Our list of fun and low-cost things to do with kids in Brooklyn this June includes family activities in Brooklyn Heights, Coney Island, Crown Heights, DUMBO, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Red Hook, and Williamsburg.
Music in Motion
Bargemusic, DUMBO/Brooklyn Heights
Saturdays in June and July
Bargemusic, the floating concert hall that’s permanently docked at Brooklyn’s Fulton Landing, has brought chamber music to our borough since 1977. Around that time, the venue’s founder, Olga Bloom, gave up a career as a full-time violinist and turned a circa 1899 coffee barge into Bargemusic, outfitting the old relic with materials obtained from boat yards. Bloom perfected the barge’s interior acoustics by replicating the acoustics created within a violin and using plenty of mahogany and cherry wood paneling. The barge has resonated with the tones of professional musicians ever since. Today, Bargemusic remains a neighborhood and citywide cultural institution with plenty to offer kids. One example is the Music in Motion concert series, which offers free, family concerts that last a very kid-friendly one hour and include a Q&A period with the musicians.
Brooklyn Film Festival Kidsfilmfest
There’s good screen time and bad screen time. The “bad” finds children glued to Netflix and the Xbox during a beautiful June day when the whole world is out on their bikes. The “good” finds children watching amazing live-action and animated movies, including a few kid-friendly documentaries. The latter will happen this month at the Brooklyn Kidsfilmfest, where all films are G-rated and kids get the opportunity to meet with the filmmakers after the screenings, ask plenty of questions, and see materials used in making the film. This kind of experience could likely inform and inspire the next generation of Spielbergs, who, for the price of a Flip camera and some inexpensive lighting, could create the next Slumdog Millionaire.
Woody Mann in Concert
The Old Stone House, Park Slope
Woody Mann is a walking encyclopedia of acoustic blues and ragtime guitar music. You could probably hand him any old wood box with wires attached to it and Mann would bring it to life with his fantastic voice and guitar technique. Mann’s performances typically leave audiences thinking that they’ve truly heard the greatness of what the acoustic guitar can do. Blues fans will appreciate that he actually learned to play with lessons from none other than Rev. Gary Davis. Children who are guitar fans or who truly appreciate music will enjoy hearing a true master of his instrument. And after taking in the show at Washington Park’s Old Stone House (part of the Good Coffee House series), everybody can go out and kick around some soccer balls or enjoy the brilliantly renovated park.
Brooklyn Waterfront Museum, Red Hook
Jeff Newell is an acclaimed saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist who resides in Brooklyn. His pedigree is jazz, but Newell does more than stick to that particular niche—his New-Trad Octet combines early 20th-century jazz instruments and rhythms with the kind of arrangements and vocals that are modern and entirely post-bop. For a special performance at the Brooklyn Waterfront Museum, Newell scales down the octet into a New-Trad Quartet and delivers a set of distinctly American songs about America’s waterways and rivers. Newell researched the history of these songs, which have become part of American folk music tradition, and his quartet presents them with plenty of backstory, making this performance perfect for history buffs and jazz heads alike. FREE!
Hip Tot Music Fest Presents Slavic Soul Party
Hip Tot Music Fest’s June event is a fundraiser for Fort Greene’s progressive-minded Community Roots Charter School and the scheduled entertainment is a set by the rousing Slavic Soul Party. The horn-based nonet changes gears on the fly, resembling a New Orleans brass ensemble before a shredding accordion solo or clarinet brings it all back home to Serbia. Beneath it all is the funky drummer, who channels the groove of classic James Brown. The groove is definitely in Slavic Soul Party’s heart, and it’s the danceability that will endear them to children, who are naturally kinesthetic.
Great Cicada Walk
Staten Island Museum, Staten Island
Anybody attuned to the sounds of summer may have noticed the absence of a love/hate noise that is nature’s own: cicadas. Their rattle-like swell, the result of thousands of these winged bugs sending out mating calls, begins quietly before crescendoing into a giant wave. We haven’t heard them for the last 17 years because they’ve been sleeping underfoot—billions of them—awakening now for some reason (to freak us out?). The whole family can celebrate their return by participating in the Staten Island Museum’s Great Cicada Walk. Kids and grown-ups can walk with naturalist Ed Johnson along the south shore of Staten Island’s Long Pond Park and learn about the different species of cicadas living in the woodlands. Reservations required.
African Diaspora Dance Fusion
Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Heights
Young and older fans of African dance and culture will enjoy this performance by Brooklyn’s Kowteff African Dance Company, which, by the way, is also an excellent school and incubator for talented dancers. Titled African Diaspora Dance Fusion, the program combines examples of African dance as it spread into other continents and cultures. The Caribbean boasts the influence superbly, but there’s also African dance as represented in South American (Brazil especially) countries, which influenced the later American styles seen in hip-hop. This performance also features choral selections and dramatizations, all against a backdrop of brilliantly colored sets and powerful drumming.
Fun for Father's Day
Throughout Brooklyn and NYC
There are tons of events happening in New York City this month to help you celebrate Father’s Day (June 16), and all of them are child-friendly. Check out our list of 11 fun and low-cost Father's Day events in NYC, including two in Brooklyn.
Nostalgia Ride to Coney Island
New York Transit Museum, Brooklyn Heights
Another event happening in Coney Island—at least partly—is the New York Transit Museum’s Nostalgia Ride to Coney Island. Dad and family can ride a 1930s-era R1 subway on a two-hour jaunt that ends at Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue. Participants can venture onto the Boardwalk for some lively excitement—the kind of oddness that defines Coney Island—or they can keep on ridin’. Reservations required; contact the museum for departure instructions.
Check out our guide to carousels in the New York City area
Find amusement parks in NY, as well as NJ, and CT
Search our full calendar of events for more fun family activities