Our guide to cultural events in New York City for children and teenagers happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
ART SUNDAE at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (Jan. 12, 2-4 p.m.). You won’t find any ice cream here, but the fun is sure to be delicious. Presented by the nonprofit Art Production Fund and the cultural center Fort Gansevoort, this event is part of a free series that invites children to exercise their imaginations while working with a contemporary artist. Taking place on the plaza’s concourse level, the program will be led by Joana Avillez, illustrator of Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl” and the creator of an illustrated holiday map of Rockefeller Center. Young participants — the recommended ages are 5 and older — will use felt-tip pens to make sketches of ice-skaters and passers-by; some of their drawings will be selected for a public exhibition later this month at Fort Gansevoort.
THE BOTANICAL WORLD OF HARRY POTTER TOUR SERIES: HERBOLOGY at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Jan. 13, 2:30 p.m.). Although the herbs that Harry, Hermione and other wizarding students rely on for potions in J. K. Rowling’s novels may not be, strictly speaking, magical, there is evidence that they can work a few wonders in the real world. This program, the last in a series devoted to the plants at Hogwarts, will send young participants into the Steinhardt Conservatory to find species that are mentioned in the books and that we Muggles have turned to for medicinal purposes. Children will learn about traditional remedies and the age-old uses of ginger (to combat nausea), mint (to quell vomiting), cinnamon (to reduce inflammation) and lavender (to ease convulsions) in this hourlong interactive tour.
HAPPY HIBERNATIONS! at the Staten Island Children’s Museum (Jan. 12, noon). Sleeping is certainly an appealing way to get through the winter. For certain species, though, hibernation is also a matter of survival. This program, part of the museum’s Con Edison Second Saturday Science! series, will focus on a variety of adaptations, including growing thicker coats and storing food caches, that enable wildlife to weather the cold months. It will focus particularly on the American beaver and the gray wolf, as well as native reptiles and birds. In addition to examining creatures’ pelts and bones, young participants will see some live animals from the Staten Island Zoo. (Space is limited.)
HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW AND ‘ALL ABOARD WITH THOMAS & FRIENDS’ at the New York Botanical Garden (through Jan. 21). Trains move in and out of New York all the time, but some that are traveling in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx these days aren’t your usual subway and commuter lines, offering mundane views (or none at all). In this garden’s conservatory, model locomotives zoom along almost a half-mile of track among miniature re-creations of city landmarks made from twigs, leaves, bark, pine cones, fruit and other natural materials. Created by Applied Imagination, the exhibition this year includes Lower Manhattan sites like the 1913 Woolworth Building and One World Trade Center, as well as early-1900s ferries. On weekends and Jan. 21, the garden offers a theatrical journey, too: Special tickets include the train show and a performance of “All Aboard With Thomas & Friends” (this Saturday and Sunday at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.). Starring Driver Sam and Thomas the Tank Engine of storybook and television fame, this singalong musical enlists little audience members in “Thomas’ Budding Adventure,” helping the engine learn how to cultivate a garden.
MUSIC ACROSS BORDERS: ‘ANIMALS INTO SONG — THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN’ at David Geffen Hall (Jan. 12, 2 p.m.). How can music translate the calls of the wild? Part of the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concert series for children ages 6 to 12, this program will explore that question with works that portray both animals and natural settings. In Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen” Suite (1922-24), the titular creature, which is captured by a forester from a woodland buzzing with insects, invades the man’s barnyard, eats his hens and ultimately escapes. Puppets designed and operated by students from the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts will illustrate the fox’s adventure. The afternoon will also feature pieces by two 11-year-olds in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program: Melody Zhang’s quintet “The Fox and the Tiger” and Nilomi Weerakkody’s orchestral soundscape.
NATURE PRESENTATION: KEEPING WILDLIFE WILD at Wave Hill (Jan. 12, 2 p.m.). Woodland creatures like raccoons, possums and squirrels may look cute and cuddly, but they’re unlikely to make good pets. Wave Hill, the 28-acre garden in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, will explain why at this program, led by wildlife experts from the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum. Recommended for children 8 and older, the event will include a discussion of the instinctive behaviors that make undomesticated species unsuitable for people’s homes. If found, injured animals should be taken to wildlife rehabilitators. But you can still get a close look at a few forest residents: The museum will show live examples from its own collection, including an Eastern box turtle and a black rat snake.
‘WONDERS OF THE SEA 3D’ in select movie theaters nationwide (Jan. 17, 7 p.m.). If you’ve ever wondered what it might feel like to come nose to nose with a shark — and not fear for your life — this is the film for you. Presented by Fathom Events in participating theaters for one night only (a full release comes later), this feature-length documentary follows the filmmaker and underwater explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of the renowned Jacques Cousteau) and his adult children, Céline and Fabien, as they undertake a tour of the ocean depths from Fiji to the Bahamas. Shot in 4K as well as 3-D, the film provides detailed views of creatures like tiny plankton, giant clams and a seemingly curious hammerhead. Directed by the elder Cousteau and Jean-Jacques Mantello and narrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film argues for conserving this richly varied world.
For an overview of January and February’s cultural events, click here.