7 Best Movies for Kids this Summer

This post is written and brought to you by Tesco.

The summer holidays are fast approaching and what better way to keep your little ones entertained on a not so sunny day, than one of the many blockbusters hitting theaters and DVD this summer? To give you a helping hand navigating the hundreds of new releases, we rounded up our top seven picks, guaranteed to keep the kids entertained (and maybe give you a laugh as well).

Jurassic World, photo courtesy of daryl_mitchell;Creative Commons license.
Jurassic World, photo courtesy of Daryl Mitchell; Creative Commons license. bit.ly/1Nai8Oc



Jurassic World (PG-13)

Much like its predecessor, Jurassic World is a state-of-the-art dinosaur theme park. Once visitor numbers start to fall, a hybrid dinosaur, Indominus Rex is introduced to bring the crowds flocking back, with disastrous consequences. As one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2015, Jurassic World can be pre-ordered at retailers like Tesco. Combining brilliant visual effects and a thrilling storyline it will definitely keep even the most boisterous of kids quiet for a few hours.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (PG-13) Continue reading “7 Best Movies for Kids this Summer”

Review: Storm King Art Center

Having visited the Grounds for Sculpture recently, I was keen to get outside and see some more when my parents visited me. My mother is involved in the art world, and when I told her Storm King wasn’t too far away, she was eager to go. And we’re so glad we did. Storm King is one of the premier sculpture gardens in the world. Set on 500+ acres, the 100 or so large scale sculptures have plenty of space for themselves.

sculpture by Alexander Liberman
Iliad by Alexander Liberman (1974-76). This piece is similar to another Liberman we had on my college campus. We affectionately called it “Dueling Tampons.’

Wear good walking shoes, because you’re going to do a lot of walking. And it’s hilly. Storm King recommends spending 4-6 hours on a visit, if you have the time, and that you won’t see everything. Our goal was to see everything. We thought we did, but later saw pictures on the guides of  sculptures we somehow missed during the day. We were there about four hours, and our legs were tired by the end! (see the end notes for other ways to see Storm King, like  on the tram or on bikes).

Maya Lin
Maya Lin, who designed the famous Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., designed this Storm King Wavefield (2009), which is on 11 acres. Apparently, you can no longer walk on it.

If you’ve ever studied art history or art in general, you’ll recognize some of the artist names here: Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, David Smith, Nam June Paik, Mark Di Suervo, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Sol Lewitt, Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg and more. They have works from all the heavyweight sculptors, focusing on monumental sculptures from the 1960s on. Continue reading “Review: Storm King Art Center”

Review: Boston Harbor Islands – Spectacle and George

One of the hidden gems of Boston are the Boston Harbor Islands. If you have an extra day (or half day) on your trip, consider going. There are 34 islands in all, 24 with archaeological activity on them. Not shockingly, Native Americans used these islands before we settlers did, for hunting, farming and other activities. You can visit 12 of the islands. This is part of our Boston series.

boston harbor

Even their recent history is interesting. The country’s oldest lighthouse was first built here in 1716, though the British burned it down  in 1776 and rebuilt in 1783. That makes our own Sandy Hook lighthouse (built in 1764) the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. You can tour the lighthouse on Little Brewster Island on a different boat tour, along with two other lighthouses.

The popular Spectacle Island is only a 15 minute boat ride from Boston’s Long Harbor. On the way, Continue reading “Review: Boston Harbor Islands – Spectacle and George”

Review: Duke Farms In New Jersey

When we read about Duke Farms opening to the public a year ago (May 2012), we put it on our list to do. We finally went, albeit without kids (they’re at camp) but can’t wait to take them there.

The barn house ????
The farm barn, which is now the orientation center, is the first building you’ll see in the parking area.

Duke Farms is one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land in New Jersey, made up of more than 2,700 acres. Doris Duke’s father, tobacco farmer J.B. Duke, bought the land as a luxury homestead, endowing it with formal gardens, water features and grand buildings like the one you see above. Of note, the family home is not available for touring (and we couldn’t even see where it was while there).

F meadows
A meadow outside the Farm Barn.

Doris Duke, as the sole heir, inherited the land, where she spent part of her childhood. She put it in her foundation, for land preservation and land stewardship. What a gift! Continue reading “Review: Duke Farms In New Jersey”

Review: Wild Safari at Six Flags Great Adventure


We went to Great Adventure’s safari a few years ago, when it was a stand-alone entrance or upgrade. Last year they closed it down to redo it, including it in the Great Adventure offerings as an attraction you don’t pay extra for. We heard about the three hour lines (and there’s even mention of that in the park. But we were smart – or so we thought – arriving at the park at opening bell (10:30 a.m.), hitting Kingda Ka first (10 minute wait!) and then the log ride right next to the safari entrance (10 minute wait) – figuring it was still really early and we’d have a relatively short wait.

We were wrong. Continue reading “Review: Wild Safari at Six Flags Great Adventure”

Discount Broadway shows and other Entertainment This Holiday Week…and Going Forward

If you’re looking for kid-friendly Broadway shows to see in the next week, here are some great deals from Goldstar:


Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella – tickets are $59.50-66 for July 2-5 shows.

Spider-man Turn off the Dark – tickets are $79-99 for ongoing shows. Read our Broadway Spiderman review here.


Field Station: Dinosaurs – Commander’s Pass tickets are $24.50-$29 (normally $34-40 – this includes read our review of Field Station: Dinosaurs here.

Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The Assembled Parties – okay, not really a family show but if the kids are in camp or you want a date night, see this Tony award winning show for $75 through July 7. It closes later in the month.

Mamma Mia discount tickets are $69-75 for July 2-7 shows. read our Mamma Mia Broadway review here.



Improv for Kids – tickets are free (really!) to $17 depending on the show. Now through August 31.

A Day in Coney Island – Aquarium and Amusement Park Rides

It seems each year we make a summer trek to the New York Aquarium. This year was different. We made the trek a week or so after it reopened from Superstorm Sandy. Though normally open year-round, the Aquarium suffered flooding to its lower levels (and even a few week on the upper levels), power outages and equipment damage, forcing it to shut down for an estimated $65 million in total repairs ($7 million spent so far). It partially reopened  Memorial Day weekend.


The Aquarium fully reopens in 2016, with a new shark building (Ocean Wonders). Read more about the Aquarium damage from Sandy here (NY Daily News) and also here (NYT) Fees will be reduced while the exhibits aren’t fully opened.

What’s open? Continue reading “A Day in Coney Island – Aquarium and Amusement Park Rides”

Cicadas in New Jersey – part 2

The cicadas have reached a threshold. You can now hear their constant hum outside. It sounds like a constant rubbing of one of these frog instruments.


This may give some of you nightmares, but it’s a beautiful movie

The kids were privileged (!) to see two cicadas mating yesterday- at least that’s what I think they were doing – right there in the Bank of America sidewalk in their parking lot. In the 20+ minutes we were in there (exchanging U.S. dollars for Canadian dollars for my trip to Toronto – yay!), they stayed at it, though moving slightly to a different part of the sidewalk.

cicada sex
cicada sex. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

We’re hearing that some areas of NJ – even some areas of our town – still haven’t seen any.  So here are some pictures for those of you who are missing them. Continue reading “Cicadas in New Jersey – part 2”

Brood II Cicadas in New Jersey

You’ve probably heard about the cicadas taking over New Jersey and other parts of the country. It’s part of the 17 year cycle. I read all about their lifecycle on Wikipedia.

Last week we spotted the first few nymphs emerging from the ground. A block away there were reports of massive molting, and a few started appearing on our block. For us, the change was last night/this morning. On the walk to school there was a definite change. You have to look down if you want to avoid stepping on them. They were littering our front walk way. I’ve heard this will get much worse. They aren’t making noise yet and the ground isn’t undulating with the creatures.

The nymph shell.
The empty nymph shell. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Apparently these are called nymph shells. After the bug crawls out of the earth (almost a foot down), they shed their skins and become adults. You can see those skins everywhere, from the ground to the grass, to tree trunks and telephone poles to tires. Continue reading “Brood II Cicadas in New Jersey”