A shared fondness for Renaissance Faires brought my husband and I together years ago, so we were excited to be invited to King Richard's Faire this fall. For my family, the fun began weeks before the fair actually opened for the season, with trips to the fabric store and internet searches for costume ideas. Of course, fancy costumes are not required. A pair of home-made fairy wings will do, and street clothes are totally acceptable as well (though less fun in my opinion!). Renaissance fairs are a strange mix of theater, music, and circus. King Richard's Faire is no exception, with everything from a multi-act story performed on the main stage to jousting, tiger shows, and fire-eaters. There is no real loyalty to historical era or national culture. Belly dancers perform on stage with bagpipe players in kilts.
Larger-than-life corn mazes offer families the challenge of finding their way through winding paths to solve a mystery, claim a prize, or just make it to the other side - a perfect fall activity that gets kids and parents working together. Choose a farm with a corn maze to take your apple picking and pumpkin patch excursions up a level, plan an unforgettable birthday bash for your child, or just have a blast as a family. Here are four of the Boston area's best corn mazes for an outdoor autumn adventure.
Nothing says fall in New England like a family excursion to the apple orchards. With many orchards to choose from, families can head a short distance from Boston for their choice of places to pick their own apples starting in early September through mid-October.
We’ve assembled a list of some of our favorite places to pick apples near Boston, but with over 50 farms in the area offering apple picking, there are many more to choose from. In addition to apple picking, many of the orchards offer petting farms, country stores, hay rides, corn mazes, and other kid-friendly activities, so leave plenty of time to take advantage of all these farms have to offer. You can also plan your child's fall farm birthday party at some of the farms.
And if you're looking for some ideas for what to do with all those apples, we've put together some of our favorite apple recipes for inspiration!
We love that there are so many options for enrichment outside of school for our kids. From music to art to robotics, Boston has it all. What we don’t love is how difficult it can be to choose from all those options. We definitely don’t relish the idea of blindly committing to several weeks of a class when we’re not even sure who the instructor is or what our kids will actually be doing in the class. Really, if you can sample ice cream before deciding on a flavor, shouldn’t you be able to try a class before you register? We think so, and luckily, so do the places on this list. Some are hosting open houses where you can check out programs and meet the instructors, while others offer a free trial class – try before you buy, so to speak.
With all the press about the mom who got arrested for leaving her nine-year-old child unattended in a park, and the resulting outrage, it’s raised the question across the country: What's an appropriate amount of freedom for kids, and what is not? Growing up in NYC in the '70s, my friends and I played outside and roamed around independently from an early age even though the city, in general, was not as safe as it is now. We learned street smarts and independence that, undoubtedly, spilled over into other areas of our lives.
For many reasons, parenting seems different today. There's a lot more pressure to constantly supervise children, even older kids. It can be hard to imagine that our "babies" will ever be ready to go out into the wide world alone. But with the start of a new school year, the reality is that many children will begin traveling on their own or with a group of friends. With my kids—a teenager who is fully independent and a tween who is just learning to navigate the city on his own—I've modified the '70s-style figure-it-out-on-your-own approach to include today's more stringent safety consciousness to develop a training course my kids must complete before being allowed out on their own.
Here's how I taught my own kids to be street smart city kids from an early age:
Halloween is a holiday that celebrates creativity. Decorations and costumes provide opportunities to let your imagination go wild and to see old things in a new way. The policy in our house is that costumes must be created primarily from things we already have. Last year, my Smurfs-obsessed child went as Gutsy Smurf – his kilt and sash were made from an old flannel shirt we had stashed in a “get rid of” bag in the basement. In that vein, I've found a few DIY costume pieces that could be the inspiration for (or cherry on top of) a great costume. I've also rounded up some Halloween decor to create with your kids. Why buy decorations when you can make fabulously spooky ones like these? (If this post inspires your inner crafter and you're looking for even more ideas, take a look at these cheap and easy Halloween crafts from our LA editor.)
We're glad you're here at Mommy Poppins Boston, your free online resource for everything for families and kids in the greater Boston area. We'd love to hear from you with any questions or suggestions! — Tara