May 5 as well.) Now that we have families, we skip the bar crawl but still join in the fiesta. Here are some great ways to mark Cinco de Mayo with your family out on the town, or in your own home. 

Find the Mommy Poppins Team at the Tribeca Family Festival for Fun and a Chance to Win Universal Orlando Tickets

After many years of attending the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair, we've decided to join up! Mommy Poppins will be hosting a tent on Greenwich Street at Jay Street, just south of the first stage with lots of fun and big giveaways. 

What will be happening? Lots of cool stuff. Raise your heart rates with fun activities sponsored by eXerBlast, or relax in our BlastDown Zone (you know you'll need it after tromping through the fair). While there, enter for a chance to win one of our great giveaways, including four tickets to Universal Orlando. Plus you get to meet the Mommy Poppins team, and we get to meet you. Read on for details about everything we'll have going on.
 

Animal Tales Extravaganza and Things to Do at NYC Zoos in Spring 2011

Don't wait for summer to head to the city's zoos. Spring is the perfect time to visit. The animals are friskier in the cooler weather, and the crowds haven't yet hit.

Plus the zoos are bursting with special spring programming. Visit with new baby animals, like the goats at the Central Park Zoo and two new wallabies at the Prospect Park Zoo's recently reopened Australian Walkabout exhibit. The Bronx Zoo is throwing its fantastic Animal Tales Extravaganza festival, featuring costumed characters and other activities. The New York Aquarium just cut the kelp on its Conservation Hall exhibit, where you can marvel at amazing marine life. The Queens Zoo is hosting its first-ever sleepover and has a new Lynx on view.

And that's just a handful of the things that will make you go wild at the zoo this season.

Kindiefest 2011 and Five Rockin' NYC Kids' Bands

Whenever the weather starts warming up, I immediately think of Bob Marley. I hear your collective, “huh?” but let me explain. I am a music maven. I associate specific songs and artists with everything from seasons to subway stations. (The 72nd Street 1-2-3 stop has Vampire Weekend all over it).

When my daughter was born, music took on an even more important role in my life. I love introducing her to all of my favorite tunes, and finding new bands for us to shake our booties to.

As you can imagine, we go to a lot of concerts, and I'm particularly excited about the lineup at the third annual Kindiefest in Brooklyn, a music conference that highlights cool kids' bands. Organized by bigwigs involved with the genre, (which now goes way beyond Dan Zanes), most of the con is industry only. But it caps off with an amazing, open-to-the-public concert on Sunday, May 1 at noon at Littlefield in Boerum Hill. Kiddie music queen Elizabeth Mitchell and You are My Flower headlines the show, and the Verve Pipe, Aaron Nigel Smith, Oran Etkin, Heidi Swedberg, and Tim and the Space Cadets are also on the program. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and babies are free.

Reading about all of these music makers, I started thinking about my favorite local kids' groups. No surprise that we have a lot of great ones, since NYC is such a rockin' town. Here are my top five Big Apple bands for kids and families.

Sunnyside Arts Cooperative Offers Cool Classes For Little Queens Kids

As of 2012, it seems like the cooperative is no more. However, Sunnyside Ballet has moved to a new larger space.

Here in Sunnyside, Queens, just steps away from the 40th Street-Lowery Street stop on the 7 train, is a lovely little studio for kids' dance and theater classes. The name of the Sunnyside Arts Cooperative says it all: It was launched in June 2009 by several moms, all working arts professionals, who wanted to share their expertise with neighborhood families.

Their vision is paying off. One of the founders, Catherine Lutton Espinosa—a former performer with the Martha Graham Dance Company who teaches creative movement and is also studying for her master's in early childhood development at Hunter—says that not only the kids are learning, the moms are, too.

Read on for an inside look at this unique community spot.

Fun and Free Ways to Connect with Nature for NYC Kids

Earth Day is fast approaching but as they say, shouldn't every day be Earth Day?

In the spirit of that statement, the National Wildlife Federation has teamed up with Nickelodeon, TheMotherhood.com and other bloggers (including Mommy Poppins!) to get the word out about B Kind 2 Earth Day, which encourages everyone to do something nice for the planet on Earth Day and beyond. 

But you don't have to wait until April 22 to start: Grab the brood, head outdoors and reconnect with our fantastic planet today and all year long. If you feel inspired, make your pledge to do something kind for the Earth on the B Kind 2 Earth Day Facebook page.

The World's Largest Dinosaurs: A Groundbreaking Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History

There's something huge at the American Museum of Natural History, and I'm not talking about the Blue Whale. I'm referring to the groundbreaking new exhibit The World’s Largest Dinosaurs, which is sure to be a big hit with amateur paleontologists young and old. This fascinating show focuses on the supersized sauropods, and goes beyond dusty old bones to examine these giants as the living creatures they once were.

This exhibit isn’t about when but how these animals lived and thrived for 140,000 years. Their story is told in different sections, each with kid-friendly interactives and tons of models, which delve into the physiology and biology of these enormous creatures. We explored the exhibit last week, and you won’t want to miss this innovate spotlight on the sauropods.

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