Welcome to November! You may not realize it with this mild weather, but the holidays are already upon us. This month try to get a jumpstart on some holiday traditions (see our suggestions for Petra and The Wolf and Macy’s Day Balloon Inflation), prepare for the cold weather by compiling a winter book nook, or just stay home and eat cake. Whatever your family decides to do this month, two parenting essentials are non-negotiable: first, make sure to get out and vote on Election Day and second, remember that turkey and Beaujolais will make you sleepy, so plan ahead!
1. Enjoy the sweetest sing-a-long ever.
Looking for an offbeat sing along to occupy your child’s Saturday mornings? Every Saturday from 10-11am, Mast Brothers chocolate factory hosts this family friendly event that includes learning, music and, of course, lots of chocolate! Each Saturday brings a new talent, so kids can come every weekend and see someone new. This absolutely FREE event is perfect for all ages, and you don’t even need a golden ticket to be invited. November 4th, 10am: Carl Banks; November 11th, 10am: Lily Virginia; November 18th, 10am: TBD. Mast Brothers, 111 North 3rd Street at Berry St., Williamsburg.
2. Come and howl at the stage.
We’ve written before about how seeing Peter and the Wolf at the Guggenheim is the perfect New York holiday tradition. At $35 per ticket, it’s not too extravagant, but for first time theatergoers, you may want to start with something a little less expensive in case you have to leave the theater in a meltdown. Recommended for kids 4 and up, Lionheart Youth Theatre Company, is performing their version of Petra and the Wolf at Brooklyn’s On Stage at Kingsborough on Sunday, November 5th at 2:00pm. Featuring large scale puppetry and live music, this version features some modern twists on an old tale. After the performance, families will be invited to meet the cast. Tickets: $12, The Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Boulevard, Brighton Beach.
3. Show your kids that one voice matters.
Most likely school is closed on Election Day (November 7th), so you’ll most likely be crazed trying to find a sitter/ class/ coverage for the day. But once you’ve got that figured out, why not spend time educating kids on how important the elections are. This year is not does not have the insanity of last year’s presidential election, but the local elections are just as important in terms of policy change. Use a book list like this one to teach your kids about democracy, turn on Schoolhouse Rock to learn about how a bill becomes a law, but most importantly- talk to your children about the importance of going to the polls (and then make sure you go and VOTE!)
4. Let them eat cake!
Two moms created a baking hack called Cakest that I think parents will actually use! You might have met them at the Brooklyn Based One More Bite, the family food fest, in October. If you’re someone who peruses Pinterest for your child’s birthday, flagging intricate baked designs that you would never be able to make alone in your kitchen, then Cakest will be a gift to you. First, you and your kids pick the design that you want, choosing between a selection that includes a monster, a soccer ball, adorable animals and more. Then you wait for the kit to be delivered to your house (in NYC it usually takes two days.) Inside you’ll find step by step instructions, disposable cake pans, cake mix (gluten free options!), decorating tools and ingredients! You’ll still need to get eggs, milk, butter, etc. But following these easy directions will be a fun project for your family where you’ll be able to create a birthday cake that dreams are made of. Each cake: $55.
5. Prepare your winter book nook.
Nothing is more hygge than snuggling up in front of a fireplace on a cold Sunday afternoon with a good book. Get prepared for winter, by attending the Brooklyn Book Fair at the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, November 11th between 11am and 4pm. There will be a wide selection of fiction, non-fiction, story books, graphic novels and poetry for children of all ages. Plus, more than 50 Brooklyn based authors and illustrators, like Selina Alko (Why Am I Me), Tad Hills (Duck & Goose Colors), and Matthew Burgess (Enormous Smallness: A Story of e.e. cummings) will be on hand. You and your family are sure to discover some new favorites with books readings, illustrator demonstrations, and hands-on art making activities. FREE. Brooklyn Museum, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion, 1st Floor, 200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights.
6. Introduce them to Treasure Island.
If your kids love pirates, adventure or live theater, (who doesn’t?), then this play would be the perfect way to spend a weekend day. Based on the classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, in this modernized version the pirate Jim Hawkins is played by a female. This tale of discovery is a one hour musical performed by Literally Alive, a children’s theater company. The ticket price includes an interactive arts workshop for families before the performance. The audience will learn about the beloved book and how the theater company made it into a musical. It is recommended for children ages 4 and up. The Players Theatre 115 MacDougal Street (Between West 3rd & Bleecker). Saturday 3pm/ Sunday 11am through November 12th, 2017. Tickets: $32- 52.
7. Pump it up (outside of the bathroom stall)!
The months of pumping for baby can seem endless. I always felt like a cow at a milk factory, with my boob hanging out, struggling to use a nursing cover while getting the pinching machinery correct. That’s why I’m so impressed with Freemie, the hands free pumping cups that slide under your shirt and connect via tubes to a breast pump, that was invented by a doctor/ mother who has women’s needs in mind. Although might be obvious that you are pumping, working mothers won’t have to worry about revealing too much, and the product has great reviews on Amazon. Moms like that the tubes unclick, so if you need to rush to do something, you don’t have to totally unlatch. Although you may still not be pumping covertly at a board meeting, this system opens up the real possibility of pumping while you drive, or while you’re shooting off emails in your cubicle, or even while you’re sitting on a park bench rather than stuck in the bathroom stall. Plus, this system is compatible with any of your favorite breast pumps, giving tired mothers more options, which is always a good thing. $60-$200 (or covered by insurance.)
8. It makes sense to learn about senses.
The American Museum of Natural History has enough in the permanent collection to excite kids every day for a month, but occasionally they curate new shows that send families running back for more. Our Senses: An Immersive Experience which opens November 20th is the latest of these special exhibits. “In this highly experiential exhibition, [families will] explore 11 funhouse-like spaces that dare you to trust your senses,” the website claims. Take a deep dive into your senses by engaging in learning about how humans and other species take in the world around them. General Admission Plus One: Adult $28/ Child (2-12): $16.50/ Senior & Student: $22.50
9. Inflate your Thanksgiving.
Take advantage of New York’s mild autumn weather and make this be the year you bundle up the family and check Macy’s Balloon Inflation off your bucket list. On Thanksgiving Eve (November 22nd), outside the American Museum of Natural History (the entrance is at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue), your kids’ favorite characters will be coming to life as the floats get pumped up for the next day’s parade. The viewing area opens at 3pm, but the inflated balloons (as well as the crowds) get more plentiful as the evening goes on. Make sure to take the subway, as the roads will already be closed off on the parade route. You’ll enter the viewing area and should allow an hour to make your way around, depending on the crowd size. Don’t bring your stroller, but do bring snacks (so you don’t have to leave the viewing area), to avoid (your or your child’s) meltdowns.