Lakota Wolf Preserve – With Kids

Did you know that those magazine photos of wolves in the wild usually aren’t taken in the wild? They’re not, because wolves can smell you a mile away and they want no part of you. Those photos are usually taken at a wolf preserve, like the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ.

We stopped by there recently for a tour, chock full of interesting information not only about wolves, but bobcats and foxes, which they also have there. I thought the 1.5 hour tour might bore my 10 year old daughter, but she paid rapt attention, possibly because the caretakers told us interesting stories and facts about the animals, and she got to watch them being fed.

Lakota Wolf Preserve. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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Review: Mamma Mia on Broadway – Appropriate for Kids?

Okay, let’s start with the question most families with young kids have. Is Mamma Mia appropriate for kids? Well… depends.


Let’s start with the plot, in case you’re in the dark ages and haven’t heard of it. A young woman (Sophie) is getting married and wants to figure out which of the three men her mom slept with (in a short time span), is her father. Therein lies the problem for kids. Continue reading “Review: Mamma Mia on Broadway – Appropriate for Kids?”

Review: Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk CT – Taking the Kids


We had the good fortune to do a sleepover in Connecticut’s Maritime Aquarium. We didn’t get much sleep, but we enjoyed the experience! The aquarium focuses on the marine life of the Long Island Sound.

Copyright: Deborah Abrams Kaplan


The big draw for a lot of kids is the shark tank – it’s the largest tank in the aquarium, holding 110,000 gallons. It has 8 sharks. They keep the temperature constant at 63-65 degrees, so the sharks don’t know about seasons, for mating. The sand tiger sharks are around 8 feet long. Boy sharks have claspers near the anal fin (guess why?).

Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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The Tenement Museum – with Kids

In its day (1832-1935), the Lower East Side (LES) was the largest Jewish community in North America. The Lower East Side is defined as from the East River to South Street Seaport, from Broadway to Lafayette to 14th Street. This was in an era where there was no Tribeca, no SOHO. The LES has always been an immigrant neighborhood, and is also associated with the Irish, Chinese, Poles, Ukranians, and many others.

The Tenement Museum is a unique place where you’ll learn about the lives of actual families who lived (and sometimes worked) here. I’ve been to the Tenement Museum twice, once with and once without my kids, who are 8 and 10. I’ll share a lot of information here, and give you the thumbs up or down for the kids at the end. And if you disagree with any of the history I mentioned, feel free to leave a comment. The information came from my tour guide.


In 1988, Ruth Abram and Anita Jacobsen wanted to create a testament to immigration. They couldn’t find a worthwhile place, while looking for something that had deteriorated naturally and hadn’t turned into a crack house. The finally found this, where they also found 9,000 artifacts from some of the 7,000 people (from 20 countries) who lived here over 100 years. They later bought the buildings next to the museum and are converting those now as well. Read more about this history here. This is the first tenement to be individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Jersey Kids on Good Morning America’s Sneaky Teacher

The kids and I were filmed Monday for a segment on Good Morning America, called Sneaky Teacher. One of the beautiful things about living close to New York is that they need “talent” (in this case known as middle-American families) to film once in awhile in their features, and if you’re within driving distance, you too can be considered. I can’t figure out how to embed the video here, so here’s the link to Good Morning America’s Sneaky Teacher segment with Jersey Kids.

Want to know how we were chosen? What’s it like to be filmed by Good Morning America? Read my personal blog post on how we got onto Good Morning America and what it was like shooting. 


Ocean City – Highlights with Kids

Just got back from a few days in Ocean City, which gets accolades as the most family-friendly town, and best boardwalk on the shore. I don’t have much to compare it to, but we had a great time and indeed, it was a great boardwalk. Thought I’d do a photo highlight of the boardwalk.  Of course it rained while we were there, so the boardwalk photo is gray.

We didn’t make it all the way down the 2.5 mile boardwalk, but we made a dent. Continue reading “Ocean City – Highlights with Kids”

Jen A. Miller’s Family-Friendly Guide to the Jersey Shore

We’re excited at Jersey Kids to feature a Q&A with author Jen A. Miller, whose second edition of Explorer’s Guides –  The Jersey Shore:Atlantic City to Cape May, a Great Destination, just came out. Jen also keeps up with the daily shore happenings at her blog, Down the Shore with Jen. We asked her about some family-friendly Shore topics.

Q: What are the best family-friendly shore towns?

A: Ocean City is built for families. It’s a completely dry town (not even BYOB!) and its boardwalk is built for people who want to stroll with a stroller or two. The ride piers cater to families, too. Sure, your teenagers will find some thrills and spills, but there’s tons of stuff for the littler ones, too.

Q: What are the top 3 fun/unique places on the shore to visit with kids?

A: Take them for a ride on the Carousel at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City. This is one of the few places where you can reach out and grab the golden ring from a carousel. It’s a gorgeous piece of art, too, that you can ride!

Silverball Pinball Museum in Asbury Park.  This place is amazing. For a flat fee, you can play the machines inside this pinball museum, which is located right on the boardwalk. VERY popular with parents, too!

-If they’re up for it, I’d take them to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse. You can’t get better views. And it’s an easy way to have them expend some energy 🙂 Continue reading “Jen A. Miller’s Family-Friendly Guide to the Jersey Shore”

New Jersey – What to do with the kids this Summer?

As school draws to an end, I’ve been collecting lists of places to go and things to do this summer. Here are a few links to get you started:

Summer Family-Fun Guide – fairs and festivals in the Garden State this summer (Star Ledger)

Summer Camp Guide – in case you are still making plans (Star Ledger)

New Jersey Summer Beach Guide (New Jersey Monthly)

Jersey Shore – Guide for Summer Fun Activities (New Jersey Monthly)

–Shore happenings – Jen Miller’s Down the Shore with Jen blog. The second edition of her book Explorer’s Guide – The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May is being released now.

–I recently heard Kevin Woyce speak about Jersey Shore history – totally interesting stuff. He has a book out, Jersey Shore History and Facts – check it out.

–Head to a New Jersey State Park

–Go to a small amusement park (Mommy Poppins)

–Read Jersey Kids’ review of Land of Make Believe

Any helpful links you love? Add them in the comments!

American Museum of Natural History – 7.5 Ways to See it with Kids

The American Natural History Museum is so immense you just can’t see it in one visit. Or two. Or three. So here are 7.5 ways to explore it with your kids!


Whether you choose a special exhibit or a permanent one, pick one and explore it in depth. Given the high cost of visiting the museum, newcomers to the museum might want to stick with the standard holdings unless there’s an exhibit you REALLY want to see. The special exhibits are add-ons, i.e. they cost extra.


–Space movies

–special exhibitions

–Butterflies – (open part of the year, now through May 27, 2013)

–Our Global Kitchen (open through August, 2013)

–IMAX movies

For permanent exhibits, don’t miss the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life (that’s where the big whale is), Fossil Hall (with the dinosaurs), the Grand Gallery (the beautiful 77th Street lobby), or the gemstones.

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