2015-06-25 The New York Times

Spare Times for Children for June 26-July 2
By LAUREL GRAEBERJUNE 25, 2015

‘Frolic!’

Enough of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Ever wish your children could bop along to Janis Joplin or the Who?

You may not hear those particular performers in “Frolic!,” the Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s new play space, but leave it to the museum to make their era of rock ’n’ roll wholesome. This installation, for ages 5 and younger, offers sensory exploration and musical activities in a Woodstock-flavored atmosphere.

A colorful, gauzy tent and playful wooden sculptures of a piano and a saxophone greet visitors, along with signs saying that entry requires hand stamps (not really) and shoe removal (really). That rule seems to stem not from loyalty to flower-child fashion but from a concern for toddlers crawling on the thick, brightly patterned carpet.

The rest of the décor may make parents, or especially grandparents, nostalgic. A bright blue and yellow Volkswagen minivan bearing a 1970 sticker and the name Ziggy in small letters — dominates the space, along with soft, molded climb-on structures: a blissful-looking butterfly and three, ahem, mushrooms. Musical instruments like tambourines, wrist bells and shakers, as well as toy pianos and xylophones, are everywhere, and a pretend music mixer invites preschoolers to play with light switches, levers, dials and reels. They don’t have to recognize the Rolling Stones to appreciate the two gleaming red tongues — they’re slides — emerging from a mouth cut into the wall.

Last Saturday a boy hurtled down one of them, inflated plastic guitar in hand, squealing, “I’m a rock star!” He then smacked the guitar against the floor. (Pete Townshend would be proud.) A girl took the room’s stage — it has a model of a ticket booth, too — to break dance. Aspiring young rockers can also join daily jam-band workshops, and on Friday the museum plans to introduce an interactive music video wall, featuring animated characters who play notes in response to movement or touch. A case of books provides helpful advice, like this from Audrey Vernick’s “So You Want to Be a Rock Star”: “Your voice doesn’t need to be perfect. Just really loud.”

“Frolic!” offers real classic rock, too: In addition to a frequent soundtrack of oldies, it features live bands and weekend dance parties. On July 11, Suzi Shelton plays in the Toddlers Rock! summer concert series; Sweetbeatz performs on July 25.

To small visitors, though, the open VW is as irresistible as the music. On Saturday, Katie Snyder, 3, announced her intentions as she took the wheel. This was no rock ’n’ roll road trip: She was driving straight to Grandma’s.

(Through Dec. 31 at the Tisch Building, 212 West 83rd Street, 212-721-1223, cmom.org.)

For Children

‘Archaeology Zone: Discovering Treasures From Playgrounds to Palaces’ (Friday, Sunday through Tuesday, and Thursday) Children will step into the shoes of an explorer like Indiana Jones in this permanent exhibition at the Jewish Museum, but the adventures will be purely scholarly. Still, there is plenty of excitement in analyzing artifacts like a jar handle, a clay jug and a bangle and figuring out the purpose behind ancient pieces like a Greek helmet and a bull-shaped vessel. This interactive show, for ages 3 to 10, also includes a recreated room from the Ottoman period (about 1900), where young archaeologists can dress in costume. 1109 Fifth Avenue, at 92nd Street, 212-423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org.

Brick Fest Live (through Sunday) The New York Hall of Science has become the New York Hall of Lego during this nine-day celebration. In addition to exhibiting all manner of objects made with Lego toy building bricks, the museum has invited the public to join the creative frenzy. The festival, which is sponsored not by Lego but by the company Learn With Bricks, includes opportunities to build mosaics and sculptures, to participate in a Brick Fest derby (featuring Lego cars designed and constructed by young visitors) and to play favorite Lego-related video games — all in the name of math, engineering and technology education. At 47-01 111th Street, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, 718-699-0005, nysci.org.

‘Celebrate Ramadan’ (Saturday and Sunday) Most holidays are just that — days. But Ramadan, the Muslim observance, lasts a whole month. As part of its Muslim Arts Festivals series, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan will explore Ramadan with activities that include a 3-D virtual tour of mosques; a performance and workshop with the Saung Budaya Indonesian Dance Group; a collage workshop with the artist Azita Houshiar; and readings of Maha Addasi’s picture book “The White Nights of Ramadan.” From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Tisch Building, 212 West 83rd Street, 212-721-1223, cmom.org. (Schedule details are on the website.)

Children’s Theater Company (Saturday) Henry Brown was an American slave who devised an unusual route to freedom: the United States mail. In 1849 he hid in a dry-goods crate and had himself shipped to abolitionists in Philadelphia. The Children’s Theater Company, this time working with adult casts, has adapted his story into “Henry ‘Box’ Brown,” a musical infused with gospel and R&B. It’s being performed with another short show, “King Kunka Bunka and the Rotten Royal Rascals,” which is written in Seuss-style rhyme and centers on a widowed Russian monarch’s search for an heir. (Through July 25.) At 12:30 p.m., John Birks Gillespie Theater, New York City Baha’i Center, 53 East 11th Street, East Village, 212-633-6629, childrenstheatercompany.org. Reservations required.

‘Connected Worlds’ (Saturday through Thursday) Human choices and actions have an impact on the world’s ecosystems, but people usually can’t see the effects as they happen. That isn’t true in this new permanent exhibition at in the renovated Great Hall of the New York Hall of Science. Consisting of huge screens (one is 38 feet tall), the show, opening on Saturday, depicts six interconnected environments with a shared water supply. With the help of technology that responds to gestures, “Connected Worlds” allows children to use simple motions to plant, harvest, cut trees, create clouds and make other changes in the projected landscapes — and see how the native flora and fauna fare. 47-01 111th Street, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, 718-699-0005, nysci.org.

Family Field Day (Saturday) Children are invited to have a field day — in all its meanings — at Brooklyn Bridge Park. At Pier 6, the park staff will provide equipment and guidance for all kinds of free outdoor sports and activities, from old-fashioned games, like potato-sack races and freeze tag, to volleyball, basketball and soccer. From 10 a.m. to noon, Atlantic Avenue and Furman Street, Brooklyn Heights, brooklynbridgepark.org/events. (The event will be canceled if there is heavy rain.)

Field Station: Dinosaurs (Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday) Just as a Tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptors and other prehistoric creatures have thundered into movie theaters, they’re heading out of New Jersey. Field Station: Dinosaurs, the 20-acre theme park filled with more than 30 animatronic species — including a T. rex, a stegosaurus and a 90-foot-long Argentinosaurus — is losing its Secaucus home and is looking for another site. But the dinosaurs, which move when approached, are in residence for one final summer, and there’s still time to catch the attractions, which include a three-quarter-mile trail with other paleontology exhibits; a movie, “Walking with Dinosaurs: Prehistoric Planet 3D”; and Paleontologists’ Laboratory, a recent addition that allows young visitors to dig for fossils and take home a small bag of genuine artifacts. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 1 Dinosaur Way (off Exit 15X of the New Jersey Turnpike), Laurel Hill Park, Secaucus, N.J., 855-999-9010, fieldstationdinosaurs.com.

Friskies Playhouse (Friday) Who do you think will draw more celebrity-obsessed fans at this event: Steve Weatherford, punter for the New York Giants, or Waffles, that feline darling of the Internet? Of course, they might both be upstaged by all the kittens at this free adoption fair, sponsored by Friskies and Petfinder. In addition to playing with an array of cats in need of homes, young visitors can play games with Mr. Weatherford and pose for photos with their new friends. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine, Gansevoort Plaza, Gansevoort Street, between Hudson Street and Ninth Avenue, meatpacking district, 212-714-5783, friskies.com/pullnplay/about.

‘The Gazillion Bubble Show: The Next Generation’ (Friday through Sunday, and Thursday) Children love bubbles, and this interactive show promises not just a gazillion but also some of the largest ever blown, along with light effects and lasers. The stars are the members of the Yang family: Fan and Ana Yang and their son Deni and others, who rotate as M.C.s for the production. Audience members may even find themselves in bubbles of their own. (The run is open-ended.) Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 and 4:30 p.m.; Sunday at noon and 3 p.m.; Thursday at 11 a.m. and 2 and 7 p.m.; 340 West 50th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, gazillionbubbleshow.com.

‘How Does Your Garden Grow?: Celebrating Pollinators’ (Saturday and Sunday) The Bronx Zoo houses plenty of large animals, but this weekend it’s putting a special spotlight on some small ones: bees. As part of “How Does Your Garden Grow?,” a new display on the lawn outside the Butterfly Garden, the zoo will host “Pollinatorpalooza,” in which children will dress up as bees (and butterflies and hummingbirds) and learn the importance of these creatures in nature and farming. Part of a continuing program sponsored with the FarmOn! Foundation, an organization devoted to educating young people on healthy food choices, the event will include a game to act out the life cycle of a bee. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Bronx River Parkway and Fordham Road, Fordham, 718-367-1010, bronxzoo.com/events.

‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ (Friday through Sunday, and Tuesday through Thursday) Many plants grow in Central Park, so why not a beanstalk? This one sprouts indoors at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, which has revived Michael Alogna’s adaptation of the classic fairy tale about Jack, the Giant (here named Milford), Dolly the Cow and the famous Golden Goose. Bruce Cannon, the theater’s artistic director, has revised the script, and a human actor now stars in the show along with the company’s hand-built marionettes. This Friday at 10:30 a.m. and noon; Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Reservations required. 79th Street and the West Drive, Central Park; 212-988-9093, cityparksfoundation.org/arts.

‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ (Saturday) If the children of the Pevensie family could travel to the magical land of Narnia through something as simple as a wardrobe, why shouldn’t two hard-working actors be able to play them and all the characters found there? That’s what Chris Boerner and Erin Layton, who recently stepped into the roles, are attempting in the Off Broadway Family Theater’s first production, le Clanché du Rand’s adaptation of C. S. Lewis’s classic novel. (The run is open-ended and continues on Saturdays.) At 11 a.m., St. Luke’s Theater, 308 West 46th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, narniaoffbroadway.com.

‘Mad Hot Ballroom’ 10th-Anniversary Celebration (Sunday) The Washington Heights neighborhood is probably better known for salsa than for the fox trot, but that didn’t prevent the fourth and fifth graders at Public School 115 from mastering that dance in the 2005 documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom.” The film, by Marilyn Agrelo, chronicled the students’ preparations for a citywide dance contest, and a number of them will attend this free anniversary celebration, along with their instructors, the filmmakers and children currently enrolled in Dancing Classrooms, the program that taught ballroom techniques to the movie’s subjects. The event will include preshow dance lessons and demonstrations and a question-and-answer period afterward. At 5 p.m. (doors open at 4), United Palace Theater, 4140 Broadway, at 175th Street, Washington Heights, 212-568-1157, unitedpalace.org.

Mad. Sq. Kids (Thursday) The kids attending won’t have to worry about being mad or square: The entertainment is fun and hip in this summer series of free weekly hourlong concerts in Madison Square Park. This week’s program is a WeBop Family Jazz Party, presented by the WeBop Family Band of Jazz at Lincoln Center. An interactive concert, it will introduce the youngest listeners to the modes and instruments of jazz. At 10:30 a.m., Farragut Lawn, 23rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, madisonsquarepark.org.

MoMA ART LAB: PLACES AND SPACES (Friday through Thursday) What’s an art lab? These interactive spaces for children at the Museum of Modern Art, free with museum admission, help introduce the institution’s collection through activities related to a theme: this time it’s Places and Spaces. Young visitors can design, draw and build as they explore spaces both real and imagined — landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes — as they appear in Modern art. (Through Aug. 31.) The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building, 4 West 54th Street, Manhattan; 212-708-9805, moma.org/momaartlab.

Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn (Saturday) Brooklyn has many colorful characters, but those on the streets of Park Slope on Saturday will be sure to turn a few heads: “Star Wars” figures, the Geico gecko and a cuddly singing beast called Tuffy Tiger. They’re all appearing courtesy of Puppetry Arts, which presents free puppetry workshops and performances in communities and public schools. This whose festival will feature its work and that of other puppeteers in onstage shows every 15 minutes. Admission is free, but there are small fees for puppet crafts and T-shirt decorating. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine, J. J. Byrne Park, Fourth Street at Fifth Avenue, 718-768-3703, puppetryarts.org.

Stories at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen (Saturday) Not everything that blooms perennially in Central Park is a flower or a tree. Storytelling also returns there each summer, as the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Central Park Conservancy and the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center bring narrative performers to Andersen’s statue every Saturday. The free series, for ages 6 and older, continues this Saturday with Elizabeth Shepherd and Mark Horn telling tales from the Brothers Grimm and Nepal. At 11 a.m., inside the park at 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue, rain or shine, hcastorycenter.org.

Summer in the Square (Thursday) That’s Union Square Park in Manhattan, which has more than playgrounds and lush grass to lure children each summer. This free Thursday series from the Union Square Partnership offers family activities and entertainment through Aug. 13. It includes Yoga Story Time, from the yoga studio Karma Kids; a concert or show (this week the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater will present “Tales of Br’er Rabbit”); story time with the Strand Bookstore; and exercise with the 14th Street Y and Pop Fit Kids. And a Children’s Activity Pavilion, with crafts, books and games, is open all day. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (the activity pavilion is open until 6), South Plaza and South Lawn, off East 14th Street. Complete schedule: summerinthesquare.com.

Summer Family Day at the Morris-Jumel Mansion (Saturday) Children would have to agree that the Morris-Jumel Mansion has a pretty cool history: At one point during the Revolutionary War it was Washington’s headquarters. At this free annual event, they can play at being colonists themselves, with 18th-century games, a history-related craft project and a tour of the house, built in 1765. The day, which takes place both indoors and outdoors, also offers multicultural fun: In conjunction with the house’s exhibition of the work of Yinka Shonibare, an artist with roots in England and Nigeria, it will also offer a workshop in batik. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 65 Jumel Terrace, between West 160th and 162nd Streets, Washington Heights, 212-923-8008, morrisjumel.org.

SummerStage Kids International Contemporary Circus Festival (Friday through Sunday) Adventurous young New Yorkers won’t have to run away to the circus this summer; the circus will be coming to them. As part of this annual festival, presented by the City Parks Foundation and supported by Disney, contemporary companies — whose acts emphasize acrobatics and physical theater rather than animals — will be offering free performances all over the city. The fun starts on Friday evening in the Bronx with three troupes — Hybrid Movement Company, the Incredible Incredible and Impact Repertory Theater — doing dance, acrobatics and illusions. Then the focus shifts to Brooklyn on Saturday and Sunday with performances by Magmanus, a Swedish company featuring a small acrobat, a large juggler and lots of flights through the air. Friday at 7 p.m., Crotona Park, entrance at Crotona Park East and Charlotte Street, South Bronx. Saturday and Sunday at 4 and 7 p.m., Harbor View Lawn, Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2 Old Fulton Street, at Furman Street, Dumbo. Information: cityparksfoundation.org/events/category/circus.

Sunset EcoCruises to the Harbor Heron Islands (Sunday) Herons, egrets and ibises are New Yorkers, too, and about 3,000 reside on the islands around the city harbor. This series of Sunday cruises from New York City Audubon visits the birds’ lairs and provides binoculars for close-up viewing. Gabriel Willow, a naturalist and storyteller, narrates the adventures, conducted via New York Water Taxi. This weekend’s trip heads to the Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, where you can expect to see black-crowned night herons, glossy ibises, double-crested cormorants and other species. (Through Aug. 16.) From 7 to 9 p.m., Pier 16, South Street Seaport, Fulton and South Streets, Lower Manhattan, 212-742-1969, nywatertaxi.com/tours/audubon.

‘A Taste of Magic’ (Saturday) Would you like a side of sleight of hand with that burger? This show, developed by Magnets, a collective of local magicians, brings wizardry to the dinner table. Taking place at various restaurants, the presentation includes acts like mind reading and card tricks, which professionals perform close-up for guests; there’s also a cabaret-style show. And the admission price includes a full meal. (Through July 25.) At 5 and 8 p.m., Docks Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill, 633 Third Avenue, at 40th Street, Manhattan, atasteofmagicnyc.com.

‘Tiny Giants’ (Friday through Thursday) The heroes of this film may be small, but they’re mighty in their will to survive. Inspired by the BBC television series “Hidden Kingdoms,” this Imax movie at the American Museum of Natural History uses 3-D cameras to peer into the universes of two diminutive creatures: a forest chipmunk and a grasshopper mouse from the Arizona desert, noted for its ability to prey on scorpions. Narrated by Stephen Fry, the film allows viewers to see the world from their perspectives. (Through July 5.) Hourly from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with 2-D screenings at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.; all other screenings are 3-D. Central Park West and 79th Street, 212-769-5200, amnh.org.

‘A Voyage Through Jewish History’ (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) This journey involves not just miles, but years. In this permanent interactive exhibition at the Jewish Children’s Museum, young visitors can travel from Abraham and Sarah’s tent to the Western Wall in contemporary Jerusalem and beyond. Activities along the way include giving water to Rebecca’s camels, playing the strings on David’s harp (a high-tech version with beams of light that emit sounds when struck) and taking part in the exodus from Egypt. On Wednesday the museum also begins “Summer Safety 3,” an installation through Sept. 3 that uses a special course to teach children how to avoid pedestrian dangers. 792 Eastern Parkway, at Kingston Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, 718-907-8833, jcm.museum.

‘Zarafa’ (Friday) How often can young cinema fans see a movie free just before it’s to open in theaters? The New York International Children’s Film Festival will offer that opportunity on Friday when it presents “Zarafa,” an animated French film that chronicles the adventures of Maki, a 10-year-old African boy who has escaped from slave traders, and the title character, an orphaned giraffe. Part of the series Films on the Green, hosted by the French Embassy, the FACE Foundation and the Parks Department, “Zarafa,” which will be shown in English, is inspired by historical accounts of the first giraffe to visit France. At 8:30 p.m., Tompkins Square Park, East Seventh Street and Avenue A, East Village, frenchculture.org.

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