Kids’ Almanac (Aug. 21-28)

Visitor at the new WonderDome at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum

RefurbishedMid-Hudson Children’s Museum adds new exhibits & activities

If your family includes anyone from baby to six years old, and it has been a while since you’ve had a visit to the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, your crew has some new elements to enjoy, including the latest feature, the WonderDome. Located on the second floor, you may remember the WonderDome as the structure that housed the live aquarium of Hudson River fish and the robot toy fishing arm. Now the feature is much more interactive, including the sensory-rich Reactor Cube, which is like my dream Lite-Brite. It’s a large four-sided form with lighted perforated walls for creating designs by inserting finger-sized colored rods.

Other walls in the dome include a vertical magnetic bead maze, a Light Waterfall consisting of long hanging plastic LED color-changing strands and a special recessed area for building with plastic translucent-centered wooden blocks. The cool robot arm has been repurposed as a Glo-Bot that picks up colorful tennis balls under black light, but it wasn’t working when my daughter and I tried to use it.

Regulars will recall the classic Gravity Roll, the curvy, loopy, addictive ball-carrying wire track initiated by a crank-powered, mesmerizing upward spiral. The ball inevitably falls off – which the museum calls “trial and error” – as children experiment with differently sized and weighted balls in their attempts for a successful run. I haven’t been able to complete the course fully in about eight years, ever since the original ball changed; but it’s still fun to reposition it after it jumps out and see how long it continues to go. Other familiars, such as the mastodon model, the water cycle tunnel and slide, the radio station booth and the downstairs neighborhood rooms, are available for playing and learning, just as you remember them.

The green screen, historical Samuel Morse, Declaration of Independence and local Revolutionary War hero Sybil Ludington’s mechanical horse-riding exhibits have all been replaced by hands-on and engaging Fun 2, 3, 4! play and learning elements. Measure the Dino and Double the Doggie can spark terrific conversations with littles about measuring size.

My daughter was especially impressed with the Double Your Allowance table, which asks the user to guess the greater total over 12 weeks between earning one dollar consistently per week or beginning with one cent and doubling the amount each week. In addition to the totals printed on the liftable canisters, pennies illustrate the weekly sum on that side, providing a powerful visual (and weight!) to the math process.

The visuals were also strong in the How Many in a Million case, which includes progressive gears that indicate the number of turns required to work up to one million rotations, a copy to peruse of the book A Million Dots and my favorite, a spinnable cylinder filled with one million tiny beads, accompanied by a sign listing quantities and colors of the contents, all the way down to one single black bead.

Weigh Out brilliantly explains away another challenging concept with which we are all saddled at some point during our parenting, especially during the early-morning breakfast hours as Junior reads on a cereal box: “Product is sold by weight, not by volume.” No problem! Weigh Out invites the user to order identical-appearing wooden cylinders from lightest to heaviest, with an easy color-coded self-check at the end of the exercise.

I like the interactive audio support of Fabulous Features, so that it doesn’t require reading to benefit fully from the purpose of the station, which poses a series of questions and two possible choices about the participant’s physical attributes (cleft chin, widow’s peak, gender, attached earlobe, tongue-curling and thumb back-bending), ending with a summary statistic about how that person’s features compare to others.

Downstairs, the gift shop has been replaced with Caroline’s Baby Room, a safe, walled-in area for the youngest visitors to the museum. And I was thrilled to see the front floor area overrun with a cool giant foam building set that could be constructed to build a massive ball course (like an oversized marble run), with a nearby bucket of blue plastic balls to roll through the completed structure. The parents I spoke with during our visit marveled about how much their young children love the museum, practically having to drag them out at closing time, even after hours spent there for day camp earlier this summer.

And I haven’t even gotten to the outside! Plan to spend some time here during your visit. Remember the Upper Landing Park festival that I mentioned recently? You really have to check this place out! That entire north-side neighboring space to the museum is absolutely gorgeous now, with brick walkways and picnic tables. You won’t believe the transformation! It’s also where the entrance to the Walkway elevator is located.

The museum parking lot borders the Hudson, which makes for a nice walk as well as a pleasant picnic area. Sometimes you can watch skateboarders zoom up and down the ramps in the fenced skate park next door. The museum parking lot is gated, requiring exiting vehicles to produce a paid barcode receipt: free for museum visitors who get their ticket validated at the front desk, otherwise payable at the parking kiosk.

Before you go, remember to check your local library for free museum passes that it might have for families to check out. Otherwise, admission to the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum costs $8 for anyone over one year of age. If you plan to return even just a few times, consider purchasing a Family Membership for $85 – good for two adults and all children in one household – or some of the other premium memberships with additional perks or reciprocity with other institutions. Through Labor Day, all active military personnel and their families receive free admission with ID.

The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 471-0589 or visit

Kid-friendly culture in Kingston

The Kingston Festival of the Arts takes place from Thursday, August 21 through Saturday, August 31, and I’ve highlighted here some activities especially enjoyable for children. For more information, visit

Sunday, August 24:

1 p.m., Kingston Artists’ Soapbox Derby, free. Cheer for these sculptures on wheels as they race to the finish line! Located on lower Broadway at Spring Street.

Saturday, August 30:

11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kids Create Kingston, free. Interactive art, music and fun for young people. Located at Forsyth Park, 157 Lucas Avenue.

11 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 2 p.m., Tiny Tots inside the Orchestra, $10 per family. Instrument “petting zoo” 20 minutes before each performance, interactive exchange with members of the Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra, music from Fantasia and more. Located at Old Dutch Church Hall, 272 Wall Street.

3 p.m., Voices for Water, free. A concert in celebration of clean water for our planet and our children. Located at Hudson River Maritime Museum, 50 Rondout Landing.



Science workshops for kids in Gardiner

The Gardiner Library is offering two science programs this week, but I’ll cut straight to it for your kids: fizz, goo and bright colors! And what’s the bottom line for you? Free! The workshops include scientific learning with oobleck, acid/base chemistry, science fizz with soda rockets and volcano and more.

This class runs on Thursday, August 21 from 2 to 3 p.m. for ages 4 to 7 years and on Friday, August 22 from 2 to 3 p.m. for ages 7 to 10 years. Hurry to register!

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



Summer Hoot at Ashokan Center

The Summer Hoot at the Ashokan Center is one of the coolest things that you can do this summer. It’s a way to connect with nature, to meet folks who may become friends for a lifetime and to enrich your spirit with live music that will keep you dancing and tapping your toes well into the fall season. The Summer Hoot takes place from Friday to Sunday, August 22 to 24 and features such performers as Mike + Ruthy, Jay & Molly, the Revelers, Kristin Andreassen, Anaïs Mitchell and many more.

Choices for accommodations for this camping festival include bunks, campsites, private rooms or commuting in each day. The Ashokan Center is located at 477 Beaverkill Road in Olivebridge. For more information, pricing or registration, follow the Summer Hoot event link at

Arm-of-the-Sea Theater in Saugerties

One fantastic family summer memory is taking your crew to see an Arm-of-the-Sea Theater production, such as the performance taking place this weekend at Tina Chorvas Waterfront Park. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 22 to 24 at 8 p.m., bring your lawn chairs and blankets and settle in for an interesting, entertaining and unique story drawing from the history of local places, people and events based on early-20th-century Saugerties.

Admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for children and $25 for a family of four. Tickets are available at the park entrance each evening before the performance. Tina Chorvas Waterfront Park is located on East Bridge Street in the Village of Saugerties. For more information, call (845) 246-7873 or visit

Toddlers on the Trail at Mohonk Preserve

Round up your littles for the Mohonk Preserve’s Toddlers on the Trail. Do it for the chance to walk in nature; do it to familiarize yourself with a local trail to which you can return again and again; do it to make a friend; or do it to sound more interesting when someone asks what you did this weekend. Just go!

Group hikes are great for introverts, because you can just focus on your child while walking with the group. Group hikes are terrific for extroverts, because there’s so much to explore and discover, and at some point, someone will be willing to process with you about it.     Toddlers on the Trail takes place this Friday, August 22 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and consists of a 1.5-mile hike exploring fields and the Lenape Longhouse replica at Spring Farm. This event is intended for walking children ages 2 to 6 years, and is not appropriate for strollers or pets.

Want more? Then come back to Spring Farm two days later on Sunday, August 24 for the Dog Days of Summer Hike from 10 a.m. to 12 noon for a four-mile hike with your older children 10 years and up, along with your well-behaved dog on a short leash. Remember to bring water and snacks for both hikes.

Toddlers on the Trail and the Dog Days of Summer Hike are free for members of the Mohonk Preserve, or $12 for the day use fee for non-members. Children age 12 and under get in free. Spring Farm is located off Mountain Rest Road, just down the hill from the entrance to Mohonk Mountain House. For more information or reservations, call (845) 255-0919 or visit



Shandaken Day, Margaretville’s Great Outdoor Festival

For a free festival that features the gorgeous lands of the central Catskills and its associated favored activities, get on Route 28 this weekend and just keep going past the reservoir, with perhaps a pit stop at Bread Alone in Boiceville, until you get to Shandaken and Margaretville. On Saturday, August 23, look for the Big Indian statue along Route 28 for the free Celebrate Shandaken Day going on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the community park in Big Indian. Activities include music, vendors and community games.

Also in that area on Saturday, August 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is the free Central Catskills Great Outdoor Festival taking place along Main Street in Margaretville, with activities such as bicycling, a fly-fishing class, kayaking, vendors, a children’s magic show, an intro to golf and more. Come back on Sunday, August 24 for even more outdoor fun organized by the Catskill Mountain Club.

For more information, visit, and

Antique Fire Engine Muster in Kingston

Not just a museum, but firetrucks! This Saturday, August 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., be a part of the 11th annual Antique Fire Engine Muster and Open House at the Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum in Kingston. You’ll see an 1845 City of Kingston Hand Pumper, an 1880 Wiltwyck Parade Wagon and more while you munch on free hot dogs and other refreshments. A closing parade from the museum to the Town of Ulster takes place at 3 p.m.

The Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum is located at 265 Fair Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 338-1247 or visit



Youth in Music Festival in Milton

Not just a pleasant day at the park, but an afternoon made even more joyful by the sounds of the Youth in Music Festival! On Sunday, August 24 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. at Cluett Schantz Memorial Park, you will hear all genres of music performed by local bands and solo artists, all under 21 years of age, competing for prizes. The event is free and family-friendly.

Cluett Schantz Memorial Park is located at 1301 Route 9W in Milton. For more information, visit

Butterfly program at Storm King Art Center

Storm King’s weekly children-and-families programs are a terrific way to get you closer to some amazing art while providing an enriching, non-boring experience for your kids. On Sunday, August 24 at 1 p.m., the theme is “Monarchs, Milkweed and Migration,” offering a chance to learn about these butterflies in the Storm King habitat. This program is included with regular entrance admission, which is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for children and free for children age 4 and under.

Delight your kids with another chance to bang a mallet on Mark di Suvero’s Beethoven’s Quartet and come back on Thursday, August 28 for Storm King’s free admission day! The Storm King Art Center is located at 1 Museum Road in New Windsor. For more information, call (845) 534-3115 or visit



Free Admission Day at all national parks

I’m pretty sure that none of you know that the National Park Service celebrates its 98th birthday this year. Here’s the best part: It’s celebrating by offering free admission! Monday, August 25 is Free Admission Day at all national parks, which means that after singing “Happy Birthday,” you might be whistling “We’re in the Money” as you stroll into Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill Cottage, FDR’s Springwood home or the Vanderbilt Mansion. To learn more, visit



Calm at the Core workshop in New Paltz

“Calm at the Core is here to foster the inner peace of educators, parents and students during the stressful and confusing times of education reform…While we work together towards finding meaning and purpose during these times, it is imperative that we find calm within ourselves so that we can best go about our educative practices with connected inspiration. If we are to create more peaceful, engaged, compassionate and resilient school communities, we must care for ourselves and each other.”

If you’re a teacher, administrator or parent looking for more of this type of support as you navigate the Common Core, register for the free open discussion and experiential workshop taking place this Tuesday, August 26 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Elting Memorial Library, led by educator Keri Zurlini: “This workshop is an exploration of brain function, mindfulness practice and positive psychology in relation to fostering peace and optimism for educators. Participants will walk away with strategies and tools for themselves, their staff and/or their students to create a more peaceful, engaged, compassionate and resilient school community.”

The Elting Library is located at 93 Main Street in New Paltz. For more information or to register, call (845) 418-1816 or visit



Butterfly hunt at Minnewaska

If you’re looking for a way to infuse your preschooler’s week with flowers, butterflies and blueberry-picking, I’ve got you covered. On Wednesday, August 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., head over to Minnewaska State Park Preserve for “Preschoolers in the Park: Butterfly Hunt.”

Preregistration is required for this event, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Remember to bring water and snacks, or pack a lunch to enjoy after the program. Minnewaska State Park Preserve is located at 5281 Route 44/55 in Kerhonkson. For more information or to register, call (845) 255-0752 or visit

Cappella Festiva auditions at Vassar

Is your family inspired by the music performed this summer at Maverick Concerts, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice or the Kingston Festival of the Arts? Here’s an opportunity to delve deeper. Cappella Festiva is holding auditions for both the Treble Choir for ages 10 to 17 years and the adult Chamber Choir on Wednesday through Friday, August 27 to 29. Auditions will be held in the Vassar College Chapel, located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie.

For more information or an audition appointment, call (845) 853-7765, e-mail or visit



Renegades’ last home game

Next Saturday, August 30’s battle against the Connecticut Tigers is the last home game of the season for the Hudson Valley Renegades, and with a theme of Carnivale and excellent post-game fireworks, it’s going to be great. Plus, I’ve always managed to score some sweet deals on Renegades tee-shirts and other gear at the shop from its last-day sales. The game begins at 7:05 p.m. and the gates open at 5:30 p.m.

The Renegades play at Dutchess Stadium, located at 1500 Route 9D in Wappingers Falls. For tickets or more information, call (845) 838-0094 or visit

Kids’ Almanac Writes

Kids’ Almanac thanks Jennifer Castle for supplying writing prompts during the month of August. Jennifer Castle is the author of the young adult novels The Beginning of After and You Look Different in Real Life, both from HarperCollins. She lives in New Paltz with her husband, two daughters, two cats and about 20 notebook volumes of the ongoing journal that she has kept since 1985.

Here is her journal prompt for the week. Remember to post your piece on the Almanac Weekly Facebook page:

“Journaling is where we really figure out the stories inside and around us, and where we are all writers, for ourselves. I believe everyone can and should do it! These prompts are designed to help you start, get back into or freshen up a habit of regular journaling. But first, some tips: Rather than using a fancy blank journal – way too much pressure for the words to be fancy, too – buy a cheap marbled composition or spiral notebook and make it your own with stickers, collage or drawings on the cover. Set rules for yourself, like you will write for ten minutes straight or fill up an entire page or write on Tuesdays. Keep the pen moving. Resist the urge to cross out. And always: The less you think, the better.” Now:

Life and writing are both full of dialogue. Conversations can be moments, slices of life, personality profiles and even tiny stories unto themselves. Write down one conversation that you had in the last few days. Try to remember every part of it and be accurate, but also don’t be afraid to embellish and let it lead to something that didn’t really happen.

– Erica Chase-Salerno

Erica Chase-Salerno is making ratatouille in New Paltz with her husband Mike and their two children: the inspirations behind She can be reached at




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