Summer Guide 2024: Kids

| 13 May 2024 | 02:49

Third Street Music School Settlement

235 East 11th Street


Whether young or old, there’s never a bad time to study music—but music education can be too expensive, or otherwise hard to access. Enter the Third Street Music Settlement, founded in 1894 by Emilie Wagner, a musician—she studied at the Peabody Conservatory— and social worker who moved to New York after graduating Baltimore College of Women. Originally based in Chatham Square, by 1901, the school had moved to Third Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues (David Mannes was an early music director there) and remained until moving to its present location in 1974. In addition to its year-round offerings for musicians of all ages—one can learn brass, guitar, percussion, piano, strings, voice, woodwinds, composition, more— Third Street offers an extensive array of music— and dance—offerings for kids, including a pre-school summer camp for children ages 2-5 years. Let that child boogie-woogie!


Pier 26 Science Playground

Hudson River Park

“There are two royal fish so styled by the English law writers,” wrote Herman Melville in the “Heads or Tails” chapter of Moby Dick. “The whale and the sturgeon.” Even if, contrary the novel’s hilarious “Cetology” chapter, whales aren’t really a fish, sturgeon certainly are and now two huge sturgeons—one Atlantic, one shortnose—are the centerpiece of a 4,000 square foot marine science-themed playground opened this past January. These play structures have both inside and exterior features to explore, while additional play equipment based on nature motifs surround it for variety. While the playground can get crowded—it’s Manhattan, of course it’s crowded—a bigger problem is getting one’s excited child to leave. Said one exasperated mom, “Call me Ishmael!”


Central Park Zoo & Central Park Zoo Camp

5th Avenue and 65th Street


Everybody knows about the Central Park Zoo—or so they think. There’s a classic Simon & Garfunkel song about it; a remarkable series Garry Winogrand photographs were shot there; and it’s run by the Parks Department. The first two statements are true; the last is not—since 1988, the zoo has been managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (formerly the New York Zoological Society), with its mission and practices evolving accordingly. Among the changes were a redesigned children’s zoo, opened in 1996, and a wide passel of summer camp programs for kids from toddler age to teenagers. For kids 2 to 4 with a caregiver present, there’s the one-hour Zoo Fledglings program. For kids entering kindergarten and 1st grade, there’s Animal Sense. For kids from 1st to 6th grade, the Wild Safari 1/2 Day Camp. For 4th to 6th grade, the Zoo Explorer. For 7th to 9th, Conservation In Action: Build-A-Zoo


Guggenheim Museum

Learning Through Art Presents A Year with Children Exhibition runs through June 9, 2024


Don’t tell anyone but the most fun thing a kid could do at the Guggenheim Museum would be to run, scooter, roller skate or bicycle up and especially down its iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed circular ramps. Since—however fun to contemplate— that will always impossible, consider the second most fun thing a kid could do at the Guggenheim through early June: visit the annual A Year With Children show. Presented by the museum’s Learning Through Art program—founded in 1970 by Natalie K. Lieberman in response to school budget cuts in the arts— the exhibition combines more than 300 artworks created by New York City public school students, grades two through six, under the guidance of Guggenheim-sponsored teaching artists. Later in the season, check the Guggenheim calendar for a variety of children’s events including free drop-in “GuggTeens” art sessions; and paid “LittleGugg” (ages 2-to-4) programs and Stroller Tours.


Jane’s Carousel - Brooklyn Bridge Park


Nothing against the Central Park Carousel—it’s wonderful, but, given how kids and parents alike crave variety, how about giving nearby Brooklyn a whirl? The journey is pleasant one by NYC Ferry (kids love ferries)—from Manhattan, take the South Brooklyn line to the DUMBO / Fulton Ferry stop. From here, a short walk under the Brooklyn Bridge, past Emily Roebling Plaza (her story is a great one to share with kids), and there it is: set upon a wood-planked plaza inside an all-weather glass pavilion, a meticulously restored carousel originally built in 1922 for an amusement park in Youngstown, Ohio. Featuring 44 horses and two chariots, the carousel’s name honors the memory of Jane Walentas, who as an artist, philanthropist and the wife of real estate DUMBO real estate developer David Walentas, spent more than twenty-five years restoring the carousel to its original glory. Thank you, Jane!