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Mid-winter break: Best things to do over Presidents' Day weekend

Mid-winter break may be short this year for public school students, but there are still tons of fun activities to keep kids busy during the 2013 recess.

  1. Saturday
  2. Sunday
  3. Monday
  4. Tuesday

Tuesday, February 19

Sizzle at the Zoo

  • Price band: 1/4

Counting down the days till summer already? Escape the wintry air by spending an afternoon inside the Staten Island Zoo's balmy rain-forest exhibit. There, kids can engage in tropical crafts and activities, surrounded by warm-weather animals all the while. Bonus: Guests who don a tropical get-up score $1 off admission. All ages.

  1. Staten Island Zoo 614 Broadway, between Clove Rd and Forest Ave
  2. Until Tue Feb 19
More info

NYC Compost Project in Queens: I Heart Worms

  • Price band: 1/4

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Queens Botanical Garden, which puts its own spin on the heart-filled holiday with festive compost-cookie making for you and your little naturalists. Be sure to stick around for the compost tutorials— and, of course, the worms (hey, they have five pairs of hearts). Registration is required. Ages 5 and up.

  1. Queens Botanical Garden 43-50 Main St, at Dahlia Ave
  2. Tue Feb 18
More info

Intrepid Kids Week

The West Side vessel sponsors nine days of kid-friendly activities, including special themed events like Under the Big Top Weekend (Feb 16 and 17), featuring Ringling Bros. performers, Science Meets Science Fiction Day (Feb 18), featuring a special Gazillion Bubble Show and a demonstration by a NASA scientist, and On Broadway (Feb 19), with performances by cast members from Peter and the Starcatcher, Annie, and Cinderella. The rest of the week features Intrepid Ports of Call Day (Feb 20–22), where kids travel around the world to each of the Intrepid's ports, and Sports n' Games Weekend (Feb 23 and 24), with appearances by the New York Jets and Rangers. Ages 7 to 17.

  1. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Pier 86, Twelfth Ave, at 46th St
  2. Sat Feb 16 - Sun Feb 24
More info

Presidents in Residence!

  • Price band: 1/4

Keep busy during the midwinter break with a week-long celebration of the country's commanders-in-chief. Tots will search for presidential clues on a museum-wide scavenger hunt, create an election button and slogan for their future campaign, and compete in a Presidents' quiz for the whole family. All ages.

  1. New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, between 76th and 77th Sts
  2. Sun Feb 23
More info

Meet James and Oliver Phelps at "Harry Potter the Exhibition"

Harry Potter aficionados get the chance to snag an autograph from James and Oliver Phelps, the British actors who played the Beasely twins in the HP film series. They'll be meeting and greeting their fans on three separate occasions inside "Harry Potter: The Exhibition." All ages.

  1. Discovery Times Square 226 W 44th St, between Seventh and Eighth Aves
  2. Sat Feb 16 - Tue Feb 19
More info

Presidents' Day at CMA

Little ones channel our country's commanders-in-chief as they write and record presidential speeches, design their own currency and create a flag. They'll also pay homage to their favorite presidents by producing stop-motion animation films and sculpting their likenesses in clay. All ages.

  1. Children's Museum of the Arts 103 Charlton St, between Greenwich and Hudson Sts, 10014
  2. Mon Feb 18 - Tue Feb 19
More info

Purim in the Palace

  • Price band: 1/4

Families are invited to get into the spirit of Purim with special drop-in offerings at the Jewish Children's Museum. Kids can join in a storytelling session with Queen Esther, search for King Achashverosh's signet ring, design their own Purim crown or mask, and make a Purim friendship basket for a special someone. Ages 2 to 12.

  1. Jewish Children's Museum 792 Eastern Pkwy, at Kingston Ave
  2. Sun Feb 17 - Tue Feb 19
More info

"They're Baaack! Return of the 17-year Cicadas"

  • Price band: 1/4

This exhibit all about cicadas, the noisy flying creatures, looks at why the genus Magicicad is called the 17-year cicada—and why they're coming back this spring. It will also let kids in on what the phenomenon looks like and what it has to teach humans. Check out the light sculpture Magicicada Staten Island Variation by artist Brendon Ballengée, a light sculpture set up in the museum's courtyard to attract the bugs and entymologists-in-training. All ages.

  1. Staten Island Museum 75 Stuyvesant Pl, at Wall St
  2. Sat Feb 16 - Tue Dec 31
More info

"Gutai: Splendid Playground"

The first major retrospective of the post-WWII Japanese art movement Gutai, a show in the Gugg's rotunda, will feature the innovative group's painting, installation art, performance, film, kinetic art and environment art in a decidedly interactive, kid-friendly way. The work Please Draw Freely invites viewers to draw on it, while a box dispenses original works of art. All ages.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Fri Feb 15 - Wed May 8
More info

Colors & Rhythm Remix

  • Price band: 1/4

Check out the mixed-media “wall carpets” at the museum’s “Sharon Lockhard | Noa Eshkol” exhibition, then make your own wearable version by cutting out shapes of fabric and creating a collage on a t-shirt or hat. Ages 4 and up.

  1. The Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Ave, at 92nd St, 10128
  2. Mon Feb 18 - Thu Feb 21
More info

Performance: Soul Steps

  • Price band: 1/4

This New York City-based group of Soul Steppers hails from all around the world, from Trinidad to Jamaica to Brooklyn and the Bronx. Tots will be awe-struck by their high-energy stomp and shout performance. All ages.

  1. Children's Museum of Manhattan 212 W 83rd St, between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway, 10024
  2. Until Tue Feb 19
More info

"Avatar: The Exhibition"

Fans of Avatar (2009), director James Cameron's now legendary film (it's the highest-grossing theatrical release of all time), won't want to miss this exhibition on the whys and hows of its creation. Savvy kids will learn about motion capture and 3-D technologies via interactive installations and original props from the movie. Ages 8 and up.

  1. Liberty Science Center 222 Jersey City Blvd, between Philip and Wilson Sts
  2. Sat Feb 16 - Sun May 19
More info

Bunnicula

  • Price band: 2/4

This musical tells the story of the Monroe family, who take in an orphaned rabbit only to discover that their adorable new pet may be a vampire. You haven’t seen a bunny so dangerous since Monty Python and the Holy Grail! Get tickets online, by phone, or at the DR2 box office, which opens an hour before every performance. Ages 5 to 12.

  1. DR2 Theatre 103 E 15th St, between Union Sq East and Irving Pl
  2. Fri Feb 15 - Sun Apr 14
Buy tickets

2013 Animation Celebration! Looking North

  • Free

In many Native American communities, winter is the season for storytelling. In recognition of that tradition, the Smithsonian's film fest showcases storytelling through film, screening animated shorts from Canada's Arctic and Subarctic regions. This year's picks include The Bear Facts, a re-imagining of the first interactions between the Inuit and the Europeans; How People Got Fire, a blend of Yukon storytelling and rotoscope animation; and The Owl and the Raven, which explains the legend of how ravens got their dark color. Ages 7 and up.

  1. National Museum of the American Indian Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, 1 Bowling Green, between State and Whitehall Sts
  2. Wed Feb 13 - Sun Mar 17
More info

"Curious George: Let's Get Curious"

  • Price band: 1/4

Children explore the neighborhood where the mischievous monkey and the Man in the Yellow Hat live, shopping at a sidewalk produce stand, using pulleys to help George hop between apartment windows and climbing the rocket George took on his space adventure.

  1. Liberty Science Center 222 Jersey City Blvd, between Philip and Wilson Sts
  2. Sat Feb 16 - Sun May 12
More info

"Face to Face"

This exhibition of 40 works drawn from the CMA's permanent collection focuses on self-portraiture spanning painting, drawing, digital technologies and film. Best of all, interactive installations let kids explore the genre themselves, taking in the shape, sound and texture of portraits, and trying out a photo booth that projects kids' images on the wall, which will stream into a montage that will become part of the museum's permanent collection. During the course of the show, CMA invites aspiring artists to submit their own works to the museum for possible inclusion in the museum's permanent collection. All ages.

  1. Children's Museum of the Arts 103 Charlton St, between Greenwich and Hudson Sts, 10014
  2. Wed Jun 5 - Sun Jun 9
More info

Show Way

  • Price band: 2/4

This musical traces the path of African American history, from slavery to the civil rights movement to the modern day, using the quilts, or “show ways,” sewed and passed down by seven generations of women. This story of bravery and hope is based on the Newbery Honor-winning book by Jacqueline Woodson. Ages 3 to 10.

  1. McGinn/Cazale Theatre 2162 Broadway, at 76th St, fourth floor
  2. Sat Feb 16 - Sun Mar 3
More info

Hot Chocolate Festival

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Heat-seeking chocoholic families flock to this annual festival, where City Bakery owner Maury Rubin serves a different flavor of his intoxicating cocoa every day during the month February. The lineup won’t be announced until January 18, but previous year’s highlights have included electic flavors like banana peel, spicy fig and even beer. Another favorite: Sunken Treasure, an indulgent cup with submerged caramel coins and chocolate truffles. Want a hot chocolate fix before February? Stop by any day of the week for the shop's delicious milk chocolate and dark chocolate varieties.

  1. City Bakery 3 W 18th St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10003
  2. Until Fri Feb 28
More info

"Living In Sequence"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  • Free

Little superhero fans may be obsessed with Batman, but what they might not know it that Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson created the Dark Knight of Gotham, along with Robin and the Joker, while sitting on a bench in Poe Park. At the "Living In Sequence" exhibit, kids will check out Batman's birthplace and learn about comic book illustrations from the golden age through the art form's modern iterations in the Bronx. All ages.

  1. Poe Park E 192nd St, between Grand Concourse and E Kingsbridge Rd
  2. Tue Feb 12 - Sat Mar 9
More info

The Prince & The Magic Flute

  • Price band: 1/4

This marionette-based production of Mozart's classic opera—about a prince and a bird-catcher who attempt to rescue a princess using enchanted bells and a magic flute—features simple songs adapted from the original score. Ages 3 and up.

  1. Puppetworks 338 Sixth Ave, at 4th St
  2. Sat Feb 16 - Sun Mar 24
More info

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