Preschoolers

50+ Fall Events for New Jersey Preschoolers

If your preschoolers are bursting with energy in the fall, we present you with 50+ ways to keep them busy with oodles of seasonal fun. The new season brings with it some awesome fall events, including fall festivals, corn mazes, train rides, touch-a-trucks, and more for the 5-and-under set! 

Catch big names at preschool-friendly performances of Peppa Pig, Sesame Street LiveDisney On Ice, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Or head outside with your little ones to enjoy the beautiful weather and colors at events like the Great Pumpkin Train Ride, Giant Corn Maze AdventuresGreat Pumpkin Festival, and Hefty Harvest & Scary Scarecrows.

Plus, get in the Halloween spirit at non-spooky fall events such as Boo at the Boardwalk and Trick-or-Treat Weekend at Storybook Land.

Read on for the full list of fun fall events for little ones in New Jersey. And don't forget to check out our Fall Fun Guide and Event Calendar to find even more great things to do this season!

Best Corn Mazes to Visit with Kids Near NYC

Navigating the twists and turns of a giant corn maze is the perfect fall outing for adventurous NYC families. But with dozens of mazes scattered throughout the rural parts of our tristate area, the real challenge is deciding which one to visit.

My family loves our annual corn maze trip to the local Queens County Farm Museum's Amazing Maize Maze. It's just the right size for kids, includes fun clues, and doesn't take all day to get to. However, if you're looking to get out of the city for that true country feel, or you're headed to upstate New York or elsewhere for a long weekend getaway, we've compiled a list of almost two dozen of the area's best corn mazes—most within 90 minutes of NYC.

We've broken down our picks to let you know which are better for older kids vs. preschoolers, which are accessible by train—and which offers the best doughnuts! Most farms include extra seasonal things to do like apple pickingpumpkin picking, pony rides, petting zoos, and even, in one case, a 100-foot mountain slide. For more farm fun, check out our Pick-Your-Own Guide to Farms near New York City, and our guide to harvest festivals, hayrides, and pumpkin patches right in NYC.

Corn Mazes in Connecticut with Fun Activities for Kids and Families

The perfect balance of fun and challenge for kids, corn mazes are a fall tradition for many Connecticut families. No matter what part of the state you live in, you likely have the opportunity for a corn-mazing adventure. These farms feature not just mazes, but extra activities like hay rides and animal petting areas. So, put your sneakers and thinking caps on, and get out there! For more autumnal outings, see our post on Things to Do This Fall in Connecticut, including papple picking spots, fall festivals and fairs, and pumpkin patches.

Amazing Corn Mazes at Family-Friendly New Jersey Farms

Get ready… get set… get lost in an amazing New Jersey corn maze! The Garden State is home to oodles of spectacular corn mazes, ranging from massive 10-acre labyrinths to simpler, child-friendly courses, including hay bale mazes just right for toddlers and preschoolers. Games, clues, and even techie bonuses enhance many of the more elaborate maze experiences. Got a tween or teen? Check out haunted corn mazes that are open after hours for a spooky, nighttime adventure.

Many of the 16 corn mazes we've rounded up are day trip–worthy on their own, but you'll also likely find apple and pumpkin picking options, hayrides, and even fall festivals, plus petting zoos in some instances. So get out your fall to-do list, and navigate your way through one of these great New Jersey corn mazes. Check out our Fall Fun Guide for NJ Kids to find even more ways to enjoy the crisp autumn days.

Best Fall Festivals for Chicago Families

Fall harvest season brings a host of family-friendly street fairs, and festivals to Chicago—many of them FREE. From neighborhood fests honoring Chicago's diverse communities, like Pilsen's Mexican Independence Day Parade or the Ukrainian Village Festival, to festivals that dig deep into Chicago's thriving food and art scenes, like the World Dumpling Fest or Andersonville Arts Week, there's a celebration happening every weekend from now till Thanksgiving, with fun things for kids and families to do at each. Even Oktoberfest celebrations in Chicago, which might make you think of boozy crowds, make room for families with kids' zones and activities. And because it's fall, there's lots of apple crunching, pumpkin-peeping, and harvest celebrating to do, too...oh, and a little thing called Halloween.

Bookmark this list, which we'll update all season long with the best of fall for Chicago kids. And get your calendar and your favorite fall sweater ready!

Weekend Fun for Houston Kids: Sonic Playground STEM Extravaganza, Sept. 7-8

A big congratulations to all the parents out there is in order; you've successfully made it through not only the start of school, but the first school holiday as well! You now what that means... it's time to buckle down, because the first semester is full steam ahead. And like a good friend, we're prepared to tackle this school year alongside you, providing both guidance and entertainment in equal doses.

In the spirit of the school year, we've compiled a list of 65 school lunch ideas for your kids that they'll actually eat. These Bento box meals are balanced, tasty, and just plain fun, so you won't have to worry about your kids bringing home the lunches you lovingly packed for them virtually untouched. 

For everyone who's not quite yet filling their daytime hours with school or looking for great afternoon activities, our event calendar is an awesome resource for finding fun weekday activities, our Free Things to Do in September list gives you plenty of ideas that don't include your pocketbook, and our September GoList highlights the top events happening throughout the month. We also have a weekly newsletter that you can sign up for so you always know what's happening here at Mommy Poppins.

Did you know that you can also submit your event to our calendar? If you're planning something awesome, we'd love to hear about it and share it with our readers! Fill out the form, hit submit, then we'll review it and publish it for all to see.  

Now let's tackle this weekend planning together with a sneak peek at what's happening around town. 

Free and Cheap After-School Programs for NYC Kids and Teens

Tis the season for after-school program enrollment. Families looking for reasonably priced enriching and fun programs for their children have tons of sports, arts, academics, and other kinds of classes to choose from. In fact, a handful of high-quality after-school programs are actually free or super inexpensive!

Some places, like the New York City Parks Department, offer after-school coverage Monday through Friday. Other programs like those found at the Children’s Museum of Art (CMA) only meet once or twice a week. We've rounded up organizations that offer complimentary or reasonably priced classes to kids, tweens and teens throughout the five boroughs. Lots of the programs on this list have multiple enrollment periods per year. Check in with Mommy Poppins regularly to stay on top of enrollment options during the fall, winter, and spring.

14 Popular Preschools in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Finding the right preschool fit is almost as daunting as getting your kid into the right college—meaning, people will try to terrify you, but odds are good you'll find a great spot for your little one, even if it isn't your first choice. Close your eyes. Breathe.

Whether you opt for a full day, five-day-a-week program or just a few half days, your child will benefit from spending time with kids and adults who are outside your family circle. Potty training, reading, small motor skills, early math—all of these come in time, but preschool will lay the foundations. The most important factor in choosing a preschool is whether you and your child feel comfortable there. Do the children look happy? Are they engaged in projects or play in the classroom? Are the teachers focused, but also friendly and welcoming? That's what counts.

Also consider whether you'd like to commit your own time, which would make you a perfect candidate for a co-op preschool, or if the time commitment required might be hard for you to fulfill, in which case a traditional or year-round preschool would be best. The difference between a school that embraces Reggio Emilia and one that uses a Montessori method are slight (both embrace open space and child-directed learning), but you may find you prefer teachers who consider themselves "guides" en route to making the child independent (Montessori) - or you may be drawn to Reggio's emphasis on communication and documentation. Home-based preschools may feel "cozier" and more a continuum of what your child has already experienced in your own home.

After that, look for:

  • Communication: How the school interacts with parents, and how parents interact with teachers, is key.
  • Security: Who has access to the school during the day? What is the teacher/child ratio for your child's age group?
  • Structure: What is a typical day at school like? Are there special progams, such as music or science?
  • Discipline policy: Does it align with your own? How is potty training handled (if your child is not quite "there" yet)?
  • What are the facilities like? Is everything sparkling clean? Is there a separate play space? What are the options for outdoor play?

And even though it is strongly recommended that your start your search early (at least a year in advance), remember that spots do open up. Ask about wait lists if you're late to the process or new in town.

We've done a little research on Park Slope preschool options, breaking down some fundamentals for you, below, but remember our Directory is an excellent resource, too! And prep for your interviews with 10 Questions to Ask During a Preschool Tour and our Preschool Admissions Tips.

Happy hunting.

Apple Picking near LA? You Bet There Is!

“Apple picking in LA?” your Northwest/Midwest/East coast friends scoff? Well you can tell them that California is the second largest apple exporter and the fifth largest apple producer in the United States. While it may not feel like fall in the Valley—where it was always 103 degrees yesterday—there are some apple-picking day trips nearby that feel like a seasonal retreat. (And when your bag runneth over, check out these tempting apple recipes...)

50 Fun Things to Do This Fall in Connecticut

Taking hikespicking apples, exploring corn mazes, going to a fall festival, finding that perfect pumpkin, and celebrating all things spooky and sweet on Halloween...there's so much fall fun in Connecticut! Here's a list based upon our ever-popular 100 Things to Do with Kids in Connecticut Before They Grow Up, but themed around busy, beautiful autumn. It's filled with great places to visit and fun things to do for families all over the state. For even more ideas to make the most of the season, check our Connecticut Fall Fun Guide.

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