Our list of 17 fun and low-cost things to do with kids in Brooklyn this February includes a film festival, concerts and shows, and where to celebrate Black History Month in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Boerum Hill, Canarsie, Crown Heights, Fort Greene, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights.
BAM Rose Cinemas, Fort Greene
Children are natural cinephiles, able to appreciate the absurdities of life as presented in motion pictures—tailored for their age group—often unlike grown-ups, whose stressed-out lives often mar the cinema experience (no, I’m not talking about myself here…). The BAMkids Film Festival presents children ages 2-10 an annual opportunity to be transported beyond their microcosm to other worlds and experiences, and to experience the world through a character or filmmaker’s prism. Now in its 15th year, the film festival will present 76 films from 24 countries in various formats. There will be a shorts program for toddlers and preschoolers, an animation program for kids ages 7-9, and feature-length fare for kids who can sit through a longer and more challenging narrative. Kindie rock performers Suzi Shelton and the Deedle Deedle Dees will perform, and kids will have the opportunity to meet and interview the filmmakers.
Hip Tot Music Festival at Littlefield, Park Slope
Some of us have listened to Dan Zanes wonderful family music records more than just a little. A major component on these albums is a Jamaican-born reggae/dancehall toaster named Father Goose, who does things like sing the alphabet song in dancehall style and many other traditional songs drenched in calypso/reggae feel. Father Goose, the namesake of Wayne Rhoden, who is furthermore known to fans of reggae and dancehall as Rankin Don, recently released a children’s record (It’s a Bam Bam Diddly) full of family friendly nursery rhymes and toasting with the requisite reggae and Caribbean flavors. The album features guests such as Zanes, Sheryl Crow, Sister Carol, and some Caribbean music stars. Father Goose’s performances are known to be dance-filled parties that overflow with good times, and lots of earth-shattering bass!
Roulette, Boerum Hill
Like most kid-friendly events at Brooklyn’s Roulette, an interdisciplinary performance space and incubator for innovative composers, Paul Pinto’s Anyone’s Story will open children’s eyes wider to experience concepts and activities that are hardly within their normal purview. Here, Pinto offers kids who like to sing a chance to marry their own lyrical ideas with backing tracks he created. The composer will begin the event by leading a lesson on improvisational vocalizing. Following, participants will use headphones and a iPod-type device (not supplied by the venue, so bring your own) and spread themselves around the venue to sing what Pinto describes as an “antiphonal choral song.” Really, your guess is as good as ours what this all means, but we can trust Paul Pinto and Roulette to do something different. Kids, we’re not seeing Disney on Ice today! (Visit pfpinto.com/anyone to download tracks.)
Brooklyn Public Library, central branch, Prospect Heights
The car radio often serves as the primary means to introduce my kids to a full range of music and culture, and by now they’ve heard it all. The presets summon non-commercial stations like WKCR (mostly classical and jazz) and WFMU (free-form madness that covers everything from Afro-pop to black metal to industrial droning) and WQXR (accessible and friendly classical). Recently, out of nowhere, my son professed an admiration of improvised jazz in the vein of Cecil Taylor, and it made me realize the importance of exposing children to a broad range of music. Jazz is a great launch pad, and singer Christiana Drapkin (pictured) and her trio strive to educate and entertain young listeners at Bop Goes the Weasel. “Bop” of course refers to bebop, the fast-tempo jazz style that is forever linked with Charlie Parker. Drapkin and her trio will mine the vast universe of jazz standards for songs that will have children grooving and appreciating all that jazz offers. FREE!
College of Staten Island Center for the Arts, Staten Island
Celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year this month by watching the Peking Acrobats perform amazing feats. Though acrobatics was once a large part of Chinese culture, this art form was banned in the country in the wake of the Cultural Revolution when Chariman Mao enforced strict communist doctrine in place of authentic traditions. This is why seeing the Peking Acrobats is a rare and wonderful opportunity (and worth the trip to Staten Island!). This 2,000-year-old discipline passes down the requirement among its participants that each successive generation surpass the previous one in acrobatic ability. By now, things are simply out of hand as trick cycling, contortion, juggling, and balancing feats combine with great costumery, traditional Chinese music performed live, and special effects, thus creating two hours of immersion in Chinese culture of yore.
Check out 20 more fun events to celebrate Chinese New Year in NYC
Check out our guide to a dozen fun events celebrating Black History Month in Brooklyn this February, including family shows and kids' workshops in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Canarsie, Crown Heights, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights.
A guide to kid-friendly museums in the NYC area
Where to go skiing and snowboarding
See our full calendar of events for even more fun and low-cost family activities in Brooklyn and the NYC area