Why We Created Manhattan Kids Guide

They Grow Up so Fast

This publication came about through our need to connect with activities for kids for our then toddler daughter. Things have changed a lot from then and our daughter is now in middle school.

Reflecting on the Past

The years do go by quickly and we are in awe of our daughter and the wonderful person she is. We continue to do this publication in part because we are supportive of the Blog Coalition of which we are members, but also because there is a part of us that makes us want to remember every phase our daughter has gone through.

What We all Have in Common

We don’t list activities for kids on this blog all that often. Times have changed but we’re really all kids at heart.

Our Kids and the Virus

New Questions

Parenting has a new stressor that was not anticipated: taking care of your kids in the Coronavirus age. Awareness of COVID-19 only started around a month ago and prior to that time our hands were already full.  Now tension has increased as we are faced with new questions.

Facing the Same Problems

As seen in this post on the blog “Manhattan Coronavirus,” even just getting something as basic as food for our kids has become a challenge. In the case of the writer in the article, he tried over 10 methods to get food delivered for his family but none of them worked. Thankfully though, he came up with a solution.

New Doors Needed

As parents we are faced with new virus driven fears and tasks to overcome for our families. How will we find new indoor fun ways for them to play? How will they exercise? How do we assist them with not going stir crazy? What activities and knowledge can we open the doors for them in the virtual world?

Important Now

We are faced with having to wing it with no precedence of other parents having faced the same challenges. We are the first. Hopefully one day this will become a distant memory, but for now it is time to be creative to keep our children safe, healthy and happy.

How to Start a Children’s Theater Company

How Do Some Perceive Children’s Theater?

Starting a children’s theater company means that you are taking on special work. Many perceive children’s theater as nothing more than a group that performs story characters, possibly borrowed from a popular kids book, who act in an extreme and silly manner. Many write off childrens theater as nothing more than vapid entertainment that the family enjoys and does not have to do a lot of analyzing.

The Impactful Side of Children’s Theater

In truth, children participating in the productions (or watching them) are impacted in meaningful ways. Children’s theater helps a kid’s development. It can actually increase intelligence through participation. Additionally it opens up a whole new vista for the child. Depending on the production they are participating in, they can make discoveries that will last them a lifetime.

More Positives About Children’s Theater

Children’s theater helps kids to imagine new worlds and ultimately be more empathetic. Young minds also are opened up to a better understanding of what they read. Going through the process of putting up a production can change the point of view of youths.

Grades Can Go Up

Studies have shown that kids who do theater much of the time have better grades in school.

What is Special About Your Group?

We have taken a bit of time exploring the “why” of children’s theater, now we are going to look at the “how.” Having a mission is important. Also it should differentiate you from other companies. What is special about your group? For marketing and promotional ideas check out websites like How to Get New Customers. You can also explore sites such as Magic Neighbors and their theater company.

Get Prepared

Once this is established decide on what method of being able to accept donation you want. Do you want to be a nonprofit? This is possible but it takes time. And easier way of doing this is to get another nonprofit to fiscally sponsor you. There are organizations dedicated to this very thing. Search fiscal sponsorship in your area. You also should also open a bank account in the name of your company to put donations in.

Finding a Space for Your Children’s Theater Company

You’ll also need a space. Chances are you don’t have a big budget so you might consider solutions like staging performance in a church’s community area. Or some churches even have stages.

A Business Idea for Children’s Theater

Another way of bringing in money is through offering classes to kids which the parents pay for in conjunction with staging a particular production. Parents will enjoy seeing their children perform.

Fun Things to do in NYC

Manhattan is a Playground

We live in Inwood Manhattan but frequently travel all over this amazing metropolis doing all kinds of activities. Manhattan is an amazing playground for families with everything under the sun. Some activities cost money whereas many do not. The great thing is that many of the activities are educational yet fun and will make a big impression on kids.

Fun and Interesting Activities

Some fun and interesting activities include The Empire State Building, New York Transit Museum, The Highline Park, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Central Park, The Brooklyn Bridge and the Natural History Museum just to name a few.

Harmony in New York

As a mom of an 11 year old living in Manhattan, it is important to me that my child experience all the city has to offer. One of our favorite activities is swimming. Another is simply going through the city and visiting the exciting and different areas of cultures that live together in harmony.

Free Stuff to Do With Your Child

Plus, there is lots of free stuff you can do. This includes the Museum of the City of New York, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Houdini Museum, The Queens County Farm Museum and the Brooklyn Museum. This is just the tip of the iceberg of wonderful things that can be done in Manhattan for free.

Manhattan is Magical

My husband, who has a background in magic, especially likes the Houdini Museum and several of his Society of American Magician meetings have been held there. Although we have gone to several different magic shows, my daughter and I have yet to visit the Houdini Museum. We look forward to doing so.

Scratching the Surface

Of course we’ve barely scratched the surface of what is possible in this wonderous city. The key is to keep you eyes open for more new experiences that you and your kids can have. We wish to thank Lights Camera Read for giving us some of these ideas.

Disney Whistle Blower as Seen in Manhattan Kids Guide

Disney? Is it Possible?

We generally stick to articles just about kids, their families and magical journeys. But we thought this would be an important look at an aspect of growing up for many children: Walt Disney.

Billions Over?

The somewhat shocking accusation comes from a former senior accountant at Disney. The gist of it is that this whistle blower is claiming that Disney overstated it’s revenue by billions of dollars – as much as 6 billion in fact.

Claims Denied

Disney’s response to this whistle blower’s accusation was that  the claims were “Utterly without merit.” Manhattan Magician would tend to agree.

Your Kids

How could this be important to you as a parent? If these accusations are accurate it could cause you to look again at Disney as a supplier of entertainment and more for your children.


Don’t get us wrong. We love Disney. In truth, our daughter is a major Disney fan, especially of their cruises, where you get to live the magic.

Sandra Kuba

But has the magic now been tainted? Sandra Kuba, an employee at Disney for nearly two decades made her claims known by filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A Trustworthy Source?

Also, can the whistle blower be trusted? This employee was fired because of apparently displaying a pattern of workplace complaints against coworkers without a reasonable basis for doing so. Manhattan Magician tends to believe this also.

What Do YOU Think?!

We believe, as does Market Your Journey, that it is likely that Disney will snap back like it always does and this incident will be a small blip in its stellar reputation. But we want to know what you think.

Does this Affect Your Feelings About Disney?

Would this cause you to think twice about purchasing Disney items? Or is it considered, in these weird times, something that is just business doing business?

Thanks to Those Who Have Already Responded

We received responses from readers of an early version of this blog post and thank them for their input. Seems most feel Disney will get through this without a scratch!

The Magic of Magic Neighbors Theater Company

A World of Magic

There are certain organizations that are really making a difference in the Inwood Manhattan community and beyond. Magic Neighbors Theater Company is one such group. They primarily perform in libraries but basically will share their magic virtually anywhere they are needed. They help affirm for kids that magic is real, a feeling that hopefully they will keep as they get older. One thing we can never have enough of in this world is magic.

Manhattan Magician is Still a Member of Magic Neighbors

We have long supported Magic Neighbors and have been to many of their shows. The thing that makes them different is that their presentations are part story and part magic show. In fact, Manhattan Magician holds a book from which he reads, interspersed with the display of magic tricks. And as we understand it, a group called Market Your Journey are acting as consultants for the “Real Magic” aspect. Magic Neighbors are always the pioneers!

A Big Thumbs Up to Organizations that Support Magic Neighbors

We know that it is tough to keep a company like Magic Neighbors going, so we are thrilled that they are finding assistance through How to Get New Customers. This new resource assists those who need help doing something that is making a difference in their neighborhood and community.

Magic Neighbors is a Community Forum

A factor of Magic Neighbors is the way they open up their process for possible participation from all. They appreciate any input and from what we’ve been told have at times had great impact from the ideas presented.

Changing the Lives of Kids

It’s no surprise that Magic Neighbors is at times literally continuing on fumes as donations are hard to come by. Now that the fiscally sponsored organization Lights Camera Read is no longer able to provide them with capital, Magic Neighbors is really existing on the pure love of theater and changing the lives of kids through performance.

Mission is Important

Additional ways you can support Magic Neighbors is through volunteering either behind the scenes or even as an actor. They are always looking for new participants in this area and even if you are short on theater training Magic Neighbors will likely give you a chance. This is because they are looking more for people who believe in their mission of making a difference in the lives of kids than you having to be a very experienced performer. Market Your Journey have recently volunteered.

Magic Through and Through

Always optimistic Magic Neighbors feels that 2020 is going to be a great year for them and we agree. They are most happy when they are making a difference and we know they will. Thank you Magic Neighbors for you terrific contribution to the community! You truly are magic!

Inwood Manhattan Several Month Later and It’s Stilll All About Middle Schools

Time to plan school supplies and more for the next school year!

Finally a Solution

We vented quite a bit last time regarding middle school placement for 6th grade and now several months later we have found a solution. In fact, in part, the reason we haven’t been updating this blog has a lot to do with M.S.A.D. (Middle School Application Distraction).

Schools Near Inwood Manhattan

Don’t get us wrong, we love Inwood Manhattan, but sometimes one wishes with a wave of the magician’s wand, this process could be over. In truth, it wasn’t until April when school selections were unveiled that relief was found. But frankly, that’s just the beginning of the next phase which is calling the school you wanted to have your child get into and hope that a slot opens up because someone who’s child had been accepted there decides to move on.

A Decision is Made!

Such was our story and ironically we ultimately did not accept offers from city schools but went with a Charter School instead!

How do You Get Your Kid into a Good Middle School if You Live in Inwood Manhattan?

The Stress Around Trying to Get Your Kid into a Decent Middle School
Inwood Manhattan parents, even as our 5th grade kids are taking out their pencils for the beginning of the school year, stress has been turned up to “High” as we embark on the perilous journey of trying to get our children into a decent Middle School!

A Big Problem to Face

We of “Manhattan Kids Guide” are also parents and are facing the very thing that many other parents of Inwood Manhattan have faced before us: the stress of trying to get your kid into a good middle school in upper Manhattan.

The Challenging Transition from 5th Grade to 6th Grade

The thing is, you start worrying the moment your child enters 5th grade. It’s as if you are motivated out of fear by a timer, realizing that although early December is the actual deadline for submitting your list of choices, there’s no guarantee that after you submit it that your child will be placed at ANY of you choices.

How do You Get Your Kid into an Acceptable School?

This is easier said than done and requires a process that is even more overwhelming than getting your child into decent grammar school. So what’s a parent to do whose child is in 5th grade and will be entering middle school in the coming school year?

The Stigma of Where We Live in District 6

Some of the schools in district 6 are fine, but the specific area where we live in District 6 has a stigma. We don’t have the same options of those who only live a few blocks away from us. In other words we don’t automatically qualify for the better schools because of the city block we live in. Location, location, location, has never been so true!

Trying to Put Together a List

Our original concept for this Op Ed piece was to create a list of the best Middle School choices for Inwood Manhattan parents including both Public and Charter Schools. At the time of publishing this we are still putting that list together. It will consist of the schools recommended by our daughter’s current grammar school as well as other finds we’ve made.

The Reality of Getting Your Child to and from Her/His Middle School

The sad reality is that if we are even lucky enough for our child to get into an acceptible Middle School it will likely be one that is several miles away which in the city has 3 basic possibilities for travel.

The 3 Travel Realities When it Comes to Middle School:

(1) You can drive your child to school (we don’t have a car ourselves).

(2) You can bring your child to school by subway which means a trip there for drop off, a trip back, then a trip for pick up, followed by another return. This can easily equal 4 hours of your day as a parent just in travel!

(3) You allow your sixth grader to take the subway herself or himself (which some parents do).

Which of the 3 Realities Do We Potentionally Face?

Since we don’t have a car (and many in Inwood Manhattan don’t) number (1) is out for us.

Being that we refuse to let our then-to-be 11 year old child to fend for herself in the subway means a “no” on option for (3). Even if she was a part of a group of kids going together, we think 11 is too young to be potentially accosted by the latent dangers of the city.

Losing 20 Hours a Week to Keep Your Child Safe

So (2) is the choice we’d be forced to do and lose 4 hours a day, 5 days a week or 20 hours a week just in traveling. Of course there are also potentially an option (4) a school bus, as well as (5) an MTA bus. But you have to be dealing with very specific schools for (4) and (5) to be possible.

Unfortunately Travel is Just the Beginning

Once more, all of this travel talk is presupposing that the DOE (Department of Education) even selects our child for a decent school.

So What’s a Parent to Do?

If you are an Inwood Manhattan mom or dad, feel free to bring your insights and feelings to the table by sending us a message here. Thanks for reading our little vent.

Manhattan Kids Guide Lists 5 Educational Websites

Manhattan Kids Guide Educational Websites
Although there are many wonderful education based websites out there, Manhattan Kids Guide selected 5 of them that our kids have enjoyed as well as ourselves.


This site is just what its name implies: it’s Fun for your Brain! It has wonderful online reading from Pre-K through to 8th Grade so if you have a very young child, she or he could end up enjoying FunBrain for many years to come.

FunBrain describes itself as being a site that is created for kids in grades Pre-K through 8. They also mention that they have been a leader in free educational games for kids since 1997. Funbrain offers hundreds of games, books, comics, and videos that develop skills in math, reading, problem-solving and literacy.


As long as we’re on the topic of “Brains” here’s another enjoyable website for the mind of a child called BrainPop. This a terrific learning destination for kids and includes Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Arts & Music, Health, Engineering & Tech as well as New & Trending topics. A great resource.

Wikipedia.org describes BrainPop as being s a group of educational websites with over 1,000 short animated movies for students in grades K-12 (ages 6 to 17), together with quizzes and related materials, covering the subjects of science, social studies, English, mathematics, engineering and technology, health, and arts and music. Amazingly BrainPop is used in more than 20% of U.S. schools and also offers subscriptions for families and homeschoolers.

National Geographic Kids

I love this site. My 10 year old has as strong interest in animals but there’s more to National Geographic Kids than just animals. It has answers to questions about the world around us. There’s also an entire family section which is very useful and illuminating.

National Geographic Kids describe themselves as being inspiring to young adventurers to explore the world through award-winning magazines, books, apps, games, toys, videos, events, and a website. And the differentiation factor between National Geographic Kids and other online experiences is that it is the only kids brand with a world-class scientific organization at its core. Impressive!

ABC Mouse

My child learned a lot from this kids website when she was very young. It made learning for her fun and engaging.

ABC Mouse describes itself as being a global education initiative of Age of Learning, Inc. Their goal is to help children build a strong foundation for future academic success by providing a comprehensive and engaging online curriculum to greatly assist early learners to succeed in pre-k, kindergarten, and early elementary school programs.

How Stuff Works

How Stuff Works is another terrific resource. It literally teaches older kids (and Mom and Dads too) How Stuff Works! A lot of interesting material here. Enough for hours of discussions!

Wikipedia describes How Stuff Works as being an American commercial educational website founded by Marshall Brain to provide its target audience an insight into the way many things work. The site uses various media to explain complex concepts, terminology, and mechanisms—including photographs, diagrams, videos, animations, and articles.

Final Notes

You can’t go wrong with any of these wonderful online education conduits. Hope you and your kids have a chance to enjoy them!

Alison Stamas’ Top 5 Manhattan Kids Guide Activity Resources

Manhattan Kids Guide has 5 Pages of Activities for Your Family from Alison Stamas
Manhattan Kids Guide has 5 Pages of Activities for Your Family from Alison Stamas

Hi all. Alison Stamas here. Happy July! It’s been a while since I’ve done a post for Manhattan Kids Guide but wanted to mention some of these terrific publications in a list as we are always looking for ideas for fun activities for our kids. My top 5 Manhattan Kids Guide activity resources are all New York City based and chock full of fun ideas for kids, tweens and teens. These 5 online publications can be found below. Also, if you have any blog ideas you’d like to contribute to Manhattan Kids Guide, as always please go to our contact page here.

1. Mommy Poppins

Mommy Poppins has always been a terrific friend to Manhattan Kids Guide and they are a wonderful place to get ideas for kids activities in the city. Even though the article entitled “40 Things To Do on a NYC Staycation with Kids” is from last year, it is still very relevant and might inspire some ideas that you’d like to pursue!

2. Time Out

Time Out is another website that Manhattan Kids Guide is grateful to for their featuring of some of our kids festivals over the years, that we’ve done in conjunction with Lights Camera Read. Their post called “Cool indoor activities for kids in NYC” is also from last year but is as current as can be with its host of kid friendly activities.

Here is a picture of my daughter Lily (in top left image of the composite photo) between Jason Bishop magician and his assistant Kim Hess taken after the magic show at the New Victory Theater.
Here is a picture of my daughter Lily (in top left image of the composite photo) between Jason Bishop magician and his assistant Kim Hess taken after the magic show at the New Victory Theater.

3. Curbed

As New Yorkers we sometimes forget or never get to the very things that tourists do almost immediately. Curbed has a great list of things you can do in our great city that are “touristy” but well worth doing with the kids. These include one of my personal favorites which is seeing a show at the New Victory Theater. Our family attended a magic performance there recently and had a wonderful time. It was called “Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic.” Above is a picture after the show of my daughter Lily with the magician himself, Jason Bishop plus his magical assistant Kim Hess. My husband John especially enjoyed the performance because he used to be a magician and occasionally puts on his magic hat of Manhattan Magician for our New York Public Library touring theater company for kids called Magic Neighbors.

4. NYMetroParents

NYMetroParents actually has a search function on their site that features finding kid activities by categories including Date, Age, Price and More.

5. NYCgo

And finally there is NYCgo which calls itself the official guide of NYC. And best of all it has a page filled with lots of enjoyable activities that are all…free. Our family has done several of the outings and were quite pleased with the experiences. Plus, you can find out about cool stuff happening around town like Restaurant Week and Broadway 2 for 1 shows

In Closing

So there you have it, my top 5 Manhattan Kids Guide related resouces. I hope you are able to find something that you will enjoy doing with your kids. If you would like to contact us please go to our Manhattan Kids Guide contact page here.