Spring is in the air, although with temperatures barely hitting 40 degrees, it sure doesn’t feel like it. Children are sick of staying inside, and parents all seem to be just sick, with a lingering cough and head colds. This month we will try our best to conjure up spring with the promise of cherry blossoms, hammocks and spring cleaning. Earth Day is on the calendar, and hopefully you’ll warm up somewhere tropical for Spring Break. But if the weather continues to be unpredictable, don’t worry, we have suggestions for play cafes and workshops that are inside but will still get you and your family out of the house. Fill the house with fresh flowers, buy new umbrellas for the kids, and prepare to sing in the rain (nor’easters be damned!)
GO: Young Foodies
The weekend of April 1st will see the opening of the outdoor foodie favorite Smorgasburg in both Williamsburg and Park Slope. This year, we can look forward to some new hot vendors: Big Mozz x Do fried cookie dough, Bonsai Kakigori shaved ice, and Lobsterdamus mesquite grilled lobsters. It might still feel too cold or too rainy to stand in line for the hot new snack. In the meantime, get young food lovers ready for food truck season with the 2017 book, Chef Roy Choi and The Street Food Remix by Jo Lee and Jacqueline Briggs Martin. The story is about LA Chef, Roy Choi and his food truck, and is illustrated by the graffiti artist Man One. The book explores Choi’s Korean heritage, and the influence of his mother’s cooking upon his current success. Smorgasburg, Outside locations: March 31st, East River State Park, 90 Kent Ave, Williamsburg. April 1st, Prospect Park Breeze Hill, East Drive at Lincoln Rd., Park Slope.
EAT: Next Level PTA Goals
I don’t know why, but the end of the school year always means a ramping up of class functions, PTA meetings, sports games and school events– all of which require bake sales. Maybe you’re the kind of parent who provides the napkins, and that’s awesome– there’s no judgment here. But if you’re the kind of parent who likes to whip something up, and want it to look like it was ripped off Pinterest, then you’ll definitely be inspired by Mister Krisp, aka Jessica Siskin, who has cornered the market of insane rice krispie treats. Her book, Treat Yourself, is available online for step by step instructions, and her Instagram account will give all the inspiration you need. If you happen to be this type of person, who is inclined to make a Van Gogh marshmallow treat, I hope you are also a parent at my son’s school.
GO: Letterheads 3D Workshop
Stefan Bucher, writer, graphic designer and illustrator has published an ABC book, entitled LetterHeads, for kids sculpted entirely out of 3D Modeling Software. Kids learn the alphabet while also entranced by the whimsical anthropomorphism pictures. On Thursday April 12th, 6:30pm-8:30pm, the author will be doing an event at The Type Directors Club, where he will give a behind-the-scenes look at at his process. He’ll be speaking about creativity, inspiration, and challenging yourself to try new directions. (Although his book will appeal to younger audiences, this event will appeal more to older students.) Tickets: 5$ TDC Members, $20 adults, $15 students. Type Directors Club, 347 W. 36th St., Manhattan.
BUY: Grand Trunk Junior Hammock
The nights of camping at Governors Island are still weeks away, but it’s safe to say that families are going to be thrilled by the opportunity to sleep under the stars. In May, Collective Retreats will transform six acres of Governors Island into an overnight retreat that can accommodate up to 100 guests. These night of glamping are definitely going to be popular, so you might want to pre-book in advance if you have the budget. In the meantime, you can prepare for summer nights by buying a portable hammock. Grand Trunk has made the first hammock just for kids. The Junior Hammock ($45 including free shipping) comes in fun colors and are the perfect size for the growing kid. Add a hammock strap to the order and you’ll be able to strap on to any tree no matter how far apart for maximum relaxation.
READ: Organize and Declutter
It’s the time for Spring Cleaning! Time to deep clean the stove, wipe out the refrigerator, and dive into the kids room and find out if there is still a floor. Ronda Kasen at the NY Times wonders in “Fitting Growing Kids Into Small Spaces”, “As the children grow, you wonder what will happen when they, say, need a desk. Or worse, what happens if they should want a room of their own?” The theory is that if you declutter, there will be more space. But not in a Brooklyn apartment, where that extra footage just doesn’t exist. The answer may lie in transformable furniture. Cribs that transform into toddler beds, toys that grow with kids or a trunk that can multipurpose as workspace are mainstays. This imaginative furniture by Nugget can be transformed from couch to fort to reading nook in a blink of the eye. For $229, you’ll have endless possibilities (and endless color choices) that can change with each age of your child. Plus, the design looks modern and the fabric is easy to clean. Available online at www.nugget.com.
GO: Get Lit with Your Kids
The renowned international literary festival, The PEN World Voices Festival brings together the world’s notable authors. This year for the first time, they are offering up a children’s day, chock full of literary adventures. The theme this year is Resist and Reimagine, and the festival is offering up a day of storytelling, interactive events, comics and freestyle poetry workshops for children, tweens, and young adults as part of its new Next Generation Now series curated by Meg Lemke of MUTHA Magazine. On Saturday April 21st 3:30pm-4:30pm, there is a lineup of fun workshops, interesting readings, and interactive activities. Discover Caribbean mythological creatures, learn freestyle poetry, or make a book with 826NYC! Preschoolers through 3rd grade kids can join the author of The Little Book of Little Activists for making posters filling out postcards, and joining in on a kid-led march. FREE Townstages, Back Room, 221 West Broadway, Manhattan. If your older kids were fans of the book and movie, Wonder, they’ll definitely want to attend a Q & A with the author R.J. Palacio, on Saturday April 21st from 7:30pm-8:30pm. She will discuss embracing our differences in what is sure to be an inspirational discussion for all ages. Tickets $35, available here. The Great Hall, The Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street, Manhattan.
CELEBRATE: Earth Day
There seems no more important holiday than Earth Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday, April 22nd. There’s so many ways to talk to kids about the environment, from spending the day planting trees or cleaning up the park with youngsters to teaching older kids about Our Children’s Trust, the group of environmentally conscious kids who are suing the government for contributing to climate change. Kids can certainly donate money from their piggy banks if they feel moved to. Also, children (and parents!) can be cheered that their beloved Legos will soon release a sustainable line made out of plant-based plastics derived from sugarcane. The move is part of their commitment to use all sustainable plastics by 2030. Look for the first boxes to be in stores this year.
GO: Subway Shindig
Everyone’s favorite transit museum is throwing a party and families are invited. On Tuesday, April 24th from 6pm-8pm, the New York Transit Museum will “celebrate springtime and and the magic of motion” with an evening of puppet crafts and a parade along the subway platform. This is the eleventh annual Subway Shindig, and families with kids of all ages will be treated to history, education and activities. Plus, if it’s been a while since your kids have explored the vintage trains, they’ll be happy to explore. New York Transit Museum, 99 Schermerhorn St., Downtown Brooklyn. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children.
GO: Cherry Blossom Festival
At the time of writing this, there is not a single cherry blossom blooming on a tree at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. No one tree remains in bloom for more than a week, so there is something transient and extra beautiful about catching the trees at their peak. Petals fall off into the air like snowflakes and there is an otherworldly feeling that even kids love. You can use the handy Cherrywatch Tool on the BBG website to plan your visit. Or just buy your tickets for April 28th and 29th 10am-6pm when the popular Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) happens. On top of enjoying the beautiful gardens, there are nearly 60 performances and activities planned over the course of the weekend. Tickets: Adults: $30, Students 12+: $25, Children under 12: free. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 150 Eastern parkway, Prospect Heights.
GO: Visit a Play Cafe
In Europe and beyond, Play Cafes, coffee shops where parents can eat, drinks and #adult while kids play with play equipment and toys safely in eye range, are a thing. Lucky for us these play cafes are opening more in Brooklyn. Good Day Play Cafe in Park Slope (591 5th Avenue) is the latest restaurant to open, serving up Stumptown Coffee for grownups, and slides, ball pit and lego station in a small enclosed play area. (They have a second location in Queens.) For parents who need something a little harder than coffee, PLG Coffee House & Tavern in Lefferts Garden offers beer and wine, alongside a full menu, with a tiny play corner for kids.