Looking for fun and affordable things to do in February? If you're in Brooklyn, you're in luck! We've put together a list of the top 9 family events happening this month, including the BAMKids FilmFest, more kid-friendly shows, Black History Month events, and a swingin' jazz program for little ones.
For even more upcoming kids' events in Brooklyn and the NYC area, check out our full, searchable calendar of events.
Learn a Lion's Tale
African folktales are among the greatest stories to have made their way into children's books and theater. This month, an Ethiopian folktale called The Lion's Whiskers gets the full musical treatment. The production uses masks, gigantic puppets, and original songs to tell the story of a lonely woman, Minya, who marries a widowed man with a son who doesn't exactly warm up to his new stepmom. A visit to a wise man for advice turns into an adventure for Minya, who is told to pull three whiskers from a lion in order to win her stepson's affection. The story carries themes of courage and, of course, love.
Catch an African Beat
The Shadow Box Theater presents "The African Drum," one of its most acclaimed productions.
Get Your Folk Fix
Elizabeth Mitchell has the distinction of being the first new artist signed to Smithsonian/Folkways Records in the 21st century. That's no small feat when you consider the legacy of Folkways, which became part of the Smithsonian Institution in 1987. The small label's founder, Moe Asch, sought to document music and sound wherever it occurred, cultivating a roster of artists that includes Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Leadbelly alongside music from the globe. Mitchell's residency at Folkways is a continuation of the label's history of releasing music by and for children. Her work is in the folk music-inspired Americana tradition, where a song serves to inspire, teach, and motivate. Like her occasional collaborator Dan Zanes, she combines her own work with covers of the American songbook and an eclectic mix that includes Bob Marley and Gillian Welch. The net result is delicate yet uplifting, driven by guitars, mandolins, ukeleles, and Mitchell's own airy voice. She brings her family band (pictured), which includes her husband Daniel Littleton and daughter Storey, to New York City for a warm morning on an otherwise chilly day.
Hit the Movie Theater
The BAMkids Filmfest presents the best children's movies (shorts, animation, features, documentaries, and more) over two days and evenings at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Swing with the Babes
Jazz musician Lauren Hooker (pictured) was once the music teacher at Bank Street College's renowned School for Children. The educator mantle will come in handy as she presents Jazz 4 Kids, a start-to-finish lesson in jazz history that traces America's original music from its African roots through the swing era, bebop, free jazz, and up to present-day experimental examples. Along the way, Hooker touches upon the influence of blues, Afro Cuban, and West Indian music on jazz. Throughout, Hooker uses her own vocals to entertain and teach, demonstrating the freedom of improvisational scat singing, "jazz etiquette," and jazz "devices" such as trading fours. The audience can expect to actively participate.
Celebrate Black History Month
On the heels of the many events in January that honor and pay tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., February shines the light on all of African-American culture with an abundance of events throughout Brooklyn and Staten Island:
February 12: One example is the musical Four Score and Seven Years Ago, a musical that conveys the Civil War-era story of two soldiers separated by race and Mason/Dixon values who come to unite over themes of bravery, loyalty, and friendship.
February 16: The next nod to Black History Month comes in the form of dance, when the Something Positive dance ensemble presents its Caribbean Dance Festival. Along with dance, the troupe uses storytelling, poetry, and songs as mediums to trace the path of African-American culture from its African and Caribbean evolution onward to its place in America. Colorful costumes add to the presentation.
February 18 and 21: The Brooklyn Children's Museum integrates the African-American theme into many of its February events. For example, older kids (ages 6 and older, to be precise) can participate in Living the Legacy: Black History Collage, in which they'll bring black history to life in a patchwork of memorable photographs and expressions.
February 24: For the younger set (ages 5 and younger), Jammin' Out uses the museum's collection of African and American instruments (and if you think the banjo originated in Appalachia, think again!).
Get Ready to Giggle
There's slapstick and then there's Buster Keaton. The silent movie-era filmmaker knew how to use vaudevillian effects to make his audiences roar, but his genius lay in his subtle use of the silent medium. Keaton relied on body language and deadpan expressions to convey humor. Kids know what's truly funny, and now there's an opportunity to see Keaton on the big screen: Big Movies for Little Kids hosts a program of three Buster Keaton shorts.