It’s finally springtime! The weather is warming up and your kids are clamoring to be outside and get to the playground. Spring is the best season for Brooklyn to wander around the parks, get lost in new neighborhoods, and sign up for new classes. Plus, for most families, it will be spring break, which either means leaving town for some R & R or planning a staycation with the time and space to have some adventures. We’re here to help pencil in some fun, at a music festival, a cultural festival and a film series, all best enjoyed with your family. Plus, we’ve included few options for parents only. Fingers crossed for the rain to stay away, and no freak spring snowstorms to ruin our plans.
GO: A Folk Festival for your little folk
The Brooklyn Folk Festival is coming to Brooklyn Heights and your kids are invited! This family-friendly festival gives kids a chance to enjoy music all weekend long from Friday, April 5th through Sunday, April 7th. There are so many kid-focused events on the schedule that hard to know where to start. Here are some highlights: On Friday, April 5th at 8pm, see a radical puppet show perfect for teen activists. Saturday, April 6th at noon, sing along with the most famous of Brooklyn’s kid rockers, Dan Zanes, followed by a 1pm workshop where kids learn to make their own instruments out of trash. At 2:30pm, families can watch a square dance and at 3:20pm get inspiration from Little Nora Brown, a 13-year-old banjo player. Sunday, April 7th, gear up for Pete Seeger’s 100th Birthday Children’s Concert at 2pm.
Brooklyn Folk Festival, St. Ann’s Church, 157 Montague St., Brooklyn Heights. Children under 5: free; Children 6-12: half-price tickets; Adults: 3-day all-festival pass: $85; Individual Afternoon or Evening tickets: $25, Saturday or Sunday all-day pass: $40.
SEE: Rainy days call for movies
Although I haven’t seen it yet, Tim Burton’s live-action interpretation of Dumbo is getting negative reviews and doing dismally at the box office. For a classic talking animal film that your kids possibly haven’t seen yet, check out the classic and heartwarming Babe, presented as part of Film Forum, Jr. on Saturday, April 6th and Sunday, April 7th. For parents who want to start a thoughtful conversation around parenthood, I recently watched a screening of Egg starring Christina Hendricks and Alysia Reiner, which examines motherhood and the myths behind the choices women (and men) make. When old art-school friends get together with their husbands over dinner, patriarchal and parenting issues erupt. Don’t worry, you won’t need a babysitter: it’s available to screen on Amazon.
GO: Sign up for a new class
Are your kids ready to move beyond the play dough? There’s something tactile and calming about playing with mud, and Bklyn Clay understands that. Last month I visited the enormous, sun-filled space where they host members, classes and special events. Their Kids Ceramics classes (for kids ages 7-11) start on Tuesday, April 9th or Wednesday, April 10th and run for a 12-week semester. Students will learn the history of clay and how this material has been used throughout history, while working on projects that foster creativity while building pottery skills.
Classes run Tuesdays 3:15-4:45 ; Wednesdays 4:30pm-6pm. $500 for a 12-week semester class. Bkyln Clay, 533 Carlton Avenue, Prospect Heights.
GO: Holistic help for spring ailments & allergies
If your warm weather days outside are stymied by rounds of coughing, sore throats, and runny noses, then you may be thrilled to know that a new medical practice has come to the borough. The Yinova Center, a Chinese acupuncture and herbal pharmacy, opened last month in Brooklyn Heights. They are mostly renowned for their work in fertility and pregnancy, but they also have a specialty in pediatrics. “We’re not a replacement for someone’s pediatrician; we like to partner with doctors,” said Jill Blakeway, Yinova’s founder. Acid reflux in babies, drippy noses, stomach aches, ear infections (“Before a child gets tubes in their ear, see us!” says Blakeway), ADHD, sensory integration, even acne in teenagers are all things that Yinova’s practitioners can help. They make all their tinctures and herbal blends in-house and even have a specialty line of pediatric herbs. “We do use needles on tiny babies because we can get them in without hurting,” says Blakeway. “But once they’ve had a shot, they’re suspicious of needles. So we have what’s called a tickle machine and we can do it without the needles so it’s not scary.”
Yinova, 147 Remsen St., Brooklyn Heights. 718.928.6533. Pediatric Initial Consultation $100, Pediatric Follow Up Treatment $75.
GO: Storytelling and collage on the waterfront
Brooklyn Historical Society is one of the best, unsung free children’s programmers in the borough. On Saturday, April 13th, from 10:30-1:30 pm families are invited to participate in “Changing Perspectives on the Waterfront,” a mix and match activity where children will learn about Brooklyn’s waterfront through different times in history. On Saturday, April 27th from 10:30am-1:30pm, author Nina Crews will read storybooks and kids will have the opportunity to create a book of their own. On both of these days, families are invited to stick around afterward and explore the family-friendly aspects of the museum.
Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO, 55 Water Street, 2nd Floor, Dumbo. FREE
LISTEN: Learn about body positive parenting
Is it possible to shield our kids from developing an unhealthy body image? How should we restrict sugar without making it even more desirable? How do we protect our kids from the $70 billion diet industry? The Full Bloom Project podcast has enough information to school adults on their own body positivity issues but is geared to helping them raise confident children. “Body-positive parenting is a parenting philosophy that proposes research-informed methods which aim to most effectively use the family environment to promote self-esteem and positive body image in children,” explain the hosts, Zoë Bisbing and Leslie Bloch, both NYC-based, adolescent eating disorder psychotherapists and mothers of two. Episode topics range from social media, raising intuitive eaters, boosting a child’s resilience and helping kids in larger bodies. Each topic brings in experts from the field to help guide and discuss these difficult issues. What I loved about listening to the episodes was how practical the advice was; this isn’t just “love yourself” affirmations, but real-world steps to speak with your children, navigate the current landscape and attain a doable balance without adding stress to your family lives. Subscribe! Also, if you sign up on their website, you’ll receive handy one-sheets to go along with each episode.
READ: A very funny bunny
In celebration of Easter on Sunday, April 21st I recommend reading this hilarious essay from McSweeney’s that highlights a very different kind of bunny. Writer Elizabeth Hoey’s “Helicopter Bunny” riffs on Margaret Wise Brown’s classic “Runaway Bunny,”but even if you aren’t familiar with the storybook classic, you’ll love the satirical take on snowplow parents. Here is how it begins:
“Once there was an overprotected little bunny who wanted some space, so he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you with a stainless steel container of organic strawberries, for you are my exceptional little bunny.”
“If you run after me,” said the little bunny, “I will go to the playground — the one you call the ‘trashy playground’ — and play with kids you don’t like the look of.”
GO: Cherry blossoms are in bloom
It’s a Brooklyn tradition, and even though it is crowded, it’s something to do at least once with your kids. The Sakura Matsuri on Saturday, April 27th and Sunday, April 28th at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the perfect way to commemorate spring. The weekend celebration includes martial arts demonstrations, Japanese punk rock bands, kids drumming classes, family-friendly tea ceremonies, a Japanese marketplace, and tasty Japanese-inspired food. Hopefully, there will also be cherry blossoms floating in the air like snow. Seeing the cherry blossoms in full bloom is a magical sight, even without the planned weekend activities for the festival. Luckily, BBG has a handy cherry blossom map that is updated daily and will let you know which trees are in bloom, so you can plan your visit accordingly.
Cherry Blossom Festival, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Entrance on 455 Flatbush Avenue or 990 Washington Avenue. Adults $30, Children under 12: free.