Welcome to our Online Newsletter and Virtual Bulletin Board!

Question or Suggestion? Contact cslevin59 (at) gmail.org.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Singalong History with Theater To Go’s Interactive Screening of "1776" Today in Trenton During Trenton Patriots Week 2017

Theater To Go  will be presenting an interactive screening of the movie 1776 at the NJ State Museum Auditorium in Trenton on December 26 at 12:00pm. The film is a musical retelling of the American Revolution's political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence.  Fans are welcome to attend in costume if they wish. 


Melissa Rittmann and Rob Michael Lasky will guide the audience through a play-along screening of this beloved movie. Know the songs? Feel free to sing along! You can sign the Declaration of Independence, enjoy a Tricorn Hat cookie from  The Upper Crust Baking Co. and more! And everyone gets a goody bag with props to help you play along.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door.  Tickets may be purchased in advance here.

Trenton Patriots week has a wide assortment of event, including battle reenactments, walking tours, movies, 18th century music and even a Colonial Ball. For a complete schedule click here.

Presented by Theater To Go and sponsored by Crossroads of the American Revolution. By special arrangement with Swank Motion Pictures.
NJ State Museum Auditorium is located at 205 W State Street in Trenton, New Jersey.

Click HERE for more holiday happenings around the area.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Special Books, Reasons for Recess, Choosing a Pre-School and Cookie Math

If your family is looking for some outings and adventures during vacation week, click here. You’ll see a list of “useful websites” on the right hand side. Scroll down to the event listings.

Looking for some special books this holiday season?


31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Thirteen – 2017 Picture Books With a Message BY ELIZABETH BIRD
Some discuss death and loss. Others social issues like poverty, inequality, or pervasive fear. Still others just inform readers on important topics in an interesting way….but one thing’s for certain. They all do a darned good job…


One of the books on the list is by local author Karen Rostoker-Gruber!   Maddie the Mitzvah Clown by Karen Rostoker-Gruber, ill. Christina Grove

MaddieMitzvahI’m all about the female empowerment, but I am PARTICULARLY into that empowerment when it involves girls finding their strength and voice through humor. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when this little number from Apples & Honey Press rolled across my desk one day. Maddie suffers from shyness but discovers that by becoming a clown at her Grandma’s senior center she’s able to become another person entirely. I think Kirkus said it best when they wrote, “A different way to give back to the community (and help oneself), this cheery outing should not be confined to its Jewish context.”

Here’s a list of holiday titles that celebrate gifts AND giving!

Wondering whether recess is worth the time lost in learning? Research is showing that school recess not only leads to fewer disciplinary incidents at school but could make better employees as well.  Listen to this report about how recess — yes, that 10-20 minute or so break kids have at school — might help children develop the skills it takes to succeed on the job market.

A related article:

Flash Cards or Finger Paints: Should Academics or Play Be the Goal of Preschool?

Speaking of play – you can Make Math Fun. Bedtime Math offers an interesting problem every day!  Here’s a fun idea to do with your holiday baking supplies.  Also check out these ideas if you are interested in learning more about Escher and other imaginative artists. 

It's National Bake Cookies Day, which means we'd better bake some cookies soon, or at least eat some! You could make your usual circle-shaped chocolate-chip cookies, or make other shapes using a cookie cutter. We're loving these math-y cookies made by computer science professor Francesco De Comite. The birds lock together perfectly with copies of themselves, like puzzle pieces. They're from a drawing by a famous artist named Escher, and Francesco made his own cookie cutter to match those shapes. As you can see on the Moebius Noodles website, he also made puzzle-piece lizards, and lined up chocolate-cookie fish mixing with sugar-cookie geese. So now you have ideas for your own cookie puzzles...if you can hold off long enough from eating them.

Wee ones: How many points does each of those bird-shaped cookies above have?

Little kids: If you stack 2 goose cookies, then 3 fish, then 4 more geese, how many cookies do you have?  Bonus: If you eat 2 of the cookies, at least how many geese do you have to have left?

Big kids: If the 1st lizard faces up, the 2nd faces right, the 3rd faces down and the 4th faces left, then the 5th starts over facing up, which way does the 19th lizard face?  Bonus: If you have enough dough to make 3 more chocolate fish than vanilla geese, and you can make 47 cookies in total, how many of each can you make?


Wee ones: 4 points.

Little kids: 9 cookies.  Bonus: At least 4 geese, even if both cookies you ate were geese.

Big kids: Down, since the 20th will face left like all multiples of 4.  Bonus: 22 geese and 25 fish. If you set aside the 3 extra fish, you'd have 44 cookies evenly split.

More Ways to Get Bedtime Math!

The app: An archive of math problems, with colorful animations and cool sound effects.  Check it out here at the App Store for iPhone and iPad, Google Play for Android!
The website:  www.bedtimemath.org.

Facebook: Get your daily BMP fix and help spread the word about Bedtime Math! 

Morris Museum   6 Normandy Heights Road   Morristown, New Jersey

Kid-friendly, winter fun while school is out!

Winter Vacation Celebration
Wednesday, December 27, 2017, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Museum Members: FREE

Non-Members: FREE with Museum Admission

Embrace the spirit of the season with a day of indoor winter fun at the Morris Museum. Make winter-themed crafts and see a performance of No Elves! No Elves! in the Bickford Theatre.

When your family has some down time from school it's great to come to the Morris Museum and play! We've got big trains to see, fun winter crafts, a sweet show in the theatre, and some cool exhibitions for the whole family to experience. Spend a fun day with us!

Children’s Theatre - No Elves! No Elves!

Two show times: 11:00AM and 1:30PM

A highly interactive, music-filled adventure for children who must help the elves save Santa's workshop.

Museum Members: $10

Non-members: $12

Combo Ticket: $15 (includes general Museum and theatre admission. To purchase call 973.971.3706)  get tickets

More Children's Theatre


Thursday, December 28

Two show times: 11:00AM and 1:30PM

As seen on Discovery Channel's Time Warp and National Geographic TV, Keith Michael Johnson reveals the magic, unfolding the "how to" like a mystery, making Bubbleology an unforgettable experience for the entire family.


Museum Members: $10   Non-Members: $12    get tickets

Exhibitions that both children and grown-ups will enjoy!

Season of Wonder

What would the holidays be without toys? Every generation remembers that favorite doll, toy car, or truck...Check out the Morris Museum's collection through some unique displays.

Test your skills with some puzzles and try out the life-size checkerboard!

Mega Model Trains

The Mega Model Trains Exhibit is back on display!, An intricate model train set that meanders across a 288-square-foot landscape replicating a bustling city and pastoral scene, it is equipped with a waterfall, planetarium, and even a sasquatch!

Museum Detectives: What is It?

View unusual and intriguing objects and get clues as to how, when or even why these objects were made. Use your observation and problem solving skills to classify objects and draw your own conclusions.

Storybook Style: A Selection of Works from the Minds of Living Illustrators

Featuring the extraordinary art of illustrators,this exhibition presents the whimsy of established and emerging artists whose works will literally jump off the page before your very eyes!

learn more

Image Credits:  Mega Model Trains at the Morris Museum.  Bubbleology. Photo courtesy of Keith Michael Johnson.  No Elves! No Elves! Photo Courtesy of Gemini Productions.  Mother Goose Alphabet Blocks, 1906 United States, Wood. Gift of Mrs. John Wardle. Permanent collection of the Morris Museum.

Happy Holidays!  --Carol Simon Levin

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Holiday Happenings–Looking for Things to Do? Here are a few possibilities…




Family Holiday Party, Model Train Show, Santa & Much Much More -- Check out a slew of local area events at Bridgewater Hulafrog .

The Weekend Guide: Family Holiday Party, Model Train Show & Santa

Make it a weekend with these great Somerset County Events!


1. Farm to Table Indoor Winter Market, Duke Farms

2. Family Holiday Party, Branchburg Sports Complex

3. Caroler Brunch, The Grain House Restaurant at The Olde Mill Inn

4. American Repertory Ballet’s The Nutcracker, State Theatre New Jersey

5. Winter Wonder Lights Laser Show, RVCC Planetarium

6. Holiday Spirits Pub Crawl, Downtown Somerville

7. A Holiday Adventure and Singalong, Farmstead Arts Center

8. Let It Begin With Me Concert, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church – Somerville

9. Raritan Valley Symphonic Band Holiday Concert, Bridgewater-Raritan High School

10. Ugly Sweater 5K and Pub Crawl, Downtown Somerville



Info: www.raritanval.edu/community-resources/planetarium

If you are willing to go a little further afield: The New Jersey State Museum has a busy holiday week planned: 


Planetarium News:

New shows and weekday presentations

Through Jan. 7

Celebrate the season with Laser Holiday Magic, featuring full-spectrum laser beams, dazzling animated laser effects and popular holiday music.

Or, explore the Universe, a more curious place than we ever imagined!  As scientists unravel the complexities of the cosmos, key findings are revealing amazing new frontiers for exploration.  With astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as your guide, come along on a journey about what we already know, and about the mysteries we have yet to solve in the new show, Dark Universe. 

You will go beyond the night sky and into deep space to find out how discoveries over the past 100 years have led us to two great cosmic mysteries: dark matter and dark energy. You'll hurtle through Jupiter's atmosphere, peer at the web of dark matter holding galaxies together, and watch the colorful remains of the universe's beginnings unfold.

Experience Dark Universe to celebrate the pivotal moments that have brought us unprecedented knowledge of the universe and our place in it - and glimpse the exciting future of cosmic exploration.

Dark Universe was created by the American Museum of Natural History, the Frederick Phineas and Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the Hayden Planetarium.

Weekend Schedule

11 am      One World, One Sky

12 noon   Magic Tree House: Space Mission

1 pm        Laser Holiday Magic

2 pm        Dark Universe (NEW)

Weekday Presentations

In addition to the weekend shows, the Planetarium will present weekday shows during the holidays from Tuesday, December 26 through Friday, December 29.  It's also Trenton Patriots Week: Learn about the constellations and planets that occupied the sky on the stormy evening when General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware!  The 11 am and 1 pm shows will include a live talk about the skies on the night of December 25, 1776. 

11 am   Magic Tree House: Space Mission ( includes 1776 sky talk)

Noon    Laser Holiday Magic!

1 pm     Dark Universe (NEW) (includes 1776 sky talk)

Special Event:

Small Explorers Series

December 16, 10 am

Discovery Den, 2nd floor

Join us this month to explore snow through stories, crafts and play. We'll read "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats, followed by a visit to the Inuit/Eskimo section of the Hearth & Home exhibition. We finish up in the STEAM Center with some fun, hands-on activities and games. This free program is 45 minutes long and begins promptly at 10 am. Small Explorers is for children 6 months to 5 years and their caregivers. Space is limited, so advance registration is encouraged. For more information or to register, contact Kerry.Scott@sos.nj.gov.

Special Event:

Winter Break Art Studio

December 26-29, 11 am to 2 pm

Imagination Studio, lower level

Drop by to participate in our free daily art projects! All ages are welcome to get creative in our Winter Art Studio. A different project will be offered each day, inspired by art on view in the exhibition, American Perspectives: The Fine Art Collection.

Dec. 26 - Recycled Sculptures: View Adan by Debra Butterfield, then create your own sculpture from recycled materials.

Dec. 27 - Printmaking: Let Jacqueline Kennedy II by Andy Warhol be your inspiration as you create your own block print.

Dec. 28 - Explore texture with paint: View Soot-Camp by James Little and Cobalt Twirl by Sam Gilliam, then explore new ways of creating texture for abstract painting by mixing different materials into the paint.

Dec. 29 - Earthworks: Learn about earthworks such as Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson, Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt, and more. Then create your own miniature earthwork in the Imagination studio and photograph it.

Special Event:

Winter Break Small Explorers Program

December 28, 10 am

Discovery Den, 2nd floor

If you missed the Small Explorers program on December 16, here's another chance to experience it! In honor of Patriots Week, we'll also include some fun Colonial-era activities. Space is limited, so advance registration is encouraged. For more information or to register, contact Kerry.Scott@sos.nj.gov.

Note:  Programs may be subject to change.  Please check the Museum's Facebook page for changes or cancellations.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Somerset County Libraries Reopen Today (Tuesday)–Join us for STEM Playground during today’s storytimes and more December fun…


imageToday (Tuesday 12/5) at 10 and 4:30  “Building Up” – STEM Playground.  Join us for some construction stories then use our STEM toys to create your own structures.

Next Tuesday (12/12 at 10 and 4:30) Gifts and Giving – we’ll share stories then create our own imaginative “marvelous toy” or wrapping paper.

at Bridgewater Library:

Baby Times on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Toddler Times (ages 18mo-36 mo) are Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. So that we may have enough room for all  our toddler families, please only come to one toddler time each week.

Family Story and Craft (ages 3-6 plus siblings) Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Time Wednesday nights at 7 p.m.



imageKids aged 3-11 are invited to our weekly STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, ART, and Math) Tuesdays at 4:30. Geared to K-4th graders but open to all ages.




More fun for your family:




For full details on these and other programs, see the Bridgewater Library Online Calendar


Looking for other thingimages to do? Hulafroghas many ideas for  activities around our community.

There are also activities listed on the right side of this blog under “events” – click the headline of this email to see these listings.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ways to help your children help others at school and things to think about as you choose books to read. Storytimes resume the week of 11/28 + December programs at Bridgewater Library

Meet the Teen Who Discovered the Secret of Social Capital

Natalie Hampton/used with permission

Source: Natalie Hampton/used with permission

Natalie Hampton turns the (lunch) tables on a social system that breeds bullies.

Brainteaser: Two children are being bullied.
One child breaks down crying.
The other child kicks her tormenter in the shin.
Which one continues to be bullied?
Hint: it’s simpler than you think.*

“You're worthless. You should kill yourself. Everyone would be happier if you did.”

This is not someone’s depressed inner voice. This is what real children tell other real children in middle school.

Read more about the teen who figured out a way to help her fellow students…and how you can help your kids make a difference at their schools: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-and-the-pursuit-leadership/201711/meet-the-teen-who-discovered-the-secret-social

A Letter to All the Children of America


To all the children in America,

…This year, we hope that you try something new in your reading life. Try a new genre. New series. New author. A book told from a different point of view or way of life than you’re used to. Pick up a book that you think will surprise you. Seek recommendations. Talk to your classmates, teachers, and librarians to find our what they are reading. It takes confidence to try something new and we know that one of our jobs is to help you become even more confident in your reading choices and in your belief in yourself. Maybe you can participate in National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang’s “Reading without Walls” Challenge, and encourage those around you to do the same.

This year, we hope that you find books that feel like you are looking in the mirror. That make you say, “Yes, this story is my story.” We equally hope that you find books that feel like you are looking out the window into someone else’s world. We have so much to learn from the life experiences of others. Most of all, we hope that you find books that start out as windows but that become mirrors. Stand in front of a window and notice how when the light is just right a window becomes a mirror. Know that books can create that same effect. You can also think about books as sliding glass doors that encourage us to walk through them. When you walk through a door, you open up a world of possibility. You walk alongside characters that challenge what you knew and could imagine before. Books can be those doors. Carry these metaphors with you into your reading life. Then, tell other people about it (Bishop, 1990).

This year, stop and notice the ways that books make you feel. When we meet characters that are different from us and we grow to love them, our hearts grow in the process. The more we all read about the life experiences, both fictional and real, that challenge our own ways of thinking, the world becomes more compassionate and understanding. Stop and notice when books make you laugh out loud. Stop and notice when you find yourself welling up with emotion. Be brave in allowing yourself to feel these things.

This year, use books to learn more about the world around you. Have a burning question? Something you have been wondering about? Want to know how to make something? Curious about how or why? There’s a book out there that can help you know more. In a world where “alternative facts” are masquerading as verifiable facts, and powerful people are calling verifiable facts “fake news,” question what you think you know. Be curious. Look for sources that may give different facts and then discuss with others what those facts make you think. Your curiosity is one of your greatest strengths.

This year, we hope that you share your ideas about books with the people in your life, especially people that may disagree with you. Use the stories you encounter in books, both fiction and nonfiction as a springboard to debate and discuss the ideas that matter to you and those that confuse you. When we talk about our reading with others, our reading experience deepens and broadens. By putting our own ideas in words for others to consider, we refine and reformulate them. By hearing others’ responses to our thoughts, we expand our ideas and gain new ones.

This year, challenge those around you to keep their minds and hearts open. In the wake of outward displays of hate in Charlottesville, Virginia this summer, we must all be wide-awake to social injustices in all of their forms. If your school or your teacher chooses books where all of the characters always come from the same cultural backgrounds–speak up. If your teacher or your classmates gloss over uncomfortable conversations about character’s choices or beliefs–speak up. If you find yourself wondering whether your story counts in the world of literature–speak up. You will be the generation that helps America embrace discomfort as an opportunity to grow and continue learning.

Your friends at The Classroom Bookshelf,

Katie, Grace, Erika, and Mary Ann




Family Storytime (ages 3-6 plus siblings) Tuesday at 10 a.m.

PJ Time Wednesday nights at 7 p.m.

Toddler Times (ages 18mo-36 mo) are Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. So that we may have enough room for all  our toddler families, please only come to one toddler time each week.

Baby Times on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

imageKids aged 3-11 are invited to our weekly STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, ART, and Math) Tuesdays at 4:30. Geared to K-4th graders but open to all ages.










For full details on these and other programs, see the Bridgewater Library Online Calendar


Looking for other thingimages to do? Hulafroghas many ideas for  activities around our community.

There are also activities listed on the right side of this blog under “events” – click the headline of this email to see these listings.



Nothing teaches critical thinking skills like
Chances are ...
... that there is a kid in your life who has the energy and  imagination to write a short play ... but needs to know that someone is interested!
2018 DEADLINE: January 22

At left: the winners and honorable mentions of last year's event.