November is always a busy month. From starting to plan for Thanksgiving to finding things to do to keep your kids busy — we’ve got you covered! You and your family can participate in Santa's Flight Academy at the Short Hills Mall, go Behind the Scenes at the Giraffe Tours at the Zoo, make a Christmas Tree Stand Box at Home Depot, take a Family Yoga class and so much more. Your little kids will enjoy a Movement Class, a Nature Club, some storytimes and more. Kids in grades K-5 and teens might want to check out the Afterschool at the Turtle Back Zoo Club, have Breakfast with The Gibbons at Turtle Back Zoo, participate in Dungeons and Dragons, book clubs and more. And, adults have a few fun Thanksgiving cooking opportunities and more to choose from. In addition, National Philanthropy Day is on Nov. 15. There are some great ideas for celebrating the holidays with kids below.

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 In addition, please send any events you’d like added to this column to the same email address.

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Santa's Flight Academy from Nov. 7-Dec. 24 in Grand Court at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

The public is invited to come visit Santa at Santa’s Flight Academy, a personalized holiday adventure. Each visiting cadet receives a flight crew badge then, as an elite member of Santa’s flight crew, is fitted with a virtual flight suit. From there, the cadet partners with a helpful elf to inspect and power Santa’s sleigh using a series of interactive stations. The visit culminates with a snowfall dance party and, of course, time with Santa. Santa’s Flight Academy is free to all with a variety of optional photo packages to purchase. Each package includes a complimentary Lovepop card.


Chess Club on Nov. 14 at 4 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange) Players of all ages and abilities welcome.


Behind the Scenes Giraffe Tours, on Nov. 16 and 17, 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.


Pie Contest at West Orange Farmers Market on Nov. 16 from 9 am to 2 pm at 80 Main Street Parking Lot (North End)

Guests will enjoy fresh produce, local eggs and honey, artisanal cheeses, delicious baked goods, fresh juice, local flowers, vegan goods, upcycled crafts, lunch options, and much more. There will be nearly 60 vendors, many of which cater to children with crafts, products, and books. This week’s special event: Pie Contest. Register here.


Christmas Tree Stand Box on Nov. 16 at 10 am at Home Depot (902 Murray Rd, East Hanover, NJ)

Think inside the box with this fashionable alternative to a tree skirt. Learn to use a circular saw to cut pieces of board and then create the basic frame and decorative elements. Paint or stain the wooden pieces before final assembly. With help from a Store Associates, use a brad nailer to stabilize your project. In less than an hour, you’ll have a modern, on-trend decorative accessory that can be quickly disassembled for off-season storage. The Home Depot Workshops are designed to provide a mix of associate led instruction, demonstration and some hands-on learning. Materials can be purchased to make your own project.


How You Can Help the Birds in Winter on Nov. 17 at 3 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

In this program for all ages, the Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge will be exploring the migration of various birds in winter, describing the lives of non-migrating birds, and cover other animals you might see in the winter months. You will also be shown how to make a bird feeder with recycled materials.


Family Yoga on Nov. 16 at 11 am at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

People ages 5 and up are invited to participate in this class where they will share and enjoy an adventure of calming breath, fun asanas/poses, and gentle stretches with your nearest and dearest in a friendly, go-with-the flow atmosphere. Advance registration is required. Call 973-228-8776. Fee: $10 per child, $12 per adult.


Sensory Santa on Nov. 24 from 9-10:30 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Families with special needs are invited to Sensory Santa. This sensory-friendly holiday event allows families with all spectrums of special needs to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit with Santa in a comforting environment prior to public hours. Accommodations are made to support the sensory, physical, and developmental needs of this special audience. While visits with Santa are welcome and always free, Santa photo packages will be available for purchase. Space is limited and RSVP is required to attend. This Sensory-Friendly Santa Experience is held in partnership with Cherry Hill Programs and Autism Speaks.


Angry Birds Universe: The Art and Science Behind a Global Phenomenon at Liberty State Park (222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ)

Come explore LSC’s newest premium exhibition, Angry Birds Universe: The Art and Science Behind a Global Phenomenon. Based on the popular games, the exhibition takes guests of all ages into the world of Angry Birds for interactive adventures, both physically challenging and mentally stimulating. Explore different concepts in science, tech, engineering, arts, and math in an extreme hands-on environment! Buy tickets here.




Monica + Andy Movement Class with the Little Moving Artist on Nov. 13 at 10:30 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Monica + Andy invites kids from ages 2-4 years to a Movement Class with The Little Moving Artist, every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Get ready for the silliest, most energetic movement class around! Join the Little Moving Artist team in this 45 minute whimsical, imaginative movement class that incorporates dancing, imagery, music, sensory props and costumes. Your child 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. They promise lots of smiles and happy exhaustion! Drop-ins: $10, Family: $15.


Storytime at Barnes and Noble on Nov. 14 and 19 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. 


Little Explorers Fall Nature Program on Nov. 14 and 19 (see other dates below) from 10-11 am at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

This child-caregiver class uses stories, walks, and crafts to develop an awareness and appreciation for science and nature for the child as well as the caregiver. Each week, a different nature or science topic is covered. Advance registration and payment are required; call 973.228.8776. Fee: $12 per child/session.


  • Toddlers (age 2) – Tuesdays— November 19, at 10 - 11 am
  • Tots (age 3) – Thursdays— November 14, 21, at 1 - 2 pm
  • Pre-K (ages 4-5) – Tuesdays — November 19, at 1 - 2 pm OR Thursdays—November 14, 21 10 - 11 am


Books n' Babies Storytime on Nov. 14 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.


Forest Friends Club on Nov. 14 at 4 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Children ages 5 years and up are invited to come and explore the forest using nets, binoculars, magnifiers, and microscopes to investigate nature in our wooded wetland habitat. Together we hope to foster an ethic of stewardship and offer an opportunity to take part in hands-on conservation projects.
Advance registration is required. Please call 973.228.8776. Fee: $10 per child per session.


Saturday Storytimes on Nov. 16 from 10-10:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children ages 0 – 5 and caregivers will listen to stories and work on a craft.


Baby & Me Storytime Featuring Abby (Sesame Street Friends) on Nov. 17 at 11 am at Barnes and Noble at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

During this Baby & Me Storytime for caregivers and children 0-24 months old, guests will enjoy a book and participating in activities featuring sensory growth for little ones.


Terrific Toddlers Storytime on Nov. 19 at 10:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Kids ages 2 - 3 ½ and their caregivers will enjoy puppets, stories, songs and fingerplays and more.


Preschool Storytime on Nov. 19 at 11:30 am at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Preschoolers and their caregivers will enjoy interactive stories, songs and games.




Afterschool at the Turtle Back Zoo Club, on Nov. 15, at 3 pm (Berson Education Center, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

Turtle Back Zoo is an amazing classroom! This Out of School at the Zoo: Zoo Club for kids in grades 1-5 offers 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 or South Mountain Reservation as weather permits and a live animal presentation. Session 4: Animals in your backyard – When you look out your window, what do you see? Birds chirping, squirrels climbing trees, and people going about their business. But there is more to your community than meets the eye. Join us as we take a look at the lives of our animal neighbors and how they interact with our community and each other. Register here.


Breakfast with The Gibbons at Turtle Back Zoo on Nov. 17 at 8:30 am (Berson Education Center, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

Children ages 6 and up, with their caretakers, are invited to swing over to the zoo to participate in a conservation breakfast program featuring our White-cheeked Gibbons! You’ll learn about these most agile apes and meet our extended family. Together we’ll explore the complex world of primate sociality and behavior and discuss some simple actions you can take to help protect them. Come with an appetite because breakfast is delicious! The event includes a special meet and greet at the gibbon exhibit. Register here. Ticket of $30/person general admission, $24/ person for Zoological Society members includes: Hot breakfast, Education program, Up-close introductions to some ambassador animals, Activity, Meet and greet with Gibbons and Keepers, and Admission to the zoo for the day (for non-Zoological Society members).


Yakety Yak Book Club on Nov. 19 at 4:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

This is a fun book discussion for 2nd and 3rd graders. Stop by the library to pick up this month's book!


Storytime featuring Jack Frost vs. the Abominable Snowman on Nov. 16 at 11 am at Barnes and Noble at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

A thrilling adventure awaits as your kids, ages 4-7, pick their path and decide how the story Jack Frost vs. the Abominable Snowman unfolds! The big day has arrived, and the racers are set. Will they follow Jack Frost, the mischievous racer with magical winter powers? Or will they follow Abe, the lovable Abominable Snowman with a few surprises up his sleeve?




Dungeons and Dragons: A Teen Club on Nov. 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! 


YA Book Club on Nov. 14 at 7 pm at Barnes and Noble at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

These YA Book Club discussions will happen on the second Thursday of every month to explore compelling stories and characters. The November selection is The Fountains of Silence, by Ruta Sepstys, a ripping, extraordinary portrait of love, silence, and secrets in postwar Spain.




Move to the Music Bollywood Style on Nov. 13 at 6:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Learn the dance styles and beats of India! Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to move and groove Bollywood Style. Presented by Seema Moondra.


Williams Sonoma Technique Class: Today Show Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 13 at 6:30 pm

Williams Sonoma has teamed up with the TODAY Show to create a delicious Thanksgiving menu – from the starters and side dishes to the turkey and dessert! Enjoy an exciting class showcasing recipes from some of your favorite TODAY Show personalities. The complimentary class includes the new TODAY Show Thanksgiving Guide to take home. Please call (973) 467-3641 to reserve your spot.


Williams Sonoma Technique Class: Thanksgiving in an Instant on Nov. 14 at 6:30 pm at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Want to learn how to use your Instant Pot to make crowd-pleasing side dishes for Thanksgiving? This is the class for you! You’ll be making Zesty Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Herbed Baby Potatoes that are a cinch to make with the best-selling Instant Pot. Cost of $30 per person includes the Comfort in an Instant Cookbook. To register your spot, please call (973) 467-3641.


Williams Sonoma Technique Class: No Fail Sides on Nov. 17 at 11 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Thanksgiving Starts Here! Introducing some new Thanksgiving side dish recipes that are going to take your Thanksgiving game to the next level. You'll make Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes and crowd-pleasing Sweet Potatoes, along with a Thanksgiving Stuffing Blend, a favorite Thanksgiving time-saver. Cost of $40 per person includes a Williams Sonoma Goldtouch® Nonstick Quarter-Sheet Roasting Set. To reserve your spot, please call (973) 467-3641.


Baby Sign Language at Monica + Andy on Nov. 18, at 12 pm at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Join Monica + Andy for an intro class on baby sign language with Meghan Warshauer, on Thursdays from 12 - 1 p.m. Jump start communication with basic American Sign Language through a fun combination of music, books, and engaging activities for baby. Caregivers will learn to help babies express their needs before they are able to convey them verbally. This program will teach signs for both daily routine and fun things that motivate baby to communicate. Sign language accelerates verbal development, strengthens cognitive skills, reduces frustration and tantrums, increases self-esteem, and enhances child-caregiver bonding. Get ready to learn, have fun, and make new friends. 




National Philanthropy Day is on Nov. 15

According to the official National Philanthropy Day website, “On National Philanthropy Day (NPD), we celebrate the extraordinary change that fundraising and philanthropy have helped to create in our world!” The site also says, “The purpose of this day is to recognize the great contributions of philanthropy—and those people active in the philanthropic community—to the enrichment of our world.” While many people view Philanthropy as making a monetary contribution, it can also be done through volunteering. There are many ways to celebrate this day. If you have little extra money, you can contribute to a cause you believe in. You can also participate in a fundraiser. In addition, you can also teach your kids about being Philanthropic, by helping them set up a lemonade stand or something similar, telling them about causes they might relate to and care about, and then helping them to make a donation.




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.


  • 11/13/1927 – The Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River opened to the public, connecting New York City and New Jersey.
  • 11/13/1942 – The minimum draft age was lowered from 21 to 18.
  • 11/14/1832 – The first streetcar went into operation.
  • 11/14/1968 – Yale University went Coed.
  • 11/15/1777 – The Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation.
  • 11/18/1928 – Disney's Steamship Willie premiered, and “Mickey Mouse” was born.
  • 11/19/1863 – Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.