Four Free, Kid-Friendly Attractions in New York City

A visit to the Big Apple is a great way to spend a family vacation. While the city may seem like it is more geared toward adults, there are tons of fun things that you can do with children as well. And though New York can be expensive, it certainly doesn’t have to be if you know where to go. If your next family vacation includes a stop in New York City, consider checking out these four kid-friendly attractions which are absolutely free.

New York Libraries

The New York library system is one of the best in the world and offers plenty of fun activities for youngsters. With great family programming and tons to explore, the children’s sections at many libraries in the city as worth the visit. Top branches include the Children’s Center at the main branch of the New York Public Library, the Children’s Library Discovery Center in Queens, and the Central Branch in Prospect Heights.

NEW YORK CITY, NY - DEC 30: New York Public Library and street on December 30, 2011 New York City. It is the 2nd largest public library in US and managed with both private and public financing.

Sing for Hope Pianos

If you happen to be in New York during June, you should definitely check out the Sing for Hope Pianos. These pop up pianos in New York serve as a form of interactive street art. Organized by the Sing for Hope charity, this annual project puts 50 handpainted pianos in the parks and public spaces of all five New York boroughs for public use. Painted by local artists, the pianos are there for anyone to enjoy. Whether you happen upon a delightful performance or have your children play a number, this is a great activity for the whole family.

Sing for Hope

New York Museums

It is no secret that New York is home to some of the world’s greatest museums. Luckily some of them are free and great for the family. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan features a number of interactive learning exhibits. You can visit for free on the first Friday of the month. The Museum of the Moving Image is also a great choice, which offers free admission on Friday afternoons. Here you can learn about all about the history of movies, television, and digital media.

New York City - January 31, 2016: American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. The museum collections contain over 32 million specimens.

Staten Island Ferry

One of the hidden gems of New York is the Staten Island Ferry. This free ferry takes passengers back and forth between Manhattan and Staten Island all day, providing an outstanding and absolutely free view of the Statue of Liberty. Once there, you might enjoy exploring the area, including the Staten Island Zoo, which is free on Wednesdays afternoons.

NEW YORK - JULY 2: People taking the Staten Island Ferry on July 2, 2012 in New York. The S. I. Ferry has been a municipal service since 1905, and carries over 21 million passengers annually.

7 Boat Safety Tips

Don’t play around with the safety of your kids. Before you take that family trip on the water, consider these seven boat safety tips.

1. Check the Weather

Are there any storms on the horizon? Will there be strong winds or big waves when you’re setting off on the water? It’s important to know what the weather has in store for you and your family before you sail away in your boat.

2. Prepare Your First-Aid Kit

1,000 people will have 1,000 opinions about what makes a well-stocked first-aid kit, but how you pack it is less important than the fact that you packed it in the first place. You never know when someone will get hurt while you’re miles from civilization.

3. Count Your Flotation Devices

Personal flotation devices (PFDs) come in a variety of forms, including life jackets and inflatable rings. Make sure you have enough for every single passenger on board. Do a head count before every trip.

4. Have Emergency Supplies on Hand

Are you prepared for loose screws and broken ropes? What will you do if your boat lift winch goes overboard? Prepare for every possibility by always having back-up equipment at the ready.

5. Ensure Communication with the Coast

There are several ways to communicate with those back on land. Some people just use their smartphones; others prefer old-school gadgets like radios. Again, the what is less important than the fact that you have communication devices at all. Never be at sea without a way of contacting others on shore.

6. Share Your Plans

Let someone know where you’re going and when you plan on coming back. It can be someone as official as a coast guard or someone as informal as your cousin; just make sure that at least one person understands to sound the alarm if you go missing.

7. Make Checklists

Parents, you’re probably already familiar with the power of a checklist, so don’t be afraid to wield your wand when it comes to boat safety as well. Make checklists for pre- and post-departure, and follow them to the letter every time.

These are just a few things to keep in mind if you’re serious about boat safety. As you can see, there’s a lot to prepare before you go out on the water, but you’ll appreciate your diligence in the event of an emergency.

FIRST Robotics: Raising Visionaries and Innovators

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg – they are the digital visionaries of our generation.  Aside from being successful innovators in the field of technology and being among the world’s most famous billionaires, they all have another thing in common – All of them were trained through STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Education.

STEM Education is what FIRST Robotics wants to emphasize in its programs that focus on robotics literacy.  FIRST Robotics is the country’s pioneering center in the field of robotics.   It uses state-of-the-art materials that allow children to design, build, and program robots.  Children as young as 4 learn to be creative and resourceful in a fun learning environment.

Age-Appropriate Programs for Future Innovators

FIRST Robotics has age-appropriate programs that enhance skills, encourage learning, and foster hard work.

FR 4+

Kids age 4 – 6 are taught basic building concepts that develop their fine motor skills and enhance their creativity.  At FIRST Robotics, they also discover how people, animals, and things move then they learn how to build their own models of these.   For this age group, LEGO Duplo is used.

FR 7+

For kids age 7 – 8, LEGO WeDo is used to introduce young kids to information and control technology (ICT).  They learn how to make inanimate objects move using basic visual programming.  They build models of animals and things using sensors and other mechanical parts then use a drag-and-drop software to make their models react to stimuli and move.

FR 9+

More advance concepts are taught to kids age 9 and older using LEGO MindStorms.  At this stage, kids are not only able to build their own robots but are also able to design their own programs to control the robot’s movements. They are given the challenge of designing, building, and programming robots that perform specific functions such as going through various obstacle courses or doing useful tasks.

Make Dreams Come True

Most of us have had grand dreams when we were very young. We dreamed of becoming astronauts, scientists, and inventors. Unfortunately, not all of us are given the resources to put these dreams into reality, especially those of my generation when technology was still limited.

Fortunately, there are now plenty of opportunities for our children that aid them in fulfilling their own dreams.  As parents, we must strive to provide them the means to grab these opportunities and to encourage them to work hard for their dreams to come true.

Make your little one’s dreams come true and bring them to  the place

“where fun learning rules”!

For more information about the programs being offered by FIRST Robotics, visit their website at www.FIRSTRobotics.ph or check out their Facebook page at First Robotics Learning Center.

To read about my kids’ fun learning day at FIRST Robotics, visit Taking Legos to The Next Level at First Robotics.

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Z-U at KidZania Manila!

ZaZ! That’s KidZania speak for “Wow!” and that’s what you’re bound to hear from kids – and even adults! – who have been to this ultimate role-playing environment.   KidZania Manila is a place you’d love to bring your kids to as often as you can afford it!

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Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of joining the press preview of KidZania Manila. Though pictures taken using my camera phone do not do the place justice, take my word for it – KidZania is AweZome! So, absolutely awesome that I can’t wait to take my two little ones there.

 

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Kids have to pass through the KidZania International Airport to get their boarding passes, checks, maps, and security bracelets.

 

Here are three reasons why I’m taking my kids there and why you should take your kids there, too!

1. KidZania is the Ultimate Role-Playing Environment

My kids love pretend play and this city built just for kids would be a dream come true for them.  Imagine 8,000 square-meters of play space with realistic structures, costumes, and real props. KidZania boasts of over 40 real-world establishments scaled down for kids. There’s National BookStore, Healthy Options, Pascual Laboratory, LBC, Magnolia Ice Cream Factory, Mercury Drug Store, and many more.

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Cebu-Bohol Adventure: Crimson Resort and Spa

A beach resort was first on my list when I was planning our Cebu-Bohol adventure.  Among those that were recommended by friends were Shangri-la Mactan, Crimson Resort and Spa, Moevenpick, and JPark.  Since my considerations were for the resort to be kid-friendly and budget-friendly, we opted for Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan.

crimson azure view

Reviews from TripAdvisor mention that some lost their way going to the resort.  Even some taxis where said to be unfamiliar with the location.  Getting lost with two kids in tow would be quite terrible so I decided to arrange for transport from the airport to Crimson Resort. We had to pay more than double than what a regular taxi fare would cost but the convenience was worth the extra bucks. Upon arrival at Mactan Interntional Airport, we were welcomed by a hotel representative who then ushered us to our car. The drive to the resort took around 20 minutes only.

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Check-in time was at 3 pm but we were told that a room would be available right after lunch. We were free to use all the facilities though while waiting for our room. We took our bag with our swimming gear and left the rest of our luggage with the bellman. We had to rent lockers near the fitness hall to keep our clothes and valuables in. A deposit of 500 pesos for each locker was required but was returned also after we surrendered the keys.

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Feeding Frenzy at the Beach

After changing into our swimsuits, we headed straight to the beach. The beach front was smaller than I pictured it to be. And true to the reviews I’ve read online, the beach was quite rocky.  Still, we enjoyed our REALLY SHORT dip in the sea – really short because the little girl freaked out when schools of fish swam around us. It was fish feeding time when we hit the beach.  There was a basket of bread available and the li’l boy and I were happily throwing bits and pieces of bread around us.  I was truly enjoying our real-life feeding frenzy, so it was with a heavy heart that I left the beach.

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Infinite Fun in the Infinity Pool

We spent the rest of the morning in the three-tiered infinity pool. Two pools were 2-ft deep while the third one was 4-ft deep. Since the kids had their floaters, we were able to stay in the last pool which had a spectacular view of the sea.

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The water was pleasantly warm (hubby wished it were cooler though) and I could have stayed there all day long.  There are scheduled pool activities throughout the day.  There was aqua zumba both in the morning and in the afternoon. Hubby and I joined both although I had to keep an eye on the two kids swimming (uh-oh…helicoptering still!).  A game of water polo was also offered but there were only a couple of swimmers who wanted to play.

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I found out the next day that there were also activities for kids in the kids’ pool. Had I known about those when we checked-in, I would have brought the kids to the other pools instead.

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