Join Us for the BigKidSmallCity Storytime at Brazos Bookstore! Saturday, August 22, 2015

Reading at Brazos Bookstore
Meet me at Brazos Bookstore on Saturday, August 22 at 10:30am!

BigKidSmallCity will be at Brazos Bookstore, reading 2 of our favorite books: On the Construction Site (Shine-A Light Books) by Carron Brown & Bee Johnson and Mix It Up by Herve Tullet. After the story, there will be an activity and treats from Dixie’s Dessert Delivery.

You don’t have to be a construction fan to love the first book.  It has secret pictures that are revealed when held up to a light!  Also, Mix It Up is so interactive it could replace your iPAD games (at least for a little bit!).

AND, so I do not have to do all the work with MIX IT UP, I’ll be looking for volunteers to help me.  Bring your own MIX IT UP, buy a copy at the store, or help me with my book!

The event is free… and all you need to do is reserve a spot below. Be one of the first 50 to get a spot… and we’ll see you there!  (Brazos Bookstore is at 2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, Texas 77005)

If you want to join us on Saturday, August 22, 2015, you must:
1. Fill out the form below.
2. Be one of the first 50 to respond. The form will be turned off once it is full.
3. If you sign up, bring your kids to Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, Texas 77005) on Saturday, August 22 at 10:30am. The event is free.
4. Parking will be TIGHT. If you get a spot in the small lot… that’s great. If not, go around the block for free street parking. Just follow the signs for any parking restrictions.
5. Make every effort to attend. Spaces are limited and we want as many kids to get a chance as possible. If you need to cancel, email me at Jill @ BigKidSmallCity.com



Halbert Park – Visiting Houston’s Parks, One Week at a Time

Halbert Park Houston Spinning Wheel
Address: 200 East 23rd, Houston, TX 77008

Halbert Park is a small neighborhood park with playground, tennis court and basketball court.  When we visited on a weekday evening, the park was hopping.

Halbert Park Houston Climbing Structures BigKidSmallCity
The basketball court had a big game going and it looked like young men had come from work.  At the other corner of the park, the playground was full of families.

There are swings, a traditional play structure and a super cool spinning wheel.  My 8 year old loved hanging on to the wheel and spinning around and around.

Halbert Park Houston Climbing Ladder
The play structure has unusual ladders and steps and more.  (I didn’t get great pictures because it was so busy!)  It’s not huge, but it is unique and in good condition.

Halbert Park Houston Steps
The neighborhood is full of Heights bungalows and parking is available on the side of the park. Streets are a little narrow but the park has a big shoulder for cars.

There are no restrooms, so be prepared!



Half Day in Houston: Montrose Art Walk (for Families)

Having fun with the family and exploring Houston can be easy!  If you have a few hours, we have ideas on how to spend them with the kids.

In this Half Day in Houston series, find a place to park, play, explore and eat… all in one spot.  Pick what you like or combine with another Half Day post!

In this adventure, walk through 3 free art exhibits, create your own works of art and then play with the art… all at the Menil Collection Campus in Montrose!

Menil Collection Walking in Maze in Yard
 

Park:

The Menil Collection has free parking on the street and in the large parking lots.  Park once and walk to each stop.  If you want to make your trip longer, check out THIS list of things to do in Montrose (and maybe move your car to another free spot in Montrose).

 

Explore:

This adventure takes you through an art museum.  It’s not the Children’s Museum and it’s not the Natural Science Museum… it’s something new to try with the family in Houston!

All are welcome in these exhibits and all are within walking distance of each other.  If your kids can take a hand and use quiet voices for 5 minutes, give it a try.  (If your kids are in a rebellious-run-around-like-a-wild-person-phase… this might not be for you just yet!)

The cool thing is, the Menil Collection is always free.  You can try it and if it’s just not working, head outside to finish the fun.

 

Credit 365 Things to Do in Houston menil-collection-dan-flavin-exhibit-houston
Photo Credit: 365 Things to Do in Houston
1.  Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall – Colquitt and Loretto Drive, Houston, Texas 77006 – Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00-7:00pm – Free

Right on Richmond Avenue, Richmond Hall was originally a 1930’s grocery store.  In 1996, just two days before his death, Artist Dan Flavin completed his design for this permanent Menil Collection installation.

In the big main hall, vertical colored fluorescent tubes fill the space… alternating in pink, yellow, green and blue and reflect on the polished concrete floor.

This building is cool (as in cold) and just a little dark.  It’s certainly not something you expect to see in a box shaped building on Richmond Avenue.

Take the kids, step inside the air conditioning and enjoy the lights.  Stay for a few minutes, or all day.

 

Cy Twombly Gallery at Menil Collection
2.  Cy Twombly Gallery – 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, TX 77006 – Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00-7:00pm – Free

Just a couple blocks to the north is the main Menil Collection Campus.  Here you can find the main museum, the park, the Cy Twombly Gallery (and soon to be much more)!

Take a walk through Cy Twombly Gallery before visiting the main museum, and ask the kids to think about what they might want to draw after the tour.

 

Menil Collection Roof
3.  Menil Collection – 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, TX 77006 – Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00-7:00pm – Free

The main museum is the busiest of the buildings.  Here there is 30,000 square feet of gallery space with collections constantly changing.  Each time you visit, the museum is new and fresh.

Also, something to point out to the kids, is the ceiling and roof.  The white “leaves” were design to change the light with the sun.  If you visit in the morning or noon or night, your experience with the art will change.

Take the kids to see one exhibit or all of them, and tell them to be thinking about what to draw for their own masterpieces.

Menil Collection Maze in Yard
On the lawn outside the Menil (and at the park across the street), you can always find families and friends enjoying the neighborhood.  Bring your own picnic or let the kids run along the art sunk into the lawn in front of the Menil.

 

Drawing in Tree Outside Menil Collection
4.  Create Your Own Art

This is my trick for making the art museum fun for the kids.  Each time we bring a clipboard, paper and colored pencils.  We find a seat in the museum or outside, and make our own masterpieces. It’s very easy, but something we look forward to as we explore each exhibit.

Bring your own supplies and find a seat in the hallway of the main building, on a gray bench just outside, in one of the many “climbing” trees or at the park across the street.

 

Menil Collection Park or Red Swing Park
5.  Menil Park (aka Red Swing Park) – Branard and Mulberry Street, Houston, Texas 77006 – Free

Right across from the main building is the Menil Park… or as we call it… the red swing park.  This is a nice green park filled with giant old oak trees and one red swing.  It is the park to go to if you are looking to relax, have a picnic and climb trees!

Bring a picnic or just run around!

 

Want to see more of Montrose, including a free splashpad?  Check out THIS bigger walking tour.

 

El Pueblito Patio
Eat:

If you haven’t had a picnic already, visit El Pueblito, across from Richmond Hall.  This restaurant has a patio with cabanas, fans and misters.  If you avoid late evenings and late Sunday brunch (when they have loud music and a party atmosphere), it’s good for families. Just know that it’s more hole-in-the-wall than chain restaurant.

Other options are Blacklab and La Fendee.  Also very close is Maine-ly Sandwiches, Mia’s Table, Uberrito, Little Bigs, El Real, Empire Cafe and many other restaurants.



$1 Kid Movies at Alamo Drafthouse, Benefiting Houston YMCA

Alamo Draft House Sign in Vintage Park
Alamo Drafthouse had us out to the Kids Camp today… and it’s pretty great for 3 reasons:

  • First, it has well known movies you know will be appropriate for your kids.
  • Second, you can pick your price. Pay $1, $2 or $3 per ticket… which is a donation to the YMCA.
  • Third, my kids just learned about eating INSIDE the movie theater and cannot believe how great it is.

This week you can see Kung Fu Panda 2, next week’s it’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 and then it’s Follow that Bird. Go HERE for details.

At the Alamo Drafthouse, you buy your movie tickets and select assigned seats.  Once sitting, you can order by writing your order or requests on note cards that the waiters pick up.  There is an adult menu and kids menu… snacks, meals, drinks and desserts.  If you need a refill, you just write it down.

The kids combo was $7, with fish sticks, fries, fruit and a drink.  The kids pizza was $9.  And I was very pleased to see the kids veggie and fruit plate, jam packed with celery, carrots, apples and bananas, for $6.  (My youngest seems to be on a special diet… he’ll eat healthy things if they are raw and separated.  So raw veggies are okay.  If they are cooked, they are terrible.  If they are in a stew, they might just be poison.)

So, we ate, we watched, we laughed and were surrounded by families.  Some giggles and cries were no big deal… and probably every family had to run to the bathrooms at least once.  There is something a little comforting about hanging with parents that are out in Houston, having fun with their kids.

If this looks good to you… be sure to head to Kids Camp before school starts (and it ends)!



Take your Young Ninja Warriors to Iron Sports Gym, an Official Ninja Warrior Training Facility

My kids are obsessed with America Ninja Warrior.  Even the 3 year old will hang from the monkey bars and yell, “I’m a Ninja Warrior!” at the top of his lungs.  The 8 and 6 year old seek out playgrounds that might just be suitable as Ninja Warrior obstacle courses.

Joe on Ropes at Iron Sports America Ninja Warrior Gym BigKidSmallCity
So when Houston mom, Kasi, told me about Iron Sports, an Official Ninja Warrior Training Facility, we were at the kids class the very next day.  Monkey Bars, Rings, Tunnels, Peg Boards, Stemming Walls, Running Ramps, Rope Climbing, Military Ladders… this place has them… and your kids can try them!  Oh, and the competitors you see on America Ninja Warrior can be found here too!

Bar at Iron Sports America Ninja Warrior Gym BigKidSmallCity
Drop in for kid fit classes, homeschool classes and open gym.  You can also sign up for competitions and birthday parties.

We stopped in for a kids class and for $10 each, the kids had 2 hours with the instructors. They did obstacle courses, with many of the challenges you see on the Ninja Warrior course.

Joe at Iron Sports America Ninja Warrior Gym BigKidSmallCity
The class, divided into 2 groups had about 30 kids in it. Some parents dropped off and a few others stuck around to watch the class.

I sat at the back bench, in the middle of the action, and watched the kids try all the obstacles. James wasn’t old enough (5 years old) to participate in the class, but he was able to do a few activities while we watch the big kids. (His only concern was that there was no water or buzzer when kids fell.)

James at Iron Sports American Ninja Warrior Gym BigKidSmallCity
For the last 30 minutes, kids could either have free play or pay $5 for a Parkour Class. Joe did the Parkour Class and did lots of balance and core exercises (that were really a challenge for him).

Iron Sports American Ninja Warrior Parkour Class BigKidSmallCity
Something very cool about the gym is a tunnel that wraps around the first floor and leads to the second floor. The kids said it was like climbing through an air duct… and did it again and again.

Iron Sports American Ninja Warrior Gym Tunnel BigKidSmallCity
All in all, it was a great afternoon at the America Ninja Warrior gym and we cannot wait to go back!  Check their website for class details, and if you have some questions before the first class, like we did, call them at 281-580-4642.

And look below for an introduction to the instructors you will meet at the gym!

Equipment at Iron Sports American Ninja Warrior BigKidSmallCity
 

Devil Steps at Iron Sports America Ninja Warrior Gym BigKidSmallCity
 

Ropes at Iron Sports America Ninja Warrior Gym BigKidSmallCity
 

 

 

 



Take your Train Lovers to the Rosenberg Railroad Museum… At a Hub for Multiple (Active) Rail Lines!

Rosenberg Railroad Museum Collage
If your kids are anything like mine, they are slightly obsessed with trains. We have been meaning to make it out to the Rosenberg Railroad Museum for quite some time and I am so glad we finally did!

The museum is located about a 45 minute drive from Houston and has been celebrating railroading in Fort Bend Country for over 160 years. Did you know that Rosenberg was (and still is) a hub for multiple rail lines? Neither did I.

Rosenberg Railroad Museum Sign
There is a small museum on site and we were given a fun scavenger hunt for the kids within the displays. The hunt helped my 5 year old stay engaged and encouraged us read a few different items that we might have otherwise breezed by.

After we completed the scavenger hunt and received our small prize, we were taken on a private tour of the rest of the buildings. We didn’t need to reserve the tour ahead of time, they have a number of docents on hand and once a group is ready to move on to the rest of the museum, away you go! All of the guides are volunteers and so knowledgeable. The museum is also located right next to active tracks so you can see working trains coming and going throughout your visit.

Rosenberg Railroad Museum Switches
We were first taken to Tower 17, which was the originally controlled the crossing of the Gulf Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad (Santa Fe) and the Galveston Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway Company (Southern Pacific). My daughter got to move switches on the old board and see how the controller would view the tracks and keep traffic safe at a crossing. They also now how have computer display for how the modern trains are controlled. It was interesting to see the difference and much like air traffic controlling, seems like a weighty job.

Rosenberg Railroad Museum Caboose
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Tanglewood Park – Visiting Houston’s Parks, One Week at a Time

Tanglewood Park Houston
Address:  5801 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX 77057

Tanglewood Park is a cute little park at Woodway and Bering, with a toddler playground, big kid playground, swings, teeter totter and spring riders.

Tanglewood Park Playstructure
The equipment was in good condition and had some really unique pieces… with rock walls and ladders.  Still the spring riders were the favorite part.  They wiggle in all directions (and not just front to back) and even my 8 year old thought they were fun.

Tanglewood Park Small Playground
The park has big trees but quite a bit of sun.  Wear your hats and sunscreen.  Also, plan ahead because I did not notice a restroom.

Free parking is available in the lot.  Some small construction was happening when we visited, but it looks like there is a dog run and sports field as well as a playground.

Tanglewood Park Teeter Totter
Check out this nice little park next time you are in the area!



Half Day in Houston: Library, Little Matt’s & Pick a Park

Having fun with the family and exploring Houston can be easy!  If you have a few hours, we have ideas on how to spend them with the kids.

In this Half Day in Houston series, find a place to park, play, explore and eat… all in one spot.  Pick what you like or combine with another Half Day post!

In this adventure, read a book at the library, walk over to one of Houston’s most kid friendly restaurants and then pick one of many West University parks!

 

James in Spinner
Park:

Free parking is available on the street at the West University Library and Little Matt’s.  You can also walk to several of the parks… but if you pick a park further out, you might want to move the car once.  (See the map below to decide!)

 

Explore:

West University Library Childrens Section Upstairs
1. West University Library – 6108 Auden St, Houston, TX 77005 – Monday-Saturday, 10:00am – 5:00/6:00pm – Free

Visit the West University Library, head upstairs and lounge in the children’s section and read some good books.

This Houston Library is right in the middle of Houston… but requires a Harris County Public Library Card, rather than a Houston Public Library Card, if you want to take books home. It’s also in one of Houston’s most family friendly neighborhoods… but it is it’s own city within our city!

 

Little Matts Outside
2.  Little Matt’s – 6203 Edloe St 77005 – Monday-Sunday, 10:30am – 8:00pm – Reasonable

Just a block away from the library is the Little Matt’s restaurant. Don’ t be fooled by the nondescript gray outside, the fun is inside!  IPad Stations, Wish Wall, Candy Store, Kid’s Room, Arcade and Patio…

Order at the counter, fill up your drink and have the food delivered to your table.

Little Matts Kids Meal Mac and Cheese
 

3.  Pick a West University Park

After the library and lunch, find a place to play.  West University has a lot of good playgrounds! You can walk to some from the library and Little Matt’s… and the others are a very short drive.

Pick the ones (below) that look best for your family!

 

Colonial Park Rocks
Colonial Park – 4130 Byron, Houston, Texas – Free

The Colonial Park playground offers lots of different types of activities. One of our favorites is the combination rock climbing and rope obstacle. There is also a musical array with eight different kinds of instruments, including bongos, giant maracas, and huge slide whistles!  Oh, and there is a traditional playground too!

 

Playground at Huffington Park
Huffington Park – 3901 Milton, Houston, Texas – Free

Huffington Park is a charming neighborhood park with a nautical theme!  The single play structure forms body of a ship and there are climbing walls to the front and back of it that form the bow and the stern.

 

Judson Park West University Rock Slide
Judson Park – 4242 South Judson Street, Houston, Texas – Free

Judson Park has 2 fenced off sections in this park. One area is for children 2-5 years old and the other is for older kids. In between is a big grassy area for games and picnics.

The small playground has a little play structure, house and tunnel. The big playground is in a separate area and only has a few pieces of equipment. But one of these pieces is a very unusual slide.

This slide has a giant rock that you must climb to get to the top. There are no steps, just the rock!

 

Whitt Johnson Park Tree House
Whitt Johnson Park – 6540 Wakeforest, Houston, Texas – Free

Whitt Johnson Park is a well shaded park with a tree house!  The tree house is a large metal and plastic play structure in the middle of the park. There are four different ways to get up or down from the tree house, but our favorite, by far, is the leaf ladder located on the inside of the “tree.” Sliding down the vine slide is also a good option.

Oh, and there is regular equipment too!

 

Wier Park Small Play Structure
Wier Park – 3012 Nottingham, Houston, Texas – Free

Wier Park has play structures for big kids and little kids, picnic tables and a basketball court and is really quite great.

The park has 2 play areas. One is for toddlers and one if for bigger kids and each is mud free because of the soft layer of turf. Each area also has swings, picnic tables and a play structure with unique ladders!

 

West University Spark Park Play Structure
West University Spark Park – 3756 University Boulevard, Houston, TX 77005 – Free (Under Construction Summer 2015)

The Spark Park Program develops school parks into neighborhood parks as a way to increase green space in Houston. West University Spark Park gates open after school activities end and throughout weekends, holidays, and summer months for everyone to enjoy!

 

Fire Truck at Fire Truck Park
Add a bonus park to your trip… The Fire Truck Park is just outside of West University and a short drive away… and it’s a great park!

 



Celebrate at Hermann Park with $1.72 Kid’s Train Rides, Ice Cream & Fun + Family Day Giveaway! Thursday, August 6, 2015, 10:00am-2:00pm

Train and Water at Hermann Park
Grab your little engineers and come celebrate George Hermann’s 172nd birthday with $1.72 train rides for kids, $1.72 ice cream for everyone, free birthday cake, Houston Fire Department appearance and lots of fun!  The party will be on Thursday, August 6, 2015 from 10:00am to 2:00pm at the Hermann Park Kinder Train Station.

Reserve your spot by filling out the form below and be entered to win a Hermann Park Family Fun Pack!  It includes 4 train tickets and 1 pedal boat ticket (good for 4 people)!

Here is what you need to know:

  • The Birthday Party will include free face painting and crafts at the Hermann Park Train Station, from 10:00-2:00pm.
  • Children 12 and under can ride the Hermann Park Railroad for $1.72
  • Everyone can get $1.72 Soft Serve Ice Cream at Pinewood Cafe.
  • Free Birthday Cake is available at Pinewood Cafe, 11:00-2:00pm, while supplies last.
  • BigKidSmallCity will have a table at the party.  Come see me!
  • Fill out the form below to win train tickets, a pedal boat ticket and gift card to Pinewood Cafe!  The winner can pick them up at the party!
  • If you purchase a Hermann Park Membership, I’ll give your little conductor a hat and bandanna at the event!

Giveaway closes on August 6, 2015 at 9:01pm.
Official Rules: http://wp.me/P2efXF-7ct



Hedwig Park – Visiting Houston’s Parks, One Week at a Time

Hedwig Park Houston
Address:  930 1/2 Corbindale Road, Houston, TX 77024

Hedwig Park is a big shaded park, right next to the Spring Branch Library, with so many play stations that the equipment at Hedwig could fill at least 4 other parks.  Toddler play area, big play structures, teeter totter, climbing sculpture, swings, bars, hippos and more.

Hedwig Park Next to Spring Branch Library
Free parking is available on the street and you can visit the library, bring a picnic and play at the park, all in one trip.

Reading at Hedwig Park1
Kids 5 and younger have their own fenced in spot, with a little slide, fire truck and train.  This part is in full sun… but everything else is shaded by big trees.

Hedwig Park Toddler Park Firetruck
The big kids have a lot to do at this big park.  There are traditional play structures… but also swings for all abilities, a wooden sculpture that you climb and an old fashioned teeter totter and climbing bars.

Hedwig Park Playstructures
It was the teeter totter that my kids could not get enough of.  (In fact, they now call it the teeter totter park.)  It’s not an especially unusual piece of equipment, but they loved it.  (But they are all 20 pounds apart, so it’s a little tricky to teeter totter back and forth… so I also did a lot of teeter tottering myself.)

Hedwig Park Teeter Totter1
There is no restroom here, but the library is right next door… plus it’s a good air conditioned break.

Hedwig Park Swings
 My kids keep asking to go back, so I think this park is a winner!

Hedwig Park Climbing