Kids Almanac: April Fools + lots to do during school vacation

Sicilian marionette

“Spring is when you feel like whistling
even with a shoe full of slush.”
- Doug Larson


Some fun April Fools’ Day ideas

April first can be a fun day of playful family pranks on kids of all ages. Here are eight ideas that I’ll be pulling on my own kids this April Fools’ Day (shhhh, don’t tell!).

Upside-down house, where they will wake up to wacky rooms of upside-down chairs, tables and table settings.

Frozen cereal is more of an eye-rolling tradition because I can’t resist doing it every year, and my kids have come to expect it. All I do is freeze a bowl of Cheerios in milk the night before and serve it to them for breakfast.

Gelatin juice or milk served in a clear glass with a straw is hilariously frustrating to drink.

Snack switch is carefully opening a small bag of chips or something else that they enjoy and substituting the contents with something else that they like, such as cookies in a potato-chip bag, and resealing it with clear tape.

Putting googly eyes on their bananas, oranges and apples made for smiles all day long; it just cracks us up.

Applying clear nail polish to bar soap prevents it from sudsing up and may take a while for even the most perceptive kids to figure out.

Adding a few drops of food coloring to the bowl before adding cereal means that the milk will magically change color and the kids will have no idea how.

Safety-pin a string of socks together so that pulling one out of the drawer results in a long sock chain.

Have fun, and let me know what your best family pranks were this year!


Check out People’s Place in Kingston

I invite you to acquaint yourself with People’s Place in Kingston, if you aren’t already familiar with its work in our community. It’s a busy place: Last year alone, People’s Place went through 190,000 meals, 8,000 clothing pieces and 50,000 household items!

The two main departments of People’s Place are its thrift shop and its food pantry, operated by 81 volunteers with director Christine Hein. Do your spring cleaning with People’s Place in mind: Not only can you clean out your closets for clothing donations, but they also take household goods, including VHS tapes! After you donate, take a look around the store for great bargains.

There are four types of People’s Place shoppers – which one are you?

Thrifty, recycling shoppers: All thrift shop inventory comes from local donations that remain at People’s Place to be sold instead of being reshipped to a central facility for redistribution to separate stores later, saving money, time and pollution.

Antique dealers: With a constant flow of donations, there are always treasures to find and resell.

Clothing clients: Ulster County residents can come to People’s Place twice per year to pick out free clothing.

Discount shoppers: Savvy shoppers know that they’re buying quality, fashionable pieces at a fraction of the cost of comparative goods in department stores or online.

Thrift shop revenue supports the food pantry, and any Ulster County resident can get three days of free food once per month. One unique aspect of People’s Place’s food pantry is the “shopping” component. Instead of receiving a generic bag of groceries, families are guided by volunteers about nutritional guidelines and quantities, and clients can select their own items within each food category: choices that align with their tastes or allergy concerns. The shelf of personal care items is always running low and could use a regular infusion of donations such as razors, shampoo, soap and lotion, so perhaps you, or an organization with which you are affiliated, would like to take up a collection. Every amount helps!

One current campaign is the Help Fight Hunger Dinner Raffle, where the winner receives dinner gift certificates to 12 different restaurants (take me!), but the raffle ticket itself gives you entry to the wine-and-cheese party at People’s Place on Tuesday, April 28 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., where the drawing will be held at 5:15 p.m. Raffle tickets are priced at one for $10 or three for $20.

People’s Place is located at 17 St. James Street in Kingston. For updates about People’s Place, Like its page at, follow on Twitter at @PeoplesPlaceK or visit the website at


Young virtuoso

Even though some of our young people may be catching spring fever and finding it harder to focus on practicing their musical instruments, musicians like local violinist Sophie Dolamore could help to inspire them to put the time in. Sophie, a former student of Kingston High School, has worked her way to her senior year at the Conservatory of Music in the School of the Arts at SUNY-Purchase, including a recent performance with acclaimed musician and fellow Ulster County resident Natalie Merchant and the Purchase Symphony Orchestra.

Sophie began studying violin at age 5 and has played with the Flying Fiddlers String Chorale, the New Paltz College/Youth Symphony and the Stringendo Orchestra School of the Hudson Valley. Keep sharing your local youth success stories with me by sending to [email protected]. Go, Sophie!



Phantom of the Opera for kids at Sugar Loaf

This weekend, take the family to see The Phantom of the Opera: a Theatre for Young Audiences Special Event at the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center. Performances take place this Friday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 28 at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for adults; $15 for children age 12 and younger plus a $2 facility fee. The Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center is located at 1351 King’s Highway in Chester. For more information, call (845) 610-5900 or visit


Stone soup at Stone Mountain Farm

Get back to nature with the kids at Wild Earth’s Campfire Soup Spring Celebration this Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. at the Center for Symbolic Studies in Tillson. Bring your favorite soup vegetable to add to the pot, hear stories and sing songs around the fire. This event is free and open to all ages, but space is limited and registration is required. To RSVP or for more information, visit


Come as an alien & watch ET on the big screen at UPAC in Kingston

Clear your schedule for some time with the kids to see ET on the big screen at the Ulster Performing Arts (UPAC) this Friday, March 27. Admission for the PG-rated film is $6 per person, or come as an alien and get in for free! Critics have lauded the film as a timeless story of friendship. According to Roger Ebert, “This is not simply a good movie. It is one of those movies that brush away our cautions and win our hearts.” ET is the highest grossing film of the 1980s and considered one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. UPAC is located at 601 Broadway in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 339-6088 or visit


Young vocalists join Ars Choralis at the Sheeley House in High Falls

Perhaps your young singers will be inspired after hearing these local musicians perform this weekend. On Friday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m., Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School seniors Olivia Dilorio and Amalee Martinez and former Kingston High School student Nicole Minielli give a concert at the Sheeley House Bed & Breakfast with Ars Choralis. Admission to the concert is by donation, and refreshments will be served.

The Sheeley House Bed & Breakfast is located at 6 Fairview Avenue in High Falls. For more information about the concert, visit [email protected] or [email protected].


Olaf luau at Fishkill’s Blodgett Library

It’s easy to think summer at an Olaf luau! This Friday, March 27 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., head over to the Blodgett Memorial Library in Fishkill. There will be pizza, games and an Olaf surprise. No registration is required. The Blodgett Memorial Library is located at 37 Broad Street in Fishkill. For more information, call (845) 896-9215.



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