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Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Power of Imagination

It has been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog and I’m not sure anyone is getting it anymore. I recently saw this post and thought it was worth sharing and also thought I’d use it as a test. Is there interest in my resuming posting about books, reading, parenting and local events for families? If you would like me to continue posting, please post in comments or email me at cslevin59 (at) gmail…

By Molly Pascal – from the Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/04/05/power-imagination-other-parenting-lessons-calvin-hobbes/?utm_term=.4ef6540cd627

“I’ve read my fair share of parenting books, but I’d put ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ at the top of the list of required reading. It reminds me to change my point of view. To listen. To hear not just what my child says with his mouth but also what he conveys through his actions.”

My then-7-year-old son hurried into snow pants as he eyed the somersaulting flakes outside the window. “Are you going to build a snowman?” I asked him skeptically. Though only a couple of inches covered the ground, I knew from experience that scant accumulation was no obstacle to a determined child.

Otis nodded. “I’m going to cut a big hole in middle of his body. Like he was shot by a cannon. But first,” his voice revved with excitement, “I’m going to build him in the driveway so that when you back the car down, he’ll decapitate!”

My son, contrary to appearances, is not a sadistic murderer. He’s a reader. Late the previous night, I had caught him with a flashlight, scouring “Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons” under the covers.

One day recently we had found a stack of Calvin & Hobbes books in the “free” bin outside the local library. It had been years since I had read the books. I couldn’t recall specific story lines, but I remembered the strip as one that reliably made me laugh. I grabbed the entire stack, chuckling at the ingenuity of the titles as I slid them into a cloth bag. “The Revenge of the Baby-Sat.” “Something Under the Bed is Drooling.” “Weirdos from Another Planet.” “Scientific Progress Goes Boink!”

“What is baby-sat?” Otis asked.

“The ones being watched by the babysitter,” I replied. “You know, you and your sister.”

Did I see a glimmer in his eye?

Otis picked up “Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.”

“What does ‘homicidal’ mean?”

I snatched the book out of his hands. I definitely remembered how inappropriate some of the content could be. The violence Calvin inflicts on snowmen could alone earn it an R rating. “These are for me,” I said evasively. Classic parenting mistake. The non-answer answer. The disguised “no.” I’d just done the verbal equivalent of cordoning off the evidence with yellow police tape. Do Not Enter! Absolutely Forbidden! What could be a more tantalizing invitation? I wasn’t too worried though. Surely the intimidatingly advanced vocabulary and amorphous philosophical ideas would be a natural barrier for such a young reader.

Of course, my son proved me wrong. Within the week, Otis had transferred the pile of books from my nightstand to the cavity under his bed. He walked around, ignoring everyone, splayed book in hand. He read at the breakfast table. He read in the bath. He read in the car on the way to school and then on the way home. “Do you remember what our son’s voice sounds like?” I joked to my husband.

[Here's the best thing you can do for your kids, parents. (Pssst: It's easy.)]

In the weeks that followed, I watched as my son’s brain caught fire. The books boosted his vocabulary and pushed him into the highest reading group at school, but, perhaps equally as importantly, they transformed his pretend play. Calvin inspired Otis to dream bigger. Galactically bigger. Otis improved on the many methods Calvin used to murder snowmen.

Otis spent days fiddling with string and boxes, constructing and rigging booby traps. He suspended one, a cardboard box filled with confetti, from the roof of the front porch, and laid in wait for someone to ring the bell. The contraption misfired, but I was so impressed with Otis’s industry, I left it hanging. (I would not have blamed the poor postal worker for skipping our house.) Then it was on to the next prank. Unbeknown to me, he had been sneaking around after bedtime, placing bubble wrap in strategic locations. On my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I became the first victim. Otis peeked out from his room. The look of satisfaction on his face at the sound of my scream sent chills up my spine.

Though Calvin often walks a precocious line in the strip, my child, like many children, clearly got the jokes. “Calvin agrees with you that kids should play outside,” he informed me during a particularly long stretch of days off from school, “But if it’s raining, then the best thing to do is drive your mom crazy.”

More and more often, I found myself saying my son’s name in a strangled tone, my patience thin, and I realized that, at some point, my empathy and allegiance had distinctly transferred from Calvin to Calvin’s Mom.

One day, I asked Otis what he thought of Hobbes. “What do you believe? Is he real or is he stuffed?” In a tone that connoted my knucklehead status, my son answered, “He’s a real tiger, but for some reason grown-ups think he’s a stuffed animal. I guess they just don’t know any better.”

His explanation silenced me. I realized I’d made a grave mistake. I was one of the (stupid) grown-ups. Never once had I considered that Hobbes might be real, because, well, he isn’t. But, belief does not come via verisimilitude. It is a house without struts, a bird without wings, where the former stands and the latter flies. Whether Hobbes was live or stuffed was beside the point. To believe in Hobbes is to believe in the power of imagination.

Perhaps a stuffed Hobbes is the symbolic representation of parental limitation and inadequacy, the depth and degree to which we lose sight of what it’s like to be a child. Hobbes is real because children’s feelings are real. Calvin wants to run away to the Yukon when he’s angry or frustrated. He throws apoplectic fits at mealtime because he doesn’t have the power of choice. He daydreams in class because he’s bored. He causes destruction and wreaks havoc because he’s curious. When we, as parents, focus only on the “bad” behavior, we miss the opportunity to understand the motivation and, ultimately, our children. When I asked my son why he liked Calvin so much, he said, simply, “He understands me.”

I’ve read my fair share of parenting books, but I’d put “Calvin & Hobbes” at the top of the list of required reading. It reminds me to change my point of view. To listen. To hear not just what my child says with his mouth but also what he conveys through his actions. Again and again, I’m reminded that I was deluded to think parents raise children. In truth, they are the ones raising us.

On Halloween this past year, Otis dressed as Calvin. He wore a striped shirt and a pair of shorts. He tucked a stuffed Hobbes under his arm. We ruffled his hair. He carried a pillowcase. On it, he scrawled, in black Sharpie, “Susie Derkins is a Nincompoop.” I accompanied him trick-or-treating dressed as Susie Derkins, in the clothes Otis picked for me. I wore a black top and skirt and carried a bouquet of dead flowers. My husband and I watched our son and daughter scamper up to houses, ring doorbells, then return to where we stood waiting on the sidewalk. We felt it keenly, the tether between children and parents, a piece of gum stretching longer and thinner; at some point, the distance untenable, it must snap: They find independence.

That night, at bedtime, while we snuggled, Otis turned to me, looking serious. “I think Hobbes might be stuffed.” My heart shivered with loss, as it had with previous transitions from one phase to another, in life’s irrevocable vector. But I said only, “Is he?”

Molly Pascal is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh. Find her on Twitter @MollyPascal.

Follow On Parenting for more essays, news and updates, and join our discussion group here to talk about parenting and work. You can sign up here for the Washington Post’s “On Parenting” newsletter.

More reading:

How I’m teaching my tween to take the high road, one step at a time

A new report shows that reading for fun declines between ages 8 and 9. How can we stem the tide?

Parents, I think I’ve found the fountain of youth. It’s in my pillow.


Reading definitely ignites imaginations – if you are looking for some great suggestions, check out the lists at https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Holiday Inspirations

It has been a long time since I’ve done a post on this blog, but this whatdowedoallday.com column recently crossed my desk and since it features some of my favorite books & STEM toys, I thought I’d share it in case anyone is looking for last-minute gift-giving inspiration.



from the column: “STEM learning is a big deal in our home. For several years I created a book and toy combination gift guide and this year I am focusing on STEM gifts. That’s Science-Technology-Engineering-Math.  The good news is that all of these ideas can be considered good options for STEAM learning, too. (A is for Art and design.)”  Read it here: Home / Gift Guides / Top 10 STEM Gifts with Books to Match

More last minute gift ideas:

And ways to spend time with your family over the holidays:


Looking to usher in 2019 with your family? – Morristown First Night is a fun way to do it!


27th First Night® Morris County

December 31, 2018 marks the 27th year of New Jersey’s biggest and brightest First Night, a New Year’s Eve family-friendly, alcohol-free celebration of the arts—with more than 100 artists, 81 events in 23 venues—representing dance, theatre, music, world cultures, visual arts and children’s programs.

Every venue is indoors and a free shuttle will take you to nearly all locations.

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Children’s/ Family Programs: Who could resist Dinoman Dinosaurs! with Bob Lisaius’ life size, inflatable dinosaurs? Rizzo’s Reptile Discovery shares livereptiles (and other animals)—under the watchful eye of a seasoned animal handler. Catch the clowns, face painting and glitter tattoos at The Children’s Fun Festival or visit Transformations Facepainting where each face becomes a living work of art.  Perennial favorite and skilled circus performer, Mr. Fish explores The Mystery & History of Magic, making things float in the air, appear/disappear and replicating signature feats of legendary magicians. Another favorite, Storyteller Julie Pasqual, brings her uniquely playful, physical theater skills, sharing stories from around the world. (Above: L-R: The clowns Glitter and Juggles at Children’s Fun Festival; Transformations Facepainting; Art 4 Kids; Dinoman Dinosaurs!; Mr. Fish with the History & Mystery of Magic!)

The early session for younger children (4:45-6:45pm) includes hula hooping with Whirled Revolution, art making activities with artist Samantha (“Sam”) Matthews’ Art 4 Kids and Fun with LEGOs®. New to this year’s early session is the NJTAP2, an ensemble of young tap dancers, sharing their skills in rhythm tap dancing as well as Square Dancing with Caller, Mary Moody, with fun for the whole family.

For more information, the latest program updates, to volunteer or to purchase tickets, please visit the First Night® Morris County website at www.firstnightmorris.com or call the First Night Morris official ticketing partner, the Mayo Performing Art Center Box Office at (973)539-8008.



Wishing everyone Happy Holidays and a healthy, safe, and kindly 2019. My resolution is to try to get this column out more regularly if I have time and there is interest from all of you.  All the best, Carol Simon Levin

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Witches & Fishes, Princesses & Ponies --Halloween Happenings & Book-Lover’s memories…


Enjoy stargazing and more at Raritan Valley Planetarium…



Witches and Wizards Galore


The Skies over Hogwarts

Saturday, October 20, 7:00 pm

Friday, November 9, 7:00 & 8:00 pm

Saturday, November 10, 3:00 & 7:00 pm

Join our eclectic group of witches and wizards as they take you on a "Harry Potter"-themed tour of the night sky. Discover how the starry sky inspired some of J.K. Rowlings's characters. (Recommended for ages 8-adult)

Fright Light (family-friendly)

Saturday, October 20, 8:00 pm

Saturday, October 27, 4:00 pm

The Witches and Ghouls continue to haunt the planetarium.  They love our laser songs, including "Time Warp," "Monster Mash," and "Thriller." (Recommended for ages 8-adult)


Spooky Skies  Saturday, October 27, 3:00 & 7:00 pm

Spooky Skies takes viewers back to medieval Ireland to explore the roots of the Halloween holiday, then goes into the heavens to draw parallels between some celestial objects and famous monsters. What does a werewolf have on an inescapable Black Hole; a noxious, deadly planet like Venus; or a crushing, dangerous supernova? (Recommended for ages 8 to adult)

Fright Light (PG-13 version)  Saturday, October 27, 8:00 pm

Not for young viewers or those easily scared!  Features songs including Alive by Meatloaf, Thriller by Michael Jackson, and The Night Santa Went Crazy by Weird Al. (Recommended for ages 13 to adult)

Young Stargazer Shows -For kids ages 3-8 and their grown-up friends


Rockin' Rocket Ride

Saturday, October 20, 3:00 pm

Put on your space suit and blast-off into outer space to visit the Moon, Sun and planets. A lively experience for young people with selected music from "Journey Into Space" by Jane Murphy. (Recommended for ages 3-8)

SkyLights  Saturday, October 20, 4:00 pm

Our youngest audience members can sing along with songs by mr. RAY (Family Ride, Kalien the Alien) and Jane Murphy (Moon Rock Rock, The Planet Song).  Some songs are illustrated with lasers and other songs feature video images. (Recommended for ages 3-8)

Check our website for the Fall schedule and show descriptions.

Reservations are recommended.


Observatory  - Weather permitting, the 3M Observatory will be open to the public on Saturdays from sunset to about 9:00 p.m.  

There is no fee to visit the Observatory.


Saturn on Puzzle


Sensory-Friendly programs

The Sky Above  Saturday,  November 3   5 pm

Enjoy music, laser lights, stories, and information about the planets, Moon, and constellations.  Content is presented on a kindergarten level.

RVCC Planetarium offers special astronomy and music shows designed for families with children on the Autism spectrum or those with developmental disabilities.  These sensory-friendly shows, which are appropriate for audiences of all ages, will provide a comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming to all families. During the show, the doors will remain open so children may freely leave and return if they choose.  Lights will be left dim (instead of dark) and the audio will be lowered and kept at a consistent level.

Call to make a reservation: 908-231-8805


Also at RVCC theater this weekend -- 1:00PM Performance Sunday is First Relaxed Event of the Season.

"The Rainbow Fish" - Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia

The Rainbow Fish 

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia
Sun., Oct. 21 at 1PM* & 3:30PM
Most appreciated by ages 2+
All tickets: $10

*Relaxed Performance

Meet the most beautiful fish in the sea, whose scales shimmer in all the colors of the rainbow. The Rainbow Fish will enchant even the youngest child with his silver scales and heart of gold in this award-winning production about the colorful fish who learned to share his most prized possession. This original stage adaptation brings Marcus Pfister's enchanting story to life along with two of the author's companion tales, Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea and Opposites. Innovative puppetry, striking scenic effects and evocative original music provide young audiences with an effortless introduction to the performing arts and the excitement of reading.

Our *relaxed performances were designed as sensory-friendly especially for children with autism or related conditions who experience heightened sensory sensitivity. In recent years, we have broadened this audience to include those, who for a variety of reasons desire a relaxed atmosphere, providing a safe and judgment-free space welcoming for all audience members. Seating is general admission, allowing everyone to choose a comfortable spacing. 

Those who have not been to The Theatre at RVCC before are invited to stop by and visit the space and explore the seating areas beginning two hours before the show. You also may visit in advance by making an appointment.



Attention all ghosts and goblins!  Bridgewater Township presents...

Halloween Trick or Treat for Bridgewater Residents -Tuesday, October 30, 2018  6:30 pm- 8:30 pm  Bridgewater Municipal Complex   100 Commons Way (parking will be available at Municipal Building and overflow at BRHS)


Mayor Hayes and the Bridgewater Council invite you to join them for an evening of spooky fun for the whole family. Wear a costume and trick or treat throughout the scary courtyard! Play our guessing game and win prizes! Wear your BOOgie Shoes and dance the night away while our D.J. spins your favorite tunes!

This is a smoke-free event.

* Please note there will NOT be a Haunted Trail* Questions? Please call the Bridgewater Recreation Department at  (908) 725-6373 or email recreation@bridgewaternj.gov



The deadline is long past, but the sentiments expressed by the author parallel my own as do the memories of librarians past…

imageBy Jacqueline Cutler  For NJ Advance Media

The press release came though my email with dozens of others this morning. Only this one stopped me with its subject line: "Search for nation's most beloved librarians comes to a close on Oct. 1."

It prompted me to think about some of the people who have made the biggest difference in my life.

Sure, there have been teachers, friends, family and colleagues who were there. The Latin professor, who filled in the blanks of a substandard education. Friends, who would show up in the middle of the night with a shovel, ask for the body and no questions. Not that that's happened, but it's good to know.

A husband, who has stood by me for 35 years. And editors, who have saved me from looking like the idiot I can be.

But librarians, well, they have also been there from the beginning. They hold the key to the magic kingdom, and how often do we take the chance to appreciate them?

…Like many who grew up poor, there was no extra money for books, but the library allowed me as many as I could read. Once I aged out of picture books and Beverly Cleary (though one should never age out of Cleary), and having exhausted the library at my Bronx elementary school, I was pacing the children's room in what was then The Fordham branch of the public library.

A lovely woman, whose name is long lost to me, suggested "A Little Princess" by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Consistently ranked among the top children's book, Frances Hodgson Burnett's tale about a Victorian girl rallying her intelligence and bravery is a timeless work of literature.

If you have never read this and have a child in your life, stop whatever you are doing, buy a copy or, better yet, run to the library and take it out. Read it with that child, and a box of tissues.

I am not a princess fairy tale kind of person, and this is so far from a princess kind of book.

Briefly: Sara Crewe's mother dies in childbirth. Initially, coddled in luxury by her doting and dashing father, a sea captain, she's enrolled in a posh boarding school in Victorian England.

She arrives with her trunks of velvet and lace and her doll with a matching lavish wardrobe. Her father dies, penniless, and she is evicted from her suite and made a char girl in the school. But smart, brave and kind Sara vanquishes all adversity.

This kind librarian put the book in my hands, stamped the card (remember those?) and sent me on my way. Later that night, long after my lamp had been shut off, I was able to read by the city kid's method - the streetlight outside the building. I read and wept. I cried so hard, I cried all over the pages.

It was the only time in my life I ever made a page crinkly with tears. (We are not discussing angsty teen poems right now, and even then, nothing came close.)

In the morning, the horror hit me hard. I had destroyed public library property. Admittedly, I was a Girl Scout, a goody-goody, and the notion of my vandalism, deliberate or not, nearly paralyzed me with fear. I told no one. I did, though, have to finish the book.

A couple of days later, it was a long walk back to the library. I rehearsed the whole walk over. I would throw myself on their mercy and explain I did not realize I was leaking onto the book. I would beg the librarian to please not take away my card because I did not think I could survive. (Yes, I was also a rather dramatic child. But I meant it and I still do.)

She was there, this woman I would nominate if I even had a clue to her name, though chances are it was so long ago she is long dead. In her shirtwaist dark green plaid dress and curly hair, she ruled from behind the desk.

She smiled, addressed me by name and asked what I thought of "A Little Princess." I looked up at her and committed a second library crime: I burst into loud sobs.

She came around the counter and put her hands on my shoulders and I wept out what happened. She hugged me and told me they would never take away my card.


…As important as so many jobs are, I have long thought of librarians as the standard bearers of democracy. They ensure that anyone who enters has the same access. As someone who frequently works in Manhattan libraries, I love that a homeless woman reading the newspaper is treated with the same respect as someone in a Chanel suit.

…And in my book, while nurses may save your life and clergy may save your soul, librarians save your mind.

Read the complete article at: https://www.nj.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2018/09/librarians_thank_and_nominate_one_today.html


Another favorite childhood book was “Misty of Chinoteague”


The True Story of Misty of Chincoteague, the Pony Who Stared Down a Devastating Nor’Easter

The Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 was a horse of another color

The ponies of eastern Maryland and Virginia, seen here in 2002, were made famous in the book “Misty of Chincoteague.” (AP Photo/Scott Neville)

By Eliza McGraw  SMITHSONIAN.COM  OCTOBER 16, 2018

Assateague and Chincoteague’s most famous residents know how to stay safe in extreme weather conditions. After all, the wild ponies have comfortably roamed the islands along the mid-Atlantic coast for centuries. While legend says they arrived at the barrier islands of Virginia and Maryland after surviving a shipwreck, it’s more likely that their origin can be traced to horses owned by 17th-century settlers.

However they arrived, these feral herds have thrived over the years, no matter the obstacle, and have become a permanent fixture of the region’s character. So, when Hurricane Florence threatened the Atlantic coast earlier this fall, officials were unconcerned with their safety. “This is not their first rodeo,” Kelly Taylor, supervisor of the Maryland District Division of Interpretation and Education, told the media. “They come from a hearty stock, and they can take care of themselves.”

But the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 was a different story. The Level 5 nor’easter was fierce and unrelenting in its three-day barrage. Poultry farms flooded, houses disappeared underwater, and coffins floated. For thousands of American children paying attention to the news, one question about the crisis rose above the rest: Was Misty all right?

Misty of Chincoteague, a 16-year-old palomino mare, was the best-known member of the herd of wild ponies. She catapulted to fame 14 years earlier, when children’s book author Marguerite Henry wrote Misty of Chincoteague. The book tells the story of orphans Paul and Maureen Beebe, who long to buy a mare named Phantom and her filly Misty and bring them to their grandparents’ farm.

Henry, a Newbery-award winning author, wrote 59 books, many of them about horses. She wrote about the burros who carry loads in the Grand Canyon, 1924 Kentucky Derby winner Black Gold, and the Godolphin Arabian. But Misty had a special kind of alchemy for readers, perhaps because Paul and Maureen lived the dream of every horse-crazy kid: surrounded by ponies and pining for one of their own, they wind up with her. “Misty here, she belongs to us,” their grandfather tells them. The book centers on the themes of freedom and belonging: the animal lover’s twofold fantasy.


Henry traveled to Chincoteague in 1945, looking to write a book about the ponies. There she visited Beebe Ranch, which was home to the real-life foal Misty. (The orphaned children of the same name, however, were fictional.) The pony captivated her, and in 1946, she arranged to have Misty shipped to her home in Wayne, Illinois. When the book became a bestseller, Misty became an overnight celebrity, named an honorary member of the American Library Association, and invited to attend its annual convention at the Pantlind Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/real-misty-chincoteague-once-stared-down-barrel-storm-180970557/#G9mKruqwvBF6GdvI.99

Friday, October 12, 2018

Authors, History, and Theater for Everyone in the Family…plus a warning about Apps predators use to lure kids…





Make a vibrant connection to history...                                                                    

…at Somerset County’s 13th annual Weekend Journey through the Past! 

Visit 30 significant historic sites, all open to the public, free of charge. All participating sites are open on Saturday, October 13 from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 14 from Noon to 4:00 p.m.

Explore Somerset County’s quaint villages, rolling farmsteads, lively towns and unspoiled natural areas. Participating historic sites will be grouped into three convenient tours by location: Northern, Central, and Southern Somerset County.

Learn about former Somerset County residents, some of whom were distinguished statesmen and national leaders.

Witness what life was like 50... 100... or even 200 years ago, from daily work responsibilities and pleasant pastimes to the difficult hardships endured during the American Revolution.

Discover our many and varied individual Revolutionary War histories—major contributions to the County’s designation as a Crossroads of the American Revolution State Heritage Area.

2018 Weekend Journey Guide Book
2018 Weekend Journey Activities Brochure
2018 Interactive Map


Going to Philadelphia? This fall, you can also take your kids to an exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish Culture in Philadelphia on one of the great creative people – Rube Goldberg


The Art of Rube Goldberg October 12, 2018 through January 21, 2019

Rub goldberg logo and definition


The Rainbow Fish at RVCC

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia
Sun., Oct. 21 at 1PM* & 3:30PM
FAMILY (Most appreciated by ages 2+)
All tickets: $10 
*Relaxed Performance

The Rainbow Fish will enchant even the youngest child in this award-winning production about the colorful fish who learned to share his most prized possession. Innovative puppetry and striking scenic effects bring this enchanting story to life.



It is October so it is time for the 13th annual month of 13 Skeletons on Rt. 202-206 between Bridgewater & Bedminster. Check out their antics in person or at http://13skeletons.com/   www.facebook.com/13skeletons/ 





Skeletons are scary fun, but this article has important information on a really scary subject:


Predators use these 19 apps to lure minors. This is what parents need to know.


Happy Weekend!

Carol Simon Levin

Friday, September 21, 2018

Today (Saturday) is Princeton’s Annual Children’s Book Festival & Free Museum Day at Area Museums


https://princetonlibrary.org/childrens-book-festival/ – meet more than 50 children’s and young adult authors – talk with them one-on-one & hear them read selections from their books



Free Admission At 25 New Jersey Museums Saturday

Snag a free ticket to visit one of these New Jersey museums on Saturday Sept. 22.

If you're looking for a fun and free activity for the weekend, consider a trip to one of New Jersey's museums. Saturday, Sept. 22 is "Museum Day" and admission to more than 1,500 museums in the country, including 25 in New Jersey, is free.

"Museum Day" is an annual event put together by the Smithsonian Magazine and includes participating museums in all 50 states. According to the Smithsonian, participants can download one ticket per email address that provides free general admission for two people.

"Museum Day" is a one-day event only. To snag a ticket, just choose your museum from the list provided below:

Below are the participating museums in New Jersey:

You can also visit the Smithsonian Magazine website directly for tickets.


RVCC Planetarium Sets Led Zeppelin Laser Concert, Children’s Programs, Star Shows in September

clip_image001The Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium in Branchburg is offering shows for all interests in September, including a Led Zeppelin laser concert, a star show based on the Magic Tree House book series, a laser concert for children, and a show that explains the mysteries of space.

WHERE: RVCC Planetarium, 118 Lamington Rd., Branchburg
TICKETS: $10 for one show, $16 for two shows on the same day.
For reservations and information, call 908-231-8805.
For additional information, visit www.raritanval.edu/planetarium.

The following programs will be offered:

WHEN: Saturdays, September 22 & 29, 7 p.m.
The exploration of space is the greatest endeavor that humankind has ever undertaken. But what does it take to become an astronaut? Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of “Chad,” a test astronaut. Then explore the amazing worlds of inner and outer space, from floating around the International Space Station to maneuvering through microscopic regions of the human body. The presentation is made possible with a grant from FirstEnergy Foundation. (Recommended for ages 10 and older)

Led Zeppelin laser concert
WHEN: Saturdays, September 22 & 29, 8 p.m.
Audience members are treated to some of Led Zeppelin’s hits, including “Battle of Evermore,” “Kashmir,” and of course “Stairway to Heaven,” while lasers “dance” across the dome overhead.

Magic Tree HouseMagic Tree House: Space Mission
WHEN: Saturday, September 29, 3 p.m.
Young star gazers join Magic Tree Housecharacters Jack and Annie as they discover the secrets of the Sun, Moon, planets, space travel and more. Who can help them answer the questions posted by the mysterious “M”? The show is based on the same-titled, best-selling series of novels. (Recommended for ages 5 and older)

GE DIGITAL CAMERA              Laser Kids 2018
WHEN: Saturday, September 29, 4 p.m.
The show features an updated list of songs that entertains kids and kids at heart while lasers dance on the dome overhead. Songs include “Try Everything,” from the movie Zootopia, “YMCA” by the Village People, and “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego Movie. (Recommended for ages 6-12)



If you can read this, thank a teacher for getting you a discount!


Three SPELLING BEE discounts:

  • $5 off any regular ticket for anybody
    when you purchase by Oct 1.
    Discounts cannot be combined.

For TEACHERs only:

  • Free and $2 Tix for Teachers / School Staff w/ID,
    Order online with $2 service charge, or take your chances at the door and pay nothing—either way, present ID at box office before the show.

  • NJEA Members with ID:
    $7.50 off full-price tix for any performance,
    purchase at any time.
    Present ID at box office before the show.

TICKETS: TheTheaterProject.org

Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Music by William Finn
Directed by Greg Scalera

This production is made possible by two companies pooling resources:
Bullet Theatre Collaborative and The Theater Project.

Adult actors play an eclectic group of mid-pubescents vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens—and some volunteers from the audience—spell their way through a series of (possibly made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing "ding" of the bell signaling a mistake.




Thursday, September 13, 2018

Cultivating Grit and Kindness in Our Kids

Link to ALSC Blog Reblogging from ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children)

How To Inspire Kids To Change the World by Katarina Wallentin

Who are the people that truly change the world?

For me it is the people who dare to think bigger, bolder, beyond and definitively different.

The text in the famous Apple ad actually puts it rather well… “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”― Rob Siltanen

So how can we, as adults, inspire and encourage the uniqueness and difference in the kids that may change the world?

Let me use my nephew as an example. He is 8 years old, absolutely brilliant, incredibly funny and what many would call…slightly crazy.

From his very early years, he has been exploring the world with an unsatisfiable appetite. He put matches in the toaster to see if it will explode, he drilled a little hole in his stomach when he was checking if the drill could be used as a massage stick and one day he decided to hitch-hike all the way home from school since his legs got very tired of biking.

I absolutely adore this child, and he continues to amaze me. In addition to his explorative nature, he is kind and caring and an incredibly smart kid. It is a joy to try to keep up with his ideas and I must admit, I am often many, many steps behind him.

My nephew is a dragon child. I know he will change the world – somehow.

And whenever I meet a dragon child, I try to empower her or him to:

#1 Trust their knowing

Kids know. They are like big radio receivers, picking up everything around them, the spoken and unspoken. And their perception is not yet filtered by all the projections, expectations, separations and judgments that most adults see the world. That means that they are often more right on than we are…

One of the greatest gifts you can give kids (and yourself) is ask them questions and trust their point of view and suggestions for what is going on, and what is required.

#2 Keep coloring outside the lines

We often try to show kids the right way of doing things – for example how to carefully color inside the lines in a coloring book. But really, that is just the way it has been done up till that moment! What if we instead get excited by all the different ways a task could be accomplished?

What if the wackiest ways of coloring, is the very beginning of a whole new way of painting, never before seen on this Earth?

#3 Stay weird

It can get very lonely being different. Sometimes it may seem easier to just shut that unique part off and fit in with everyone else. The choice to stay weird is a brave one. It takes immense courage. It can help to hear that now and then – to know that someone has your back.

This world of ours is not yet the best of all possible worlds. Our children have the capacity to change it into something greater. Our job is to inspire them to know that they can!

Katarina Wallentin is an avid explorer of the magic that is truly possible on this beautiful planet of ours. For over 10 years, she worked with communication and leadership in international organizations such as United Nations, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children — continuously seeking for something greater and different for and in the world. Now an Access Consciousness facilitator, she has written two books for empowering children: The Baby Unicorn Manifesto and Clara & The Climate Changer. Coming soon: The Baby Dragon Manifesto!

The post How To Inspire Kids To Change the World appeared first on ALSC Blog.


Growth mindset is a hot topic right now, which is understandable as everyone wants their child to understand how working through struggles no matter what the setbacks can bring success and satisfaction. This list of growth mindset books for kids will help you start a conversation about the difference between fixed and growth mindsets.


Read the list here: www.whatdowedoallday.com/growth-mindset-books-for-kids/


Excellent article on how we can cultivate grit, perseverance, and self-control in our kids: http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201809?pg=47#pg47



Child of Holocaust survivor founded company called KIND http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201809?pg=91#pg91 
and now also runs empatico.org to connect classrooms across the world.





Take your kids to this local museum exhibit to reinforce these life lessons:  Illustrations by Lulu Delacre for Sonia Sotomayor’s Life Story at Zimmerli MuseumThis Fall

The Art of Turning Pages: Illustrations by Lulu Delacre for Sonia Sotomayor’s Life Story

WHEN: September 15, 2018, through March 17, 2019
Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street (at George Street) on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.
To schedule a class or group tour, please contact the Education Department (education@zimmerli.rutgers.edu) at least two weeks in advance.

In conjunction with U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s first memoir for young people, the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers is pleased to announce the opening of The Art of Turning Pages: Illustrations by Lulu Delacre for Sonia Sotomayor’s Life Story.

Justice Sotomayor shares her inspiring story about growing up and her deep love of reading in Turning Pages: My Life Story, which will be published by Philomel Books on September 4, along with a Spanish version, Pasando páginas: La historia de mi vida.

The exhibition features nearly 30 objects on loan from award-winning children’s author and illustrator Lulu Delacre, including her oil and collage art, preparatory drawings, and research material, on public view for the first time. Bilingual labels, in English and Spanish, accompany the works. Ms. Delacre will speak at Art After Hours: First Tuesdays on October 2.

“Justice Sotomayor is a role model for people all over the world who dream to make a difference,” said Nicole Simpson, the Zimmerli’s Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings, who organized the exhibition. “In Turning Pages, she is a powerful advocate for the importance of reading, demonstrating how early exposure to books can transform a person’s life. Likewise, Lulu Delacre reveals through her captivating illustrations how art can tell a moving story…”  Read more » http://www.njartsmaven.com/2018/09/illustrations-by-lulu-delacre-for-sonia.html


Speaking of inspirers: Dav Pilkey, a dyslexic himself, encourages kids to read with his humorous books.http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201809?pg=107#pg107


Looking for things to do this weekend?




WHEN: Saturday, September 15, 12:00pm to 6:00pm  Age: ages 3-103
: Howell Living History Farm, 70 Woodens Lane, Hopewell Twp.

Please be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a refillable water bottle. Water pumps are available for your use. Food items will also be available for purchase.
Festival will be held rain or shine. For info: www.njstorynet.org or www.howellfarm.org.

Former Bridgewater Children’s Librarian Carol Simon Levin will be performing interactive farm stories and songs from 1:15-1:50.


See ‘Ewes’ at the New Jersey Storytelling Festival!
Join talented tellers from throughout New Jersey and the tri-state area Saturday, September 15, for the 26th New Jersey Storytelling Festival and hear a whole new crop of stories cultivating good times for all ages at

The fun begins the Story Slam from noon to 1 p.m. Contestants are chosen at random to recount a 5 minute-or-less personal tale on the theme of “Chicken!” A continuous rotation of tellers will perform throughout the farm from 1 to 5 p.m., followed by the festival’s signature close, the Lightning Round, in which tellers will tell tales no longer than 2 minutes in quick succession, from 5 to 6 p.m.

Before the festival, noted storyteller Rona Leventhal will explore storytelling techniques and strategies for a variety of applications in a morning workshop entitled “It’s Your Story—Tell It!” The workshop is free and open to the public but registration is required as seating is limited.

There is also a workshop in the morning for older kids, teens & adults:

It's Your Story—Tell It!

WHEN: Saturday, September 15, 2018, 9:30 to 11:30 AM
Visitors Center/The Barn

In pairs and individually, Rona will guide you through lively writing and speaking exercises that will add details, imagery, and interest to your tale. For educators, these techniques can be modified for any grade level to motivate and encourage students to believe in their ability to create their own stories too.

In this workshop, participants will:

  • Use story prompts to add sensory details and to visualize a story scene.
  • Brainstorm sensory information to clarify thinking and build the elements of a story.
  • Write for short bursts of time and then tell to a partner and get feedback, so anecdotes begin to take on a narrative line.
  • Have an optional chance to perform their story for the group.

As a workshop leader, Rona is applauded for her warm and enthusiastic spirit, supportive nature, and inspiring talent. As a certified teacher, she is passionate about bringing literacy to students in an exciting and accessible way. Visit her website: www.ronatales.com

Participants will earn 3 professional development credits. The workshop is free, made possible by the Friends of Howell Living History Farm. It will run promptly from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. in the Visitor’s Center of Howell Farm. Please arrive 15 minutes early to procure a seat and bring a notebook and writing utensil. The workshop is handicapped accessible. Food and drinks will be available for purchase at the festival.

For questions or concerns, contact MaryAnn Paterniti: maryann.paterniti@ gmail.com

Note: Three Professional Development credits will be awarded to educators for attending the workshop and story performances of the NJ Storytelling Festival.


Morris County Park Commission


Fall Harvest Fest

WHEN: September 16, 12 noon - 5 p.m.
WHERE: Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, 73 Kahdena Road, Morris Township
ADMISSION: $8 per adult, $7 per senior (65+), $6 per child age 4 - 16, and $4 per child age 2 & 3. FREE for children under age 2.

Spend the day at Fosterfields at one of Morris County’s most popular fall festivals! Hop aboard the open-air wagon for a scenic ride around the farm, visit the friendly farm animals, enjoy live music, and more! Fun for the entire family! Check it out here.


Looking for other events in NJ? Check out www.njartsmaven.com.

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