Tweens & Teens

Sign Up for AMNH Summer Camps Before They're History

 2332 2138747373 417C50B72E MWhile registration for the American Museum of Natural History's summer camps hasn't started yet, it's a good idea to keep a look out. In 2007, the camps sold out before they were even made available online.

For more information on these camps complete with hands-on investigations, behind-the-scenes tours and visits with Museum scientists, visit their site, and read on.

2009 AMNH Adventures Summer Camps will include:

Robotics Camp
Interested in a robotic expedition to Mars? Design, build, and program your own robot to explore an unknown planet! Using Lego Mindstorms robotic kits and computers, participants learn principles of robotics, computer programming, and teamwork during this exciting week.

Sampler Camp
(for first graders)
Want a taste of the AMNH Adventure Camps, but still just one year too young? Come get a taste of what hands-on learning is all about, with a day of astrophysics activities, a day of frogs, and a day of water!

Fossils and DNA
Who are we and where do we come from? Embark on an exciting journey through human evolution and learn about our ancestors, from early primates to the first hominids. Explore the brand new Spitzer Hall of Human Origins while learning how to use fossil evidence and DNA??”and have fun doing it!

Meet the Beetles
Break out your magnifying glasses and get ready to observe the natural world and its amazing creatures! From the beetles, birds, and giant tortoises Charles Darwin made famous to the local array of bugs and plants in Central Park, children will enjoy discovering and learning about science and nature during this fun-filled week.

Astrophysics Camp
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live, work, and travel in space? Could life exist on other planets? What are black holes and do they really exist? Join others who share your interest in space science and learn about the universe through hands-on activities and Museum explorations.

For more camp ideas, check out our Summer Camp Guide

Watch Red Tailed Hawks Build Their Nest

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photo by Lincoln Karim

The NYC birding world is all aflutter over recent hawk activities in New York City. Last week people were watching a pair of Red Tailed Hawks building a nest. And this morning there were bald eagles over Riverside Park. It is rare to be able to see these hawks building their nests and children will especially enjoy the idea of seeing the birds building their homes.

Free Activity-a-Day for President's Week Break

diy.gifIt's mid-winter break and whether you just have the four day President's Weekend off or the whole 10 day vacation, you need a plan for things to do to filling those days with fun and memory-making activities that won't break the bank. I can't believe some of the great free activities going on in the city this week.

So I put them together to create the Mommy Poppins Do-It-Yourself Mid-Winter Break Camp! It's fun, it's free and it's sure to fill your vacation days with awesome memory-making activities. The only draw-back is you don't get to ship your kids off to do all the fun stuff with someone else. Oh wait, that's a plus too!

Day One: Friday February 15
Free Skating Prospect Park Wollman Rink 8:30 am to 9pm
Get in the mood for your wintry vacation with a special evening of free ice skating followed by hot chocolate at Prospect Park Wollman Rink. Actually the skating is free all day today, but doing something a little out of character like skating in the evening is a great way to break your everyday routine and get into the vacation mood without leaving New York.

Day Two: Saturday, February 16
Fill your kids with a little culture at some unusual performances around the city. Your pick: Sword Dancing, Gospel or Ice Skating Competition.

Two separate, free sword dancing performances in one day??”at the Museum of the City of New York 1:30pm or at Jefferson Market Public Library 1pm??”what are the odds of that? [Thank you to New York Magazine for clarifying to me that these two performances are actually part of a sword dance festival going on throughout the city both Saturday and Sunday. Check the festival homepage for more free locations around Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Tri-State Area]

Meanwhile at the World Financial Center enjoy Gospel Choir Competition with singers from all over the country. Youth groups will sing first, starting at 10am with adults following at 1:30 to 5pm. How sweet it is.

And at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers the Skating Club of New York will hold it's Showcase Competition in Theatrical Skating at 1:30pm.

Note: The sword dancing at the Museum of the City of New York is free with admission and children under 12 are free, but adults will have to pay the $9 museum admission.

Day Three: Sunday, February 17
Family Arts Workshop: MAKING A MARK 1 - 3 pm
Enjoy a child-friendly docent-led tour of the current funky abstract art In Context exhibit followed with an art making workshop. Space is limited. Please call or email Rose at 212.598.0400 x229 or Rortiz@henrystreet.org to reserve your place.

Day Four: Monday, February 18
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is usually closed on Mondays, but will open for this President's Day. There will be special family programs throughout the day, including story times, films, and gallery sketch talks.

Take advantage of a free complimentary family pass for free admission for up to 6 people. Register and print out the invitation for your free pass plus a $5 off coupon to the museum store.

Day Five: Tuesday, February 19
Play at the Parks??”Actually every day throughout the vacation break the NYC Parks Department is hosting a winter festival with fun activities for kids.

Historic Lefferts House offers Coming in from the Cold where kids can experience and learn what children did for fun over 100 years ago with historic indoor games and projects. February 16-24 12pm -4pm.

The Audubon Center hosts a Children's Film Festival with kid-friendly nature films followed by nature crafts.

See all the offerings at the winter festival website.

Day Six: Wednesday, February 20
Fort Greene Park will offer its own daily educational activities during the break. On the 20th, kids can learn about the urban wildlife that lives all around them and create an animal craft. 11am.

Day Seven: Thursday, February 21
The Brooklyn Children's Museum On-the-Go will be having a Tales for Tots at the Brooklyn museum with international stories illustrated by real artifacts from the Brooklyn Museum's collections.

Day Eight: Friday, February 22
It's been a long week. How about chilling out at a free storytime yoga class at Karma Kids Yoga.

Day Nine: Saturday, February 23
They Might Be Giants promote their new album, Here Come the 123s with a free performance at Borders in the the Time Warner Center! 3-5pm

Day Ten: Sunday, February 24
Princess Katie and Racer Steve perform for free in Chelsea Market at 10:3am in honor of Steve's birthday. Costumes encouraged.

Whew! I hope that keeps you as busy all week having fun as it kept me writing it up. Don't forget about our Winter Fun Guide. If any of these ideas don't tickle your fancy one day, there's plenty of other fun stuff to do with kids in New York in there. Working parents, you can print this post out for the sitter too.

Best New York City Candy Stores for Kids of All Ages

brandtoprightimage8.gifFor a little Valentines' Day fun, we thought we'd check out the best candy stores in NYC for kids of all ages. With a gaggle of hyper children, we've been trooping all over Manhattan sampling treats and discovering what's what in the New York candy world. (It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.)

We taped the whole thing and will be posting the short videos over the next several days. Take a look at the first one we've posted today for some sugar-addled fun. Perhaps you'll be inspired to make a Valentine's Day outing with your little sweeties.

TADA! Another great Winter Vacation Camp

020807education.jpgI think drama classes are great for kids. They help build creativity, confidence and teamwork. And TADA! has a great theater program for New York kids. In addition to their regular afterschool programs, TADA! offers one-week vacation programs in which children rehearse and act out a musical production created just for kids. At the end of the week they get to perform it on stage.

Register now for any of TADA's winter or spring vacation camps and get $25 off when you mention MOMMY POPPINS.

Celebrate The Romance of Childhood

In between the fish sticks and temper tantrums we sometimes forget about the romance of childhood. Their joy and fascination with incredibly simple things (like my daughter's recent discovery of scotch tape) or those moments when they are so incredibly empathatic that your can feel your heart breaking. Take some time out this Valentines Day to celebrate the beautiful small moments of being a child by introducing your kids to some classics:

The Red Balloon

At just 34 minutes and with almost no dialogue, this is the perfect first movie for any kid while also being a pure joy for adults and what could be more romantic than watching a red balloon waft down the streets of Paris in 1956? The screening at the Alliance Francaise will be followed by an hour of activities and games inspired by The Red Balloon, led by Le Club Th?©??tre, Saturday Feb. 9, tickets for Non-Members $10 / Children under 12 $5. Visit the site for more information.

Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity
Though always crowded and somewhat overpriced, there was nothing I loved more as a kid than going to Serendipity and getting their frozen hot chocolate. The enormous cup is filled with deliciousness and the whole place is a kid wonderland. The wait can be ridiculously long so I suggest making reservations. And, while you are in the neighborhood, take a ride on the Roosevelt Island tram which is a cheap thrill for any kid. For the price of a subway in each direction you get a surprisingly intense ride that lasts 4 minutes!

Surf the Beach
This one is for the adventurers but if you dare, a great way to spend a winter day is to bundle up and head to the beach. There is something really magical about being on a huge empty beach in the winter and it's an amazing place to take photographs (try taking real photographs too, you remember, the ones that require film). The shells and sand are still there and will entertain most kids for hours. With the future of Coney Island up in the air, you might want to hop on the D, N, Q or F train to catch some last glimpses of the beautiful, seedy and outrageously photogenic amusement park. And if you get chilly, you can always head over to the Aquarium which is right off the boardwalk. Or, take the A train to the Rockaways where you may even be able to catch some crazy surfers. This video is proof that they are out there in the middle of freezing February.

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