New Jersey schools are closed November 6th and 7th for the annual New Jersey Education Association convention. Still have to work and wondering what to do with the kids for the day? Or just hoping to keep them occupied? We’ve got the skinny on ten fabulous camps and programs for NJ kids, whether they’re artsy, outdoorsy or athletic. And if you're planning to take the day off too, visit our NJ Staycation post to find lots of fun ideas for local adventures.
If you’re looking to get your fill of all things Halloween (and pumpkin!), Jersey doesn’t disappoint this weekend! Take the kiddos down the shore in costume to Jenkinson’s Boo at the Boardwalk, roll up your sleeves for a Halloween Monster Craft at Appel Farm Arts & Music Center or brave a Haunted Halloween Hayride at Allaire Village. And for classic fall fun in northern Jersey, head to Heaven Hill Farm’s Great Pumpkin Festival or if you’re down south, check out the annual Pumpkin Festival at the Historic Cold Spring Village in Cape May. And remember, you can check out the full list of weekend activities in our Event Calendar.
The Halloween season is filled with family-friendly fun all over the tri-state area, and a favorite fall destination is our sponsor, the New York Botanical Garden. NYBG is famous for its art installations throughout the grounds, and its annual Halloween exhibit of pumpkins and gourds in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden is particularly awesome. In addition to tons of kids' activities to enjoy, you can check out unbelievable pumpkin carving creations the weekend of October 18 and 19, followed by a display of North America's largest pumpkins on October 25 and 26.
My son and I are frequent visitors to the New York Botanical Garden, and we decided to mark the changing season by checking out the Haunted Pumpkin Garden on its opening day back in 2011. He kept squealing, "Hey Mom, look over here!" and "Dad, you have to see this!" as he came across caterpillar, black widow and giant scorpion pumpkin statues, and grinning gourds perched on fence posts and the Discovery Center's roof. He loved it so much that visiting the Haunted Pumpkin Garden has now become an annual fall family tradition.
In addition to the display, which is on view now through Friday, October 31, NYBG has scheduled a slew of related programing, like a special pumpkin carving weekend (October 18 and 19) when visitors can watch Master Carver Ray Villafane create intricate pumpkin sculptures. You can even learn how to make your own pumpkin masterpieces during a one-day workshop with Villafane on Thursday, October 16, where participants learn his signature carving techniques. Then on the weekend of October 25 and 26, the largest pumpkins in North America will once again call NYBG home (pose your little ones next to these giant pumpkins for great photos).
Much like a squirrel, my toddler loves to wander outdoors and collect twigs, acorns, chestnuts, and anything else that has landed on the forest floor. Since the weather is still nice, we decided to go on a nature walk and collect leaves of all shapes, sizes, and colors. In the eyes of a toddler, autumn is nothing short of spectacular.
These leaf crowns can be the beginning of all kinds of imaginative play for boys and girls. Feel free to glam them up, or keep them as au naturale as you wish. Where will your imaginations take you?
There’s been lots going on here at Mommy Poppins. This month, we completely upgraded our back end, and moved to a server that can better handle our growing site traffic. While we're still working out some bugs (thanks to those of you who alerted us to any issues you noticed), that didn't stop us from launching our newest site: Mommy Poppins Philadelphia. So tell all your Philly friends!
If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time during the last eight years we’ve been around, you know how hard we work to share carefully curated activity ideas with local families. Although we are a technology-based publication, we are not a start-up. Our goal is not to grow big fast and sell out. We love what we do and want to keep doing it. Over the past few years, we’ve added New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut, Boston and Los Angeles to our original NYC home base. We also started a Family Travel site a few years back featuring city guides and destination reviews all over the world.
The launch of Mommy Poppins Philadelphia is unique for us in that it marks the first time we are expanding by teaming up with an existing site. The family activity site, Playground Buzz, is joining the Mommy Poppins family to become Mommy Poppins Philadelphia. This partnership means we start off with a full directory of businesses and activities, a jam-packed calendar and an experienced team to run the site. We are thrilled to have Lori, Kristen and Amy from Playground Buzz with us now.
The countdown to trick-or-treat is on! If you’re not ready to send your little goblins door-to-door, bring them store-to-store at one of New Jersey’s thrilling downtown trick-or-treat events. Collecting goodies from your favorite local retailers is a safe, organized alternative to traditional trick-or-treating and a great way to support local businesses. Take a stroll downtown for these free, family-friendly Halloween festivities. Maybe you can sneak in a little shopping while you’re there. And if you’re heading to the shore, pile on the treats at a boardwalk Halloween event. For more Halloween fun, visit Mommy Poppins New Jersey Halloween Guide.
While my friends who still find time to read grown-up books argue over the merits of the film version of Gone Girl, I've been worried about a completely different page-to-screen adaptation: Disney's live-action take on Judith Viorst's 1972 kids' classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (PG). I know from experience that sweet and slim picture books often become stale and bloated family movies. Yet my nine-year-old still insists on seeing pretty much every one of them, especially when they're based on a beloved book like Alexander, which she read so many times its spine finally gave out.
But though the title is tailor-made for bad reviews, Alexander is far from terrible, horrible and all those other negative adjectives. The film cleverly expands on the premise and moral of the book—that we all have bad days—by making every member of Alexander's family suffer the same kind of rotten luck and humiliation he usually does. My daughter and I laughed out loud several times during the brisk 80-minute movie, though often at different things. And looking around the New York International Children's Film Festival preview screening we attended, most families seemed to have a similar experience. The kids were particularly enthusiastic about the movie—afterward, a bunch of them shared their hilarious reactions on video.
Welcome to Mommy Poppins New Jersey! The free online resource for parents and kids where you’ll get the scoop on what’s fun, unique, outdoorsy, indoorsy, artsy, bouncy, sassy and splashy in the Garden State. Come play with us, won’t you?