The groundhog predicted an early spring, and we’re holding him to it. Even though there have been snowstorms in April, we can start looking for the signs: buds on the trees in the park, cafes setting up outdoor seating, and kids throwing off their jackets in the playgrounds. Most importantly, by the middle of the month (March 10!), we’ll change our clocks forward an hour, giving us that much more daylight to pack in our days with family fun. Maybe this will be the month to introduce your kids to one of the cultural institutions on offer in the city? Silent movies, museums, and theater can all be appropriate for kids, and this NY Times article by three arts writers give tips on “the joys and terrors of introducing their children to the profusion of New York City culture. “ If anything, bringing kids to experience art forms helps them to be comfortable and not intimidated by these spaces. (Just be sure to bring lots of snacks and coloring books.)
GO: The circus is coming to town.
If your kids think a circus includes a big top, a string of elephants and a million talented players performing at the same time, then just wait until they get a load of Circus Incognitus on Saturday, March 2nd at 2 pm. Jamie Adkins is a one-man extravaganza: clown, juggler, balancing artist and acrobat. Expect zany physical bloopers like climbing wiggling ladders, bouncing on a tightrope, and juggling mayhem. Your kids will be astonished (and in stitches) by the end of the act. Plus, there’s an opportunity to meet Jamie after the show. Tickets: $13. Appropriate for kids 4 and up. On Stage at Kingsborough, 2001 Oriental Blvd., Manhattan Beach.
GO: Boogie brunch (with bloody marys)
If you are sick of not being able to sit through brunch without having to run your kids around the restaurant, then this is for you. On Sunday, March 3rd from 12 pm-4 pm, Littlefield is hosting the 6th annual Brooklyn Boogie Brunch, a benefit for PS 295, the Studio School of Arts and Culture. Now in its sixth year, the family concert features live music by reggae Top Shotta Band, rock band Growler, and Capt’n Kirk Douglas of The Roots. There will be brunch offerings by The Chocolate Room, Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, Brothers Bagels, and more! Plus a cash bar, so you can have your bloody mary. Tickets: Adults: $20, Kids $15, pack of 4: $65. (Limited ticket sales at door.) Littlefield, 635 Sackett St., Gowanus.
WATCH: Silent movies with loud kids
Seeing a silent movie with your kids can be an interesting experience, really! On Saturday, March 9th, at 12 pm, MOMA is hosting Family Films: Shhh! Family Films! for kids six and up and their adult companions. One Week, a comedy by Buster Keaton and The Lonedale Operator, the classic railroad villain tale by D.W. Griffith, are on the bill. These two short films (under 20 minutes each) are perfect for kids with short attention spans and will include engaging discussions, and suggestions for follow up activities to do in the museum galleries. Free tickets are distributed on a first come, first serve basis starting at 10 am on the day of the program at the information desk in the Education and Research Building, at 4 West 54 Street.
GO: The force is with your children.
Instead of letting your tiny Jedis swing lightsabers around your living room all afternoon, bring them to Symphony Space on Saturday, March 16th at 11 am for an afternoon of Jedi training. Just Kidding: Jedi Academy is a workshop for kids to “discover the force within through comic antics, magical mayhem, and even lightsaber lessons.” Panniken Moonjumper, a “true Master of Intergalactic fun and adventure” will be on hand to teach your kids everything they need to know to become true warriors. The run time is 60 minutes, and it is sure to be interactive. Tickets: $14. Symphony Space, Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street.
GO: Teach your kids about spinach and bullies
I’m always on the lookout for art galleries that show work that might entice my child to pay attention, even if the art is not exactly made for kids. This weekend I’m going to drag him to Marlborough Contemporary for the Erik Hanson show, “Two Years of Bluto,” (on display through March 23rd) where the artist spent the last two years painting nothing but Bluto, Popeye’s nemesis. We’ve already watched the Robert Altman directed 1980 film starring Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall, which was panned by critics but has become a cult classic. I’m sure it will touch on deeper themes of toxic masculinity and exaggerated ideals, but we can discuss the benefits of eating spinach and being a bully. FREE. Marlborough Gallery, 545 W. 25th St., Chelsea.
GO: Museums are for the dogs
If the gallery scene seems too stuffy for your little ones, you might be more interested in the brand new Museum of the Dog. The museum, made by the American Kennel Club, “combines fine arts with cutting-edge technology and interpretation, providing unique and engaging experiences for visitors of all ages.” For canine lovers that means paintings, sculptures, media all about your favorite pet. The museum is back in New York, after 30 years in St. Louis, MI, where it built up one of the largest collections of canine-related artwork. Kids can even download an app called “Arty the dog” who will tour them around the museum. There are also activity tables on the top floor for kids to create their own artwork and hang on the community wall. Tickets: $15 adults, $5 children under 12. Tuesday through Sunday 10am-5pm. Museum of the Dog, 101 Park Avenue, Midtown.
GO: A new kind of dance
Most kids are really into dance and moving their bodies, so it’s not a stretch to bring them to a dance performance. I mean they watch the dance moves on Fortnite, right? In “Colors”, an interactive, multi-sensory dance work at BAM, an Italian company, called Compagnia TPO, uses movement “to activate the many hues of children’s dreams.” Kids can watch how different colors trigger different emotional responses, and after the 50-minute performance, children are invited on stage (for an additional 30 minutes) to move and act with the set’s color technology. Showtimes are 11am and 2pm on March 23rd and 24th. Tickets: $20. BAM Fisher, Fishman Space, 321 Ashland Pl., Fort Greene.
GO: Say bonjour to the Tilt Kids Festival
I think it’s safe to say that I’ve recommended the Tilt Kids Festival every year since I actually brought my son a few years ago (and reviewed it for Brooklyn Based.) That was only the second year in existence, and every year it’s gotten bigger and better. This year the festival runs through the entire month of March, taking place all over the city. A francophile festival, put on by The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) and The Cultural Services of the French Embassy, it covers unique art experiences for kids including Philosophy talks, theater, and music performances. This year they are premiering an Augmented Reality Treasure Hunt, a Dress Up Lunch and a Drag Queen Story Hour. The lineup proves there’s something for everyone, and any of the events are sure to be a thrill for your family. Tilt Festival, various addresses depending on the event. More information at www.tiltkidsfestival.org.
GO: A taste of Singapore in the Bronx
It is not yet spring, but the flowers are blooming at New York Botanical Garden (from now through April 28th.) Although I haven’t ever been, the orchid show is many people’s favorite time of year to stop by, and it does look Instagram worthy. I’ve also been told it’s a warm, even humid place to spend the afternoon where you can get the benefits of being outside while staying warm in the greenhouse. It’s a win-win for families. This year especially, the orchids are mesmerizing. The theme of the show is “Singapore”, and if you’re familiar with the book or film Crazy Rich Asians, you’ll know that the island knows about drama. Plus, if you luck into an unseasonably warm day, there’s plenty of space for kids to run off their winter yayas. New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx. Weekends: Adults: $28, Kids: $12, Kids under 2: free; Weekdays: Adults: $23, Kids: $10, Kids under 2: free. The tickets also include a Tram Ride.
THINK: Time to panic about social media
My son’s school sent out a newsletter about the MOMO challenge, a parent’s worst nightmare where an evil person integrates insanely scary videos into children’s youtube videos. This challenge then turned out to be a hoax. This MOMO cycle of terror somehow keeps being repeated over the years and just goes to show that neither schools or parents (or media) have any idea what is going on in our kid’s interweb life. However, what we do know is that there are real effects of all those baby photos we parents have been sharing online, now forever known as “sharenting.” This article by Taylor Lorenz for The Atlantic made me panic. When kids come of age and realize that they have an entire life online that they knew nothing about, it can be disconcerting. “Parents now shape their children’s digital identity long before these young people open their first email. The disclosures parents make online are sure to follow their children into adulthood,” declares a report by the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Let’s start preemptively over-scheduling the online family therapy sessions now!