This is a busy week as both Valentine’s Day and President’s Day are taking place. From building birdhouses, taking Giraffe tours, painting, cooking, entering video game tournaments, enjoying D&D events and more – there is something for everyone happening this week into next. There are also some President’s Day Vacation Camps and Valentine’s Day activities listed below as well as a few activities for adults.

If you are looking to participate in fun activities and more this week, please enjoy this list of “Things to Do with Kids” in and around town, brought to you by The Goddard School in West Orange. #ThingstodowithKidsGoddardSchoolWONJ

Note: If you attend any of these events, partake in any of the ideas shared below, or just have a great picture of your kid(s) that you’d like featured, please send photos to jackie.eventscolumn@gmail.com. In addition, please send any events you’d like added to this column to the same email address.

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FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

Build A Birdhouse on Feb. 15 from 11 am – 12:30 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland)

Children ages 10 and older and adults are invited to come and build a home that encourages breeding birds and other wildlife to take residence. Putting out your birdhouse now creates a good chance of having a nesting pair of songbirds in your garden by spring. Call 973.228.8776 to register. The fee is $10 per child; $12 per adult.

Crocheting with Carlotta on Feb. 15, from 11 am to 1 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Let Carlotta show you how to enjoy the art of crocheting in this cozy program open to people of all ages. Yarn and needles will be provided in limited quantities.

Behind the Scenes Giraffe Tours, on Feb. 15 and 16 at 2 pm, at The Turtle Back Zoo (560 Northfield Avenue West Orange NJ (Tours will take place on Saturdays and Sundays in November 2019)

The Behind the Scenes ticket provides guests with a 30 - 45 minute Behind the Scenes Tour in the Giraffe Barn; a meet and greet the Giraffe Keeper; and admission to the Zoo for the day (for non-Zoological Society members). The tours are for people ages 6 and above. Register here. The fee is $50 a person.

Board Game Night on Feb. 17, from 6-8 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

People of all ages are invited to drop in and play a board game from the library's collection or bring their own game!

World Wednesdays, on Feb. 19, at 4:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

People of all ages are invited to partake in a fun event featuring folktales, stories, and activities from around the globe.

February Super Smash Tournament on Feb. 19, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Challenge your friends at a special February Super Smash Tournament where there will be a prize for the winner. Please register in advance and show up promptly at 6:30 pm to secure your spot in this bracket-style tournament.

FUN FOR PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Sensory Storytime on Feb. 20 at 1:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children ages 2-10, with autism, developmental challenges or sensory sensitivities and a caregiver are invited for some interactive storytime at the library.

PRESIDENT’S DAY CAMPS/ACTIVITIES

Animal Enrichment Mini-Camp on Feb. 17 from 9 am – 4 pm at The Turtle Back Zoo (560 Northfield Avenue West Orange NJ

Animal husbandry goes far beyond feeding and cleaning! Kids ages 5-10 are invited to come to camp today to learn how we foster good mental, physical, and emotional health of our zoo population. Register here. NOTE: TBZ will also be hosting Zoo Camp for Spring Break. Visit the Zoo Camps home page for more information. Spring Break Camp information and registration will be available in early March.

President’s Day Art Camp Full Day at A Sip of Art on Feb. 17 from 9 am – 5 pm (235 Prospect Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052 – in the Whole Foods Shopping Plaza located at the intersection of Prospect Ave and Eagle Rock Avenue. Located in the lower level next to MyGym)

Kids ages 5-12 are invited to come paint, draw, craft and play the day away. Click here for more details and to register.

President's Day Camp at My Gym on Feb. 17 from 1-4 pm (235 Prospect Ave. West Orange)

Kids ages 3-10 are invited to enjoy action-packed activities including gymnastics, sports, games, relays, creative time and much more. Pricing: Members: $35; Non-Members $40, Add a Sibling $25. Register here.

Presidents Day Activity: America The Beautiful, Love Your Land on Feb. 17 from 1-4 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Children ages 7-12 are invited to come and learn how to conserve resources and preserve nature. Projects will include using recycled materials collected at the Center, fun role-playing scenarios to help them learn to make healthy and good choices for our environment and a lesson about the wetlands. These future leaders will explore their attachment to this great country and its land. They should dress warmly. Register by calling 973.228.8776. The fee is $35 per child.

FUN FOR LITTLE KIDS

Saturday Storytimes and Crafts on Feb. 14, at 10 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children ages 0-5 are invited for stories and crafts on Saturday mornings.

Storytime and Activities Featuring, The President of the Jungle, on Feb. 15 at 11 am at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

Is Lion always the King of the Jungle? This funny story, The President of the Jungle, by Andre Rodrigues, features lively illustrations and colorful characters that can teach the importance of everyone having a vote.

Storytime at Barnes and Noble on Feb. 18 and 20 at 10 am at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

Children will embark on an exciting adventure as they are introduced to some of your childhood favorites, as well as some you may not have heard before. 

Toddler Time on Feb. 18 at 10:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Toddlers ages 2 – 3 1/2 and their caregivers will be entertained by puppets, stories, songs, and fingerplay.

Raising Readers on Feb.18 at 11:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children ages 3 1/2 – 5 and their caregivers will enjoy stories, songs and games.

Little Explorers Winter Nature Program for Kids ages 2 to 5 (See schedule below) at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Children love to explore nature and observe all the natural wonders around them. Participants will take magnifiers and their imaginations into the wooded wetland to investigate what winter means to the forest plants and animals around the Environmental Center. Participants should come dressed for the weather since they will be spending time outside. Advance registration is required. Please call 973.228.8776. The fee is $12 per child/session.

See schedule below:

Toddlers (age 2): on Tues., Feb. 18, 25 (10 to 11 am)

Tots (age 3) on Thurs., Feb. 20, 27 (1 to 2 pm)

Pre-K (ages 4-5) on Tues., Feb. 18, 25 (1 to 2 pm) OR Thurs., Feb. 20, 27 (10 to 11 am)

Tiny Toddlers Ages 12-23 Months on Feb. 19 at 10:15 am at the Livingston Library (10 Robert H Harp Dr, Livingston)

Toddlers ages 12-23 months will enjoy stories, songs.

Books n' Babies Storytime on Feb. 20 at 10:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Infants up to 24 months and caregivers will enjoy stories, songs and rhymes introducing babies to language skills.

Jumpin' Jamie at Monica + Andy on Feb. 20 at 1 pm, at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

This class for babies and waddlers, ages 2-6, will include live music, puppets, bubbles, movement scarves, toy instruments, limbo, and parachutes. Interactivity is encouraged between the child and their guardian to do things like "jumping," "riding the choo-choo train," and "taking the elevator." The fee is $15.

Musical Storytime on Feb. 20 at 4 pm at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Kids ages 2-5 and their caregivers will enjoy a Guitar Joe medley of music and storytelling including songs, picture books, puppet shows, dance parties, multimedia presentations, drum circles, egg-shaker jams, and so much more!

FUN FOR KINDERGARTEN TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL-AGED KIDS

Yakety Yak Book Club on Feb. 18 at 4:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Kids ages 6-8, in grades 2-3, are invited to participate in a monthly book club. This month’s book to be discussed is, The Great Cake Mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith.

Homeschool Day at the Zoo on Feb. 19 from 10 am – 12:30 pm at The Turtle Back Zoo (560 Northfield Avenue West Orange NJ

Students ages 8-11 are invited to participate in Home School Day at the Zoo, This month’s theme is Evolution, Classification, And Biological Diversity. Turtle Back Zoo’s Homeschool Days offer homeschooled students an opportunity to participate in animal and conservation-themed programs and projects that facilitate scientific literacy and life-long environmental stewardship. The program includes a visit into the Zoo as weather permits and an animal presentation. Register here.

Tween Gaming on Feb. 19 from 3-4:30 pm (10 Robert Harp Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Tweens in grades 5-8 (grades 5-8) are invited to come and play the Nintendo Switch games: Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Mario Kart on the big screens. Children under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Frog Pond Club on Feb. 19 from 4-5 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Children ages 5 – 9 will uncover and discover ecosystem interactions at the frog pond. They will explore with 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. Call 973.228.8776 to register. The fee is $10 per child per session.

Learn to Play Dungeons & Dragons on Feb. 20 from 3- 5 pm at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Kids in Grades 5-8 are invited to come and learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons, a collaborative storytelling game in which each player controls a hero on an adventure. Players work together to solve puzzles and survive challenges. They might explore ancient ruins, slay an evil monster, or investigate a crime. Teammates will rely on each other to accomplish these quests. This program is an introduction to Dungeons & Dragons. No experience necessary. Register here.

Comic Book Club on Feb. 20, 6:30-7:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Do you like comic books? Graphic novels? Superhero movies? Kids in grades 4-12 are invited to come talk about their favorite books, movie adaptations, or styles of art and work on a project of their own.

FUN FOR TEENS

Dungeons and Dragons: A Teen Club on Feb. 14, from 3:15-5:15 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Teens ages 13+ are invited to join a Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) adventure! Epic quests await teens who join the DnD club at the library! DnD features role-playing, storytelling, on-the-spot strategic thinking, math skills, problem-solving, and teamwork all rolled into one! 

Tween Gaming on Feb. 19 from 3-4:30 pm (10 Robert Harp Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Tweens in grades 5-8 (grades 5-8) are invited to come and play the Nintendo Switch games: Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Mario Kart on the big screens. Children under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Learn to Play Dungeons & Dragons on Feb. 20 from 3- 5 pm at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Kids in Grades 5-8 are invited to come and learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons, a collaborative storytelling game in which each player controls a hero on an adventure. Players work together to solve puzzles and survive challenges. They might explore ancient ruins, slay an evil monster, or investigate a crime. Teammates will rely on each other to accomplish these quests. This program is an introduction to Dungeons & Dragons. No experience necessary. Register here.

Comic Book Club on Feb. 20, 6:30-7:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Do you like comic books? Graphic novels? Superhero movies? Kids in grades 4-12 are invited to come talk about their favorite books, movie adaptations, or styles of art and work on a project of their own.

FUN FOR ADULTS

Paint and Sip at A Sip of Art on Feb. 14, 15, 16, 19 and 20 (click link below for paintings, times and pricing) (235 Prospect Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052 – in the Whole Foods Shopping Plaza located at the intersection of Prospect Ave and Eagle Rock Avenue. Located in the lower level next to MyGym)

Bring a friend, spouse, significant other – or just come by yourself for a fun and relaxing night of painting and sipping, or just painting – as that’s fine too. Not sure you can paint? No worries, there are no previous painting skills needed. You will learn how to mix colors, what brushes to use and learn how to paint. You will go home with a great painted memory of the experience. Choose your date and painting and register here. Prices range from $25 - $30 a class depending on the painting chosen.

Cooking with Cast Iron at Williams Sonoma on Feb. 16 at 11 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Some of the best recipes using cast iron cookware come from best-selling author and Culinary Icon, Ina Garten. In this class, you'll learn how to make two favorite recipes: Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken and decadent Skillet Brownies. The cost of $30 per person includes a Lodge Cast Iron Fry Pan. Call (973) 467-3641 to register.

Williams Sonoma Cookbook Club: Beyond Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan of Keto Karma: on Feb. 19, at 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Learn more about the keto diet, low-carb cooking, and the mindset that brings it all together in Suzanne Ryan’s newest book Beyond Simply Keto. You'll whip up the Egg Roll in a Bowl and Chocolate-Coated Cookie Dough Bites from the book, which are perfect for a keto-friendly weeknight dinner. The cost of $35 per person includes a copy of Beyond Simply Keto. Call (973) 467-3641 to register.

HAVE FUN CELEBRATING THIS NATIONAL HOLIDAY!

Valentine’s Day is Celebrated on February 14

While Valentine’s Day is typically a day for people in love to celebrate, it’s also a day to let anyone special including your kids how you feel. There are many ways to celebrate, from making cards, buying cards, making or buying treats and gifts, dining in or out and more. It’s always cute to get a card or handmade gift from a child. Below are links to some crafts, baked goods and cards you can make with your little ones.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…

The next time you sit down for a family dinner, toss out some of these facts to spark a lively and informative family conversation. After dinner, look up some of these dates and facts and explore the historical moments as a family.

  • On Feb. 14, 1929 – The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre occurred, I which mobsters, dressed as policemen, gunned down seven members of a rival gang.
  • On Feb. 14, 2009 – 39,897 couples, friends and families got together in Mexico City, and kissed for 10 seconds, creating the world record for the most simultaneous kisses.
  • On Feb. 14, 842 – Charles II & Louis the German signed a treaty.
  • On Feb. 14, 1014 – Pope Benedict VIII crowned Henry II Holy Roman Emperor.
  • On Feb. 14, 1929 - Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin. After leaving a plate of staphylococcus bacteria uncovered, he noticed that a mold that had fallen on the culture had killed many of the bacteria.
  • On Feb. 15, 1842 – The Post Office used adhesive postage stamps for the first time.
  • On Feb. 16, 1937 – Nylon was patented, but it didn’t become popular for a few more decades.
  • On Feb. 16, 1948 – NBC TV began its first nightly newscast.
  • On Feb. 18, 1885 – Mark Twain's, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was published.
  • On Feb. 19, 1913 – A prize was inserted into a Crackerjacks box for the first time.
  • On Feb. 20, 1962 – John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth.