written by Jen #supermom
It’s May and summer is just around the corner (woohoo)!!! The weather is finally going to stay warm, mangos and pineapples are in season, trees and flowers are in full bloom and there are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities for our families to enjoy in Brooklyn. Here are a few of the local events for both the teeniest and the biggest “kids”, aka the parents!
* Mini-Matisse Bring Your Own Art Weekend (Private Picasso’s Art Studio, 237 5th Ave): Ground Floor Gallery has teamed up with the dynamic art studio for kids, Private Picassos, for this year’s Mini Matisse Weekend! Drop by Private Picassos to have your child make their one-of-a-kind masterpiece and then BYOA (Bring Your Own Artwork) to Ground Floor Gallery, a few blocks away, to hang it on the gallery wall, snap a photo and leave with a mini-Matisse goodie bag! May 7th and 8th, 10am-6pm. From $5 – $20, depending on the medium. http://www.privatepicassos.com/public-classes-events/2016/5/7/mini-matisse-bring-your-own-art-weekend
* Book Event: The Secret Subway (NY Transit Museum, Brooklyn Heights): Science meets art meets New York City History in The Secret Subway! Step back in time and discover the amazing, true story of NYC’s very first subway with creators Shana Corey and Red Nose Studio. Participate in interactive, hands-on pneumatic power demonstrations, see how the book’s three dimensional art was made, and more! May 13th, 1:30-2:15pm. Ages 5+. http://web.mta.info/mta/museum/pdf/Children_Family_Programs.pdf
* “Tree/ Boom/ Umthi” (BAM, Fisher Hillman Studio): South African physical theater company Magnet Theatre uses image, song, and the body to tell the story of a human relationship with a tree – and the changing of the seasons. intended especially for young viewers, this delicate, inventive work is performed in three different languages. May 14th – 22nd, tickets $12. Ages 2-5. http://www.bam.org/kids/2016/tree-boom-umthi
* Touch-a-Truck at PS 295 (18th St between 6th and 7th Ave): Touch-a-Truck, NYC’s favorite family street fair, is returning to PS 295! At this unique street fair, NYC kids and their families will get up close and personal with a wide variety of emergency vehicles, construction equipment, vintage vehicles, and other cool rigs. Food trucks, bouncy houses, music, crafts, free activities, and more round out the day – including a South Slope Pediatrics Babyspace!!! Touch-a-Truck Brooklyn is a fundraiser to support academic, arts, and enrichment programs at PS 295. May 14th from 12-5pm. $8 per person. http://www.ps295.org/pta/touch-a-truck-2016./
* The Fabulous 5th Avenue Fair (5th Ave between Sterling and 12th St): Music, local food and drink from your favorite 5th Ave restaurants and bars, art, local shopping, rides, vintage cards and more. May 15th from 12-6pm. http://allaboutfifth.blogspot.com/
* Spring Into Stories: Brooklyn Public Library Children’s Author and Illustrator Festival (Central Library, Dweck Center): Meet an all-star line-up of Brooklyn children’s book authors and illustrators, and enjoy hands-on art, lively presentations, music from BPL house band Lost in the Stacks, and more. May 21st from 11am-4pm. http://www.bklynlibrary.org/central/spring-into-stories
* The Wizard of Oz (Puppetworks): L. Frank Baum’s American classic with an original song score. Adapted for marionettes by Nicolas Coppola. Suggested for ages 3+. May 7th – Aug. 21st on Saturdays & Sundays @ 12:30 and 2:30pm. $9 per child, $10 per adult. http://www.puppetworks.org/
* Family Bowl (Brooklyn Bowl, Williamsburgh): Looking for something to do with the family on a rainy day? Whether you’re a pro or your ball tends to spend most of its time in the gutter, all skills and ages are welcome! Enjoy delicious food by Blue Ribbon and some local brews while you’re there. Every Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm. $25/lane for 1/2 hour. http://www.brooklynbowl.com/event/1079923-saturday-family-bowl-brooklyn/
* Fleece Festival (Prospect Park Zoo): At the zoo, a master sheep shearer will help their sheep lose their winter coats in preparation for summer. Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on 5/21 and 5/22 they’ll have wool working demonstrations, crafts, music and, of course, sheep! And it’s all free with zoo admission. http://prospectparkzoo.com/events/14
* Families First Annual Spring Carnival for Kids and Tots (Baltic St. between Court and Clinton): Sponsored by Families First, the day is a celebration of family and community for families of toddlers to kindergarten-aged children. The Carnival features the kids’ favorites: pony rides, two bouncy houses, face painting, tattoos, mini-carousel, carnival games, arts & crafts, a bake sale and balloons. There will also be a book sale. May 21st from 10am – 2pm. http://mommypoppins.com/event/families-firsts-annual-spring-carnival-for-kids-and-tots
by Jen #supermom
When I became a first time parent I distinctly remember being so confused by all of the different playground names. Mom friends would talk casually about Harmony, JJ Byrne or Vanderbilt Playgrounds, and I had absolutely no idea where these places were, although had been living here in Park Slope over 4 years (without child)! I had of course seen these playgrounds, walked by them countless times…but had never had any interest in them or what their names were until I had a baby. Now with a 3.5 year old (and a 4 month old), I’ve become quite the “playground hopper”! As weather is warming up, I thought it might be helpful to new parents or parents new to the neighborhood to share my favorite spots in Park Slope!
* JJ BYRNE: Just renovated a few years ago, this park on 5th Ave between 3rd and 4th St is pretty fantastic. I like the fact that it’s segmented into different play areas for different age groups, including a gated toddler area. Slides and swings galore, standing farm animals for kids to climb on, and my daughter’s favorite – the spinning chairs that go way too fast. Best feature of this park is surely the water play, from sprinklers and water pump to shoot and spray water cannons! Definitely a popular spot on those hot summer days. Downside: not crazy about the rock features in the middle of the park, be careful to watch your small child as they run on them (have seen some nasty spills)!
* VANDERBILT PLAYGROUND: Located in Prospect Park (just down the hill when walking from the 15th St entrance) lies this gem of a playground. Tunnels, a great twisty slide, lots of things for kids to spin on, water feature, bridges and ladders – this playground will not disappoint. I love that it’s just across from the lake, so you can pair up a trip to say hello to the swans and ducks with a visit to this play area. Downside: no bathroom.
* ZUCKER NATIONAL EXPLORATION AREA: Just down the hill in Prospect Park from Grand Army Plaza is Zucker Natural Exploration Area, truly my favorite of all of the playgrounds. New York Magazine must agree, as they recently voted this as one of the best of NY! Made by trees damaged by storms and other materials from within Prospect Park, this space encourages open, unstructured play. Uprooted trees for kids to climb on, a massive sand play area and a pump that pours water onto a log are some of the elements that make this space stand out. I love getting here really early, when the park is hushed and the morning sun has just rose – it’s truly a beautiful spot. Downside: no bathroom.
* GARFIELD TOT LOT : Located just inside the Garfield Place entrance, this playground caters exclusively to toddlers. There’s a mini-jungle gym and slide, and the lot is lined with trees and benches (which come in handy for diaper changes, feeding and snack breaks). A perfect place for the little ones, and typically a very quiet and relaxing spot. Downside: I would say no bathrooms, but most of the babies/toddlers I know under 2 aren’t potty trained, so this shouldn’t be an issue!
* HARMONY PLAYGROUND: This music-themed playground located near the Bandshell at 11th St in Prospect Park is AWESOME. Shaky bridge, wobbly bridge, tons of swings, slides (including a twisty slide), a toddler-friendly area, tunnels, large sandbox, and my favorite water feature of all the parks, an upside-down “U” shape mister that gently sprays water towards the ground – just gentle enough that your child can get a little spray or can hang out underneath for a full soak! Bathroom with changing table is a nice bonus as well! Downside: it’s rather large, so be prepared to do lots of chasing.
* THIRD STREET PLAYGROUND: Almost a hidden gem, this playground is located off 3rd Street and Prospect Park West. Less chaotic than Harmony and offering more shade, this bench-lined circle has several play structures, tire swings, a circle sandbox and water features. This playground is a preferred spot for playdates, as parents can hang out on a bench and easily watch their children (while having adult conversation – imagine that)! Kids can run through a huge red coil water feature to cool off, or chill out in the sandbox. Bathrooms are nearby at the Picnic House. Downside: Not sure I can think of one!
* IMAGINATION PLAYGROUND: This park is a bit further out, just over on the east side of Prospect Park (near Lefrak Center at Lakeside). A bit more creative in design, this park is inspired by children’s literature, featuring statues of characters from Ezra Jack Keat’s books, a bronze dragon with water flowing down it’s back, and animal masks for kids to hide behind. Three playhouses and an open stage help stimulate children’s imaginations and creativity. A nice break from the typical slides and swings! Downside: No bathrooms!
* SLOPE PARK: For those of us South Slopers, this local playground is very convenient AND happens to be located across the street from a very decent coffee shop, Southside Coffee. My favorite part of this park is the water feature, which includes a little wheel that kids can turn and subsequently water flows out. There are different water spray elements – both horizontal and vertical for children to jump in. It’s a bit more intimate than the larger parks, which is also a positive. Downside: stay away in afternoons when kids get out of school – this playground gets taken over by teenagers!
I know I am personally always looking for new places to explore. Hopefully there is a playground on this list that you haven’t had the chance to visit yet – so cheers to doing something new and exciting for you and your little one!
Are you a new mom that struggles to find local activities for your little one? Have you tried looking online but haven’t found one comprehensive, clear and concise calendar for your specific area of Brooklyn? As a mom of a 3 year old, these struggles are very recent memories for me. Although this information is all available online on several different sites, there hasn’t been one dedicated place where parents can search activities by neighborhood. Until now….(drumroll please)… meet Denise Clay, a mom of a 2 year old boy, a patient of Dr. Cao’s, and co-founder of the exciting brand-new website, www.skipkid.com!!!
SSP: Denise, what is your background, and how did SkipKid come to be?
I’m a psychotherapist and my SkipKid partner, Callie, is a writer. We met when our now 2 year olds were only a couple of weeks old and we became instant friends.
SkipKid is really an example of how necessity breeds ingenuity — ultimately, the site is the resource we most felt was missing when our children were very young. We had several frustrating experiences of logging on to sites claiming to feature “local activities” only to find that the events were several neighborhoods away or that the event information was outdated. We’ve spent the last year developing the site and are hopeful that SkipKid will change the way parents and caregivers organize their days and participate in their communities.
SSP: Can you please tell us a little bit about SkipKid and how it works?
SkipKid is a mobile website featuring a comprehensive list of drop-in activities throughout Brooklyn—sortable by neighborhood—for children ages zero to four. Our goal was to make SkipKid as user friendly as possible — as a result, users can access the site from their computers or mobile devices (smart phones or tablets). There is a drop-down menu on our home page that allows users to select a neighborhood and find a complete list of local drop-in activities. Users can filter in additional neighborhoods as well.
SSP: What is the purpose/goal of the site?
We hope to help parents and caregivers structure their days more efficiently while building community relationships in the process. We don’t want others to feel the same frustration we felt when trying to organize their days with their little ones; we hope that SkipKid will eliminate some of the stress involved with getting out the door. When our children were very young, we didn’t even know where to begin — what was there to do with a three-month old? Now parents can check SkipKid and find out.
SSP: What makes SkipKid different from other Brooklyn-based kid-activity websites?
Many sites say they focus on local events, but we actually mean it!
As all new parents and caregivers well know, little ones require a lot of scheduling, and optimizing the window of time between naps, feedings, etc, requires careful planning. SkipKid helps parents and caregivers find activities that are walkable or within their own neighborhoods, which is different from existing sites that tend to list activities by borough. When you live in Park Slope and you have only a couple of hours to get out of the house, it isn’t actually helpful to know that there’s a sing-along happening in Williamsburg, or vice versa. We created SkipKid with this in mind, which is why we structured the site with a specific focus on neighborhoods. Moreover, we aim to have a complete list of activities–not simply events at the big-name venues like the Brooklyn Zoo and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, but the tiny neighborhood venues with sing-alongs and puppet shows. We want to build community by bringing people together in at their own neighborhood shops.
SSP: How does one submit an event to your site?
There’s a “contact us” button on our homepage, or users can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are doing our best to keep everything up-to-date and current, and definitely want to know about any new and upcoming drop-in events and drop-in classes!
SSP: Is there a way for someone to get updates on new events as they are added (if we forget to go online)?
Yes, if users subscribe to SkipKid they’ll receive updates as well as our newsletter.
SSP: Does SkipKid currently have pages on social media, and what can we find there?
Users can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where we post updates, photos, and last-minutes changes to events.
SSP: What’s next for SkipKid? Any new features planned for the future?
Callie and I are both due with our second children in the next couple of months…so the SkipKid family will be growing. After that, we plan to expand the site to cover Manhattan neighborhoods as well as other boroughs and cities. We also hope to create new events. We can see where there are holes in the schedule, so to speak–Park Slope might have 5 sing-alongs on Tuesday at 10 AM, but nothing on Thursday at 4 PM. We want to help fill these gaps.
SSP: Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
We really welcome feedback! Feel free to drop us a line and let us know what you think about the site or let us know if there are any events we’re missing – we’d love to hear from you!
Finally an easy-to-navigate Brooklyn kids activity-based website for all of us moms, dads and caregivers out there. Covering 20 Brooklyn neighborhoods and featuring over 900 regularly scheduled and special events, there is a plethora of information now available at our fingertips. No more wasting our precious free time, looking through so many outdated calendars or filtering through events throughout the entire borough of Brooklyn to find those local to you and your family. And as Denise mentioned, make sure to sign up for your daily updates and newsletter so you don’t miss anything!
Posted on September 17th, 2015
Posted by Matteo
written by Jen #supermom
As summer comes to a close, our children return to school and we ease back into our “normal” routine, it’s time to think about fun family events for September. This months events include book and kite festivals, the infamous Atlantic Antic street fair and different live music events to get your groove on!
* Hip Tot Family Day: Groove to the Tunes of the Trummytones (Lefrak at Lakeside, Prospect Park): On September 13th from 11am-2pm, come groove to the unique ska, zydeco and reggae sounds of The Trummytones. Includes live musical performances, craft activities, giveaways and more! For children up to 8 YO and their parents. Free! http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/events/hip-tot-family-day-groove-to-the-tunes-of-the-trummytones/
* Warmth Presents Sunday Sessions (Redwood Studios, Gowanus): On September 13th and 27th from 2-9pm, Sunday Sessions promises to be the perfect way to wind up the weekend. Park your stroller, grab some grub and get your dance moves on! With a festival-like environment, Sunday Sessions will have food and drink available for purchase and kid-friendly activities like bubbles, balloons and sidewalk chalk. http://achildgrows.com/thecalendar/warmth-presents-sunday-sessions-at-redwood-studios-gowanus-2/2015-09-13/
* Kite Festival (Harbor View Lawn at Brooklyn Bridge Park): On Saturday September 19th from 11am-3pm, come bring your favorite kite and watch it soar!!! Kites will be available for purchase as well. http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/kite-festival
* Brooklyn Book Festival (MetroTech Commons, Downtown Brooklyn): From 10am-4pm on Saturday, September 19th, as part of the 10th Anniversary of the Brooklyn Book Festival there will be a Children’s Day! Come enjoy authors and illustrators in readings, performances and workshops as they present new and beloved children’s books. Will feature costume characters, puppetry, music performances and a children’s marketplace of booksellers. Ages 2-11. http://www.brooklynbookfestival.org/2015/childrens-day
* Suzi Shelton Backyard Show at Norman & Jules Backyard (158 7th Ave, Park Slope): Come celebrate back to school at Norman & Jules backyard playspace with award-winning and local favorite, Suzi Shelton, as she returns to her favorite toy shop to perform a series of solo shows from her latest release “Smile in My Heart”. From 11am-12pm on Sunday, September 20th, it is ideal for families with children 0-7 YO. $20 per child, adults are free. http://achildgrows.com/thecalendar/suzi-shelton-backyard-show-at-norman-jules-backyard-park-slope/2015-09-20/
* Chile Pepper Festival (Brooklyn Botanical Gardens): From 11am-6pm on Saturday, September 26th come enjoy one of the longest running festivals of its kind. Features a full day of fiery live music, dance performances from international musicians, unique culinary creations showcasing chile peppers, fire breathers, and of course the gardens. Advanced tickets can be purchased online ($20 for adults, Children under 12 & Members are free): http://www.bbg.org/visit/event/chile_pepper_festival_2015
* Dance with MMDG (Mark Morris Dance Center @ BAM): Starting September 26th through December 5th, come learn excerpts from Mark Morris Dance Group’s The Hard Nut in this class, set to live piano accompaniment. Open to all ages, families of all backgrounds and levels. Tickets are free but must RSVP: http://www.bam.org/classes/2015/mark-morris-dance-group-all-ages
* The 41st Annual Atlantic Antic Festival (Atlantic Avenue from Hicks St to 4th Ave): The largest street festival in NYC, this festival on Sunday, September 27th from 12-6pm will showcase food from around the world, musical performances, shopping from local and international vendors AND an entire block dedicated to kid-friendly activities: pony rides, storytelling and face painting! In my opinion, hands down the best street fair in Brooklyn. http://atlanticave.org/atlantic-antic/about-the-antic/
* Tildon Krautz (Central Brooklyn Library, Dweck Center): On Saturday, October 3rd from 1pm-2pm listen to live sounds of Tildon Krautz, a songwriting string band that embodies the playful universe of an award-winning children’s book illustrator. For all ages. http://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/events-youth-families-til-central-library-dweck-cen-100315.
I’m not going to lie, I am totally bummed that summer is almost over. I love the heat, I love an excuse to eat ice cream often, I love watching my almost 3 year old laugh and splash in the water, I love flip-flops, I love the smell of suntan lotion and our trips to the beach! BUT…what I seem to forget every year is that Brooklyn is a pretty special and beautiful place to be in the Fall, and these fun events are just another reason not to dread the cooler weather that is around the corner.
Posted on August 30th, 2015
Posted by Matteo
By our very own Jen #supermom
For all of you first time parents or those new to the area, we thought it might be helpful to share some of our favorite shops and places to go to for kids-related needs in Park Slope. Here are some choice spots in the neighborhood!
Best Baby-Everything Store:
* Lullaby (488 5th Ave): The best of the best in baby gear, furniture, bedding, bath/potty, feeding and toys, this is the place to go. Yossi, the store owner, is super kind, knowledgable and helpful. It’s almost impossible to walk out of this store without buying at least one item that wasn’t on your original purchase list! http://lullabybaby.com/
Best Toy Stores:
* Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store (232 5th Ave): Filled with a variety of novelty items, this store has a great selection of toys for kids – from stuffed animals to crafts to classics like Etch-a-Sketch. Check out their online store for a glimpse at some of the unique kids & baby products they carry (who wouldn’t want a rainbow unicorn horn headband)??? https://blueribbongeneralstore.com/product-category/kids-baby/
* Neergaard (454 5th Ave): This store has a wide variety of toys for the kids, with quite an extensive selection of action figures for the bigger ones. Situated on the 2nd floor above Neergaard pharmacy, you will find legos, crafts, games and more. https://neergaardtoys.com/product-category/toys/
* Toy Space (426 7th Ave): A more affordable place to shop, this store is easily navigated with sections divided by age. This small store has quite a large selection of toys, from tablets to science kits – so many options for gifts that your child will play with and learn from. https://toyspaceny.com/
Best Kids Shoe Stores:
* A Shoe Grows in Brooklyn (419 7th Ave): This has always been my go-to store to find my daughter shoes. They are super helpful in regards to finding a shoe that meets you/your child’s needs…and your child can have fun in the play area while you navigate your way through the super cute options! http://www.ashoegrows.com/
* Windsor’s World of Shoes (484 5th Ave): Although the customer service isn’t as top notch as A Shoe Grows in Brooklyn, this store carries quite a large selection of kids shoes. It’s helpful to know what you’re looking for (brand, style) before going in. http://www.yelp.com/biz/windsors-world-of-shoes-park-slope
Best Kids Clothing Stores:
* Hiho Batik (184 5th Ave): A most unique store, Hiho offers 100% cotton apparel featuring one-of-a-kind designs made ONSITE at the Brooklyn store for babies, kids and adults. While there you can batik your own item (takes roughly an hour, and they highly recommend calling in advance to ensure there is space). http://www.hihobatik.com/
* Pink Olive (167 5th Ave): A super stylish boutique, this shop is full of beautiful and unique apparel, accessories and novelty gifts for babies. High end (and $$$), this is a great place to buy that memorable gift for the special wee one in your life. https://pinkolive.com/
* Meshimar (433 7th Ave): A consignment shop for both young and old, this small shop can often carry super cute (high quality) children’s second hand clothes. Can’t even count how many times I’ve complimented someone on their child’s outfit to find out it was purchased here! http://www.yelp.com/biz/meshimar-brooklyn
Best Kids Haircut:
* LuLu’s Cuts & Toys (48 5th Ave): This is a super popular and favorite amongst Park Slope parents, where your very youngest will survive a haircut (and beg to come back)! Children receive a balloon, lollipop and get to watch their DVD of choice. If it’s the first haircut, they present you with a 1st haircut certificate and a lock of hair. They can even sit in a special train chair. Quite the experience!!!
* Slope Cuts (498 7th Ave): With booster seats and one kids “car” chair, this salon gets high ratings from parents. A TV screen with cartoons to help distract and entertain your child and barbers known to be both kind and patient, this salon is great for the little ones to the “bigger” little ones! http://www.yelp.com/biz/slope-cuts-brooklyn
Please feel free to comment and add any suggestions that we may have accidentally left off or perhaps are unaware of!
Posted on July 25th, 2015
Posted by Matteo