School’s out for summmmeerrr! Alice Cooper’s anthem encapsulates the feeling that kids have as school ends and the summer stretches ahead of them. Depending on your perspective, you either share that feeling of excitement — say if you are simply dropping the kids off at camp instead of school — or you might fear summer and those sweltering day with the kids, loitering in the freezer department at Key Foods, and deleting heat advisory texts warning you to stay inside. Here are a few ideas for squeezing in something fun after camp, or to help you stay sane on days without a schedule. Before you know it, we’ll be back to complaining about the cold.
DO: Keep helping reunite families
Speaking of freedom, our country is built on the premise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and welcoming those seeking asylum, but considering we have been separating families and keeping children miles away from their parents in tent cities and here in NYC, this July 4th runs contrary to the notion of our own independence. If you are currently stifling a scream-sob from the current state of affairs, then we know how you are feeling. Children are changing other children’s diapers, living in inhumane conditions, and trying to harm themselves to escape these dire and incomprehensible situations. We recently profiled one local non-profit that is helping families stay together, and this is a list of other ways to assist and protest. A friend of mine has started learning Spanish, in order to be of assistance going forward, which should remind us that even though the inhumane policy supposedly ended, there are still thousands of kids who are still separated from their families. If kids are important to you, then all kids are important. This must come to an end.
See: Fireworks on the 4th, or stay cool in an arcade
If you’re in town for the 4th, you’ll want to head to North Brooklyn to see the show, or to Coney Island. Frying Pan Brooklyn at Industry City has also added an arcade for a different kind of light show and fun on July 4th. From noon to 7pm you can order a picnic basket–including lobster rolls and a lobster clambake–to take back to their outdoor bar area in Courtyard 5/6.
GO: Play at Domino Park
Have you been to Domino Park yet? That should be first on your list. Bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen for the kids, and a good book to read. Once the kids get in the Domino Sugar factory themed climbing structures, you won’t be able to see them again until they come out. Don’t bother screaming or squinting to look for them. The entire structure is fenced in, so just tell them where you’re sitting, and then you will have at least 40 minutes of uninterrupted reading time. Meanwhile your kids will have a blast, climbing through these mesh buildings, sliding down chutes and shimmying through tunnels. Once they emerge dehydrated and sweaty, you can meander over to the water park (stopping for a Danny Meyer taco on the way), where kids can splash in the fountains until they turn into prunes. Domino Park, 15 River St., Williamsburg.
GO: Calling All Comic Fans
This summer is shaping up to be a good one for comic book nerds. If your child is obsessed with graphic novels like Dogman, 13th Story Treehouse and Fable Comics, then they might already be familiar with The Olympian series by George O’Connor. On Saturday July 7th at 3pm, kids 6-10 years old are invited to come for a comic workshop with the author/ illustrator/ cartoonist, and learn how it’s done. Children will design characters and make their own comic book page, while learning about comics, watching live drawing, and getting books signed. Register for the event here. $30 per child. Stories, 458 Bergen St., Park Slope. Next up, take them to the New York Transit Museum for their latest exhibit, Underground Heroes: New York Transit in Comics, which draws on comic books, cartoons from 19th through 21st centuries that show the influence of mass transit. Expect work from Winsor McCay, Will Eisner, and Roz Chast, among other comic greats. The show runs through January 6, 2019. New York Transit Museum, 99 Schermerhorn Street, Downtown Brooklyn. Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for children 2-17 years old.
BUY: Send a Camp Care Package
It seems that by the third grade, lots of Brooklyn kids are already doing sleepaway camp. With so many upstate options, the chance to commune with nature is so close. Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, the most adorable gift shop in Park Slope, has put together the most adorable pre-made Camp Care Packages. Sure, parents could make their own, but starting at just $25, these are definitely better. They’ve thought of everything: glow sticks, Mad Libs, Tattly Tattoos, Frisbees, Whoopie Cushions, among other things. It’s enough to ensure that your kids have oodles of good, clean fun. The best part is you can order the care packages online, and have them shipped straight to the bunk bed, or to your home (why should the kids at camp have all the fun?). Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, 232 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope.
GO: Enjoy a Family Movie Night
One of the best parts of summer in the city is the outdoor movie nights. It’s fun to picnic under the stars and watch a movie. With kids, most likely you’ve stopped doing that. This summer, you can start again. As part of the “Movies With A View” series at Brooklyn Bridge Park (which this year features all female directors), families can spread out the blanket on Thursday, July 19th for a screening of Kung Fu Panda 2. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen part 1 or 3 yet, you’ll still be able to follow the plotline. This year, Smorgasburg will also be on hand to dole out savory and sweet treats, and drinks (including beer and wine). Food options will rotate all summer, with new vendors being added every week, but you can expect the likes of Burger Supreme cheeseburgers, Musser’s Famous Crab Cake Sandwiches, Belgian-cut fries from Home Frite, Wood Fired Edibles pizza, and Bona Bona Ice Cream. Get there early for a good spot, and expect this to go past normal bedtime. DJs start at 6pm and showtime will be at sundown. For more free summer flicks, we have a calendar of all the outdoor movies playing this summer in Prospect Park, Red Hook, and more. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Harbor View Lawn, Pier 1, Dumbo.
READ: Cook Healthy Family-Friendly Meals
I find that summer is a great time to do a little more cooking in the kitchen. Although it’s hot, there seems to be more time for puttering around, having friends over for dinner, and making breakfasts. The fussy eater is an eternal hurdle to an enthusiastic cook, and Aussie author/ nutritionist, Mandy Sacher, has the answers. In her book, The Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook, (which was just released in the United States), she incorporates an eight-stage family nutrition program, with an entire chapter on dealing with fussy eaters. The stages seem helpful even for adults to switch towards a healthier lifestyle, for instance, stage one is changing to all whole grains, step two is to reduce sugar, etc.. Each chapter begins with a nutrition lesson that breaks down healthy eating into digestible bites. “What’s the difference between whole wheat and whole grain?” Great question. There are also tidbits about how to have a better family meal, and, of course great recipes! I’m definitely making the watermelon cake for our next barbecue, and these waffle sticks for the next sleepover.
GO: Celebrate Shark Week
Shark Week starts on Sunday, July 22nd. Don’t let the fact that this holiday week originates from The Discovery Network deter you from celebrating. Ocean Wonder: Sharks! is now open at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. This 57,000 square foot space spans three floors and allows guests to explore a coral reef and wander through a shipwreck. Kids will be thrilled to see more than 115 species of sea life, including sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, loggerhead sea turtles, and cownose rays. Open 10am- 6pm daily. New York Aquarium, Surf Avenue & West 8th Street, Coney Island.
GO: Run Away & Join The Circus
In June, circus arts educators, The Muse, opened a new studio in Gowanus. (Their other space in Bushwick.) This enormous space offers a variety of classes perfect for families who have a hard time with advance scheduling. From drop-in gymnastics classes to Family Funhouse open plays for kids under 6, there are lots of options. Maybe you can make a summer goal for the whole family to learn how to juggle? Or why not learn to work together, problem solve, and gain strength and flexibility in a family acrobatics class? Of course, if you are still looking for summer camp option, there is a full day camp that concludes with a Friday circus show! Family classes are $25 per duo and $15 each additional member. The Muse Gowanus, 303 3rd Avenue, Gowanus and The Muse, 350 Moffat St., Bushwick.
GO: Get Inspired at a Gallery
The best place to be during the summer in New York is anywhere with air conditioning. After you’ve made your way through the children’s museums, head to the Red Bull Arts center pop- up through August 26th for the vibrant, inspiring and free show, “RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder.” This retrospective of the legendary artist, hip-hop pioneer and costume designer is not geared towards children, but everything about this show children will love. This out of the box artist developed his own alphabet, created a line of costumes out of recycled materials that he called “garbage gods”, and was the first person to come up with the “gangsta duck” voice, which was widely imitated. These are all things your kids would love! Still not convinced? In 2012, the Children’s Museum of Art dedicated an entire show to him, that you would have had to pay for. This one is free. Take the kids. Red Bull Arts New York, 220 W. 18th St., Chelsea. Open: Wednesday through Sunday, 12pm-7pm. FREE.
GO: See and build miniature cities
A great companion piece to this would be the new show at the MOMA by Congolese futurist artist, Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams, which is running through January so you’ll have plenty of time to see it. The artist’s imagined buildings are utopian models made out of everyday materials and found objects like soda cans, bottle caps, packaging and plastic. On Tuesday, July 3rd and Tuesday, July 10th, stop by a Dream Building Drop-In Workshop at 1pm in the Sculpture Garden. Kids will be able to design their own buildings using recycled materials, and then add them onto others to create “a harmonious society.” The Museum of Moving Art, 11 W. 53rd street, Manhattan. Tickets: Adults, $25, children, free.