12/08/16 8:48am
Peter & the Wolf at the Guggenheim is highbrow children's theater at its best. Photo: Works & Process at the Guggenheim

Peter & the Wolf at the Guggenheim is highbrow children’s theater at its best. Photo: Works & Process at the Guggenheim

Part of living in NYC means navigating the holidays precariously toeing the line between time honored traditions and tourist traps. You won’t find many true New Yorkers braving the cold and the crowds at the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. March up Fifth Avenue on a weekend looking for New Yorkers, and you will never find one. (They know to wait for the out-of-towners to go to sleep before they make the pilgrimage.) Any New Yorkers lining up for The Christmas Spectacular? Nope. Tea with Eloise at the Plaza? No way. Where are they all? Over the weekend, my 7-year-old son and I found them…they’re watching Peter & the Wolf at the Guggenheim.

Isaac Mizrahi is a National Treasure. Photo: Works & Process at the Guggenheim

Isaac Mizrahi is a national treasure. Photo: Works & Process at the Guggenheim

For the past 10 years, Isaac Mizrahi, fashion designer, TV presenter, Project Runway judge, author and a master of quips has been narrating and (since 2013) directing, a production of the beloved fable. The Peter B. Lewis Theater at the Guggenheim is an intimate setting of light and ivory, like being encased in an oyster shell. Instead of the polished pearl of a show you might expect on Broadway, this has a bit more edge. The musicians stroll in slowly, and start warming up their instruments seemingly haphazardly while the audience finds their seats. We sat next to the string section behind the conductor. As new instruments started playing, my son and I swerved our heads around the room for an aural version of “I Spy.” On stage, a giant garbage can, chainlink fence, enormous tree and NYC skyline represented Central Park. An actress playing the bird perched in the tree, and then the wolf took a seat on the park bench to read the newspaper before the show started. (more…)

12/01/16 8:53am
Let the Holiday madness begin. Here's 12 way to keep sane and enjoy the month. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Let the holiday madness begin. Here are 12 way to keep sane and enjoy the month. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

December is finally here. The days of breathtaking performances, dazzling snowfalls, and holiday cheer fill the month with magic. Here are 12 ways to enjoy the winter wonderland of NYC with your family, before the deep freeze of January forces you to hibernate in your home with just the TV remote to warm you. From free events to expensive new holiday traditions, there’s holiday cheer for everyone on this kids calendar.

Receive the ultimate gift from BAX: a free kids theater class. Photo: BAX

Receive the ultimate gift from BAX: a free kids theater class. Photo: BAX

1. Learn: Enjoy the gift of a free class. Many children in the audience of the Nutcracker or Miracle on 34th Street wish they were the ones onstage. Capitalizing on that allure are theater classes, ballet tutors and singing sessions. But if your child is 8 or older, they can attend Youthworks at BAX, a FREE program for kids interested in developing their own play, dance or original song or poetry performance. A mandatory orientation is taking place Saturday, Dec. 3 from 3-4:30pm at BAX. Then there is a six week Sunday rehearsal schedule resulting in a fully staged production with lighting, sound design, costumes and props at the end of January. BAX | Brooklyn Arts Exchange 421 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope. For children 8 + up. FREE.


Start a new holiday tradition with live theater. Photo: Works & Process/ Guggenheim

 

2. Go: Start a new holiday tradition. There are so many holiday events in NYC that come with a cost: Long lines to visit Santa, crowds at Rockefeller Center, and sold out Lincoln Center matinees. Luckily, there are experiences that are every bit as special that don’t come with as many tourists. Starting Dec. 3, bring the kids to see Peter & The Wolf with Isaac Mizrahi at The Guggenheim. Although you can check back for our longer review on Dec. 5, it’s a safe bet to buy the tickets now. The schedule is as follows: Dec. 3, 4, 10, and 11 at 2:30pm and 4pm, and Dec. 9 at 5pm and 6:30pm.  Peter B. Lewis Theater, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York For ages 5 and up. $40, $35 Guggenheim members. For the littler ones who may not be able to sit through a long performance, The Swedish Marionette Theater in Central Park has the perfect solution. The Three Bears Holiday Bash is a wonderful experience without the headache of a high-priced ticket. We’ve reviewed their shows before, but this holiday-themed fairy tale performance incorporates stories of Hanukkah, The Night Before Christmas, and Kwanzaa, making it a perfect for all your festivities. Swedish Marionette Theater, Central Park, W. 79th and West Drive. Through Dec. 30. Tickets are $7/children and $10/adults.   (more…)

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10/27/16 8:26am

Autumn in New York is the quintessential season. With the leaves changing color in Central Park, the steam rising from the subway grates, and the magic of the holidays right around the corner, November is the perfect time for families to crush on the city we call home…before temperatures drop and we can go back to complaining about the weather again. Here are 11 ways to appreciate the great city we live in, with kids in tow.

Drop in to play at this new playspace/ museum outpost. Photo: The Brooklyn Children's Museum

Drop in to play at this new playspace/ museum outpost. Photo: The Brooklyn Children’s Museum

1.Visit: We have the first children’s museum. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum of Crown Heights has been engaging children since 1899. It’s considered one of the first (if not THE first) museum specifically for children. Obviously, it’s a historic event, when this classic museum opens their first new offshoot. SPARK by Brooklyn Children’s Museum opened for business on Oct. 15 on Pier 1 in DUMBO. The 1850-square-foot space offers semester-long classes and drop-in play (that you can reserve ahead online) for kids 6 months to 6 years old.

SPARK by The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 1 John Street, DUMBO  $15 for one hour of play; class prices vary. Passport Members are free: $195/ year. Open play hours: Tuesday: 1-5pm, Wednesday: 1-3pm, Thursday: 1-6pm, Friday-Sunday: 1-5pm


(more…)

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10/21/16 12:49pm
We want you to play with your food at One More Bite! Private Picassos is just one of the participants that will be encouraging kids to. Photo: Shellburne Farms

We want you to play with your food at One More Bite! (And Private Picassos is just one of the participants that will be encouraging kids to.) Photo: Shellburne Farms

We are beyond excited for our first family food fair, One More Bite, this Sunday at The Green Building.

As moms, we’re fully aware of the joy—and the frustration—that comes from feeding our kids. With that in mind, we’ve planned a day that (we hope) will make trying new foods fun. As your children work their way around the room, sampling local charcuterie, Vermont cheese, chana masala, pickles of every variety, brownies made from beans, and more yummy, healthy foods, they’ll collect stamps in their One More Bite passbooks, then pick a treat at the end for being so adventurous. (We don’t want to make this high-stakes, though, so parents, we’re expecting you to do a lot of tasting too!)

Farmers and food educators will also be leading hands-on activities to teach kids about pollinators, edible plants, and the sugar in processed foods, along with art projects that will encourage them to play with their fruits and veggies!

For the grownups, we’ll have talks on raising good eaters and putting the joy into mealtime from noon till 3pm, and throughout you can purchase burgers and beverages, from juice to mimosas, from Cassette restaurant.

Get a ticket in advance—you’ll save time and money at the door—and while you’re there enter our online raffle for cooking classes and more.

And come early! The first 100 families get a bag of goodies from our vendors. Then show your ticket to Ample Hills down the block afterward, you’ll get a $1 off a cone.

Here are a few of the things we’re looking forward to tasting and trying at One More Bite. (more…)

10/14/16 8:42am

If dinner with kids meant pancakes and syrup, you would get no complaints. Photo: Ryan McGuire

There will be lots of great food to sample at One More Bite next weekend, from Umi’s homecooked meals to pickles from McClure’s and Rick’s Picks to delicious (really!) garbanzo-bean-based brownies from Pure Genius Provisions. But what if you have a picky eater in tow? But what if you have a picky eater in tow?

You should definitely plan on attending our conversation with two chefs who specialize in helping, ahem, discerning young diners branch out at 2pm. Andrea Kapner of Tiny Turnips Kitchen and Kate Homes of Carried Away Chefs will be chatting with us about the strategies they’ve discovered cooking for busy families and for their own kids, that help take the agony out of trying to please every eater at the table.

To tide you over until then, we’ve asked them both, as well as the two nutritionists on another panel–How Nutrition Pros Feed Their Own Kids–for their best family mealtime tips. Here’s what they had to say: (more…)

09/30/16 11:28am
A fire-breathing robot from last year's World Maker Faire at the Queens Hall of Science. It returns this weekend, Oct. 1-2. Photo: Velleman Store

A fire-breathing robot from last year’s World Maker Faire at the Queens Hall of Science. It returns this weekend, Oct. 1-2. Photo: Velleman Store

Halloween takes center stage this month, but there’s more to do than just eat candy and get cavities. Here are 12 (dentist approved) kids events to fill your October with autumnal fun.

  1. Go: The Maker Faire at New York Hall of Science is a must for many Brooklyn families. This year’s schedule is chock full of Minecraft, drone racing, BUST Craftacular shopping, and pop-up farms. At the Faire, kids and adults can learn to pick locks, try out enormous wheeled bicycles, and experience zero gravity. There really is something for everyone here, from the youngest makers (interested in Puppet Phactory) to the oldest (fascinated with genome editing.) Ticket packages range from whole weekend ($65 adult/ $40 child) to single day ($35 adult/ $25 child). Saturday, October 1- Sunday, October 2 New York Hall of Science 47-01 111th Street, Queens

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09/08/16 10:58am
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The Toruk refers to a dragon/bird that must be tamed. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

If you are wondering why someone would resurrect the 2009 film, Avatar, by James Cameron as a live show, please remember that the cast is painted blue, have tails, and live on another planet. Cirque du Soleil is remarkable at creating atmosphere, and putting their dazzling flair on the cold CGI film is like watching a parade–you don’t even notice the buildings, because you’re blinded by the confetti.

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Avatar is brought to life with blue human hybrids astonishing audiences with arial performances. It’s better than watching the film in 3D. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

I brought my 7-year-old son with me to Barclays Center to see Toruk: The First Flight, because it is being billed as a family friendly show. (For fans of Cirque, this means no trademark nudity.) From the time we sat down, we were both awestruck with visuals of earthquakes, waterfalls and volcanic eruptions. The deep-set stage is like a gladiator pit showing epic battles, tribal truces, and the rescue of the “tree of souls.” Blue human hybrids were conducting an aerial ballet, while speaking a made-up language and flying blimp sized kites.

“Do you understand the story?” I asked my son, as a voice narrated the quest for five secret amulets. “Ha ha! There’s no plot to this show!” my son replied. And he was right; that was secondary when you’re watching people construct a dinosaur out of bones and then somersault on top of it. “It’s a skeleton see-saw!” my son rejoiced. (more…)

09/08/16 10:11am
A visit to CW Pencil Enterprise will remind you how fun school supply shopping should be. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

A visit to CW Pencil Enterprise will remind you how fun school supply shopping should be. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

It’s suddenly September. What are you going to do now that school is back in session (at least a few days a week) and the weather is still nice? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Go: Sharpen Your Pencils CW Pencil Enterprise is a store that sells pencils. Yup, that’s it, just pencils. You might say it’s very niche, but it’s also very practical and fun. A rainbow display of pencils lines the wall, with everything from non-photo blue pencils to specialty graphites available. Kids will love the selection of rainbow pencils, colored pencils and an ingenuous pencil machine where you put in a quarter for a “surprise” pencil. My son was thrilled with his “Don’t settle for less…get the best at Johnson’s Garage” vintage #2. Plus, there’s a selection of State pencil bags, a book about sharpening pencils, and some handy notepads. The friendly enthusiastic staff will make sure you don’t leave empty-handed. CW Pencil Enterprise, 100a Forsyth St., Lower East Side (more…)

08/31/16 12:37pm
Amy Leipziger's favorite fan of her homemade granola, All Granola. Photo: Amy Leipziger .

Amy Leipziger’s youngest fan of her homemade granola, All Granola. Photo: Amy Leipziger .

Amy Leipziger had been making granola for years, using a simple recipe she learned from her mom. Then in 2014 she became a mom herself, and started to tinker with the recipe, not because she was tired of the the way it tasted, but because she wanted to create a granola that would help boost her milk supply. (more…)

08/29/16 11:14am

9780374229702When you are expecting your first child, well-meaning friends, family members and total strangers love to regale you with horror stories about how difficult it is to have an infant. How you’ll never sleep again. How the baby will cry for hours on end. How life as you know it is soon to O-V-E-R. (The last part is absolutely true, though not necessarily in a bad way.)

I actually found my son’s early months to be mellow and almost soothing compared to the intense anticipation and anxiety leading up to his birth.

No, I find his toddlerhood–he just hit 18 months–to be much more challenging than his infancy. And part of that is due to the fact that I’m not just supposed to be caring for him, feeding him and making sure he gets enough exercise, stimulation and sleep. According to current educational trends and aspirational parents everywhere, I’m supposed to be cramming his little head with numbers, letters, colors and shapes at every turn. It’s a weird pressure that has cast a pall over playtime for me.

Or I should say, DID cast a pall over playtime, until I read The Gardener and the Carpenter, a new book about the way children learn by Alison Gopnik, a developmental psychologist and author of The Philosophical Baby  and The Scientist in the Crib.

Gopnik argues that the whole idea of “parenting” as a modern task that we are supposed to master, like whipping up gourmet meals each night in our chef’s kitchens and cultivating a yoga practice that includes various acrobatic feats, has little to do with what young children actually need to learn about the world around them. If you think about this for a minute it’s a very liberating idea, and one backed by an immense body of research, both from Gopnik’s child psychology lab at U.C. Berkley and from her colleagues in the field around the world.

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