By Mary Frost
Looking for some fun activities to spice up your summer but don’t want to sign up the kids for summer camp? Many kids’ programs and parks in Brooklyn offer drop-in classes for an informal hour or two of fun. Here are a few:
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts free Discovery Workshops in the children’s Discovery Garden on Tuesdays from 1:30–3:30 p.m. through August 28. Each week, young gardeners explore a different nature theme and create their own window sill planting or nature craft. (Cancelled if over 95 degrees.) For more information, visit bbg.org/discovery
Gumbo, at 493 Atlantic Ave. (between Nevins and Third), is the venue for a large number of classes and meet-ups for moms and kids. Gumbo’s summer drop-in classes for the little ones include Yogani on Saturdays; Musica Para Mi, on Saturdays and Wednesdays; French for Little Ones on Thursdays and Music for Aardvarks on Fridays. Call 718-855-7808 or visit www.gumbobrooklyn.blogspot.com/
ArtsCetera, at 212 Smith St., between Butler and Baltic Streets in Boerum Hill, offers sing along and open play sessions four days a week. $10. Drop-in music and art classes take place Monday through Friday ($25). Reservations are required one day in advance. See http://artscetera.com
AudraRox offers Music for Aardvarks and theater classes for children ages birth to 5 years all over Brooklyn and Queens. One offering is a 3-5-year-old drop-off class for $30. You must register in advance by email. www.audrarox.com
Carroll Park in Boerum Hill boasts a popular summer playground associates program run by Kathleen Henderson, who supplies the children with toys, organizes games and runs arts & crafts projects. Estimated hours: Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Visit www.carrollparkbrooklyn.org/
Brooklyn Bridge Park offers Weekend Family Programs at Pier 6 and Main Street with playground associates who lead educational based activities. There are different themes each weekend. The theme on July 28–29 is handmade puppets. Other free activities for kids and families include chess classes, volleyball lessons, art classes, and now swimming lessons ($75, register online ASAP, registration ends soon). Visit www.brooklynbridgepark.org
Pierrepont Playground in Brooklyn Heights hosts its free Summer Arts Program through mid-August. Science and Movement (recommended for kids ages 4 and up) takes place Mondays from 2:30–4:30 p.m. Their Creative Arts program takes place Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays from 10 a.m.–noon. More at http://www.bhplaygrounds.org/
CityParks Junior Golf: Located next to the Dyker Beach public golf course in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, the CityParks Junior Golf Center is a new, state-of-the-art facility that offers free golf instruction to New York City children between the ages of 7-17. Sign up now for August classes. Visit http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/sports/junior-golf-center/ or call 718-259-2999.
Dancing Through Brooklyn Parks in Sunset Park: Young Dancers in Repertory provides children ages 5-14 with a free dance class and demonstration at three different parks in Brooklyn. Classes will be held at Leif Erickson Park located at 5th Avenue and 66th Street (Wednesday, Aug. 1). Martin Luther Playground located at 2nd avenue and 55th street (Tuesday, July 31). Sunset Park located at 44th street and 6th avenue (Thursday, 26 and Aug. 2). Classes are held from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information call 347-702-7155.
Free Swimming Lessons: The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation offers free summer swimming lessons for children from 18 months through adulthood at public pools. Sessions run July 25–Aug. 9; and Aug. 13-24. In addition, children ages 6–18 who can swim 50 meters in good form can join free swim teams. The catch: you need to enter the online lottery to snag a slot. See http://www.nycgovparks.org/registration/aquatics
Urban Park Rangers: The Urban Park Rangers offers a summer full of free outdoor programs including hiking, orienteering, canoeing, birding, and fishing activities for families. You can even camp overnight in local parks! Visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/urbanparkrangers