A kid’s Brooklyn

I’m a teacher and a dad-to-be (!) so I’ve pretty much always got kids on the mind. I just put together a list of activities in Brooklyn that kids will enjoy for part of my “Explore New York” initiative.

These are great spots for field trips, family outings, and birthday parties. Let me know how it goes!
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New York City Field Trips

The school year has finally begun and with it, curriculum finalizations and field trip bookings. Teaching in New York City should be every teacher’s dream—while one does need to be careful about crowds, the field trip possibilities are truly endless and the entire city becomes an extended classroom.

So for all you teachers out there (or just if you’re visiting NYC with kids), here is a list of great field trip locations in New York City:

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think parents are excited when they’re kids end up in my class because they know it’ll be a year on the go, both because of the “simulated U.S. travel itinerary” and the actual New York City traveling that goes on during the year. Looking forward to another great school year!
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10 Great Places for Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage trips are a great addition to a business trip or for a quick weeeknd away or even for a longer family vacation. First 10 reasons why it is great –

  1. Weather has cooled off
  2. Crowds are less (if you pick the destination right) – like Long Island Fall Foliage
  3. Apple Cider
  4. Harvest Festivals – like Pennsylvania Fall Foliage in Amish country
  5. Close to East Coast population centers
  6. Apple Cider
  7. Can be done on a tight budget
  8. Can spend lots of money (e.g. Cruise to see Maine Coast Fall Foliage)
  9. New England Fall Foliage makes the quaint and historic towns even MORE quaint and historic
  10. You can still do all the usual vacation stuff – golf, museums, theme parks, zoos, etc.

And, 10 destinations:

  1. Vermont
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Upstate New York – Fall Foliage Trips, Catskills Fall Foliage , Adirondack Fall Foliage
  4. Central Park, Alley Park, Prospect Park – New York City Fall Foliage
  5. Massachusetts Fall Foliage in the Boston suburbs (e.g. Concord, MA)
  6. DC, Virginia and Maryland Fall Foliage – its not just the Cherry Blossoms that are famous, here
  7. Virginia Fall Foliage is at its best in the Shenandoah, and Blue Ridge Mountains.
  8. Colorado Fall Foliage just a month or two before the skiers arrive. Enjoy the Colorado Rockies Fall colors less than an hour from Denver.
  9. New Mexico Fall Foliage for a different experience
  10. Fall Foliage in the Four Corners region – don’t expect crowds.

And an honorable mention for Pittsburgh for Southwest Pennsylvania Fall Foliage. Who would guess that one!

Summer exhibits at New York City museums

The best part about being a teacher is the vacation time. And since my wife and I both teach, summer vacation is the time to really relax, spend quality time together, travel, and do all the things in New York City that we’re always meaning to do during the year but don’t get around to…mainly, going to museums. Here’s a great list of summer exhibits at some of the best museums in the city:

  • Rococo: The Continuing Curve 1730–2008 at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (through July 6)
  • Double Album: Daniel Guzman and Steven Shearer at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (through July 6)
  • “A Railroad Reborn: Metro-North at 25” at the NY Transit Museum gallery annex at Grand Central Terminal (extended through July 6)
  • Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing at MoMA (through July 7)
  • ©MURAKAMI at Brooklyn Museum () (through July 13)
  • Sex in Design/Design in Sex at the Museum of Sex (extended through July 13)
  • First Under Heaven: Korean Ceramics from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection at the Asia Society and Museum (extended through July 20)
  • Multiplex: Directions in Art, 1970 to Now at MoMA (through July 28 )
  • Projects 87: Sigalit Landau opens at MoMA (through July 28 )
  • “Warhol’s Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered” at the Jewish Museum (through Aug. 3)
  • Inspired by Kashmir: Works by New York City Students at the Asia Society (through Aug. 3)
  • Ardeshir Mohassess: Art and Satire in Iran and Vietnam: A Memorial Work by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba exhibitions at the Asia Society (through Aug. 3)
  • Making It Together exhibition inspired by the ‘70s Feminist Movement at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (through Aug. 4)
  • French Founding Father: Lafayette’s Return to Washington’s America at the New York Historical Society (through Aug. 10)
  • Click! A Crowd Curated Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum (through Aug. 10)
  • From Another Shore: Recent Icelandic Art, including works from Olga Bergmann, Hildur Bjarnadóttir, Margrét H. Blöndal and Ólafur Elíasson, at The Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America (through Aug. 15)
  • Woven Splendor from Timbuktu to Tibet: Exotic Rugs and Textiles from New York Collectors at the New York Historical Society (through Aug. 17)
  • Orientalism in New York opens at the New York Historical Society (through Aug. 17)
  • Eminent Domain: Contemporary Photography and the City at the NY Public Library (through Aug. 29)
  • Mother Goose in an Air-Ship: McLoughlin Bros. 19th Century Children’s Books from the Liman Collection at the Brooklyn Historical Society (through August)
  • Bedford Stuyvesant: Neighborhood of Change at the Brooklyn Historical Society (through Aug. 31)
  • Philip Guston: Works on Paper at the Morgan Library and Museum (through Aug. 31)
  • Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Sept. 1)
  • Wiener Werkstatte Jewelry exhibition at the Neue Galerie – Museum for German and Austrian Art (extended through Sept. 1)
  • Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Sept. 1)
  • “Radiance from the Rain Forest: Featherwork in Ancient Peru” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art () (through Sept. 1)
  • “Multiple Choice: From Sample to Product” at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (extended through Sept. 1)
  • “Arbus/Avedon/Model: Selections from the Bank of America LaSalle Collection,” “Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan,” and “Bill Wood’s Business” at the International Center of Photography (through Sept. 7)
  • 183rd Annual Invitational Exhibition of Conemporary Art at the at the National Academy Museum (through Sept. 7)
  • Asa Ames: Occupation Sculpturing at the American Folk Art Museum () (through Sept. 14)
  • Jazz Score at MoMA (through Sept. 15)
  • Dalí: Painting and Film at MoMA (through Sept. 15)
  • Dargerism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger at the American Folk Art Museum (through September 21)
  • New York Fast Forward: Neil Denari Builds on the High Line opens at the Museum of the City of New York (through Sept. 21)
  • “Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976″ at the Jewish Museum (through Sept 21)
  • Louise Bourgeois full-career retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum (through September 28 )
  • Red, Black, and Gold at the Rubin Museum of Art (through Oct. 13)
  • NYC Waterfalls in the East River (through Oct. 13)

(thank you newyorkology for a great list!)

(P.S. Check out my post Free NYC (Things to Do and See) for more ideas of ways to spend time (but not money) in New York City this summer.)

Dr. Beach recommends…

I’m SO frustrated! We were just in the Tampa area and were choosing between a few beaches in the area and DIDN’T go to Caladesi Island State Park Beach. And NOW, only now, do I read that Dr. Beach rates Caladesi Island SP as the TOP beach in America!

Caladesi Island is a barrier island north of Clearwater (which is not far from Tampa Bay) with white sands, crystal clear, steel-blue Gulf waters, and forests filled with birds and wildlife.

Stephen P. Leatherman (a.k.a. Dr. Beach) makes a list of the nation’s best beaches every year, and I ALWAYS look at, but for some reason it escaped my mind this year.

The other beaches in the top ten for 2008 are:

So no big deal…just next time I need to check the list before heading out to the beach!

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Free NYC! (Thing to Do and See)

New York is an expensive place to live, but it doesn’t need to be an expensive place to play! There is so much to do in the city for free, so get a piece of paper and start taking notes (or just hit print):

Always free: The National Museum of the American Indian, the New York Public Library, the Hispanic Society of America, Central Park, Riverbank State Park, Prospect Park, the Socrates Sculpture Park, and Castle Clinton National Monument.

Free on Fridays: The American Folk Art Museum has a lot of character and is free on Friday nights from 5:30-7:30. The Guggenheim (talk about character!) is also free (or rather, pay what you wish) on Fridays starting at 5:45. There’s also music. The Museum of Modern Art is free on Fridays from 4:00-8:00, and the Whitney Museum of American Art opens its doors to the unwilling to pay on Fridays from 6:00-9:00. The American Museum of the Moving Image is also free on Friday evenings, from 4:00-8:00 – a great place to catch up on old You Can’t Do That on Television reruns!

Free on Saturdays: The Studio Museum in Harlem is free on the first Saturday of every month, as is the Brooklyn Museum, but only after 5 p.m. The Jewish Museum of New York City is free every Saturday after 5 p.m.

Other free things to do: Brooklyn Botanic Garden are free on Tuesdays and from 10:00-noon on Saturdays. The New York Botanical Garden (in the Bronx) is free on Wednesdays and also from 10:00-noon on Saturdays.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is free for students (and has a pay what you wish policy for everyone else) and if you save your Met ticket, it can be used as your free pass into the Cloisters Museum.

A lot of this info comes from the National Geographic site (found through Blissful Free Things in NY Travel’s informative post – thanks, Erica!). Thought I’d share the wealth with you all.

You’ll definitely be hearing more from me on this, just in looking these few things up I came across so many other great museums in NYC, less well known ones—that’ll be my next post…so stay tuned!


Related Travel Guide Topics:

Juneteenth – Happy Freedom Day!

I’ve been teaching this whole year based on the theme “Time and Place”, so I seem to live from holiday to holiday. Recently it’s been Earth Day to Cinco De Mayo to Memorial Day, and now Juneteenth. Even though we celebrated Black History Month in February and talking about the history of African Americans then, Juneteenth is a time to specifically commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19th, 1865 that the abolition of slavery was announced in Galveston, Texas and the Emancipation Proclamation that Lincoln declare two years earlier was finally enforced.

Because I like to think of my classroom as a virtual traveling time machine, we take the week or two leading up to Juneteenth to recall important landmarks and figures (black and white) in the history of slavery and emancipation.

Here is a list of places that we “visited”:

1. Booker T. Washington National Monument, a well preserved plantation that highlights major aspects of slave life in general and the life of Booker T. Washington specifically.
2. Boston African American National Historic Site, because it’s important to remember that not all blacks were slaves, especially in the North, especially in Boston, where African Americans owned homes, businesses, and land pre-Civil War.
3. Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, where John Brown led his heroic insurrection against slavery and the site of one of the largest Civil War battles.
4. George Mason Memorial, commemorating the man who withheld his signature from the U.S. Constitution because it did not abolish slavery.
5. United States National Slavery Museum.
6. New York Historical Society, where we took a nice field trip where we saw artifacts from New York’s involvement in the slave trade.

As a not so well known holiday, Juneteenth has lately been getting significantly more press. Once only a holiday in Texas, Juneteenth is now observed in 26 states, including California, as instituted by Governor Schwarzenegger on June 19, 2005. President George W. Bush also recognizes the memorial of the enforcement of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation with his Presidential Message on Juneteenth.

Happy Juneteenth—go out and celebrate!
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Earth Day!

I usually start getting my students excited about Earth Day a good month in advance, but since this time that coincided with my honeymoon, I started the Earth Day buzz about 2 months ago, introducing a 2 month unit on the nature of New York City. This is my absolute favorite time to be a teacher. I have the children collect leaves and dirt and branches and flowers and we decorate the room with signs of springtime. We do school-wide recycling projects that the kids get really enthusiastic about. We go for nature walks in Central Park and field trips to botanical gardens. We’re going to The New York Botanical Gardens next week and I guarantee that the kids will be able to give a tour themselves by the end of the afternoon.

We have another half day field trip planned to Riverbank State Park. With a great view of the Hudson and the Palisades, and with plenty of room to picnic, it provides the perfect atmosphere for discussing the high and low places of the earth, the water and sky, and the grass and the buildings that make up our home planet. I just need to get over to the Kings Plaza Mall to pick up a big sheet for our picnic—obviously we wouldn’t use something disposable… (I think I left my picnic blanket in Hawaii.)

The school’s got something planned for the actual day of Earth Day (April 22). On the Sunday before (20th), I will DEFINITELY be at the Green Apple Festival in Central Park.

Do your part for the environment and sign this petition to help stop global warming.

Happy Earth Day!

P.S. Banana Republic gives 1% of sales during Earth Week to The Trust for the Public Land.

The Zoos of New York

While some might like to argue that New York City is one big zoo, others might prefer the more traditional understanding of the term and head out to some of New York’s spectacular animal homes. As being one of the greatest cities in the world, it should come as no surprise that it’s zoos are also some of the best.

The Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, is my most favorite place on earth. It’s definitely one of the smaller zoos on my list, but it’s hidden, surprising location, in the middle of the Big Apple, makes it a sort of ironic, quaint, and extremely happy place. Adults on their lunch breaks, kids on field trips, and idle New York wanderers like myself, come to the Central Park Zoo as a sort of Mecca from bustling city life. One second you’re in Times Square, the busiest spot in the country, and the next second, you’re in Africa, or the South Pole, or China! It’s pretty spectacular.

I grew up in Queens, so I have a special affinity towards the Queens Zoo. There’s also the bear habitat there. It the only zoo in New York to host the endangered bears of the Andes Mountains. The Staten Island Zoo is probably the least exciting for me, but does have a petting zoo which I know grabs the attention of the younger crowd. Prospect Park Zoo is the newest of the zoos and you can really tell with its modern (and very humane) naturalistic habitat exhibits.

Last but not least, is the Bronx Zoo, a huge zoo and a fantastic zoo. My favorite exhibit is the indoor acre large rain forest. It’s truly breathtaking!

Ok, so maybe I know a bit too much about zoos. I’ve been a zoo-goer since my own first class trip to the Queen’s Zoo, and now, as a third grade teacher, I bring kids myself to all the zoos in New York City. I have enough stories to fill a book! Maybe I’ll write a book!