It’s hard to believe that it’s almost August – but don’t worry – there’s still lots to do as July comes to a close! You could celebrate National Cheesecake Day on July 30th; go to the ZOO-VIES, enjoy Family Night or even Date Night at the Turtle Back Zoo; Wednesday Night Under the Lights – Community Races; Downtown Thursdays in West Orange; go bird watching, take in a Family Walk and Campfire; enjoy storytimes galore; attend a book signing, and even spend some time at a Butterfly tent! There’s certainly something for everyone!

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.

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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 address.

FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY…

Behind the Scenes with Penguins, on July 23, 6 pm tour and 7 pm tour at the Turtle Back Zoo (560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

Travel all the way to the Shores of Africa for a Behind the Scenes look at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo’s state-of-the-art African penguin exhibit. Meet with a TBZ Educator and Keeper to discover why African penguins are so endangered and how TBZ is aiding their survival as a species. Guests will enjoy learning all about the zoo’s “waddle” of penguins, their daily care, and the new exhibit. This Behind the Scenes Tour takes place during the zoo’s weekly summer Late Nights on Thursdays. Attendees must be 6 years old or over; all children under 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult. It is about a 10-minute walk from the Reptile House to the Penguin entrance. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear; some locations may have a wet floor, or you may be inadvertently splashed. Your Behind-the-Scenes ticket gives you Zoo admission for any time on the day of the tour (for Zoo non-members), but tour attendees must meet Tour Staff 15 minutes prior (5:45 pm) to the start of the tour at the entrance to the Reptile House. Tours start promptly at the agreed-upon time; late arrivals may lose part of the tour by being late or lose the entire tour without refund. Tours will commence regardless of weather unless canceled by the Zoo due to unsafe conditions for our Animals, Staff, or Tour Attendees. If a tour is canceled due to weather, the zoo will notify you as soon as possible and will try to reschedule a date and time. Please dress appropriately for the weather conditions and for walking the Zoo. Some behind the scenes areas are snug or smell of fish; if you have questions or concerns about accessibility please contact the zoo so that it may better address your needs at 973-731-5800 ext.103.

Family Night at the Turtle Back Zoo on July 24 & 25 from 4:30 – 8 pm (560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

The public is invited to enjoy extended hours at the zoo when temperatures are cooler, and the workday is over.

Wednesday Night Under the Lights – Community Races on July 24 and 31 at 7 pm at West Orange High School Suriano Track (51 Conforti Ave, West Orange, NJ)

People ages 6 and up through adult, are invited to participate in races on Wed. nights. There are many divisions: 6 & under, 7-10, 11-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60+ and medals will be awarded to the Top 3 in each division. Fee: $5 per race. Registration starts at each night at 6:15 pm and the first race starts at 7 pm. July 24th races include a 1-mile run, 100m dash and 800m run. July 31st races include a 400m dash, 1-mile run, and 200m dash.

ZOO-VIES at Turtle Back Zoo on July 24 from 8-10 pm (Rooftop of Turtle Back Zoo Parking Deck (560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

The public is invited to enjoy a free blockbuster movie, A Dog’s Way Home, under the stars on the rooftop of the Turtle Back Zoo Parking Deck. Guests should bring their own chairs. Films begin at dusk. If it rains, the event will be canceled. Zoovies will take place every Wed. night through Aug. 28. No Zoo admission is necessary.

Birding Trip at Essex County Becker Park (Tract) on July 25 from 8-11 am at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland)

People ages 12 and up are invited to participate in a field trip to “bird watch.” They will explore both field and forest while enjoying beautiful vistas of the Passaic River Valley. This is the right time to discover late breeding birds such as American Goldfinch plus early “fall” migrants and dispersing young birds that are not quite sure where they belong after their parents have left. Cost: $8 members, $10 non-members. Registration is required; please call 908.396.6386.

Family Walk & Campfire on July 25 from 6:30-8 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland)

People of all ages are invited to join a staff naturalist for a short walk on the trails to experience forest life at dusk. Afterward, they will enjoy a campfire, mint tea, and some fire-popped organic popcorn. Advanced registration is required; call 973.228.8776. Fee: $30 per family (up to two adults and two children) or $10 per child; $12 per adult.

Luna, A Bilingual Play on July 26 from 10:30-11:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Luna Stage is presenting Luna, a bilingual play that is suitable for all ages.

Butterfly Tent Safari on July 26 from 12-3 pm and July 27 from 10:30 am - 1:30 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland)

People of all ages are invited to flutter on over and visit the live butterfly tent. All are welcome to make-and-take a butterfly craft and participate in table activities. $2 per person suggested donation.

Butterfly Gardening Workshop on July 27 from 12-1:30 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland)

Through this workshop for children ages 8 and older through adults, participants will learn to garden for butterflies with Jean Greeley, an Essex County Rutgers Master Gardener and butterfly enthusiast. The presentation and discussion will be followed by a visit to butterfly host and nectar plants within our gardens. This program includes a few minutes in the live butterfly tent. Advanced registration is required; call 973.228.8776. Fee: $30 per family (up to two adults and two children) or $10 per child; $12 per adult.

West Orange Farmers Market on July 27 from 9 am to 2 pm at 80 Main Street Parking Lot (North End)

The West Orange farmers market is returning with a new day and time. Fresh produce, local eggs and honey, artisanal cheeses, delicious baked goods, fresh juice, local flowers, vegan goods, upcycled crafts, lunch options, and much more can be found at the West Orange Farmers Market.

Raise the Grade: Life Skills for Tweens and Teens on July 27 from 11 am – 12 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children in grades 5 - 8 are invited to attend this workshop, Raise the Grade: Life Skills for Tweens and Teens, which is a part of a series of FREE interactive workshops presented by the Michael Aymar Foundation. Takeaways to include practical knowledge and tasty baked treats. Parents and parental guardians are encouraged to attend with their child.

Summer Date Night at the Zoo on July 27 from 6-10 pm at the Turtle Back Zoo (560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

Looking for something different to do for a fun night out? Have you ever wondered about the dating habits of some of the wilder residents of Turtle Back Zoo? Adults, ages 21 and over, are invited to join the zoo’s staff for an academic, but cheeky discussion of the “The Birds and the Bees and SSPs,” and behind the scenes tours. The event will also address the zoo’s mission of Education, Conservation, and Stewardship in the context of AZA institutions and the Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding programs. The event is meant to be informative, yet tongue-in-cheek fun. There will be a buffet-style dinner and dessert with one complimentary alcoholic beverage (beer or wine) included, cash bar available. The event will take place at Turtle Back Zoo and the Savanna Cafe. Please enter at the Main Gate entrance to the Zoo. Register here.

 

FUN FOR LITTLE KIDS

 

Tiny Toddlers Storytime on July 24 at 10:15 am at the Livingston Library (10 Robert H Harp Dr, Livingston)

Stories, songs, and fun for tiny toddlers ages 12-23 months! This program is developmentally designed for "waddlers." Drop-in, registration is not required.

Spanish Stories Storytime on July 24 at 4 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Come and listen to stories read in Spanish. This program is great for Spanish speakers and Spanish learners of all ages! Ven a escuchar cuentos en Español. Para todas edades de hispanohablantes y personas aprendiendo Español!

Storytime at Barnes and Noble on July 25 and 30 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.

Baby Open Play – for Newborn-23 months on July 25 from 10:15-11:15 am at the Livingston Library (10 Robert H Harp Dr, Livingston)

Caregivers with newborns to 23-month-old babies are invited for a drop-in open play session.

Babies and Books Storytime on July 25 at 10:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Infants up to 24 months and their caregivers are invited to partake in a fun storytime session where they will enjoy books, songs, and rhymes while being introduced to language skills.

Little Moving Artist Class at Monica + Andy on July 25 from 11-11:45 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Bring your little ones, ages 2-4, to participate in a Movement Class with The Little Moving Artist. Children will enjoy this whimsical and imaginative movement class that incorporates dancing, imagery, music, sensory props and costumes. Children will ice skate on paper plates, tap dance on bubble wrap, take part in an ultimate snowball fight, bug hunt, fly with superhero capes and wings, freeze dance, and more. Drop-in fee: $10.

Saturday Storytimes at the West Orange Library on July 27 from 10-10:30 am (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children and ages 0 – 5 and their caretakers are invited to come and listen to stories and work on a craft.

Special Children's Storytime - We Don't Eat Our Classmates on July 27 at 11 am at Barnes and Noble at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

Barnes and Noble is holding part one of its kickoff to Kindergarten series. Attendees will enjoy fun activities to prepare kids as they begin a new adventure. Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story, We Don't Eat Our Classmates, from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins. It's the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can't wait to meet her classmates. But it's hard to make human friends when they're so darn delicious! That is until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. Guests will receive a coupon from the Café for a grilled cheese sandwich with milk or juice for $4. 

Baby & Me Storytime Featuring Happy Llama on July 28 at 11 am at the Barnes and Noble at Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

This Baby & Me Storytime is for caregivers and children 0-24 months old. Guests will enjoy a book, Happy Llama by Shannon Hays, and participate in activities featuring sensory growth for little ones. Attendees will receive a free Starbucks tall, hot or iced coffee.

Musical Storytime with Guitar Joe on July 29 from 6:30 pm - 7:00 pm at the Livingston Library (10 Robert H Harp Dr, Livingston)

Join Guitar Joe for a magnificent medley of music and storytelling: songs, picture books, puppet shows, dance parties, multimedia presentations, drum circles, egg-shaker jams, and so much more! For children ages 2 to 5 years, and their caregivers. No registration required.

Little Listeners Storytime & Craft on July 30 at 10:15 am at the Livingston Library (10 Robert H Harp Dr, Livingston)

Stories, songs, sign language, and crafts for children ages 2-5, with their caretakers.  Drop-in, registration is not required. 

Terrific Toddlers Storytime on July 30 at 10:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children ages 2 to 3 ½ and their caretakers will be entertained by puppets, stories, songs, and fingerplay.

Preschool Story Time on July 30 at 11:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Preschoolers are invited to hear stories and songs and play games providing interactive fun. Parents must remain in the library during this program.

 

FUN FOR KINDERGARTEN TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL-AGED KIDS…

 

Out of This World Spelling Bee on July 24 from 7-8:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Can you spell M-E-T-E-O-R? Kids in grades 6-12 are invited to come and test their spelling smarts at the library's summer Spelling Bee! Prizes for the winners at this fun event.

Chess Club on July 25 at 4 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children in grades 2-8 are invited to learn to play chess with Eric Greenebaum. Novice and advanced players are welcome! Registration required.

Reading Buddies on July 29 from 3-4 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children building their reading skills will practice with teen mentors to gain confidence

Meet the Planets with the Morris Museum Astronomy Society on July 29 from 4-5 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Kids in grades 3-5 are invited to journey among the stars via a hands-on event with Morris Museum's Astronomical Society to learn about relative distances in outer space!

Indigokids Presents: Tui Sutherland on July 30 from 6:30-7:30 pm at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Join bestselling author Tui Sutherland as she discusses her latest novel, Wings of Fire: The Poison Jungle. An audience Q&A and book signing to follow. Event is free and open to the public; individuals must have purchased one copy of a book in The Wings of Fire series to be in the book signing lineup; proof of purchase required from Indigo; seating and signing line-up will be available on a first-come, first-served basis; candid and posed photos are allowed.

 

FUN FOR TEENS…

 

Out of This World Spelling Bee on July 24 from 7-8:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Can you spell M-E-T-E-O-R? Kids in up to grade 12 are invited to come and test their spelling smarts at the library's summer Spelling Bee! Prizes for the winners at this fun event.

Chess Club on July 25 at 4 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children up to grade 8 are invited to learn to play chess with Eric Greenebaum. Novice and advanced players are welcome! Registration required.

Dungeons and Dragons: A Teen Club on July 26 from 3:15-5:15 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, Livingston)

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 roleplaying, storytelling, on-the-spot strategic thinking, math skills, problem-solving, and teamwork all rolled into one!

 

FUN FOR ADULTS…

 

Downtown Thursdays – St. Marks in West Orange on July 25 from 5-7:30 pm

Enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants on Lindsley Ave., Valley Rd., Main St., and Mt. Pleasant Ave., or grab take-out and enjoy tables & chairs that will be set up in front of PNC Bank for some music, kids arts and crafts and activities on the steps of the bank. Special Reveal: West Orange Police Station Historical Marker at 50 Main Street.

 

HAVE FUN CELEBRATING THIS NATIONAL HOLIDAY…

 

National Cheesecake Day is on July 30

Cheesecake is a popular dessert because there are so many different types to choose from. You can enjoy it plain, flavored, filled and/or with your favorite toppings. You can buy it at your favorite shop, enjoy it as a dessert at a local restaurant or even make it yourself at home with your little ones. No matter how you choose to celebrate – it’s sure to be a delicious day for all!

Here’s how The Cheesecake Factory is celebrating National Cheesecake Day with Any Slice for Half Price and a New Flavor

Enjoy these 36 No-Bake Cheesecake Recipes That You Can Throw Together in a Bowl, courtesy of Countryliving.com

Try this Rainbow Cheesecake recipe, courtesy of Tablespoon.com

Your kids will love making this Kids in the Kitchen: 3 Step Raspberry Cheesecake, courtesy of Superhealthykids.com

Here’s a Basic Cheesecake Recipe from Chiff.com

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix graham crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press mixture onto bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, slowly mixing until just blended. Pour mixture over crust.
4. Bake 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Let cool in the oven, then loosen cheesecake from rim of pan. Cool an additional 3-4 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

 

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 July 24, 1929 – President Hoover announced the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which renounced war.
  • On July 25, 1814 – American forces defeated the British at the Battle of Niagara Falls (Lundy's Lane).
  • On July 25, 1978 – Louise Joy Brown, the First "Test Tube" baby was born in Oldham General Hospital, UK.
  • On July 26, 1775 – Benjamin Franklin became the first Postmaster General.
  • On July 26, 1952 – Mickey Mantle hit his first "Grand Slam.”
  • On July 27, 1940 – Bugs Bunny debuted in Warner Brothers animated cartoon, "A Wild Hare."
  • On July 28, 1914 – World War I began.
  • On July 29, 1928 – Walt Disney's "Steamboat Willie" premiered.
  • On July 30, 1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare Bill.