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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend for kids in NYC

We've got the scoop on tons of fun happenings (some are even free!) for kids over Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend

Photograph: DiMenna Children's History Museum

We may be on the heels of the holiday break, but we're still grateful for the three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend. There are plenty of events and activities for NYC families over the long weekend, so don't worry about keeping the kids busy on their day off from school. Visit one of the best ice-skating rinks in New York City for families, watch one of our 50 favorite kids movies, check out our favorite indoor activities for kids and learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s groundbreaking civil rights work. 

Saturday

Civil Rights Weekend Scavenger Hunt

In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, families can participate in an educational scavenger hunt through the museum. Kids will set out to sleuth around the exhibit "Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein," matching faces to the names of famous Civil Rights activists. Ages 8 and up.

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"Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters"

If Hurricane Sandy has taught New Yorkers anything, it's that no one is safe from the forces of nature. Though we often hear news of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis obliterating areas around the world, many were shocked that a place like NYC could be hit by such a massive storm. Now families can learn more about these natural disasters through an interactive exhibit that lets kids bone up on the geological causes, the risks to humans, coping in the aftermath and how to predict future destruction. Hands-on activities invite visitors to monitor earthquakes around the world in real time, manipulate an earthquake fault, generate a virtual volcano, stand at the center of a roaring tornado and check out an interactive map of NYC during the hurricane in 2012. All ages.

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Cut, Fold, Tear: Paper Animation

Show little gallery-goers that art doesn't have to be still and on a canvas through special screenings of live-action and animated films at MoMA. In January, families can watch two-dimensional paper come to life in unique shorts that tell stories about the magic of snow, a bathtub that's swept out to sea, and beyond. Simple materials like torn scraps, watercolor paintings and even Avery labels animate the tales with help from stop-motion and other techniques. Afterward, the youngsters will have a chance to discuss what they've seen with a MoMA educator. Grab tickets at the reception desk in the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building (4 W 54th St) from 10–10:30am and from 11:30am–noon. Ages 5 and up.

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Scandinavian Sing-Along

Danish musician Vibe Normann gives kids an introduction to Scandinavian music using English interpretations. Kids will play games, perform tunes and dance to the beat as they explore a new culture. Ages 1 to 7.

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Sunday

Meet Lynda Blackmon Lowery

Kids can learn about the Civil Rights movement firsthand and meet a hero: Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the youngest participant in the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. She'll share her young-adult memoir Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom and speak about her experience in the nonviolent protest for African-American rights. Visitors can ask Lowery questions and explore the NYHS exhibit "Freedom Journey 1965" before heading out on a Civil Right scavenger hunt. Ages 8 and up.

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Everything About a Family (Almost)

Audiences will love this unique musical with a script and music made almost entirely by kids. Watch the story of a little girl who doesn't feel like she belongs—She'll join another family reunion only to realize her own quirky family has been the one for her all along. All ages.

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Around the World with CMA: Irish Festival

The Irish Arts Center partners with CMA so that city kids can explore the Emerald Isle’s culture through music, dance and theater performances, as well as storytelling and art workshops for the wee ones. All ages.

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Abstract Painters Revealed

During this special workshops, families will dive into the colorful worlds of painters Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis as they tour the Jewish Museum's current exhibition "From the Margins: Lee Krasner | Norman Lewis, 1945–1952" and observe their use of rhythmic lines, layers and other techniques. Drawing inspiration from the abstract images of jazz musicians, kids and parents can take paint to paper in the art studio and create textures using forks, scrapers, combs, sponges and brushes, all while listening to jazz tunes to get their creative juices flowing. Ages 6 to 10.

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"Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters"

If Hurricane Sandy has taught New Yorkers anything, it's that no one is safe from the forces of nature. Though we often hear news of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis obliterating areas around the world, many were shocked that a place like NYC could be hit by such a massive storm. Now families can learn more about these natural disasters through an interactive exhibit that lets kids bone up on the geological causes, the risks to humans, coping in the aftermath and how to predict future destruction. Hands-on activities invite visitors to monitor earthquakes around the world in real time, manipulate an earthquake fault, generate a virtual volcano, stand at the center of a roaring tornado and check out an interactive map of NYC during the hurricane in 2012. All ages.

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Monday

29th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Acclaimed singer/songwriter/actor (and personal friend of MLK) Harry Belafonte is the keynote speaker at BAM’s yearly celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Following the speech are performances by the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir and Kindred The Family Soul as well as an art show by students from the Saratoga Village Community Center. Plus, since this year's MLK Day coincides with President Obama's inauguration, families can stick around for a live stream of the ceremony. Ages 5 and up.

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Ice Theatre of New York at Newport Skates

Bundle up and hop on the PATH train this MLK Day for a special figure skating performance at Jersey City's only outdoor rink. Jessica Huot, six-time Finnish National Ice Dance champion, and Christian Erwin, three-time USA Nationals competitor, will hit the ice for a duet and perform alongside figure skating champs from Ice Theatre of New York. If you're feeling inspired after the show, stick around for open skating ($7 admission/$6 skate rental per person). All ages.

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Activist NY: I Have A Dream

Families can celebrate MLK Day by learning about how New Yorkers of the past 350 years fought for freedom and equality. After exploring the museum's "Activist New York" exhibit, browse books about Martin Luther King, Jr. and other prominent activists. Kids can then make their own book marks inspired by Dr. King and his dream. No RSVP required. All ages.

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TADA! One-Day Camp

Youngsters can spend their day off from school learning the ABCs of musical theater through games, improv and dramatic play. The theme on MLK Day is, appropriately, "Find The Dream in You!" Families are invited to watch the last 20 minutes of the day. Early drop-off is available for an additional $10. Ages 6 to 11.

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Preservation Detectives Family Program: What's Your Dream?

This special MLK Day edition of the museum's Preservation Detectives program starts with a reading of Kobi Yamada's award-winning story, What Do You Do With An Idea? Next, kids and their families will make a mural inspired by Martin Luther King's most famous speech and their own dreams. Reservations highly recommended. Ages 4 to 10 with a grown-up.

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