Celebrating Earth Day in Boston — Today and Every Day!

hands holding soil and seedlings (Earth Day in Boston)

If there’s one thing we can all come together on, it’s the desire for a brighter future for our children and our world. And every April 22, we celebrate a holiday that encourages just that — Earth Day! Earth Day is typically observed over the entire month of April, and there are so many ways to honor our planet this month and throughout the year. Here are a few celebrations to join in the Boston area — plus a few ideas to try out at home!

Earth Day Flowerpot Craft :: Hyde Park

Tuesday, April 16
4-5 PM

Time to get creative with a colorful Earth Day project! This craft takes place at the Hyde Park branch of the Boston Public Library and is a wonderful way to add some beauty to our planet. Stop by the library’s children’s room to decorate and plant seeds in a small flowerpot to celebrate Earth Day. Appropriate for ages 3 and up.

Earth Day Celebration on Science Center Plaza :: Harvard Square

Saturday, April 18
12-
2 PM

Join the Harvard Office for Sustainability and Harvard Common Spaces for an Earth Day Festival at the Science Center Plaza. Bring everyday items you no longer need, and pick up stuff for free at a Freecycle hosted by the Resource Efficiency Program and Harvard Recycling. No donation is required to shop! Have electronics to recycle? Harvard University Information Technology will collect them! Bring your bike to be checked, and commute safely and sustainably back home.

Charles River Cleanup :: Boston

Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20

The Charles River Cleanup is one of the largest Earth Day cleanups in the country! And this year is its 25th year — the perfect time to give back to the river and parks that are a centerpiece of the community.

2nd Annual Wicked Smaht Spring Festival: A Wicked Smaht Earth Day Celebration :: North Andover Common

Saturday, April 20
9 AM-4 PM

Shop local, eat local, and celebrate LOCAL with vendors, food trucks, special performances, face painting, and character photos. 

Earth Day & Birthday Celebration :: Weston

Saturday, April 20
10 AM-2 PM

Join friends at Land’s Sake Farm to connect to the land and see all the ways Land’s Sake works to inspire stewardship and sustainability! Enjoy the outdoors while engaging in “education stations” all over the farm, with fun activities like face painting and rock painting, animal visits, and meet-and-greets with farmers! There will also be live music and great local food trucks on site.

Earth Day Celebration :: Boston

Saturday, April 20
10 AM-2 PM

This free community celebration at Boston Building Resources will include live music, free food fresh from the grill, tie-dye fun, and activities like starting a sunflower from seed, a plant swap, resources for saving energy, and bike safety tips from the Boston Cyclists Union.

Earth Day with the Friends of the West End Branch Library! :: Boston

Saturday, April 20
1-3 PM

This Earth Day celebration will feature starter plants and nature book giveaways for all ages, vegetable planting in the library’s raised beds, and enjoying the daffodils and other delights starting to burst forth.

Earth Day BioBlitz (Adults Only) :: Easton

Monday, April 22
6-7:30 PM
$10-12

This “BioBlitz” celebrates and acknowledges the incredible abundance of life around us! Participants (adults only) will try to find and identify as many different plant, animal, and fungi species as possible, documenting as much life as they can. Participants will be using the iNaturalist app to help identify and record whatever they find.

Earth Day Celebration at the Head of Boston Harbor :: Boston

Sunday, April 28
11 AM-3 PM

Come together with fellow earth enthusiasts to celebrate, learn, play, and take action to protect our environment. Earth Day at Pier 5 is at the foot of Bunker Hill, neighboring USS Constitution Museum, near the Korean War Memorial, and on the Freedom Trail — it offers vast sky views to the Harbor Islands and the Boston skyline!

2024 Wake up the Earth Festival :: Boston

Saturday, May 4
11 AM-6 PM

Wake up the earth from its winter sleep and join your diverse local communities in unity and harmony! There will be four performance stages, local farmers market and food vendors, and a multitude of activities for children and adults! The festival will take place on the Stony Brook deck of the Southwest Corridor Park.

Celebrating at Home

If you’ve had your fill of community celebrations and cleanups, there are other ways to honor the earth this spring with activities you can do at home with your family.

Start by brainstorming

For ideas on how to make an impact, check out this action toolkit from earthday.org. It offers some great ideas to celebrate Earth Day for parents, teachers, schools, and more. There is even a social media toolkit for parents and kids who want to spread the word online!

Take a walk

Level up your family’s next nature walk with these fun activities from Project Learning Tree. From scavenger hunts to seed collecting to cartography, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy!

Try a science project

For more STEM-minded activities, check out Science Buddies — there are ideas ranging from understanding your eco footprint to creating a box garden or a water filtration system.

Create art from nature

Nature art is a family favorite in my home. From leaf prints to fairy houses to painting rocks, there is no shortage for creativity when it comes to nature. Just be sure to only use what’s “dead and down” — don’t pick from plants and trees that are actively growing! Messy Little Monster has some great ideas for crafting with nature!

Whatever you do to celebrate our Earth this month, carry it with you and your littles throughout the year! 

Most-Loved Children’s Bookstores in the Boston Area

mother and child reading at a bookstore or library (children's bookstores Boston)For my kids, a trip to a good bookshop can be more fun than visiting a toy store! They may be initially drawn in by puzzles or games, but they inevitably park themselves in an aisle and get lost in a good book. And we always manage to leave with a cool new book in hand! The following bookstores in the Boston area are high on our list for their kid-friendly selections, special storytimes, children’s author book signing events, whimsical locations — or all of the above.

Blue Bunny Books and Cafe

577 High Street, Dedham

This special bookstore just south of Boston is dedicated solely to children’s books. The owner is none other than Peter Reynolds, famous local author of “The Dot” and a multitude of other wonderful children’s books. Naturally, you can find his autographed books here.

The Blue Bunny currently offers a weekly “early risers” storytime on Saturday mornings at 8 a.m., which is a wonderful option for parents looking to entertain their early birds. There is also a small cafe inside for hungry patrons where you can grab your morning coffee.

The store often hosts book signings and events as well. I recently brought my kids to a book launch event that was partnered with the Dedham Community Theatre across the street — we got to see the world preview of two of Peter Reynold’s newest books that have been turned into short films: “The Reflection in Me” and “Go Left.” We had a wonderful time!

Inside of Blue Bunny bookstore. Shelves lined with books.
Photo courtesy of Blue Bunny Books and Cafe

Hummingbird Books

55 Boylston Street, Suite 5510, Chestnut Hill

This beautiful bookstore features a dedicated children’s area, which houses the Great Oak Tree, a cozy space where kids can crawl in and curl up with a good book. There is a weekly storytime for children on Sundays at 11 a.m. There are often book signings held here with children’s authors as well as fun events like singalongs. You can even book a birthday party at this location!

Their selection is fantastic. I have often been able to discover a new book series here to hook my developing reader. They have an excellent graphic novel section as well. The gift selection here is great, too — plenty of thematic puzzles and games. Bonus: There are usually a few small unboxed toys around that toddlers can play with while you shop.

Another fun fact: Hummingbird books works actively to combat book bans in other states. You can donate banned books, and they will ship them off to little readers in other parts of the country!

Inside of Hummingbird bookstore. Shelves lined with books and a tree in the background.
Photo courtesy of Hummingbird Books

An Unlikely Story

111 South Street, Plainville

Tucked away in Plainville, this spot is a great “destination” bookstore for children in Boston and further north. And for those “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” fans (and their parents!), it’s so worth it! This bookstore was created by Julie and Jeff Kinney — the “Wimpy Kid” author himself — as a community gathering place where visitors can meet amazing authors, enjoy breakfast or lunch, and relax with a new book.

Frugal Bookstore

57 Warren Street, Roxbury

This Black-owned bookstore is a local favorite. If you are looking to diversify your bookshelves, this place is brimming with a wonderful and varied selection for young readers. Black narratives are front and center at this store, and they are known for their great customer service, so if you can’t find a book they can order it for you. The store hosts events and book signings for young readers as well. Plus, it’s accessible by T!

I AM Books

124 Salem Street, Boston (North End)

My daughter’s class took a field trip to this bookstore, and she fell in love with it. It’s surrounded by the quaint streets of the North End and the delicious smells wafting from all the surrounding bakeries — what’s not to love? The owner told them all about his dream to open a bookstore that served as a hub to share his Italian heritage. The store features many bilingual titles as well as books purely in Italian. In addition to the many children’s books, this shop also sells Italian-inspired toys, gifts, and games. It’s also accessible by T.

Beacon Hill Books and Cafe

71 Charles Street, Boston (Beacon Hill)

This is the whimsical bookstore you keep seeing all over Instagram — the one with an entryway that can only be described as something out of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. It is absolutely worth a visit the next time you bring the kids downtown. In fact, why not make a day of it by following their charming “A Day in Beacon Hill” itinerary?

There is an entire floor here dedicated to children’s books, which features a sweet toy train that runs along the top of the wall with a push of a button. Kids adore this cool space.

For meals, there is a classy onsite cafe. It’s extremely popular, so reservations are strongly encouraged. This shop is accessible by T.

Inside of Beacon Hills Books and Cafe. Bookstore with white walls and floor and a couch.
Photo courtesy of Beacon Hill Books and Cafe

Trident Booksellers & Cafe

338 Newbury Street, Boston (Back Bay)

We love this beloved Newbury Street haunt. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by books while enjoying a tasty weekend brunch? You can walk in or make a reservation at their cafe, and the featured breakfast food — which is served all day — is great! You are sure to find something the kids will enjoy on this menu. Their second floor of this Boston bookstore has a solid collection of children’s books, from board books and early readers to graphic novels and everything in between. It’s a great place to stop by on your next stroll down Newbury Street, and it’s accessible by T. 

Brookline Booksmith

279 Harvard Street, Brookline

Nestled in the heart of bustling Coolidge corner, this bookstore has been around since the 1960s. They offer a vast collection of children’s books and host a multitude of story hours, book launches, and events. Suggested itinerary: Bring the kids to browse the bookstore after visiting the charming Coolidge Corner Theatre and grabbing a tasty crepe at Paris Creperie right across the street. This bookstore is accessible by T. 

Harvard COOP

1400 Mass Ave., Cambridge

The COOP is a longstanding staple of Harvard Square, and it houses a robust selection of children’s books. Kids can easily spend hours browsing, and there is a convenient cafe area where you can sip coffee while the kids have a snack. The store also hosts storytimes on weekends and other special events for kids. It is accessible by T. 

Papercuts Bookshop

60 South Street, Boston (Jamaica Plain)

This award-winning woman-owned bookstore is hard to miss when strolling down Centre Street in JP. It has an adorable children’s section as well as art supplies, puzzles, and stickers galore. Definitely check out this kid-friendly spot next time you are in the area, and drop by Fiore’s bakery right across the street for a sweet treat on your way home. This shop is accessible by T.

Rozzie Bound Co-op

739 South Street, Roslindale

This small but mighty bookstore is a true neighborhood co-op. For a one-time fee of $100, residents can become consumer-owners, vote on the board, and receive in-store discounts. They have a small children’s book selection curated by community members, which is pretty special. This bookshop has been a wonderful addition to the Rozzie community, which largely consists of families. It is accessible by T.

Before and After Solar Panels :: How Much Can You Save?

This post is sponsored by our friends at Isaksen Solar.
Courtesy of Isaksen Solar

You may have seen that installing solar panels can help you save on your energy expenses. So it’s natural to wonder how much you’ll save and how different your electric bill will look after going solar.

Of course, every home is unique, but our friends at Isaksen Solar have helped us take a look at what homeowners should expect after they buy solar panels.

How much you’ll save with solar panels depends on the amount of solar panels you buy.

To determine your savings, you need to find out how much solar energy you can produce. The amount of solar panels you install at your home determines how much solar energy you can produce.

A larger system produces more renewable energy for your home but also comes at a higher cost and higher solar payment.

However, you want a home solar system that will equal or out produce your energy usage.

How much electricity your home uses will also determine your savings.

Next, you need to understand how much energy your home is using. Your solar panels will need to outproduce your electricity usage in a year in order to incur savings.

Since energy usage fluctuates throughout the year, it makes sense to look at energy production and usage through a yearly lens.

Depending on your town or city and their utility company, you will have different electricity rates that determine how expensive your electricity is.

These electricity rates will change throughout the winter and summer. They have also consistently increased every year, leading to more expensive monthly bills.

Solar aids homeowners by shielding them from the constant rate hikes — solar locks in predictable costs throughout the year.

Courtesy of Isaksen Solar

Determine what your bill will look like after going solar.

Unfortunately, predicting what an electric bill will look like after getting solar is hard without seeing what your current bill looks like. Fortunately, it will be easy to predict if it’s possible to completely eliminate your electric bill once a solar company sees what you are currently paying.

An added savings for homeowners in Massachusetts is net metering, which is offered in most towns throughout the state. With net metering, homeowners will acquire credits for extra solar energy they produce and do not use.

This means instead of paying your utility company, they now owe you money!

Your savings will also likely vary each month depending on your usage and production. If your system consistently produces more than you use each year, you will not have to pay another electric bill for the lifetime of your solar panels!

Instead of that unpredictable electricity payment each month, you can expect a consistent bill. No more fluctuating bills each month!

If you are looking for more specific figure, it is estimated homeowners will save $1,500 to $4,000 a year!

How can I see exactly what I will save?

The only way to see exactly how much solar can save you is by working with a solar company to get a quote.

Our partners at Isaksen Solar can work with you to better understand your energy situation and give you a no-pressure solar consultation.

To determine your future savings, give them a call at (508) 717-3820 or get started on your quote today.

 

Favorite Baby- and Toddler-Friendly Playgrounds North of Boston

young boy on a slide (toddler and baby playgrounds north of Boston)A playground visit with younger kiddos can be the perfect outing! But not all playgrounds are created equal, and when the structures are too large or the layout isn’t conducive to wandering toddlers, it can be stressful for mom. I’ve discovered so many wonderful playgrounds with my boys over the years while living in Lowell. Here are some of our favorite family parks and playgrounds — that are perfect for the baby and toddler years — in the cities and towns north of Boston.

Andover Center Playground :: Andover

Andover Center Playground is locally referred to as “Christmas tree park” because of the green rope climbing structure in the center of the playground that’s shaped like a tree! It’s a great spot for little ones because of the nature-themed objects — like acorns, logs, and woodland creatures — that are just the right size and height for climbing and playing on. There is also a small field right next to the playground, which is great for a picnic or for the kids who like to run around.

Ballardvale Playground :: Andover

Ballardvale Playground is cute and has a ton of ride-on toys and sandbox toys, making it a perfect meeting place for kids and parents — you don’t need to bring anything! The picnic tables here are covered, too, which makes it a good spot to have lunch or a snack.

Kohlrausch Playground :: Billerica

This will always be one of my favorite playgrounds because it’s cute, quiet, and fun! Kohlrausch is calm enough that my son with autism can find something to play with alone or with others. And the fire engine structure is a favorite space for little imaginations to run wild! This playground is fully enclosed and has multiple slides that are great for small children (no swings, though, so keep that in mind if that’s a must for you!). There is also a picnic pavilion and walking path nearby.

Kids Konnection :: Billerica

This is one of our favorites because it has a sandbox large enough for lots of kids to play together and separately. Plus, sandbox trucks and toys are also always available! Kids Konnection is large and features a number of play structures in various sizes — which means many ages and abilities can have fun here. This playground is laid out in a way that makes it easy to watch your kids play from various vantage points.

Bucchiere/Bristow Park :: Saugus

Bucchiere/Bristow Park is one of the brightest parks I’ve seen north of Boston — or maybe even in all of Massachusetts! There is a very large play structure here, but there are also many wonderful smaller spaces for little kids. It really is a great all-ages playground — I’ve even seen plenty of adults go down the big slides! There are also adaptive play areas plus workout stations for adults or teens who want to exercise outdoors.

Leland Park :: Woburn

All moms love parks with a good public restroom — and Leland Park has them! When I worked in Woburn, I would have my husband bring my son here so we could all play together before grabbing dinner out. There are play structures for kids of all ages, and you may catch a local baseball or street hockey game, depending on the season.

Spaulding Playground :: Wakefield

Spaulding Playground is one of the cutest I’ve seen, and it’s adaptive! There are swings that anyone can use, plus a rock wall and climbing structures that suit children with different sensory or tactile needs. During the week it’s a quiet playground and great for families like ours with different physical or social needs. I recommend this play area for summer parties if your child has friends of various abilities but wants everyone to have a good time!

Kidstown Playground :: Danvers (in Endicott Park)

Endicott Park is worth a visit for its nature center, pastoral views, historic farm buildings, orchards, woodlands, marshes, and a network of trails for exploring. The fenced-in Kidstown playground offers classic structures that are great for all ages. You’ll also find picnic areas here, plus community gardens, a pond, a disc golf course, a dog park, and a sensory trail. The parking fee at Endicott Park is $4. The park also includes Whipple Hill, which is perfect for sledding in the winter — it’s very cost-effective and a fun day with the family when the snow comes!

Mack Park :: Salem

Mack Park offers a lovely playground for small children, but my favorite area is the community garden right near the playground — anytime kids can see community agriculture in action is a win! The park also has basketball and baseball courts, and picnic tables if you’d like a seated place to have your lunch.

Boston-Area Farmers Markets

Boston farmers markets - Boston Moms

It’s time to eat your veggies! Picking out your own farm-fresh fruits and vegetables and supporting local growers is a win/win scenario! Farmers markets can be found in cities and towns all over the Boston area. Here are a few of our favorites!

Greater Boston Farmers Markets

Charles River Farmers Market

The Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Cambridge
Fridays from 12-6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. :: year round

Morse Elementary School, 40 Granite St., Cambridge
Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. :: through November 20

Boston Open Market

Boylston Street sidewalks in front of the Boston Public Garden, between Arlington & Charles Street
Saturdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. :: through November 

SoWa Farmers Market

500 Harrison Ave., Boston
Sundays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. :: May 5-October 27

Copley Square Farmers Market

Copley Square, 139 St. James Ave., Boston 
Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. :: May 12-November 21

Union Square Farmers Market

Union Square Plaza., Somerville
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: May 11-October 26 (the market will be closed on 9/21)

Central Square Farmers Market

Central Square, 76 Bishop Allen Dr., Cambridge
Mondays from 12-6 p.m. :: May 20-November 18

Davis Square Farmers Market

Day St. and Herbert St., Somerville
Wednesdays from 12-6 p.m. :: May 22-November 20

Brookline Farmers Market

Coolidge Corner, Centre Street West Parking Lot, Brookline
Thursdays from 1:30-6:30 p.m. :: June-November

Medford Farmers Market

Condon Shell, Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford
Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. :: June 6-October 17 (no market on July 4)

The Boston Public Market on The Greenway

The Greenway, between Milk Street and India Street
Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. :: June 13-October 24 (no market on July 4)

Roslindale Village Grab-and-Go Farmers Market

Adams Park, 4225 Washington St., Roslindale
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. :: June 1-November 23

Farmers Market at Harvard

Harvard Science Center Plaza, 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge
Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. :: June 18-October 29 (no market on Tuesday, August 20)

Watertown Farmers Market

Saltonstall Park, Main St. and Whites Ave., Watertown
Wednesdays from 2:30-6:30 p.m. :: June 12-October 23

Ashmont Farmers Market

Drozer Plaza, 1900 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester
Fridays from 3-7 p.m. :: July 12-October 25

Metro West Farmers Markets

Ashland Farmers Market

125 Front St., Ashland 
Saturdays from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. :: June 8-October 19 (and November 23)

Framingham Village Green Farmers Market

Village Green at Framingham Center, Edgell Rd & Vernon St 
Thursdays from 12-5:30 p.m. :: mid-June to mid-October

Franklin Farmers Market

Franklin Town Common, High and Main Streets, Franklin
Fridays from 2-6 p.m. :: June-October

Hopkinton Farmers Market

Town Common, Route 135 at Ash Street, Hopkinton
Sundays from 1-5 p.m. :: June 9-October 13

Maynard Farmers Market

Mill Pond parking lot/Clock Tower Place, Main St., Maynard
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: June-September

Natick Community Organic Farm

117 Eliot St., Natick 
Open daily, year round

Natick Farmers Market

Town Common, South Main and Common Streets, Natick 
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: year round (indoors at 13 Common St. from October-April)

Wayland Farmers Market

Russel’s Garden Center, 397 Boston Post Rd., Wayland 
Wednesdays from 12-4 p.m. :: June 26-October 9

Wellesley Farmers Market

442 Washington St., Wellesley
Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. :: May through mid-October

Westborough Farmers Market

Bay State Commons, 1100 Union Street, Westborough 
Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. :: June 13-October 17

North of Boston Farmers Markets

Andover Farmers Market

41 Central St., Andover
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: June 15-October 12

Beverly Farmers Market

Odell Park, 150 Rantoul St. and Railroad Ave., Beverly
Mondays from 3-7 p.m. :: June 10-October (no market on July 3 and September 4)

Newburyport Farmers Market

Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water St., Newburyport
Sundays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: May-November

Salem Farmers Market

32 Derby Square, Salem
Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. :: June 13-October 10

Marblehead Farmers Market

Marblehead Veterans Middle School, 217 Pleasant St. (enter from Vine St.), Marblehead
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. :: May 27-November 18

Maynard Farmers Market

Mill Pond parking lot, Main Street/Route 62, Maynard
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: last Saturday in June through September

South of Boston Farmers Markets

Hingham Farmers Market

95 Station St., Hingham
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: May-November 

Wompatuck State Park Visitors Center, 204 Union St., Hingham
Saturdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. :: January-March

Plymouth Year-Round Farmers Market

Plimoth Patuxet Museums, 26 River St., Plymouth
Thursdays from 2:30-6 p.m. :: year round (outdoors through October)

Quincy Farmers Market

St, Chrysostom’s Church, corner of 1 Linden St. & Hancock
Sundays from 12:30-4 p.m. :: June-October

Weymouth Farmers Market

46 Broad Street, Weymouth
Every other Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. :: June 12-October 2 

Cohasset Farmers Market

Cohasset Common, Highland Ave., Cohasset
Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. :: June-October

Braintree Farmers Market

Braintree Town Hall, One JFK Memorial Drive, Braintree
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: June 15-October 12 (virtual market every Saturday)

Marshfield Farmers Market

140 Main St., Marshfield
Fridays from 2-6 p.m. :: through September :: (virtual market available)

Brockton Farmers Market

City Hall Plaza, 45 School St., Brockton
Fridays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. :: June 17-October 25

West Bridgewater Farmers Market

First Church, 29 Howard St., West Bridgewater
Tuesdays from 4-7 p.m. :: through September

Bridgewater Farmers Market

1 Vogt Dr., Bridgewater
Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. :: through October

Fairhaven Farmers Market

151 Alden Rd., Fairhaven
Sundays from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. :: June 16-October 27

Sandwich Farmers Market

Sagamore Inn Restaurant, 1131 Sandwich Rd. 6A, Bourne
Tuesdays from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. :: June 18-October 15

Provincetown Farmers Market

Ryder Street
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. :: May 18-October 26 

13 Alexa Skills My Preschooler Loves

Cute boy sitting at the dining table and listening to the smart speaker. (Alexa Skills for kids)Recently, I did something I never thought I’d do as a parent: I put an Alexa device in my child’s room. 

And regardless of whether the decision was driven by rational thinking or lack of sleep, it has been a pretty fun tool for my kiddo to use! I originally purchased an Echo Glow and an Alexa so my daughter could easily control her own night light, thus ending what we lovingly refer to as the “night light wars.” I didn’t envision it being useful in any other way at the time, but boy was I wrong!

One of our favorite features has been the “Alexa Skills.” Though I was hesitant at first about using the device for more than a night light (and an intercom — so handy!), I was comforted by the available parental controls that allow me to turn off all applications unless I specifically approve them. Obviously, we turned off her ability to purchase anything — that could be a disaster! But, we did approve some specific “Alexa Skills” that she loves and we tolerate because, well, we’re tired. 

These are a few of our favorite Alexa Skills for kids — my preschooler has been having a blast with them!

“Alexa, tell me a knock-knock joke”

knock knock

This is one of our favorites, even though most of the jokes go way over my preschooler’s head. I, however, usually think they’re hilarious! Definitely corny, but also very funny.

“Alexa, play freeze dance”

It’s a classic, and I have to say I don’t miss pressing the pause button myself! We use this skill the most when we need a break from our chores. Let’s face it, sometimes you just need to dance it out!

“Alexa, open the Magic Door”

magic door

We love the Magic Door because it’s an interactive and original storytelling game. Instead of just telling the story, the Magic Door allows the kids to help make up the story. Some of the stories can get a little bit “spooky,” but you always have the option to restart!

“Alexa, open bedtime stories”

Alexa bedtime stories skillTurns out, this is one of my new favorite skills. We love reading books at bedtime, but there’s always a small gap of time between when my kiddo goes up to her room and we come to tuck her in. Playing a bedtime story helps settle her in, and she’s definitely calmer by the time we come up to do our bedtime routine!

“Alexa, open Animal Workout”

Animal Workout is one of my favorites for a rainy day, and it’s a staple in every preschool classroom. The “skill” encourages children to act like a specific animal, and it’s a great opportunity to work on some gross motor skills.

“Alexa, open Daily Dinosaur”

This adorable feature gives daily facts about dinosaurs! It’s especially helpful if you have a difficult time pronouncing the really elaborate dinosaur species names in the many dinosaur books your child chooses from the library.

“Alexa, open Curiosity”

Curiosity has an endless amount of useful and fun facts and educational stories for kids (and parents). We have a lot of “why” questions in our house, and this is a great outlet for when you just can’t handle answering one more. 

“Alexa, open Sesame Street”

Sesame Street

Playing hide and seek with Elmo and doing the letter of the day is perfect for the preschool crowd. We open this skill at least once per day, and right now it’s perfect for, “Mama has to make a phone call, and I need five minutes of relative quiet.”

“Alexa, open how many days”

Alexa how many days skillThis is a classic but exceptionally useful tool that takes the pressure off moms to remember how many days until the next birthday, school vacation, or holiday. One of those Alexa Skills that gives kids some independence!

“Alexa, open Trolls”

Admittedly, this is better for elementary school kids, but it’s still fun for my preschooler most of the time. In this musical skill, you build your own song and then play it for Troll Village. You can even save the song you create to play endlessly in the future!

”Alexa, ask SillyThings to tell me to do something silly”

silly things alexa skillWant to get a little silly? SillyThings will give your child (or you!) prompts for something funny to act out, like, “Act like you just ate a really sour lemon,” or “Do your most silly dance,” or, “Act like you are standing on hot lava.” It’s a fun one to try with the whole family, too!

“Alexa, ask Pikachu to talk”

With the Pikachu skill, your preschooler can fulfill all their Pokemon dreams and have in-depth conversations with Pikachu. This skill is definitely not my favorite to listen to, but it lets me work in peace for several minutes at a time.

“Alexa, open hide and seek”

Alexa hide and seek skill

This classic game for kids is one of the many Alexa Skills that works great when a kid is playing solo. Pick your favorite hiding spot in the same room as your Alexa device, and she’ll give three guesses to try to “find” you. If she doesn’t guess your spot, you win!

This post was originally published in 2021 and has been updated for 2024!

April School Vacation Week Activities in Boston and Beyond!

swan boats in Boston Public Garden (family activities for April vacation week)

April school vacation week is just around the corner! If you’re planning a staycation and are looking for fun things to do with your kids during April break, check out these Boston-area events and happenings!


Finding Nemo Jr. :: Norwell

April 12-14

Marlin, an overprotective clownfish, sets off on an epic adventure when his kid Nemo is captured and taken to an aquarium in Sydney. A vibrant underwater world comes to life in this musical story full of family, friendship, and adventure.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s All New Greatest Show on Earth :: Worcester

April 12-14

Witness never-before-seen acts on a triangular highwire, daring criss-cross trapeze, extreme bicycle trampoline, and much more!

April Vacation Week at Patriot Place :: Foxboro

April 12-21

Patriot Place has a fantastic lineup of family-friendly activities scheduled for this year’s April vacation week, taking place daily! 

Family Concert: Music and Magic :: Boston

April 13

Bring the whole family to Symphony Hall to see the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra perform in this fun and engaging concert series designed to encourage an appreciation for live performance and orchestral music.

Opening Day for Swan Boats :: Boston

April 13

Kick off April vacation with a ride on one of Boston’s famous Swan Boats! The boats will take off for the first time this season at 10 a.m.!

Boston Children’s Chorus: I Should be GLAD :: Boston

April 13

Members of the Premier Choir reflect on how the queer community has emboldened them to “live our truth.” Listen as BCC singers narrate a story about transforming pain into empowerment and what it means to live proudly as you come to understand who you are.

Patriot’s Day in Lexington :: Lexington

April 13-15

Each year in mid-April, thousands of people flock to historic Lexington and Concord and Minute Man National Historical Park to celebrate Patriot’s Day. Patriot’s Day is a special Massachusetts State holiday commemorating the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War, April 19, 1775. The entire weekend is celebrated with parades, reenactments, and commemorative ceremonies.

Secret Life of Bugs :: Boylston

April 13-19

Celebrate April school vacation at New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill with a week packed with family classes and workshops, nature walks, scavenger hunts, and a themed drop-in activity room with hands-on crafts, projects, and investigations for children of all ages.

Wind Powered Fun at the USS Constitution Museum :: Charlestown

April 13-21

Come visit the USS Constitution Museum during April vacation week to explore the power of the wind and its importance in powering a ship like USS Constitution. The museum will be hosting family-friendly activities and crafts all week long to encourage the exploration of the power of wind — don’t miss kite flying day on April 16!

The Painting Place April Vacation Camp :: Wellesley

April 13-21

The perfect camp for kiddos who love to paint, craft, play games, and make the ever-popular SLIME! 

Play Unstoppable Festival :: Somerville

April 13-June 2

Design your spirit animal, add your creation to the LEGO Flower Cart, share your best moves at the play unstoppable dance party and be amongst the first to see the premiere of the all-new LEGO Friends 4D movie!

Boston Marathon 2023 :: Hopkinton to Boston

April 15 

Cheer on the runners this Marathon Monday in the world’s oldest marathon! From Hopkinton through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and finally Boston, the course is lined with excited fans who love to support the thousands of runners. Charities that are part of the marathon program raise more than $15 million each year and serve areas of need within Greater Boston!

Kiddos in the Kitchen :: Dover

April 15-16

Spend school vacation week in the Powisset Kitchen, and cook up a storm! Each day, for three hours, children will learn kitchen basics and enjoy hands-on cooking with Powisset Cooks! instructors. On Monday, April 15, the focus will be on the cuisine of Greece, and on Tuesday, the focus will be on Thai culinary favorites.

Highland Street Spring Week 2024 :: Multiple Locations

April 15-19

Spring week is back for 2024! The Highland Street Foundation has partnered with old and new friends providing FREE admission and opportunities to some of Massachusetts’ favorite cultural institutions during April school vacation week!

2024 Mayor’s Cup Street Hockey Tournament :: Boston

April 15-19

Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department will once again host the 2024 Mayor’s Cup Street Hockey Tournament in partnership with the Boston Bruins Foundation during the April Boston Public Schools vacation week. The tournament will begin Monday, April 15, and continue through vacation week. 

April Vacation Week at Stone Zoo :: Stoneham

April 15-19

Take advantage of warmer weather and learn about the insects and animals that help springtime flowers bloom: pollinators!

Creating Communal Gifts with Chanel Thervil  :: Acton

April 15-19

Whether it be a school, library, place of worship, or even a museum, spaces where communities gather make life more vibrant. Join the Discovery Museum for a special program series with inaugural artist-in-residence Chanel Thervil as she invites you to create a gift for a community space you cherish. Chanel will bring these individual creations together in a one-of-a-kind art installation titled Communal Gifts that will remain on display in the museum.

Fencing Camp for Kids :: Cambridge

April 15-19

Are you interested in trying out a different sport? Give fencing a try! This camp is designed for children ages 7-14, with little or no fencing experience. 

Celebrating Yin Yu Tang at Peabody Essex Museum :: Salem

April 15, 18-19

Travel across the world without leaving Salem by learning traditional Chinese paper cutting with local guest artist Zhonghe (Elena) Li on Monday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons. Enjoy film screenings in Morse Auditorium on Friday, and challenge yourself all three days with a museum-wide dragon scavenger hunt!

All Girls Sports and Wellness Festival :: Boston

April 17-19

From sports and games to health and wellness speakers, self-defense tactics, and aquatic activities, the programming aims to engage the mind, body, and spirit of girls ages 7-14!

Dudley Street Farm Day :: Boston

April 20

Head to the Shirley-Eustis House lawn between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a celebration of Roxbury’s farming history. Activities will include a farm animal petting zoo, butter churning, seed packet giveaways, handmade crafts, fresh popcorn, resources from DSNI, planting tips, and more!

Bark at the Park :: Boston

April 20

Bring your dog to enjoy a day at the park for one of Harvard baseball and softball’s furriest events! All attending pets receive a free custom Harvard giveaway that is sure to make them bark with excitement! On top of a baseball doubleheader and softball game, there are several Harvard athletics contests taking place during Bark at the Park! All events are free unless noted. 

Party for the Planet at Franklin Park Zoo :: Boston

April 21

Head to Franklin Park Zoo to enjoy a fun Earth Day celebration to raise awareness for the planet and all it has to offer, and learn how you can help make a difference! While you connect with nature, learn about important conservation work underway locally and globally with many fun family activities!

Professor Gizmo’s Workshop :: Brockton

April 21

Come celebrate buttons at Fuller Craft Museum, in collaboration with upcoming exhibition Beau McCall: Buttons On! Families are invited to craft mini button bags and button cars and race them down a ramp to see how fast they can go. Will your button car win?

Looking for even more ideas for things to do with kids in Boston this spring? Check out our monthly calendar, with event listings submitted by tons of local organizations!

Factory Tours for Families in Greater Boston and New England!

Ben & Jerry's factory tour in Vermont
Photo by Rick Levinson courtesy Ben & Jerry’s

My family loves a good adventure. We’re always looking for new and interesting activities the whole family can enjoy, no matter our kids’ ages. A few years ago, we discovered factory tours! Who doesn’t love a behind-the-scenes view of your favorite snacks or products being made? Tours have been such a great part of our family trips. Although many factories haven’t reopened to the public post-pandemic, there are still a number of local Boston and New England factories that offer tours and behind-the-scenes viewings. Here are some great options for your family’s next adventure!

Ben & Jerry’s

1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury, VT

I have to start with a family favorite! Ben & Jerry’s is one of the few larger companies in New England that brought factory tours back after closing in 2020. Be sure to make a reservation online to secure your tour time. Tours are not expensive — $6 for adults and $1 for children — and they include a sizable sample at the end. Stay and visit the awesome playground, take a tour of the Flavor Graveyard, and check out the cows on your way back to the car.

Ben & Jerry's factory tour in Vermont
Photo courtesy Josh Grenier

BONUS: Just up the street from Ben & Jerry’s is the Cabot Creamery Store, which is a great place to sample some amazing cheese! And just a few minutes from there is Cold Hollow Cider Mill, a general store with a behind-the-scenes view (and samples) of their apple cider factory. They make cider a few days a week, so check for updated manufacturing times!

Taza Chocolate

561 Windsor Street, Somerville, MA

I drive by Taza Chocolate often, but I had no idea they did tours until recently. We headed there for their Cacao Scout Scavenger Hunt, which is a child-focused tour geared to the under-10 crowd. It was a fun, hands-on way to learn how chocolate is made! The scavenger hunt is $8 per child, and Taza also runs traditional tours for $12 per person regardless of age. The tour guides were very knowledgeable, and we had a great experience (even though we didn’t attend on a day that chocolate was actually being made).

Looking for more chocolate tours? Check out Harbor Sweets in Salem and give them a call to schedule a tour. If you find yourself in Maine, try Wilbur’s Chocolate in Freeport for tours and other fun events!

Vermont Teddy Bear

6655 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, VT
 
When I heard Vermont Teddy Bear Company was starting tours again after the pandemic, I was so excited — it had been one of my family’s favorite New England factory tours! It is really interesting to get some of the history behind the company — and teddy bears in general — while watching the machines that make it happen. The Teddy Bear Hospital was the cutest part, according to my (then) 8-year-old. Tours are really reasonably priced and run daily, but they are first come, first served, so plan to get there early to secure tickets.  
 
BONUS: If you are staying in the Shelburne area, check out Shelburne Farms. It is a wonderful working farm with a ton of hands-on activities. There is an area where you can watch cheese being made (and grab a sample), and there are other wonderful learning opportunities for any farm-interested child. When we went a few years ago, my kids each took turns milking a cow! They are open year round, but visit between May and October for full farm fun!

Avery’s Beverages

520 Corbin Avenue, New Britain, CT

As soon as my tween and teenage kids heard about Avery’s, we HAD to set a date to go. Avery’s Beverages in New Britain, Connecticut, is an old school soda factory. Kids can see how soda is made and then experiment with flavors and make their very own concoction. In this factory tour, there’s a minimum of five people in a group (with a max of 20), and price per person is dependent on a few factors — so call to set up an appointment before you go.

Avery's Soda's factory tour New England

Pairpoint Glass Company

851 Sandwich Road, Sagamore, MA

This one is a bit of a different experience — check out some glass blowing first hand! A better option for families with older children, Pairpoint Glass Company offers behind-the-scenes tours of how their beautiful glass works of art are made. Located in Sagamore, Massachusetts, this is the oldest glass company in America — and it’s worth a visit for anyone who loves the series “Blown Away.” If your visit gives you the glass blowing bug, check out North Shore Glass School and take a class. It’s another really cool way to learn how things are made!

Living the Multi-Generational Lifestyle

grandparents with young girl (multi-generational living)Of all the decisions I made when becoming a single mom by choice, embarking on a multi-generational lifestyle was the one that caught me most by surprise. Living in the same house as my parents — my daughter’s grandparents — was never something I expected to do!

I see myself as an independent woman and have been on my own for more than 25 years, sometimes living a few hours away from my parents, sometimes a few continents away. But as life would have it, and due to circumstances beyond my control — like a global pandemic, inflation, and cost of living — I ended up in the Boston area. And my daughter and I moved into our new home — a unit my parents built on top of their own house.

To the outside observer, this may be an idyllic situation — one big house, split into two independent units, with three adults who get along well and one toddler who everyone absolutely adores. Even the inside observer can identify, acknowledge, and be grateful for the benefits this living situation provides.

Still, there’s a difference between having doting grandparents who you see a handful of times a year — or even more frequently for those who live in the same state or town — and those you share a house with and see every day. And that is something that has raised some tricky moments for us. We are figuring out this new lifestyle that allows for many comforts and conveniences but also requires a lot of boundary setting and negotiations. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Sometimes, you have to let it go

My daughter has a cookie every day. It’s a routine. She knows where the cookies are at my parents’ house, and when she asks for one every morning, my dad hides the cookie behind his back and has her point to which hand she thinks it’s in. She always gets the cookie — even if she points to the wrong hand.

I don’t think she needs to eat a cookie every day. But I do know this is an instance where I just need to let it go.

It’s a special daily moment that she expects and cherishes with my dad, and as much as it’s my job to feed her healthy food, it’s my privilege and joy to see her develop this fun relationship with her grandfather.

And, thankfully, my fear that one cookie would lead to more and more has been debunked — she doesn’t ask for a cookie every time she sees my dad, nor does she go for the cookies on her own. It really is about that special moment between them!

Mother knows best

I’m a strong believer in having a routine and sticking to it. Also, I’m an exhausted mother who works full time and can really use the few solo hours I get after my daughter’s 7 or 8 p.m. bedtime! However, my mom is a night owl and generally does not prescribe to routines and what she considers “strict” rules — like my daughter’s bedtime.

So this is where I don’t budge. I’m my daughter’s mother, and I know what’s best for us. While I’m not super strict, and bedtime doesn’t look the same every day, when I tell my daughter it’s time to go upstairs and start getting ready for bed, it’s time.

Some days my daughter complies with no difficulties, some days there’s resistance and then acquiescence, and some days I carry her upstairs kicking and screaming. And sometimes my mom chimes in with a, “Let her [insert activity] one more time.”

But I hold firm. And regardless of how the transition goes, once our routine kicks in, I can see the benefits and comfort that brings to my daughter — and myself. And that reinforces my feeling and knowledge that I know best what we need!

There’s nothing more important than family

I recently stumbled across this reel — the accuracy is astounding, and the issues this brings up are real. My parents raised my sister and me many (many) years ago, and there is no way they are going to be up to date on all modern parenting matters.

Now that we’re living in such close quarters, I have to show them some grace when they do things with my daughter that I consider to be weird or outdated. I hope they are paying attention and picking up on the subtle differences in how I do things with her. I step back and give them space to be the best grandparents they know how to be, and they lean in and learn from me that parenting can change and sugar doesn’t equal love.

And we’re all just here together for this one kid who is being loved in abundance.

Boston Getting-Out Guide :: Things to Do With Kids in April

Boston Moms Getting-Out Guide — things to do with kids in Boston in April

Spring has officially sprung! The days are longer, the leaves are green, and Boston is blooming with fun activities for the whole family! Boston Moms has compiled a few of our favorite things to do with kids in Boston this April!

This Getting-Out Guide is sponsored by our friends at Keenee. Keenee is a virtual marketplace for renting items to and from other community members. Rent any item when you need it, AND rent the items you already own to OTHER community members!

April 1-7

Boston Duck Tours

March 29-October 29 :: Boston

The Duck Boats are back for the season! Come join your conDUCKtor for a fabulous amphibious tour around Boston!

South Asian Showdown Bollywood/Fusion Dance Competition

April 6 :: Boston

Bollywood/Hindi-film dance is based on the Bollywood film style of dance featuring expression, theme, and storyline. In this competition, the best fusion and Bollywood/Hindi-film teams compete against one another to be named the best of the night!

Patriot’s Day Reenactments

April 6-19 :: Concord

Patriot’s Day is a great time to soak up Boston history with kids in tow! Enjoy many days’ worth of events and activities in honor of Patriot’s Day along Battle Road and the old North Bridge as British and Colonial reenactors bring “the shot heard round the world” to life.

Ice Chips 2024: A Hollywood Adventure

April 6 & 7 :: Norwood

This event will feature newly crowned U.S. champion Amber Glenn and two-time Olympian and U.S. silver medalist Jason Brown alongside a cast of local, national, and international competitors as they perform exciting solo performances and family-friendly, group, theatrical numbers. Celebrating the magic of Hollywood, the event will feature music spanning epic blockbusters to timeless classics and reimagine the splendor of Hollywood through the decades — all on ice!

Crane Explorer: Shipwreck Scholars

April 6 :: Ipswich

Coastal views with a side of shipwreck! Participants will be guided on a hike from the Casino to Steep Hill Beach while learning about local nautical history. You’ll even have the chance to make observations and measurements of the shipwreck!

Greater Boston Sports Card & Memorabilia Show

April 7 :: Dedham

Meet hockey legend Jari Kurri, umpire Joe West, Mitch Moreland, and NFL champ Marv Fleming as you explore more than 85 vendor tables for old and new sports cards, autographs, Pokemon cards, and more!

28th Annual Greek Independence Day Parade of Boston

April 7 :: Boston

The parade will start at Boylston and Exeter Streets and finish at Boylston and Charles Streets. Following the parade, the New England Evzones and local Greek dance troupes will perform dances from all over Greece, and authentic Greek food will be provided by Greek street trucks and vendors.

April 8-14

Free Admission Day :: Solar Eclipse Celebration!

April 8 :: Worcester
 
A total solar eclipse is arcing across the country, and we’re near its path! Come celebrate the closest approach to totality until 2079 on Sundial Plaza with a chair, a blanket, or even a whole picnic as you watch the moon cover the sun. Explore extrasolar planets, build your own solar system, or head inside to the planetarium and investigate eclipses from beyond the atmosphere. Stop by for an afternoon at the EcoTarium that will be out of this world!

[Not Quite] Total Eclipse of the Park

April 8 :: Boston

Venture to Spectacle Island for an afternoon of solar eclipse viewing from Boston Harbor! Featuring unobstructed views of Boston and its surroundings, Spectacle Island will offer a unique opportunity to experience the 2024 partial solar eclipse.

Preschool Nature Detectives

April 11 :: Cambridge

Tiny friends are invited to discover the hidden natural wonders of Magazine Beach Park. Explore using different senses to observe the wildlife and plants that call the park home!

Disney’s Finding Nemo Jr.

April 12-14 :: Norwell

A vibrant underwater world comes to life in a story full of family, friendship, and adventure in this fun, musical adaptation of “Finding Nemo”!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s All New Greatest Show on Earth

April 12-14 :: Worcester

Come one, come all! Marvel at the spectacle of superhuman feats, pushing the limits of possibility and thrilling families and fans of all generations! You will feel like you are part of the show as you experience the immersive, 360-degree environment and new technology!

April 15-23

Pollinator Party

April 15 :: Boylston

Learn what plants need to survive, paint a four-inch terracotta pot, plant pollinator friendly seeds, and add a butterfly friend to watch over your garden!

2024 Mayor’s Cup Street Hockey Tournament

April 15-19 :: Boston

Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Parks and Rec Department will once again host the this street hockey tournament in partnership with the Boston Bruins Foundation during the April Boston Public Schools vacation week. All games will be played at Joseph Moakley Roller Hockey Rink on Columbia Road in South Boston.

2024 Boston Marathon

April 15 :: Boston

Of all the things to do with kids in Boston, this one is an annual “must!” The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon! The legendary Boston Marathon course follows a point-to-point route from rural Hopkinton to Boston, including the most famous hill in all of running, “Heartbreak Hill,” located in Newton between miles 20 and 21! Not sure where to go to cheer on the runners? Try one of our favorite places to watch the marathon!)

Public Kite Flying Day

April 16 :: Charlestown

Come visit the USS Constitution Museum during April Vacation week to explore the power of the wind and its importance to powering a ship like USS Constitution. The museum will be hosting family-friendly activities and crafts all week long to encourage the exploration of the power of wind, kicking off with a public kite flying day!

Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s!

April 16 :: Various Locations

As a way to thank customers for their support and to celebrate 34 years of scooping the chunkiest, funkiest ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet, Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops are happily giving it away! Head to a participating location for a FREE cup or cone of your favorite flavor.

Sesame Street LIVE! Say Hello!

April 19 & 20 :: Boston

Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, and their friends from Sesame Street are coming to your neighborhood to say hello! Put on your dancing shoes and make your way to where the air is sweet for this all-new celebration on Sesame Street!

April 24-30

Harvard ARTS FIRST Festival

April 24 :: Cambridge

This annual campus-wide event showcases the expansive creativity and innovation of Harvard students, staff, alums and faculty through performances, art exhibitions, and art-making activities.

Nantucket Daffodil Festival

April 25-28 :: Nantucket

The Daffodil Festival on Nantucket includes art shows, tours, parades, exhibitions, contests, lectures, and, of course, the annual flower show!

Dinosaur World LIVE

April 25 :: Worcester

Grab your compass and join an intrepid explorer across uncharted territories to discover a pre-historic world of astonishing (and remarkably life-like) dinosaurs!

Dog Man The Musical

April 27 & 28 :: Boston

Based on the worldwide bestselling hit series by Dav Pilkey, Dog Man: The Musical is a hilarious and heartwarming new production following the chronicles of Dog Man, who with the head of a dog and the body of a policeman, loves to fight crime and chew on the furniture.

Annual Sheepshearing Festival at Gore Place

April 27 :: Waltham

Guests will enjoy music, more than 100 craft and fiber artists, demonstrations of traditional sheepshearing and herding dogs, and historic reenactors on the beautiful grounds of Gore Place! Along with the crafts, demonstrations, and other entertainment, the festival will feature hands-on activities for children and adults, and food vendors will be onsite.

Mountain Biking Clinic

April 28 :: Westwood

Whether you’re new to riding or you’ve been shredding for years, develop skills to safely enjoy mountain biking on a variety of trails, through rock gardens, and beyond!

Looking for even more ideas for things to do with kids in Boston this April? Check out our monthly calendar, with event listings submitted by tons of local organizations!

April 1, 2024

8:00 am Dance Me A Story @ Newton Library! @ Newton Library
10:00 am Tots in the Kitchen @ Powisset Farm
11:30 am Dance Me A Story @ Newton Library! @ Newton Library
3:00 pm After School Robotics @ 86A Sherman St, Cambridge
3:00 pm After School Robotics @ 86A Sherman St. Cambridge

April 2, 2024

10:00 am Puppet Playtime with Harry LaCoste & Puppet Pals @ Puppet Showplace Theater
3:00 pm After School Robotics @ 86A Sherman St, Cambridge
3:00 pm After School Robotics @ 86A Sherman St. Cambridge
4:00 pm Free Fencing Class for kids 7-12 @ Olympia Fencing Center
5:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

April 3, 2024

3:00 pm After School Robotics @ 86A Sherman St, Cambridge
3:00 pm After School Robotics @ 86A Sherman St. Cambridge

April 4, 2024

3:00 pm After School Robotics @ 86A Sherman St, Cambridge
3:00 pm After School Robotics @ 86A Sherman St. Cambridge

April 6, 2024

9:00 am Better Together @ Hilton Garden Inn, Waltham, MA
10:00 am Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
10:00 am Corner Co-op Spring Fun Fair @ Corner Co-op Nursery School: 1773 Beacon Street, Brookline
4:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
7:30 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts

April 7, 2024

10:00 am Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
10:00 am Free Montessori Playgroup @ Metro West Jewish Day School
12:00 pm Rock Fest at Powisset Farm @ Powisset Farm
1:00 pm Amazing Archaeology Fair at Harvard @ Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology
2:00 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts
4:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

April 9, 2024

10:00 am Puppet Playtime with Harry LaCoste & Puppet Pals @ Puppet Showplace Theater
4:00 pm Free Fencing Class for kids 7-12 @ Olympia Fencing Center
5:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

April 11, 2024

April 12, 2024

7:30 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts

April 13, 2024

10:00 am Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
10:30 am “The Four Seasons” by Drama of Works @ Puppet Showplace Theater
1:00 pm ¡Teen Saturdays at the Museum! / ¡Sábados de Jóvenes en el Museo! @ Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology
1:00 pm “The Four Seasons” by Drama of Works @ Puppet Showplace Theater
4:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
7:30 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts

April 14, 2024

10:00 am Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
10:30 am “The Four Seasons” by Drama of Works @ Puppet Showplace Theater
1:00 pm “The Four Seasons” by Drama of Works @ Puppet Showplace Theater
2:00 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts
4:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

April 15, 2024

10:00 am Patriots’ Day at the Concord Museum @ Concord Museum
10:30 am “The Four Seasons” by Drama of Works @ Puppet Showplace Theater
1:00 pm “The Four Seasons” by Drama of Works @ Puppet Showplace Theater
3:00 pm “The Four Seasons” by Drama of Works @ Puppet Showplace Theater

April 16, 2024

10:00 am Puppet Playtime with Harry LaCoste & Puppet Pals @ Puppet Showplace Theater
4:00 pm Free Fencing Class for kids 7-12 @ Olympia Fencing Center
5:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

April 17, 2024

10:30 am Spring Break at Arsenal Yards @ Arsenal Yards

April 18, 2024

11:00 am April Architecture! @ Metropolitan Waterworks Museum
7:30 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts

April 19, 2024

6:00 pm Sesame Street Live! Say Hello @ Emerson Colonial Theatre
7:30 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts

April 20, 2024

10:00 am Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
10:00 am Boston Comics in Color Festival @ Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center
4:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
5:00 pm JellyCat Party @ Tiny Hanger
5:00 pm JellyCat Party at Tiny Hanger @ 314 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446) on Saturday, Apr. 20 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Apr. 21 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.!
7:30 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts

April 21, 2024

10:00 am Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
10:00 am JellyCat Party @ Tiny Hanger
2:00 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts
4:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

April 23, 2024

10:00 am Puppet Playtime with Harry LaCoste & Puppet Pals @ Puppet Showplace Theater
4:00 pm Free Fencing Class for kids 7-12 @ Olympia Fencing Center
5:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

April 26, 2024

7:30 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts

April 27, 2024

Dog Man: The Musical @ Emerson Colonial Theatre
The Boston Outdoor Expo @ The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
10:00 am Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
11:00 am Dog Man: The Musical @ Emerson Colonial Theatre
12:00 pm Alice in Wonderland @ The Cabot
2:00 pm Dog Man: The Musical @ Emerson Colonial Theatre
4:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
7:00 pm Alice in Wonderland @ The Cabot
7:30 pm Burn This @ Boston Center for the Arts

April 28, 2024

10:00 am Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center
10:00 am Boston Walk for Epilepsy @ Fenway Park
12:00 pm Alice in Wonderland @ The Cabot
4:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

April 30, 2024

10:00 am Puppet Playtime with Harry LaCoste & Puppet Pals @ Puppet Showplace Theater
11:30 am Dance Me A Story @ Needham Library! @ Needham Free Public Library
4:00 pm Free Fencing Class for kids 7-12 @ Olympia Fencing Center
5:00 pm Discover the Olympic Sport of Fencing! @ Olympia Fencing Center

9 Fun and Unusual Specialty Food Stores Around Boston

Are you that person who wanders into a farmers market and swoons over the heirloom tomatoes? Do you love the idea of visiting a local fromagerie for a French artisan farmhouse sheep’s milk cheese? Are you intrigued by snack foods from Korea or a fresh loaf of borodinsky bread? Here in Boston, we love our specialty food shops! Check out these nine unique and tasty specialty food stores in the Boston area. Bon appétit!

American Provisions

613 East Broadway, South Boston
1971 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester

This pair of neighborhood shops is dedicated to connecting the community with real food and locally made treasures. American Provisions specializes in curating artisan cheeses, cured meats, natural wines, and craft beers. Oh, and a trip to these shops would not be complete without grabbing one of their spectacular handcrafted sandwiches!

Formaggio Kitchen

358 Huron Ave., Cambridge
94 Hampshire St., Cambridge
268 Shawmut Ave., Boston

Since 1978, Formaggio Kitchen has remained dedicated to discovering tastes from around the world and bringing them to their three Boston-area stores. Formaggio Kitchen’s mission is to bring a European shopping experience to their family of local stores. Best known for their expansive cheese selection, this shop also offers specialty items from sauces to chocolates to baking supplies to pastas.

H Mart

1028 Beacon St., Brookline
3 Old Concord Rd., Burlington
581 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
101 Falls Blvd., Quincy

With four Boston area locations — and dozens more across the country — H Mart is your local Asian food experience market. This authentic Asian market carries staples like soy sauce and fish sauce in addition to unique items like Korean ice cream and Japanese pickles. H Mart is the spot to explore the flavors of Asia!

Italian Kitchen

1071 Main St., Brockton

This Italian groceria is a dream for Italian food lovers. This neighborhood gem has been bringing Italian tradition and family cooking to the table since 1947. Stop in to find take-and-bake options along with an array of Italian specialty grocery items. 

BazaAr Supermarkets

424 Cambridge St., Allston
1432 Beacon St., Brookline
855 Worcester Rd., Framingham
30 Tower Rd., Newton

With four Boston-area locations, BazaAr Supermarkets boasts an electric array of gourmet food and spirits from around the world. This Eastern European grocery connects customers with cuisines from Russia, Turkey, Romania, Germany, Austria, Italy, Armenia, Spain, Moldova, Ukraine, Israel, and many other countries. BazaAr bakes fresh artisanal bread at their stores each day, and their homemade Eastern European-style sweets are always just right!

Portugalia Marketplace

489 Bedford Street, Fall River

For more than 30 years, this exceptional Portuguese specialty grocer has been dedicated to fostering a love for Portuguese cuisine and culture. The brick-and-mortar store was built in a refurbished textile to provide a unique shopping experience. Portugalia Marketplace offers all things Portuguese cuisine with a large prepared foods counter, baked goods, fresh fish, and more than 1,300 wines and spirits. 

Eastern Lamejun Bakers

145 Belmont St., Belmont

For more than 60 years, Eastern Lamejun Bakers has been a beloved Eastern European and Armenian bakery in Greater Boston. Decades-old family recipes are used to make handmade treats everyday, from cheese turnovers and zataar manaeish to paklava and chocolate halva. 

Wasik’s Cheese Shop

61 Central St., Wellesley

The Wasik family specializes in selecting the highest quality cheeses from around the world. With more than 60 years of experience, this local favorite is the go-to spot for cheese, charcuterie, wine, and other gourmet items. Build your own board, or let Wasik’s Cheese Shop do the work for you with one of their customer cheese boards — perfect for entertaining friends and family! 

Greek International Food Market

5204 Washington St., West Roxbury

This authentic Greek market is a Boston gem. Experience the traditions of the Mediterranean through homemade meals like pastichio and spanakopita to authentic Greek imported products like olives and specialty meats. The Greek International Food Market is a Greek food lover’s dream!

This article was written in 2018 by Jenny Berk and has been updated for 2024!

April Fools’ Day Ideas — Pranks, Tricks, and Jokes to Play on Your Kids!

family celebrating April Fools Day (ideas for pranks and jokes for kids)There is one holiday that reigns supreme as the original day of practical jokes, and it’s the perfect opportunity for family fun — April Fools’ Day! The best pranks don’t have to take too much effort, either. In fact, in France, April 1 is “poisson d’avril,” or April fish, where people try to stick paper fish on the backs of as many adults as possible. Ready to get a little silly and play some tricks on your loved ones? Check out these ideas for the best family-friendly April Fools’ Day tricks, jokes, and pranks!

Toilet paper messages

It might take time, but writing jokes or funny messages on your toilet paper can make for a silly surprise next time your child (or spouse) heads in. You can also buy pre-printed novelty toilet paper.

Fake cake pops

My older kids came home with “homemade” cake pops one year that were actually meatballs! You could even make cake pops out of Brussels sprouts or small onions. 

Pickup patrol

Have an adult-size animal onesie or Halloween costume you’d love to wear again? April 1 feels like the perfect day to break that outfit out to wear to school pickup.

Whoopie cushion

You can’t go wrong with a classic. Couch cushions? Mattress? Favorite chair? Tuck that whoopie cushion under your kids’ go-to sitting spots!

Toothpaste cream

Do your kids love Oreos? You can swap out the inside of any cream-filled cookies with toothpaste!

Change challenge

Glue a coin to a surface or floor and watch as your kids attempt to pick up their found treasure. Another variation is to take a bottle of water, put a coin underneath the bottle, and ask your kids if they can get the coin out without touching it. When the person looks in the bottle, squeeze it for a splash surprise! 

Remote malfunction

Put a piece of tape over your television remote’s sensor. TV time thwarted! 

Jiggly juice

Does your child drink juice in the morning? Fill a cup with Jell-O and hand it to them like their regular drink.

Giant growth spurt

Still have old socks lying around that your child has outgrown? In their sock drawer, swap their regular socks for the smaller pairs — instant growth spurt!

Cereal killer

Swap out your child’s favorite cereal for raw pasta or non-edible items (looking at you, Legos!). 

Surprise cake

Similar to cake pops, there are quite a few things you can make look like a piece of cake or a whole cake. Cover a sponge with your favorite frosting or, if you’re feeling super ambitious, try this meatball cake!

Brown “E”s

This one is super easy to pull off — maybe the simplest of the April Fools’ ideas! Surprise your child with a fresh “baked” dessert — brown paper cutouts of the letter “E.” Get it?

Breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast? 

I suppose this could go either way — as a prank or a treat. Offer dinner items at the breakfast table or serve a full breakfast for dinner! Who doesn’t enjoy lasagna with their morning juice?!

Frozen anything

Put any of your child’s favorite things in the freezer before they put them on — underwear, socks, favorite shirt, you name it!

Eye spy

Order an inexpensive stash of googly eyes and put them on everything! 

Jump scares

Simple and effective: If you have a child who likes to call out “Mom!” or “Dad” non-stop, simply hide behind the doorway and give them a good jump scare when they come around the corner looking for you! I’d recommend a confetti cannon but then you’d have to clean it up!

Sweet swap

Remove some candies from their wrappers, then refill the empty wrappers with grapes or cherry tomatoes. It’s the perfect fake out — and healthy, too!

Snake snack

This one’s an oldie but a goodie — offer up what looks like your kid’s favorite snack, and they’ll jump at the slithery surprise!

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