New York

Your February Kids Calendar: 9 motivations for getting the family out of the house

Start your February off with a Family Dance Party. Photo: Mark Morris

It’s already February, and let’s hope you and the fam are jetting off somewhere warm for February break. An all-inclusive beach destination sounds pretty good right about now. Even if you’re staying put, it’s a good idea to get outside, brave the cold and soak up some sunshine—although that means extra time stuffing kids into heat-tech and snow pants before you get out there. If you need further motivation to actually leave the warmth of your apartment, here are 9 great ideas (including theater, movies, and activities) for braving the elements.

GO: Dance with Mark Morris

Start your month off by getting the whole family up and moving. Mark Morris Dance Group, the famous modern dance troupe, is hosting a FREE family dance party on Saturday, February 2nd from 3pm-4pm. All ages and levels are welcome to come and move their bodies in a class taught by company members Domingo Estrada, Jr. and Noah Vinson, and accompanied by live music with Ai Isshiki. FREE with RSVP. (Mark Morris Dance Group, 3 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene.)

All of Spellbound Theater performances (like this past play) are interactive and a good into for young kids. Photo: Spellbound Theater

SEE: ‘The Naughty Penguin’ or Humpty Dumpty on Stage

When is a good time to introduce your littlest ones to the theater? Although you might want to wait before purchasing big-ticket Broadway tickets, there are shows made specifically for tiny tots. Let your child first experience a performance that’s short, interactive and full of other kids making noise — like ‘The Naughty Penguin. On Saturday, February 2nd, there will be two performances (10am and 11:15am) where kids (recommended for ages 2-5) “join Penguin as she navigates a tricky world with opportunities to be naughty or not.” Tickets are $15. The Old Stone House, 336 3rd Street, Park Slope.

If your kids are older, but you’d still like to stay local in Park Slope, you might want to hone some social skills at this anti-bullying play, “Humpty Dumpty Cracks Up: A Comedic Tale of Bullying, Bathtubs, and Babysitting,” recommended for kids 7 and up. The four showings on February 16, 17, 23, and 24 at 3pm will teach life lessons with humor and song. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds go to charities. Play Nice People, 89 Fourth Avenue, Park Slope

SEE: The Stinky Cheese Man on Stage

If your child is into absurd humor, then chances are you’re already familiar with The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. On Sunday, February 3rd, at 11am, families can watch the book come to life onstage at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center. According to the press notes, Jack has to use his wits to save himself from the terrible Giant, but other fairy tale characters keep messing up his plans. Tickets are $30. Recommended for kids ages 4 and up. BMCC Tribeca, 199 Chambers St. Tribeca

SEE: ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ at the movies

This film has a lot of things that families will love: fantasy, magic, strong characters, and great lessons. A boy pulls King Arthur’s legendary sword out of a stone when he’s running from bullies, and is tasked with leading a war against an army of undead tree people. He’s helped by the wizard Merlin (who has aged backward, so he is just a teenager). Instead of magic wands, he uses a system of claps and hand gestures that kids in our theater were already engaged in before the movie was over. Parents will love that the film has the spirit of Goonies, with a message of kindness, but younger kids may be completely frightened by the underworld villains…think skeletons on fire riding horses. Common Sense Media recommends the film for ages 10 and up, because of the violence and special effects.

Older kids can bond over their Pokemon passions at this fun event. Photo: Recess Dumbo

GO: It’s a Pokemon Party and your kids are invited

So many of kids’ favorite activities (iPad, Fortnite, reading books) have them sequestered at home. Kids who are passionate about Pokemon now have an outlet to make new friends who share their same interests. Recess, the playspace in Dumbo, is hosting a Pokemon tournament for kids ages 5-10 on Friday, February 8th from 6-9pm. Kids will engage in a double-elimination Pokemon battle that even includes pizza. It’s also drop off, so parents can entertain themselves with a night out in Dumbo. $45/ first child; $35 siblings. Recess Dumbo, 1 Washington St., Dumbo

Find ways to get outside, be active, and have fun this winter. Photo: Antonio DePietro

GO: Explore Winter Sports with the whole family

If your family is energized by the cold, you may want to read my story about beating the winter blues with these cold-weather pursuits, including sledding, ice skating, and roller skating. If it is snowing outside, even if you haven’t planned ahead, it is possible to get a sled at the last minute. From introductory baby hills to risky black diamond slopes, there is a hill in Brooklyn for any of your kids—or family members. Plus, there’s no shortage of cafes serving hot chocolate for afterward. Build some memories!

Family programming can be both fun and educational. Photo: BHS Dumbo

GO: History in the making

For those frigid weekends when you start to go stir-crazy, it’s good to remember that institutions like Brooklyn Historical Society have regular FREE family programming. This month stop by their beautiful Dumbo location on February 9th or February 23rd from 10:30am to 1:30pm to learn about Brooklyn’s waterfront history. On February 9th, the theme is Eye Spy, where kids will engage in a gallery hunt using their observational skills to look closely at photographs. On the 23rd, the theme is Storytelling, where kids will design and make their own book. Plus, families can stay afterward and enjoy the family-friendly aspects of the museum, like dressing up as WWII women welders, designing a city out of magnets, of filming yourself going back in time. FREE. Recommended for kids 2 and up. BHS Dumbo, 55 Water St., Dumbo

Part roller skate, part sneaker, it’s a child’s fantasy come true. Photo: @heelysworldwide

BUY: Heelys

If your hermit children need more motivation to leave the house, and winter break looks like unwashed Gremlins wrapped in sour pajamas, there is hope! I’ve noticed so many kids on the playground wheeling around in their Heelys. Half sneaker, half roller skate, this street shoe is the most exciting thing to happen since the mini kick scooter. Unlike actual roller skates, these sneakers seem a little easier to get the hang of. My son’s friends are sliding around the sidewalks, and switching back to their tiptoes when they cross the street. The ingenious part is there is a heel plug, which you can pull out to insert the wheel, or remove when you want to go back to sneakers. They retail for $70 and can be purchased online at www.heelys.com. Sizes start at size 13 youth.

We haven’t used this service, but they had us at free babysitting. Photo: Kids Club

GO: Anywhere You Want…Free Babysitting!

February also means Valentine’s Day, cozy restaurants with fireplaces, and sifters of cognac. A couple of motivated and brilliant Brooklyn-based parents have put together a new babysitting service called Kids Club that works essentially on credits. You host a playdate at your house (with as many kids as you can deal with) and then you’ll get credits for other playdates that you can drop your kids off at. It’s kind of a win-win; your kid gets to make some new friends and you get FREE childcare. You can see the ages of the host’s kids, where they go to school (maybe you already know the family), and if they are background-checked. We haven’t tried the service, but it looks like it could be worth investigating.
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