New York City

Earth Day 2011 Celebrations for NYC Kids and Families

Warning: Mother Nature is reminding us who's boss by bringing storms our way on Earth Day weekend. Before you head to an outdoor event, be sure to check its official website for weather-related updates or cancellations.

The very first Earth Day in 1970 was a grassroots event that hoped to inspire the U.S. government to enact important environmental legislation. Four decades later, Earth Day—which always falls on April 22 but is also celebrated on other days—is a worldwide phenomenon with more than 1.5 billion participants. To some, it's a massive secular holiday; to others, it's a day of action.

There are tons of Earth Day activities for kids, including huge green festivals, fun eco-crafts, educational workshops and much more. No matter how you decide to mark the day, take heart in knowing that NYC is one of the greenest cities in America.

Here's how to celebrate Earth Day 2011 in the Big "Green" Apple.

Boom Town: Traditional Circus Acts Set in the Wild West

Many Mommy Poppins writers absolutely adored Birdhouse Factory, the last show Cirque Mechanics brought to the New Victory Theater. So we were all really looking forward to the Las Vegas troupe’s new spectacle Boom Town. Of course high expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment.

So I’ll be honest: Not everyone here enjoyed Boom Town as much as my five-year-old daughter and I did. There’s no question that the Metropolis-esque Birdhouse Factory was more striking in terms of aesthetics, narrative and feats. But Boom Town, which is set in the Wild West during the Gold Rush days, has a lot of hokey charm, with silly clowns, impressive aerial and balancing acts, and lots of silly slapstick.

Here are seven reasons why I think circus lovers should book a trip to Boom Town.

Potato Needs a Bath: the Perfect Show for First-time Theatergoers

My son is three and like many kids his age, he has trouble staying still. But at Potato Needs a Bath—a 30-minute puppet show currently playing at the New 42nd Street Studios—he sat rapt, and only moved his little body when he needed a better view of puppeteer Shona Reppe and her colorful cast of fruits and vegetables.

Even though this one-woman show was created with two- to five-year-olds in mind, I loved it just as much as my son thanks to clever puns and a creative set with cool nooks and crannies. Here's what to expect, plus a roundup of other New York City theaters that regularly put on shows for preschoolers.

Passover Events and Celebrations for New York City Kids

Why is this night different than any other night? Because we're telling you about the best Passover parties in town.

While some kids hunt for plastic candy-filled eggs, children who celebrate Passover are already scouting out possible hiding places for the afikoman. This year, the first Seder begins at sundown on Monday, April 18, and the holiday lasts through Tuesday, April 26, which coincides exactly with public school spring break.

There are plenty of ways to mark the holiday, so break out those bitter herbs, grab that extra chair for Elijah and head to these nine Passover events.

13 Concerts for Kids in New York City: Culture Guide Spring 2011

We recently highlighted 11 great stage shows and 6 cool exhibits for families this spring. Now it's time to tell you about all of the wonderful kids' bands that will be performing this season. Big names include Grammy winner Dan Zanes; legendary folk singer Peter Yarrow; Seattle’s answer to The Beatles, Recess Monkey; David Weinstone and the Music for Aardvarks band and an all-day concert at KindieFest.

So put on your dancing shoes and head to one (or more) of these 13 family-friendly concerts.

8 Things Parents Should Know About Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Harry Potter: The Exhibition is open and ready for Muggles, wizards and Potterheads everywhere. I'm a Harry Potter fanatic: I fully admit to lining up at midnight for book releases, hitting the theater on opening day for the movies and, yes, owning a pair of plastic Potter specs. I tried to control my giddiness—which can rival that of any 12-year-old Potter geek—while exploring the exhibit at Discovery Times Square last weekend. If there's someone in your abode who dreams of studying at Hogwarts and knows the name of Ginny Weasley's first boyfriend (answer: Michael Corner), this display of props and costumes used in all eight films—including the soon-to-be-released Deathly Hallows: Part II—is an unbelievable treat.

There's Harry's invisibility cloak, beds from the Gryffindor dorm, a larger-than-life Dementor and a lot more. But before you don your cape and fly off with your brood to the exhibit, here are eight things you should know.

6 Cool Exhibits for Kids in New York City: Culture Guide Spring 2011

Last week we told you about 11 great stage shows for families. Today, our spring culture roundup continues with six new exhibits that kids will love. (In a couple of cases, they may actually beg you to bring them!) 

From Harry Potter relics to an in-depth look at how Dinosaurs lived to ancient brain teasers from China, these half dozen museum shows will educate and entertain your family.

Roald Dahl’s Dark Poems Come to Life in Revolting Rhymes

Ever since my mom read me James and the Giant Peach, I’ve been a fan of Roald Dahl. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, Matilda, I loved his fantastical stories and dark humor, which were so different than the happy, candy-colored kid lit I was used to.

Although he died more than 20 years ago, Dahl’s sensibility seems amazingly contemporary, which is why his children’s books endure today. But did you know that he also wrote poems, many of them skewed takes on old-fashioned fairy tales?

I admit that I didn’t. But I do now thanks to Revolting Rhymes, a new 45-minute musical being mounted by Atlantic for Kids. Find out why this show will make you laugh—perhaps even more than your kids.

11 Great Shows for Kids in New York City: Culture Guide Spring 2011

It’s not just gardens that are blooming this season. NYC’s family theater scene is bursting with new, colorful stage productions. As a total theater geek who grew up going to Broadway spectacles (back when regular folk could afford to do that on a regular basis), I love taking my daughter to shows. Luckily in this town, the Great White Way isn’t the only option. There’s a ton of amazing Off-Off Broadway offerings for young audiences—and you don’t have to be a millionaire to afford the tickets.

While some shows play for a while, there are lots of worthwhile one-offs that come into town to play for a day, and then move on to another city. So be sure to look carefully at the dates when checking our recommendations.

From fractured fairy tales to page-to-stage adaptations of classic kid-lit to circus feats to cool original musicals, here are 11 shows to take your kids to this spring.

Staten Island: Spend a Day Exploring St. George With Your Family

For many kids, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is a fun activity in itself. (That's why it's No. 69 on our list of 100 Things to Do With Your Kids in NY Before They Grow Up!) The 5.2-mile, 25-minute nautical jaunt offers crisp air, a great view of Lady Liberty and the thrill of moving on the water—all for free.

Once you're off the boat, you could go further inland to hit the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (there are some gorgeous flowers blooming there right now). But you don’t need to take a bus or train to get a taste of the borough. There's plenty of fun to be had within earshot of the ferry horn.

Here are my kid-tested suggestions for a day trip to St. George, Staten Island. With the amazing St. George Day Festival coming up on Saturday, April 21, you'll want to make a note of these!

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