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Posts tagged ‘New York Family magazine’

From July’s New York Family magazine


A Love for Learning

Expert Advice On Inspiring Curiosity In Kids

By Kristen Duca

Lifelong learning—it’s a phrase garnering popularity as parents, perhaps now more than ever, are working to instill an early appreciation for education in their children. After all, children with a thirst for knowledge often enjoy great academic and personal success. But with so many articles, books, experts and opinions on the subject, determining your plan of action can seem like a daunting undertaking. So we consulted three leading child development experts, and we’re happy to report some refreshing news: It turns out that all you really need is an engaged, in-the-moment attitude toward your children’s education, and it’s never too early, or too late, to get involved.

Start At Home

Cultivating a love of learning begins at home, so it’s no surprise that a parent’s role is crucial to children’s development. Parents can begin by using their own interest in learning as a model for their families. Dr. Betty Bardige, early childhood author and consultant, encourages parents to read—and show their enjoyment of reading—in front of their children. “If you are excited about learning and willing to share what you love with your children, they will be intrigued with what intrigues their parents,” says Bardige.

Of course, reading with your children is one of the simplest and most effective things a parent can do. Professor Susan J. Schwartz, clinical director of the Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement at the NYU Child Study Center, recommends that parents read to their children regularly, regardless of age. For babies, Schwartz suggests books with visual stimulation, like big patterns and colorful contrast. Toddlers and young children like to read the same books over and over, but be sure to introduce new books into your routine, perhaps with similar themes or by the same author or illustrator to generate quick interest in a new title. When kids become too old for bedtime stories, parents can take an interest in summer reading assignments by reading the books along with their children, engaging in conversation about the books along the way.

Schwartz also suggests that families institute “family reading time” everyday, in which everyone reads individually, but simultaneously. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, this time establishes the importance of daily reading and encourages thoughtful conversations, which are another great tool for parents.

“Having conversations with your child, even before they are verbal, makes a huge difference,” says Dr. Joshua Sparrow, co-author with T. Berry Brazelton of “Touchpoints: Birth to Three.” Sparrow advises parents to always ask questions when talking with their child and to initiate conversations that invite curiosity.

Bardige agrees. Even in baby and toddler years, she says, parents should engage in constant conversation that is both playful and lively.

Everyday Learning

Whether you’re looking to teach your kids about math, science or history, the world around you provides infinite opportunities for hands-on lessons. “Parents can create wonderful learning experiences for children that are tactile and multi-sensory,” says Schwartz. Engage your children in interactive, project-based activities like collecting leaves, gardening, cooking, grocery shopping and conducting simple science experiments. These will help build a diverse vocabulary and teach responsibility and cause-and-effect lessons.

If your child doesn’t seem to be engrossed in a specific subject, try to spark an interest at home by using one of their hobbies, says Bardige. For example, if your child is crazy about baseball, bring home books about legendary players to encourage reading, or use a favorite team’s scores or statistics to teach math skills.

Let There Be Play

According to Schwartz, “play is a child’s work,” and parents can make play more formal or relaxed by altering their routine. For instance, some days parents may take their children to the sandbox and let them explore on their own. Another day, they might bring a measuring toy to teach the child about simple math concepts in a fun and informal setting. Counting steps from the bus to the entrance of a museum or keeping a piggy bank are casual ways children can learn about numbers, counting and money.

When judging when and how to participate in your children’s playtime, Bardige suggests that parents first let their kids explore independently. “Watch, wait, wonder and find a way to enter by taking cues from your child,” she says. “See if there is an opportunity to support learning by asking questions.” Sparrow agrees, encouraging parents to watch as their infant or toddler explores an object or new environment, but to be ready to move in when they become frustrated or uninterested.

Another way to enrich everyday play is to supply your children with materials that invite creativity, constructions and inventions. “Provide your children interesting play materials that are developmentally appropriate, like scraps of cloth, recycled paper or other materials for art projects,” advises Bardige.

“Look for gentle challenges that are just a small step away from where they are now,” says Sparrow. “The biggest motivation for a child is when the parent is engaged in play. Be present, engaged and tuned-in, and don’t multi-task when you’re with your child.”

Above all, Bardige advises, parents should enjoy the time they have with their kids. “Be sure to enjoy the ride,” she says. “Every child is different, curious and magical in his own way.”


A New York Foursome Takes On History, Culture And Even A Shark In The City Of Brotherly Love

 The challenge: two adults (my husband Ken and I) two young kids (our daughters, Milla, 3 and Arden, 1) and 48 hours to see it all. Here’s how we spent our weekend escape in Philadelphia.

What We Did:

The Philadelphia Trolley Works Tour

The trolley tour enabled our family to see the city’s main attractions in just 90 minutes. The tour is narrated by knowledgeable and cheerful tour guides, and you can hop off at any of the 20 stops to customize the day to your family’s interests. We enjoyed visiting attractions like the Betsy Ross House, the Rodin Museum and the iconic “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (

Please Touch Museum

A perfect place for kids to learn and play! Our girls perused the aisles of the mini ShopRite supermarket, played with water currents in “River Adventures” and learned about transportation in “Roadside Attractions.” The museum also houses the century-old refurbished Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel. (

Adventure Aquarium

This incredible 200,000 square-foot aquarium boasts so many exciting exhibits, shows and adventures. Our family loved the 40-foot shark tunnel, which features over 30 sharks and 850 other sea creatures. The “Touch-A- Shark” exhibit is great for those who are brave, like Milla. (

Where We Stayed:

The newly renovated Doubletree Hotel Philadelphia is located in the center of the city’s cultural district. Families will love the hotel’s proximity to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Academy of Music, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Liberty Bell and other family-friendly attractions. The rooms are chic but comfortable and offer beautiful views of the city. The hotel also has an indoor pool and whirlpool, high-speed internet access, and a warm and gracious staff that greeted us with smiles and high fives (to Arden’s delight!). (philadelphia.

For more info: Kristen J. Duca blogs at

UltimateMama realizes this is a tough economy in 2010.  Should you skip Mother’s Day altogether?  Of course not!  You can show your mother (and your child’s mother) appreciation on a shoestring.

UltimateMama’s top budget Mother’s Day gifts are as follows:

– Send her an e-card

– Make her afternoon tea with biscuits or muffins

– Make her a photo collage or enlarge and frame your favorite photo

– Make her an early Christmas tree ornament

– Pick and arrange a bouquet of wild flowers

– Buy her a “used but in great condition” book

– Give her a gift bag of her favorite magazines (don’t forget to include the one UltimateMama writes for:  New York Family magazine

– Take her to your favorite park, beach, nature trail and go for a walk or bike ride

– Catch a matinee movie (cheaper prices)

– Buy her inexpensive gifts that are useful (socks are always nice)

– Get her a new keychain

– Pick out a nice candle or make one yourself

– Paint a piece of pottery for her (stores like Little Shop of Crafts are perfect for this as they have a wide range of price points)

– Make her placemats for dining


New York Family » Page 70


8 Ideas For Designing A Family-Friendly Apartment That Doesn’t Sacrifice On Style

IN A SLEEK NURSING CHAIR Every nursing mom needs a comfortable
glider—but many of the options are far from stylish. That’s all changed
with The Grano by Monte Designs ($1,195), a sleek glider-and-recliner
that comes in a range of colors, including white, stone, brown, orange,
green and gray. With its modern design it’s a great fit for any room in
the house, from the nursery to the living room. The chair offers
ergonomic arm height for feeding your baby, a high back for proper head
rest, and a removable lumbar pillow for extra support. The fabric is
water repellant and stain resistant.

A KID-FRIENDLY KITCHEN In many households, the kitchen is the center of
activity—making it even more essential that the room be
family-friendly. Robert Dobbs, a certified kitchen and bathroom
designer with Elgot, a design company based in Manhattan, says families
looking to remodel their kitchen may want to consider “u-shaped
kitchens, [because they] work well to keep kids on the opposite side of
the island [and away from the cooking area].” Also, Dobbs says to be
sure to “leave [ample] space between open oven or dishwasher doors and
cabinets,” as this helps enable safe passageway through the kitchen.
When it comes to flooring, solid wood or laminate floors are both
resilient surfaces that make for easy clean-up, while cork is another
good option because it makes standing for long periods of times easier
on your feet—and on a baby’s crawling hands and knees. For people with
small kitchens, Dobbs says internal storage options like pull out
pantries really maximize space.

AHEAD WHEN DECORATING YOUR NURSERY First-time parents should consider
three things before getting deep into plans for a nursery, according to
Ali Wing, founder of Giggle, a baby gear and furniture store. First,
consider how soon you might have a second child, and plan the nursery
around the possibility of a newborn sharing it with a toddler. Second,
unless you are someone who likes to redecorate often, design the room
so “you’ll like it as much when your baby’s a toddler as when she’s a
newborn.” Third, pay attention to safety issues. Be aware of electrical
outlets and cords from blinds and lamps, and keep the crib away from
them. Also, use paint with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or
wallpaper using non-toxic adhesives.

A COLORFUL CHILDREN’S WALL MURAL Do your children dream of being
astronauts, love everything about the ocean or adore animals? Nurture
their interests with a customized wall mural designed by Brett
McCormack’s Painted Worlds. McCormack, who is based in New York City,
has painted window displays for Rockefeller Center, designed holiday
windows for Burberry London and has been featured in “LiveDesign
Magazine” and on Home &Garden Television.

McCormack begins each
project with a consultation before completing a series of drafts for
the room’s detailed design. He then spends a few weeks creating each
personalized room, all with child-safe, non-toxic paints.


Debbie Weiner,
furniture maven and author of “Slobproof! Real-Life Home Decorating
Solutions,” draws on her own experience with a full household—including
a husband, kids, and multiple pets—to offer tips for keep one’s living
area both chic and kid-friendly. Here are just a few to get you

floor and table lamps for overhead lighting. This prevents broken lamps
and stained shades, and gives your family more room to play.

kids always look out the window, says Weiner, which can wreck havoc on
delicate draperies. Replace drapes with raise-able shades, which can be
made in many stylish fabrics.

with your “trouble spots” to find a carpet or rug solution to shedding
pets and spill-prone families. If you have a lot of red stains, buy a
red-patterned carpet; if black dog fur is dotting your carpet, find a
black-based design.

all, invest in durable seating. “A coffee table from Ikea is just as
good as a table from any other place,” Weiner says, “but you can always
tell a bad sofa from a good one.” When shopping for a sofa, make sure
it has a strong frame, a cushion with down and a thick fabric.

ECO-FRIENDLY DESIGN CHOICES Practicing an environmentally conscious
lifestyle when your children are young will hopefully lead them to
become socially responsible adults in future years. Paulette Cole, CEO
and creative director of ABC Home, as well as a mom, is passionate
about keeping the business socially responsible. Cole offers the
following tips for New Yorkers who wish to set up a “green” nursery or
kids room:

*Start with a non-chemical foundation: use non-chemical cleaners and non-toxic paints.

*Buy an air purifier for your urban setting.

*Choose organic mattresses whether you are buying for a crib or a bed.

*Invest in organic mattress pads, duvets, pillows, and sheets. Cole
believes “one should keep everything on the bed organic and crisp.”

ABC, we have furniture such as cribs sourced from responsibly managed
forests,” Cole explains. “Health for the planet is the collective goal.”


of Restoration Hardware Baby & Child, was pregnant and looking to
buy furniture for her nursery, she found that there was a “void in the
market for good quality, sophisticated design at a reasonable price.”
She returned from maternity leave with a slew of ideas, creating the
store’s Baby & Child line, which recently launched. It features an
assortment of convertible cribs, elegant bedding, bathroom accessories
and more that Hansmeyer says are “subtle, but fun” and “seamless with
the rest of your home.” Check out their cribs that convert into a
toddler bed and “big kid bed,” and changing tables that transform into
dressers in styles “that are pretty timeless.” As Hansmeyer notes,
“Being able to buy something that will live with your child for 10
years” is worth the investment.

A DESIGN EXPERT FOR YOUR CHILD’S ROOM Whether you are having trouble
decorating your first child’s room, organizing a bedroom shared between
two or three siblings, or transforming your kid’s room from baby to
soccer stud, consider hiring some help. Kid’s Supply Co., for example,
can send a designer to visit your New York City home and help you
create the perfect floor plan for your child’s room. Or, alternatively,
bring the room measurements to an appointment for an in-store
consultation. The store also carries unique styles of furniture and
bedding that you can customize to your own needs. B —Reported by Kristen Duca, Darcy Newell, and Kate Willard


ABC Carpet & Home, 888 & 881 Broadway, 212-473-3000,

Brett McCormack’s Painted Worlds, 860-916-8866,

Elgot, 937 Lexington Avenue, 212-879-1200,

Giggle, various locations in Manhattan,

Kid’s Supply Co, 1343 Madison Avenue, 212-426-1200,

Monte Design Group, 1-866-604-6755,

Restoration Hardware, 935 Broadway, 212-260-9479

The Rug Company, 88 Wooster Street, 212-274-0444,

New York Family magazine Dec 09 issue

November 18, 2009

New York Gets A Toy Museum

Filed under: Online Features
Tags: , , , ,
jsherwood @ 1:08 pm

By Kristen Duca
Teaching children about the history of the teddy bear, reconnecting
parents with the dolls they coveted all those years ago—it’s all in a
day’s work at The Toy Museum of New York.
Stepping into the cozy one-room exhibit hall inside St. Ann and the
Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights—the new home of the “traveling
museum”—is akin to entering a toy lover’s utopia. Rows of beautifully
curated antique dolls with delicate features line the shelves, along
with displays tracking the evolution of toys through the decades. 

Founded in 1999 as The Doll and Toy Museum of New York City by
Marlene Hochman—mother of three, toy enthusiast and author of several
books on dolls—the museum was recently renamed The Toy Museum of New
York. The non-profit educates visitors about art, history and cultural
studies through encounters with antique dolls, toys and collectibles.
The museum has over 5,000 objects in its collection, including trains,
dollhouses, toy soldiers, GI Joes, Barbie dolls and more. To date, the
museum’s touring exhibits have been on view at the New York Transit
Museum, the South Street Seaport Museum, the American Museum of
National History, various NYC libraries and in museums across the
country. Now that it occupies a space of its own, the museum plans to
offer after-school classes, field trips and birthday parties.

Hochman sees the museum as a “safe keeper of dolls and toys for
eternity”—her goal is to build “a world-class toy collection in the
city of New York.” “The city deserves it,” she says, “and the toy
industry is here.” Although the museum’s board of directors is looking
for a permanent home in Brooklyn and plans to build a museum branch in
Southampton, Hochman intends to keep the “traveling” aspect of the
museum alive through touring exhibits and educational initiatives. At
the end of the day, Hochman hopes that families will walk away from the
museum’s exhibits with a stronger appreciation of the role of toys and
dolls in history, culture and the arts. 

The Toy Museum of New York, 157 Montague Street, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, 718-243-0820,