Weekends may mean school is out and fun is on, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t still learn a thing or two. With oodles of museums, bookstores, parks, kids classes and more, New York City has ample opportunities to sneak in education when your children least expect it. We found ten brain-boosting activities you can do this weekend that your kids will actually enjoy.
1. Learn about gravity. Head to the New York Hall of Science for a round of mini golf. The nine-hole Rocket Park Mini Golf course helps kids learn concepts like propulsion, escape velocity and other laws of motion that are just as responsible for getting the ball in the hole as they are for guiding the path of a space shuttle.
2. Beat a different drum. Every Saturday at 11:30 am Park Slope’s Brooklyn Conservatory of Music hosts a music playgroup. Appropriate for kids ages 6 months to 5.5 years, this hour of musical fun gives budding musicians a chance to get their hands on a variety of instruments including drums, maracas, a xylophone, a triangle, a tambourine and even a piano.
3. Blast off to space. The Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History is out of this world for kids who’d rather head to another galaxy than learn something. Walk along the cosmic pathway, see a 15.5 ton meteorite, check out NASA rovers, examine Moon rocks and top it all off with a planetarium show.
4. Challenge a friend in chess. You’ll find a dozen stone, checkered tables in Central Park at the Chess & Checkers House along with free game pieces to borrow. Kids can learn new skills at a free chess clinic, held the first Saturday of every month from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm or pick up new techniques from watching some of the serious players that frequent the tables.
5. Go back in time. Time travel seems possible when you take the kids to Prospect Park’s Lefferts Historic House. The pre-Colonial house offers you a chance to experience an 18th century farming village. Look for special weekend programs covering everything from shearing sheep and making quilts to singing songs and making candles.
6. Climb aboard a World War II aircraft carrier. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, docked in the Hudson RIver, has educational activities for school-aged kids every weekend on the Discovery Deck from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Depending on the day, kids may do arts, crafts or experiments based on the themes of sea, air, space or life at sea.
7. Visit a farm. Teach your kids where their food comes from by visiting a farm (yes, a farm!) right in the city. You can stop by The Battery Urban Farm and on the third Saturday of every month from May to September you can even get your hands dirty at a family-friendly volunteer workshop covering everything from composting to natural dyeing.
8. Learn all about art. While you can always find a workshop at The Children’s Museum of the Arts in Soho, art education doesn’t have to end at the children’s museum. The Whitney Museum offers special family tours and artist-led workshops for kids every Saturday as well.
9. Get in touch with nature. Drop in at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for a weekend discovery workshop. Kids will learn about the plants and animals found in the garden through scavenger hunts, crafts, plantings they get to take home and stories.
10. Take a class at the museum. One place you’ll never fail to find a brain-building, weekend workshop is the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. From exploring animals and petting pets to using science skills and being a baby botanist, the folks at this museum are experts in teaching kids in a fun way.
What weekend activities do you love that inspire learning and education?
— Julie Seguss