While you just enjoyed a long weekend off from school celebrating President’s Day, have you made any plans for this week and weekend, yet? If not, don’t fret, there’s a lot to do in and around West Orange, for you and your family. And, while snow showers are predicted for this Wednesday, the good news is that the forecast shouldn’t impact any weekend activities.

Most people think of February as being the month of Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, but did you know it’s also American Heart Month, Black History Month, Great American Pie Month, National Cherry Month and, yes – even Canned Food Month? These special holidays certainly lend themselves to creative and charitable activity ideas that families can do together.

This week’s list of “Things to do with Kids” is brought to you by The Goddard School, an early childhood education franchise coming soon to West Orange.

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Fun for the Whole Family...

Like Pancakes? – Feb 24 at 8:30 a.m.

Who doesn’t like eating pancakes for a good cause? Guests will enjoy a breakfast of eggs, sausages, coffee juice – and of course pancakes at a fundraising Pancake breakfast that is being held at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, at 1 Eagle Rock Ave., in West Orange. Proceeds will benefit local charities in the West Orange area. Fees: $5 for kids ages 5-12 and $10 for people ages 13 and older.

Pie in the Sky Activities – Feb. 24, from 3 – 5 p.m.

Celebrate February’s Great American Pie Month with your loved ones by baking a pie inspired by a favorite book. Better yet, bake a cherry pie in honor of National Cherry Month. Then, head on over to enter the free Community Pie Contest at The Book House, located at 281 Milburn Ave., in Milburn at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The contest will be judged by local dignitaries and a basket of goodies will be awarded to the winner. Stick around to hear Eva Lesko Natiello, author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller, The Memory Box, read from her book and discuss the symbolism of pies in literature. Here’s a list of some kid’s and adult books featuring pies, as well as a link to West Orange author C.C Minton’s book, Daddy's Greek Potato Pie.

Tots on Skates – Feb. 21 at 10 a.m.

Ice skating together at Codey Arena is a great way to make memories together right here in town. Parent and Tot skating sessions, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, expose children ages 2-4, to skating, who have never been on the ice before or have had limited experience with skating. Sessions allow skaters to begin their "Learn to Skate" journey with their parent or trusted adult (18 or older), while learning the basics. Private instructions can be arranged by calling 973.731.3828 ext. 0. NOTE: Essex County Codey Arena recommends that all skaters wear a helmet during skating sessions. Fees: Adults $9.00, Tots $7.00, NO CHARGE for rental skates. A calendar of events can be found HERE

Robots, Coding and Drones – Oh My! – Open until Feb. 23

The Liberty Science Center in Jersey City is hosting Engineering Everywhere: An Engineers Week Celebration that is filled with robots, drones, gadgets, coding, 3D printers, duct tape, and more! The entire building is filled with activities to help kids realize just how much engineering plays a role in their everyday lives. Other science-themed programs currently running there include The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes, The Lion Guard: The Exhibit, Touch Tunnel, Infinity Climber and Eat and Be Eaten. Visit www.lsc.org for more info or call 201-200-1000.

Educational Activities for the Kids…

Science Can Be Fun! – Wed., Feb. 20 at 4 p.m.

The LEAP into Science! Elementary-Age Program is being offered at the West Orange Public Library for kids in grades K-5. Attendees will enjoy stories and activities on the concept of balance that will help them think like scientists.

Enjoy a Fun Black History Month Activity – Feb. 23 at 11 a.m.

Take a trip to the Barnes and Noble store at the Livingston Mall for storytime and a free activity featuring the book, I am Martin Luther King Jr., by Brad Meltzer. Plus, get a coupon from the B&N Café for a grilled cheese sandwich with milk or juice for $4! Another storytime events is taking place on Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. For older kids, consider purchasing a copy of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was published on Feb. 18, 1885.

Elmo Arrives at Imagine That! – Feb. 23 at 11 a.m.

Imagine That! Children’s Museum in Florham Park will delight children with a visit from Elmo, while guests enjoy the museum’s mainstay exhibits including the pirate ship, pretend restaurant and enchanted castle. More information can be found here or by calling 973-96-8000.

Got a Lego Addict? – Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.

Did your family love the Lego Movie 2? If so, your child(ren) will love Saturday’s free activity at Barnes and Noble in Livingston that will include building a Mini Emmet's Dream House to take home. There will be other free giveaways too, as well as a tasty Blonde Blast treat at the B&N Café for $1.

What Child Isn’t Fascinated by Bugs? – Feb. 23 at 12 p.m.

Michaels in East Hanover offers a Kids Club for children to enjoy, while their parents’ shop, on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. On Saturday, there will be two sessions – one for kids ages three and above ($2) and one for kids ages six and above ($5), where they will enjoy creating bug art with their fingerprints. Attendees can sign up in store or online, or just drop in. A parent or guardian must remain on premises during the event. Register here.

Take the Kids to See a Musical – Feb. 23 and 24, at 3 p.m.

Come see Ever After – The Musical, where fairy tale adversaries “make up” after 20 years, at the United Presbyterian Church, located at 20 Old Indian Rd., in West Orange.

Kids Will Love this S.T.E.A.M. Activity! – Feb. 25 at 4 p.m.

A S.T.E.A.M. Club Aerodynamics: Improving Da Vinci's Parachute activity is scheduled to take place at the West Orange Public Library on Monday. The activity is geared to help spark the interest of kids ages 8-12 in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Attendees are asked to register in advance.

Fun for Teens! – Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.

Kids in grades 6-12 are invited to participate in Teen Game Night at the West Orange Public Library, where they will enjoy a fun evening of video games, board games, bonding and more.

Fresh Winter Air Activities...

Frogs Have it Made, They Get to Eat What Bugs Them! – Feb. 20 at 4 p.m.

Children ages 5 through 9 will uncover and discover ecosystem interactions at the frog pond, using nets, magnifiers and microscopes to investigate what lives at the pond and learn from a naturalist what can be done to protect and conserve the pond inhabitants. Advance registration, payment and minimum number of participants required; call 973-228-8776. Fee: $10 per child.

Who Doesn’t Love an Organic Campfire Activity? – Feb. 21, at 6 p.m.

The Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland is hosting a family walk and campfire activity for people of all ages, where guests will partake in a short walk on the trails with a naturalist and experience forest life at night. After the walk, attendees will enjoy a campfire with organic fire-popped popcorn and mint tea. Advance registration is required by calling 973.228.8776. Fee: $10 per child, $12 per adult.

This Talk is the Bees Knees! – Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

Discover The Healthy Benefits of Honey Bee Therapy or Apitherapy at a talk by Dr. Petrusia Kotlar DC. People ages 13 and older are invited to attend this talk on the art and science of treatment and holistic healing through the honeybee and her products for a global health benefit. They will also learn about Apitherapy, which is the medical use for the products of the Honey Bee hive—the use of honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, bee bread, bee venom, honey bees and drones. The program includes samples of some products of the hive, with the highlight of the evening being a Honey Tasting segment, where participants will learn the first steps in becoming a "honey connoisseur.” Advance registration is required by calling 973.228.8776. Fee: $20 per person

Coming up in the Schools…

Dancing is creating a sculpture that is visible only for a moment (Erol Ozan) Feb. 21 at 6 p.m.

The community is invited to celebrate the talented West Orange High School dancers at a spirited West Orange High School Dance Performance on Saturday.

Things to do at home…

Teach your kids about heart healthy eating!

In honor of February’s American Heart Month, the American Heart Association has a host of heart healthy awareness, activities and fundraising ideas posted on its site as well as recipes. Ideas include learning about eating healthy and exercising. There’s even this Fruits and Vegetables Serving Size Guide that you can share with your kids. It lends itself to a fun and educational activity. Take your child(ren) to the local food store and talk about the healthy foods you are purchasing including the fruits and vegetables on this chart. Then, when home, after putting the rest of the food away, and leaving out the foods on the chart, measure out the suggested healthy portions with your child(ren) and plan out a few heart healthy snacks for the week.

Charity starts at home.

February is also Canned Food month, which means it’s a great time to donate canned goods to your local food pantry. It’s also the perfect time to create a memorable teachable moment with your children about being charitable. Contact your local food pantry to find out what types of canned goods they currently need. Then, give your kids a list of canned goods to be collected from of your pantry, or take them to the food store to purchase some items off the list. One local food pantry  to consider contacting is The Holy Trinity-West Orange Food Pantry, which provides healthy meals to struggling families. It is located at 315 Main Street, in West Orange. They can be contacted by phone at 973-325-0369 or via email holytrinitywo@gmail.com.

Need a night to yourself? 

Enjoy a fun night of food and drink – Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.

The Rotary Club of West Orange is hosting the 15th Annual Taste of the World fundraising event at Mayfair Farms, where guests will have the opportunity to sample foods, wines and beverages from the finest local restaurants — all in one place. There will be raffles, prizes and live entertainment. Net proceeds will benefit Rotary-based projects and civic needs both locally and internationally including scholarships to local high school students. Tickets can be purchased for $50 in advance or $60 at the door (if available). Click here to purchase tickets or call 973-204-5929.

Fun February Facts to Share with your Family!

Did you know?

  • A prize was inserted into a Crackerjacks box for the first time on Feb 19, 1913.
  • John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth on Feb. 20, 1962.
  • Richard Nixon became the first U.S. President to visit China on Feb. 21, 1972.
  • Frank Woolworth opened the first "Five Cent Store” in Utica, N.Y. on Feb. 22, 1879.
  • Walter Wingfield of Pimlico, England, patented the game of lawn tennis on Feb. 23, 1874.
  • The Tootsie Roll rolled into American stores on Feb. 23, 1896.
  • U.S. marines raised the America flag in Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.