Kids Almanac: April Foolery, break mini-camps & New Paltz’s pop-up master

Page from Robert Sabuda's Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

– Victor Borge


I look forward to our traditional family April Foolery every year. Last April First, we had a good laugh after I gave my kids bowls of cereal frozen in milk for breakfast, which was undetectable until they tried digging into the impossibly hard surprise with their spoons. I can’t wait to do it again this year, and I’m going to add some Jell-O shenanigans to the mix. After the kids roll their eyes about the frozen Cheerios redux, I’ll give them a pitcher of milk for their new bowls of cereal. But imagine their perplexed looks when this milk doesn’t pour, since I’m going to gel it in a pitcher. Then I’ll offer them an “Impossible Drink,” which looks like a glass of juice with a straw in it but is really impossible-to-drink red Jell-O.

For dinner, I’m thinking about using my favorite pie crust recipe (see 3/7/12 Kids Almanac bit about Pi Day), filling it with meatloaf, topping it with a pink-tinted whipped potato topping and presenting this faux cream pie as “dessert for dinner.” Ha! I’m cracking myself up already. Shh, don’t tell my kids. What are your favorite family April Fools’ pranks?



Gustafer Yellowgold plays Rosendale Theatre this Saturday


When is the last time you were able to relax into a state of wonder and imagination? Add great melodies and an accompanying cartoon storyline with gentle humor, and you’ve got the recipe for a Gustafer Yellowgold show. My kids and I were enthralled the first time we attended a Yellowgold show last month at the Falcon, and we can’t wait to do it again. We’ve been singing one of the new album’s singles around the house, “Pancake Smackdown,” ever since we heard Yellowgold creator Morgan Taylor perform it.

Come hear the new album and see the new story unfold at “Gustafer Yellowgold’s Year in the Day Homecoming Release Celebration” on Saturday, March 31 at 11 a.m. at the Rosendale Theatre. Tickets go for $8. The Rosendale Theatre is located at 408 Main Street in Rosendale. For tickets or more information, call (845) 658-8989 or visit To learn more about the show, visit



Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck presents Amazing Magical Margo this Saturday


The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck has done it again. It blows me away with the top acts that it presents in its Saturday Morning Family Series. On Saturday, March 31 at 11 a.m., the Amazing Magical Margo will perform a fantastic show of magic and illusion. Her style is engaging to all ages. Since Margo is a Juilliard-trained classical oboist, she fills her show with beautiful classical music. I love it!

The Center is located at 661 Route 308 in Rhinebeck. Tickets cost $7 for children, $9 for adults and seniors. For tickets or more information, call (845) 876-3080 or visit To learn more about the show, visit



Storytime at Gardiner Library this Saturday


Has life gotten between you and library storytime with your kidlets or grandkids? Gardiner librarian Kendra Aber-Ferri understands. Miss Kendra is hosting a special storytime on Saturday, March 31 at 11 a.m. at the Gardiner Library. Come enjoy reading some books together, performing action songs and creating a simple craft. This program is free and open to the public.

The Gardiner Library is located at 133 Farmers’ Turnpike in Gardiner. For more information, call (845) 255-1255 or visit



Pine Grove Ranch in Kerhonkson welcomes day visitors beginning this Sunday


Years ago, I passed a sign on my way home from vacationing in Maine that read, “If you lived here, you’d be home by now.” That sentiment describes how I feel about my life in the Hudson Valley. I actually live where people come to vacation! Pine Grove Ranch is one of those places to which people come from around the world. I’ve always been curious about it, but since I live close by, I don’t need an overnight stay. So I called them up, and I was delighted to learn that Pine Grove welcomes locals at designated times during the year. Spring dates are just starting up: April 1 through 19; May 11 through 13; and Memorial Day weekend, May 25 through 28.

Day visits run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include lunch and all regular activities. The day rate per person is $39 for ages 7 and up; $19 for ages 3 to 6 years; and $9 for ages 1 and 2. If you want to add horseback riding to your ranch experience, add $49 to each rider’s day rate. Day visit reservations must be made two days in advance. Pine Grove Ranch is located at 30 Cherrytown Road in Kerhonkson. For reservations or more information, call (845) 626-7345 or visit



Explore Olana’s “Awakening Landscape” this Sunday in Hudson


The Olana State Historic Site is another one of those special places that we’re lucky to have in the Hudson Valley. You could listen and look for signs of spring in your own yard, but doing it at Olana makes it so much better. Olana is the former home of artist Frederic Church, which was originally designed as a French chateau and later transformed to the style of a Persian feudal castle. Church spent 30 years cultivating the landscape, adding to its beauty along the Hudson River. Go see what the views look like from what Church called “the Center of the world.”

On Sunday, April 1, join the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Craig Thompson for “Amidst an Awakening Landscape,” an outdoor foray to search for bluebirds, robin redbreasts, white trillium and other colorful signs that spring has sprung. An educator from Olana will discuss the history of the landscape designed by Church. Dress for casual trail walking, and bring binoculars if you like. The walk begins at the Wagon House Education Center.

This event is free, but a $5-per-vehicle entry fee applies. Space is limited, so register by noon on Friday, March 30. The Olana State Historic Site is located at 5720 State Route 9G in Hudson. For more information about this event or to register, call (518) 828-1872, extension 109, or visit



This Sunday is Easter Fun Day at Southlands Foundation in Rhinebeck


Pony rides, a magic show, balloon animals, the Easter Bunny, an egg hunt and a bake sale: What a way to spend a spring afternoon! Head over to Easter Fun Day at Southlands Foundation in Rhinebeck on Sunday, April 1. Activities for this free event run from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m., but the egg hunt starts at 12:30 p.m. sharp and the magic show is at 1 p.m. Remember to bring a basket if you want to do the egg hunt.

Southlands is located at 5771 Route 9 in Rhinebeck. For more information or to volunteer, call (845) 876-4862 or visit



Easter break mini-camps run next week at Kingston’s Little Gym


In our family, the Little Gym means Big Fun! Our kids love its wide array of games and activities, the energizing, upbeat music, the variety of youth-sized gymnastics equipment and the personable, engaging instructors. My husband and I appreciate the individualized attention, skill-building and free play. From classes to homeschool sessions to Parents’ Survival Nights to birthday parties, our kids love the Little Gym of Kingston.

Give your children a chance to try something new during spring break with the Little Gym’s spring break drop-in mini-camps running from Monday, April 2 through Thursday, April 5. “We love the new friends and old friends we get to see at these mini-break camps. We’re looking forward to a big week of fun with the kids,” says Mercedes Sidor, owner and director. Camps are for children ages 3 to 10 years and combine physical activity, group cooperative games and process-oriented arts and crafts within each day’s theme, from “X-treme Sports of All Sorts” to “Fantasy Castle.” Sessions run daily from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. You can also register your children for the “Lunch Bunch,” which enables them to bring a bag lunch and stay for both sessions with a lunch break in between. Non-member pricing is $32 per session and $60 for Lunch Bunch; members pay $5 to $10 less.

The Little Gym of Kingston is located in the Kings Mall at 1200 Ulster Avenue. For more information or to reserve your child’s spot, call (845) 382-1020 or visit



MAC Park in Kingston hosts “School’s Out” camps


You want a place where your kids have a chance to have fun and keep moving; a chance for your children to burn off energy and socialize in group games; a reliable-but-flexible schedule for childcare during days off from school that extends through your workday. Then you’ll want to check out MAC Fitness’ “School’s Out” camps at MAC Park. Open to kids from kindergarten through sixth grade, each session includes time in the bounce houses, turf time for group games such as dodgeball and kickball and arts and crafts. “The kids have a really good time here. They leave tired; we stress physical activity,” explains camp coordinator Kristin Bernard. Participants need to bring a lunch, water bottle and sneakers, but snacks are provided.

Camps cost $35 per day and take place from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with flexible dropoff and pickup between those times. Camp registration is required three days in advance. MAC Fitness also offers Friday-morning toddler/parent playtime, and Parents’ Night Out programs every Friday night for ages 4 through 14 years.

MAC Park is located at 743 East Chester Street/Route 9W in Kingston. For more information about their children’s programs or to register, call (845) 338-2887 or visit



Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum in Poughkeepsie offers special events daily during spring break


After attending the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum astronomy show with my kids, I can finally expand my skygazing repertoire beyond “That’s the Big Dipper!” The show explores seasonal constellations in an inflatable space “bubble” that you crawl through a tunnel to access. You can test your own star savvy at the next Starlab Planetarium Show on Monday, April 2 at 10 a.m.: the kickoff to a week of Museum spring-break events. Tuesday, April 3 at 11 a.m. is the “Plant a Seed Workshop,” where participants 3 years old and up will decorate a plant stick and learn how to grow your own seeds. On Wednesday, April 4 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the No Strings Marionette Company presents the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Thursday, April 5 at 11 a.m. brings “The Incredible Journey,” as children follow the pathway of a water droplet through the Hudson Valley. Participants will create a story bracelet showing where the droplets travel. “Creative Clay Workshop” wraps up the week on Friday, April 6 at 11 a.m. Children 3 years old and up will mix the ingredients to make their own clay masterpiece, then use fun tools to shape their creation.

The cost for each activity is $4 per person except for Jack and the Beanstalk, which is $6 per person. Reservations are required for each event. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. To learn more about the programs or to make a reservation, call (845) 471-0589 or visit



Children’s Media Project’s “Mega Media” workshops begin this Monday in New Paltz & Millbrook


When I was young, I made countless “radio shows” with my tape recorder featuring songs from my record player and fake commercials. If you have a young burgeoning deejay, movie buff, artist or techie in your house, then mark your digital calendars for the Children’s Media Project’s “Mega Media” spring break workshops. Youth participants will get hands-on experience in mediamaking as they try out a variety of expressions, including animation, radio and video. Students will explore stop-motion animation techniques, create audio recordings for radio broadcast and create short live-action narrative videos starring themselves!

Workshops begin on Monday, April 2 at the Rosendale Theatre, the Living Seed in New Paltz and Millbrook Village Hall, and on April 9 at Railroad Playhouse in Newburgh. Pricing ranges from $230 to $295. To register or for more information about these workshops, call (845) 485-4480 or visit



Pop-up book artist Robert Sabuda speaks next Wednesday at SUNY-New Paltz


There are pop-up books, and there are “Wow! That’s amazing!” pop-up books. Robert Sabuda’s pop-up books are in the latter category. This New Paltz artist’s work is fascinating to look at as well as captivating to read. My daughter loves examining the three-dimensional designs while I read Sabuda’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And each page reveals its own additional flaps with their own mini-pop-up illustrations. I love the refreshing approach of his designs. The paper engineer’s (that’s what you call a pop-up artist) “America the Beautiful” has such stunning, dramatic lines. The “purple mountain majesties” page is one of my favorites: It just looks so stately, so regal.

Fun fact: What’s the biggest challenge in producing a pop-up book? Robert Sabuda says, “Getting it to pop shut! I know most people would think that making it pop up is the difficult part, but making it pop shut is the real challenge.”

Sabuda, a number-one New York Times best-selling children’s book creator, publishes books that enchant both children and adults. Robert Sabuda will appear in person at SUNY-New Paltz on Wednesday, April 4. His book-signing will begin at 4:30 p.m. At 5 p.m. Sabuda will discuss some of the methods that he uses to create his work and will present “Popping up through Time and Space,” a brief history of movable and pop-up books. If you wish to begin or add to your Sabuda pop-up book collection, a selection of his books will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

Sabuda’s appearance is free and open to the public and will take place in Lecture Center 204. SUNY-New Paltz is located at 1 Hawk Drive in New Paltz. For more information about the event, call (845) 257-3719 or visit the Library website at



Erica Chase-Salerno lives, loves and laughs in New Paltz with her husband Mike and their two children: the inspirations behind She can be reached at



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  1. April Foolery….how about chocolate-covered cotton balls! You want to add a bit of peanut butter (to the melted choclate) to lure those peanut-butter lovers.

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