Our guide to cultural events in New York City for children and teenagers happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
THE BOTANICAL WORLD OF HARRY POTTER TOUR SERIES: WANDS AND BROOMS at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Nov. 11, 2:30-3:30 p.m.). Programmers at these 52 verdant acres have taken educational inspiration from the Harry Potter books. Although this tour won’t teach how to cast spells or defend against the dark arts, it will give an informational guide to the wood used in several characters’ wands, like holly (Harry), elder (Dumbledore) and yew (Lord Voldemort and Ginny Weasley), as well as to the materials, such as oak and Genista shrubs, that might have made up their brooms. (J. K. Rowling doesn’t specify.) And while the garden has nothing as terrifying as Hogwarts’s Whomping Willow, young visitors can certainly see that tree’s more ordinary form, which grows in many Muggles’ backyards.
FAMILY TIME: EYE SPY at Brooklyn Historical Society Dumbo (Nov. 10, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.). The society’s new second branch welcomes children to explore New York’s mercantile past right where it happened. The Dumbo site occupies what used to be the Empire Stores warehouse, a thriving commercial center that packed and shipped coffee, sugar and other products in the late 1800s. This free family program centers on the exhibition “Waterfront,” which delves into subjects ranging from the shoreline’s labor history to its marine life. The activities will include a scavenger hunt for visitors ages 2 to 6, as well as opportunities for all interested children to touch and smell dried cochineal insects (formerly used to create a vibrant red dye) and coffee beans. They can also design their own cities on a magnet board, color waterfront-themed postcards, dress up like World War II-era female welders and use digital technology to make videos in which they appear to have been transported inside historical photographs and paintings.
FEED THE BIRDS WEEKEND at Wave Hill (Nov. 10, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Nov. 11, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.). Some of this Bronx public garden’s most distinctive residents have neither leaves nor roots. These two days will celebrate those inhabitants — all avian species — with workshops, walks and opportunities to learn how the birds survive the winter. On both days, a family art project will involve making bird drawings with oil pastels, colored pencils and templates. On Saturday only, naturalists from the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum will answer questions at Wave Hill’s seasonal bird-feeding station, where children can see the feeder’s hungry visitors and handle objects like feathers and replicas of various species’ feet and skulls. Saturday also offers two nature walks and a drop-in workshop to make edible tree ornaments for birds. A final fall bird-watching walk takes place on Sunday. (A full schedule is on the website.)
‘LAYER THE WALLS’ at the Theater at the 14th Street Y (Nov. 10-11, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.). The immigrants who lived in the tenements of the Lower East Side a century ago are long gone. Their stories, however, survive, not just in documents and photographs, but in the very walls of those buildings. Liz Parker and Rachel Sullivan, who created and perform this show, based it on a visit to the Tenement Museum, where they learned of the old apartments’ multiple layers of wallpaper, each reflecting an immigrant family. Using masks, toy-theater techniques and a variety of puppets designed by Spica Wobbe, they imagine those personal histories in this play, set within a tenement where the walls have 40 layers. Each performance will be followed by a talk or an activity; participants will include representatives from the museum, who will address tenement life, and others from the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, who will discuss labor conditions for immigrants. (Details are on the show’s website.)
MY FIRST FILM FEST at the Walter Reade Theater (Nov. 9-11). Adolescent girls fall in love in the homophobic atmosphere of Nairobi; Tito, a 10-year-old, confronts a villagewide epidemic of literally crippling fear; a Japanese teenager struggles to apologize to the deaf girl he once tormented. If this doesn’t sound like light entertainment, don’t be surprised: This sweetly titled but seriously provocative annual festival, from the Film Society of Lincoln Center, recommends most of its 2018 programs for children 11 or older. It includes discussions with the French filmmaker Samuel Collardey on “A Polar Year,” his documentary about a young Dane teaching Inuits, and with Gustavo Steinberg, a director of the Brazilian film “Tito and the Birds,” in which pigeons provide a key to ending that village’s paralyzing panic. In addition to those films and recent features like Wanuri Kahiu’s “Rafiki” (the Kenyan love story) and Naoko Yamada’s “A Silent Voice” (the Japanese tale of bullying), the festival will screen shorts and several classics, like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956). Prepare for an invasion of good movies.
SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS at the Staten Island Children’s Museum (Nov. 10, noon-1 p.m.). Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008), who worked with both the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation and NASA, helped Americans attain new heights, but she also did so herself: A pioneering Native American aeronautical engineer, she was the first woman admitted to the scientific team at Skunk Works, Lockheed’s military-technology division. Part of the museum’s celebration of Native American Heritage Month, this workshop in the Second Saturday Science! series will explore her life and career and allow young participants to build something soaring themselves: a hovercraft made of balloons, compact discs and plastic film canisters.
TEENS TAKE THE MET! at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Nov. 9, 5-8 p.m.). For many adolescents, going to the museum with their parents or even on their own is something they could take or leave. But Take the Met! — which here means that young people have the Fifth Avenue space to themselves for a free evening of entertainment and projects sponsored by a variety of city organizations — has drawn 22,000 teenagers since the museum established the program in 2014. The fun this Friday, for those 13 to 18 with a middle school or high school ID, will include “Battle! Hip-Hop in Armor,” a series of dance performances by It’s Showtime NYC (the group will also lead movement workshops), and Epic Theater Ensemble’s “Locked,” a play written and acted by young people. The evening will also offer art-making stations, a chance to develop memes based on the museum’s works, a silent dance party and free snacks.
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