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Getting to know the stars

The night skies are filled with Mystery and Wonder to share with your Kids. In the Metro are it can be more than a little difficult to clearly make out the Constellations . There are a quite a few observatories in New Jersey"

Planetariums & Observatories in New Jersey
County College of Morris Planetarium
214 Center Grove Rd. Randolph 973-328-5076 • 973-328-5755
The County College of Morris Planetarium is an 80 seat facility which uses a Minolta Planetarium and computer and projector which allows you to see recreation of the seasonal night sky (feels like you are sitting outside but in comfortable chairs) planet locations, and various science topics, such as the planets, latest Chandra discoveries, new planets, and possibilities of Northern Lights. The shows they offer are given live, and therefore shaped to the audience. If you have a question during the show, you are not only allowed, but encouraged to ask it right then and there. The public shows vary every month from topic to topic. The subject usually involves the night sky, and some science, and the level at which it is presented is mixed so that someone of any age will get something out of it. However, younger children who are afraid of the dark might not like sitting there for an hour. There are stories told and science explained. They also offer private shows whereas the topics of these can be whatever topic you would like. The only requirement is that there be 15 people to your group, and the prices are the same. Some groups who enjoy coming are Brownies and Girl Scouts working on their badges, Cub Scouts working on their arrow points, and simply groups of people who are going camping and want to be able to identify constellations when they are out there. The only limit to the topic and the group is the limit of their imagination, in other words, the sky is the limit.
Upcoming: Shapes in the Sky 23 Saturday, May 10, 2008 -- 11:00, 1:00, 3:00 This is part of our series of programs dedicated especially for children ages 3 to 7, with fun for every age! For thousands of years, all over the world, people have imagined shapes among the stars, we’ll learn about many of these shapes and hear the stories behind them.
Dreyfuss Planetarium at The Newark Museum
49 Washington St. Newark 973-596-6529
The Dreyfuss Planetarium, located on the first floor of the Newark Museum, offers an other-worldly experience that is further enhanced by new projection equipment, digital audio and video, computers, video projectors and a Sky-Skan automation system. They house a Zeiss Skymaster ZKP3 star projector, New Jersey's first and only planetarium to own one. They also have a Sphaera, a portable planetarium dome which educators bring to schools enabling students to study the cosmos in their learning environment. A gift shop is available offering astronomy merchandise, books, postcards and more.
John W. H. Simpson Observatory
Washington Crossing State Park Route 579
The John W. H. Simpson Observatory is operated by the Amateur Astronomer's Association of Princeton and conducts free public starwatches. They house two telescopes, an antique 6.25 inch Hastings-Byrne refractor and a state of the art 14 inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain refractor. The observatory is open to the general public on the first and last Friday nights - March through October, and all Friday nights during the month of May and the month of October. Sessions run from twilight to 11:30 p.m., weather permitting. For convenience, the observatory has a bathroom (summer use only), a heated "warming room" in winter and a telephone. The observatory is open for use at anytime for any member who is a keyholder (keyholders take a short course in observatory operation and agree to accept scheduled duty on a Friday public starwatch night).
Paul H. Robinson Observatory Voorhees State Park Lebanon Township
The Paul H. Robinson Observatory is operated by the New Jersey Astronomical Association and houses numerous telescopes including a 26" Reflector Telescope which is the largest telescope available to the public in the state. It's base is a massive iron casting nearly 7 feet high weighing over 4 tons and the entire assembly is over 15 feet tall. The observatory is equipped for both photographic and visual observation. With the equipment, you are able to see stars, planets, galaxies, nubulae and other types of deep sky objects. Every 4th Saturday evening each month they host an expert who gives a presentation on some astronomical topic.
Peyton Hall Astronomical ObservatoryPeyton Hall, Ivy Lane, Princeton UniversityPrincetonPeyton Hall Observatory holds public starwatches led by graduate students of Princeton University's Department of Astrophysical Sciences and are scheduled for 7:00-8:30 p.m., the first Wednesday of each month (in the event of cloudy skies, they will reschedule to the second Wednesday). They will be looking at planets, nebulae, open clusters, and (conditions permitting) looking at globular clusters and nearby galaxies using: A 12" Schmidt-Cassegrain. They are quite happy to answer your astronomy-oriented questions (or questions in other areas if you're not overly concerned with them being correct).
To See a chart of best viewing times at the observatories and other sites click here:

The Sheep Hill Astronomical Association (SHAA) is located in the town of Boonton, in Morris County, and was organized around the mid-1970s. It was formed when several dedicated amateur astronomers decided to group together to build an observatory for their own and public use. The result of their effort is Sheep Hill Observatory with its 16-foot dome housing a 16-inch Newtonian equatorially mounted telescope. SHAA meets monthly and are held in the Boonton Town Hall's Community Room on the first Sunday of the month at 7:30 p.m. Each meeting begins with an astronomical presentation. The club holds public observing nights where all interested parties are invited to visit and view the evening skies at the Sheep Hill Observatory. The sessions are held the third Friday of the month, 7:30 p.m. EST, and 8:30 p.m. DST, weather permitting. Occasionally the observatory is made available for special viewing nights for local schools and scouting groups. There are currently about thirty active members in the organization. SHAA is also a member of the UACNJ and has access to the observatory at Jenny Jump State Forest near Hope, NJ. UACNJ is not a club, but a consortium of a dozen and a half clubs, united to better help support, coordinate, and communicate ideas between the over 1400 individuals who make astronomy their hobby, in and around the state.

CVS has a special on a Vivitar Telescope for only 14.99

Read a review of the Shapes in the Sky Series at CCM

Things to Do this weekend

With the weather getting warmer one of the great places to go in Bergen County is Van Saun Park about a mile or so off of route 4 (the Forest Ave Exit towards Paramus). Inside the park you find a Zoo, A great play ground with 3 playgrounds areas for different age groups, A train ride that goes around the Zoo, Pony Rides and a Merry-go-round. All except the playground have a fee (sometimes the zoo is free) but the fees are very reasonable.
There is a 1.5 mile bike path that runs throught the park as well.

If biking is your thing the Saddle River Park Bike Path which spans over 3 miles - connects Saddle River County Park Bike Path via two bike/pedestrian bridges over Saddle River and two walkways along the river for total length of 9.3 miles. Along the path you will find a few duckponds a stream with small waterfall, a Playground, and a Rest area with bathrooms.

Biking Links:
Bike Basics
Buyers Guide
Fun Book

If the weather is a bust check out
Saddle River Valley Cultural Center- 305 West Saddle River Road
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Georgia Greiner, Director (Phone: 201-825-3366 Email:

This Saturday the 29th is The Wizard of Oz at 11, 1 & 3pm
Presented by Plaza Theatrical Productions

Happy Easter

Easter has come and gone. It was a good one, one where I am starting to see my own small families traditions being formed. My wife's family always makes Chinese food for this holiday. The past few years I have gotten homemade chocolate from a woman at work who donates the proceeds to charity. We dye Easter eggs - This year was particularly fun as my daughter was very much into decorating the eggs and letting her creativity come out. We have done an Egg/Gift hunt every Easter morning and have Easter baskets with fake plastic grass and plastic eggs filled with jelly beans. We read stories about the Easter Bunny and spring. Pretty secular stuff we have not introduced religion to my daughter yet probably because my wife and I do not have a Strong opinion one way or the other. One thing that we have always done is watch the It's The Easter Beagle Charlie Brown. (The Peanuts seem to be a part of all our holiday traditions). I especially like the scene were Snoopy looks inside an egg then jumps inside the scene and dances with the bunnies (He just seems to be having so much fun). Happy Easter!!!

Upcoming Events

Earth Day Celebration
Learn about the wonders of the natural world and how to live in harmony with it by going green! Fun for the entire family, the festival’s entertainment includes live animal shows, interactive displays, crafts, hikes, face painting, canoe rides, games, and much more!Date: April 19Time: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Lewis Morris County ParkContact Information: 973-635-6629

Ramapo College: Berrie Center Schooltime Performance Series
The World of Animals and Birds of Prey
Wednesday, April 30 10 a.m. and Noon, Sharp Theater
Everyone’s favorite naturalist Bill Robinson returns to the Berrie Center with a variety of winged creatures and cold-blooded reptiles in tow, as he teaches about animal adaptations for survival and the important role animals play in the balance of nature. Grades K-12.
Tickets: $8 all seats

Papermill Playhouse
May 3 & 4
Theatreworks USA
Recommended for ages 3-6
Ruby, a seven-year-old rabbit, loves her Grandma very much and wants to do something special for her. She gets the brilliant idea to put on a show, with music and costumes and a castle and everything! She'll need some help, though, so she tries to enlist her little brother Max. who turns out to be no help at all, so Ruby recruits her Bunny Scout friends for assistance. But can she finish Grandma's play in time? Find out in this delightful musical based on the top-rated Nickelodeon television show inspired by Rosemary Wells' bunny siblings, Max and Ruby!

Arthur - LIVE!
May 9-10, 2009 Uniondale, NY - Nassau Coliseum [More Info]
Based on Marc Brown’s books and Emmy-Award winning PBS series this all new ARTHUR LIVE! comes to life on the stage! Enjoy the family fun, as everyone’s favorite aardvark and his friends all hit the stage in this delightful musical adventure. The show features the lovable, intrepid Arthur, his feisty sister DW, his good buddies Buster and Brain, his nemesis Francine – and introduces the warm, wise and wacky Tooth Fairy. An innovative, page-turning pop-up storybook set and special-effects move the story through Elwood City, Arthur’s House, Mr. Ratburn’s Classroom, the Dentist Office and the fascinating Dinosaur Museum. During Arthur’s adventures he discovers and shares the importance of teamwork, learning, and the joys of just being a kid. Featuring a dozen original songs - including ”Good and Ready,” “The Loose Tooth Wiggle” and "T-Rex Rocks" this interactive show will keep the whole family thoroughly engaged.

Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas
339 River Road Edgewater, NJ 07020
(201) 840-0699
Saturdays 10:00 Childrens Movie
Ticket Price is 3.50
Movie Run Times are about 1-1.5 Hours
03/22/2008 Easter in Bunnyland ( - 1:02 mins)
10:00 am.

Papermill Theatre, Millburn, NJ. Young Audiences of New Jersey/Paper Mill Playhouse Family Series. Recommended for ages for Shows Vary.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus IZOD Center East Rutherford, NJ
Apr 9 - Apr 13

Tickets are between $15-150

Easter Web Links

Easter Sites

Black Dog's Easter Celebration Games, crafts, mazes, coloring pages, etc.

Lil' Fingers Easter
For the lil' ones. Stories, games, activities, coloring.

Easter Fun for Kids Easter activities, stories and fun!

Kids Turn CentralEaster Games, crafts, egg hunt, coloring, etc.

Easter at Primary Games
Coloring, games, postcards and more.

The Story of the Easter Bunny

The symbol of the Easter Bunny originally came from the pagan festival of Eastre or Eostre – the goddess of fertility. This festival celebrated replenishment, rebirth, the renewal of life, and spring. The consort of Eastre was the symbol of fertility, a hare. According to some stories, Eastre gave the hare the ability to lay colorful eggs (an ancient symbol of fertility) once a year.
In Germany it was believed that the Hare would lay colorful eggs to all the well behaved children who had left a nest for the animal. The children would build their nests in secluded places out of their bonnets or caps and excitedly await the arrival of the “Oschter Haws”. It is believed that the Germans brought this tradition with them as they migrated to North America during the 18th century. However the celebration of Easter and the rabbit were not widely celebrated in America until after the Civil War.
As time passed, the traditional took on some new forms and by 19th century America the Easter Hare morphed into the Easter Bunny and children’s nests of caps and bonnets became baskets which are now filled with more than just colorful eggs. Baskets now include chocolate candies, jelly beans, marshmallow peeps and other assorted goodies. And the holiday is celebrated by Christians and Non-Christians alike as a celebration of life and spring.

Horton Hears a Who

In case you are wondering Horton is not like the past two theatrical adaptations of Dr. Suess classics. The most obvious difference is that Horton unlike The Grinch and the Cat and the Hat is Animated. Secondly Horton stays close to the actual story and limits the topical references (although there is a Japanamation/Pokemon Segment [I found it quite funny]).

The Whos characters are a little more developed than in the story. Overall we really enjoyed the movie and it held my 3 and 1/2 year olds attention the whole time.

Rated: G Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Genres: Kids/Family, Animation and Adaptation

Reading to your Kids

I was recently on a flight and on the way to my seat there was a mom reading a Curious George book to her daughter. I was waiting to get to my seat so I was around to hear a few pages. In that time I was able to get a sense of the connection that was created during telling of the story. The mom changing her tone and inflection for the different characters. The little girl reacting to the story being told to her. In this blog I have covered a lot of activities to do with your kids but I think one of the most important ones can be the simple act of reading to a child. Sharing a story and a moment together Just the two of you no matter no how many people are around.

Easter Activities

Rutherford NJ ANNUAL EGG HUNT --
Sunday, March 16th Tryon Field at Memorial - 1:00 p.m. for K - 3rd grade and 1:30 p.m. for 2 yrs - pre-K For Directions Click Here

Montclair Easter Egg Hunt: Saturday, March 15 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Families are invited to the Annual Spring Egg Hunt. Children ages three to five are invited from 2:00 to 3:00 PM and children ages six to eight are invited from 3:00 to 4:00 PM. Children are encouraged to bring their own basket to collect the eggs. Eggs will be hidden throughout the property, filled with special treats to celebrate the coming of spring. Every child will also receive a ticket worth 75 cents off in the Historical Society’s Museum Shop, which will be open for shopping. Advance registration is required but the event is free. Sponsored by the Speertown Kiwanis Club of Upper Montclair. Location: Crane House Museum grounds.

Franklin Lakes
Easter Egg Hunt: Saturday, March 15, 2008The Recreation and Parks Department is hosting the 2008 Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 15th at 11am at the Recreation Complex located at 1 Vichiconti Way (off Pulis Avenue). The event is limited to Franklin Lakes children from toddlers to Grade 3 and includes an egg hunt and visit with Peter Rabbit. Please bring your own basket and camera.
Hackensack Easter Egg Hunt Monday March 17th 4:00 PM
65 CENTRAL AVENUE 201-646-8042

Garden State Plaza NJ
Get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny! He will be in Lord & Taylor court from Friday, February 29 - Saturday, March 22 from 10a.m.-9p.m. with a carrot break from 1-2p.m. and 5-6p.m.

Bronx Zoo Eggstreme Weekend March 22–23 Bella the costume Bunny wants you to hop on over to the Bronx Zoo for a weekend of egg races, egg hunts, storytelling, and a guaranteed eggciting time.

The Annual Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival
On Easter Sunday, (March 23, 2008) you have the opportunity to see Easter bonnets to the New York City extreme as "paraders" wander along Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th Streets. The area around St. Patrick's Cathedral is the ideal place to see the parade. The Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
What You Should Know About the Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet FestivalUnlike most New York City Parades, the Easter Parade is a far less organized event. From 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. the area along Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th Streets is closed to vehicular traffic, and folks wander the street admiring various Easter Bonnets and Easter outfits. Visitors in town during Easter will enjoy stopping by the area for a bit during the festivities, but seeing the various Easter bonnets and costumed pets is probably only worth a short visit.
Mount Olive Easter Egg Hunt This year's Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Sunday, March 9th, 2008 in Turkey Brook Park on Flanders Road, Budd Lake, New Jersey.

Hippity, hop - The Easter Bunny is coming to Jefferson!
Enough with winter, let’s think spring because the Easter Bunny has scheduled a visit to Jefferson Township to coincide with the Recreation Department’s 14th annual Egg Hunt on March 15 at the Jefferson Township Middle School field (behind the school) at 1000 Weldon Road. If there is inclement weather, the event will be moved into the school’s gym.
This event will take place after the GFWC Jr. Woman’s Club’s 27th annual Bunny Brunch being held at the Jefferson Township High School cafeteria.
The Egg Hunt is open to all children up to 9 years of age at the following time intervals - ages 3 and under at 12:30 p.m., ages 4 to 6 at 12:50 p.m., and ages 7 to 9 at 1:10 p.m. Each child should bring his/her own basket to collect the eggs, and there will be a maximum of ten eggs allowed per basket. Look for the special prize-winning eggs in each age group!
There will be opportunities to take photographs with the Easter Bunny, so parents should be sure to bring a camera. Everyone is also encouraged to stop by the Jefferson Township Middle School Student Council/Red Cross Clubs’ Bake Sale table. All proceeds will benefit an area charity.
There is no admission charge to participate. For information, call the Recreation Department at 973-663-8404 or visit

Discounts for Family Portrait at Sears

Earlier this year I was at my grandparents house and really enjoyed looking at all the pictures they had on the wall of all their grandchildren from different ages group pictures from family get-togethers, and pictures of them from when they were younger. Pictures have the ability to evoke vivid memories and transport us back to that moment in time.

• 10 Portrait Sheets only $50! (reg. $79.90) PLUS, get 25% off any additional purchases Get coupon at Coupon-1
• 20 Portrait Sheets only $70! (reg. $159.80) PLUS, get 25% off any additional purchases Get coupon at Coupon-2
Make your appointment online at or call 1-888-PORTRAIT

SPECIAL SAVINGS $17.50 - Lower Level (regularly $28)
$12.50 - Upper Level (regularly $20 & $15)
Valid for April 9, 10, & 11 7:30 PM performances.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents OVER THE TOP, a wacky and whimsical circus spectacular where dogs fly, Asian elephants skip, hop, and groove and one courageous man stands eye-to-eye with a pack of powerful Bengal tigers. Circus Celebrities help rev-up the motorcycle madness featuring one cycle on a high wire and seven speeding riders in a Globe of Steel. Extraordinary aerial acts fill the arena sky with a rare double-decker trapeze and Chinese acrobats propelling through the air. And with the audience participation, this circus really goes OVER THE TOP.
VISIT THE ALL-ACCESS PRE-SHOWIf you've ever dreamed of joining the circus, then our FREE All Access Pre-show is your chance and you don't even have to run away! Step onto the all-new open arena floor for the All Access Pre-show, FREE to every ticket holder, one hour before most performances.** See animals up close, visit with performers, get autographs, try on costumes, and enjoy the circus fun.
**No pre-show events prior to 4/10 - 10:30 AM school performance.
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS (If link is not active, go to

Ringling Bros Circus Promo Code: TIGER for April Shows at the Izod Center

Going to the Circus

The Circus is in town The Greatest Show on Earth Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey's
I was 5 when I went to this circus and I still remember it pretty vividly. The Metal Sphere with a motor cycle riding inside the Tigers and Elephants, and of course the trapeze. It was a very memorable and fun day. Now I am planning on taking my daughter So I decided to see if there were some activities we could do to get psyched up for our Day at the circus.
Here are some things I found: - You can put these crafts together anytime. Some possible times to do them is before or after a trip to the real circus or for a birthday party with a circus theme. - Some Songs and Activities to do related to the Circus.

Birju goes to the Circus - Story about the Circus in which you can make up your own ending and read other submitted endings.
Books at Amazon - Childrens books about the Circus - More for the parent but interesting

Miss Hopes Trip to Mexico

Squeaky the racoon and Miss Hope followed the Bergen County Community College Child Development Centers Monarch Butterflies to Mexico
Click below to read all about.

Kid Friendly Businesses Part Deux

Kids Workshops are free "How-To Clinics" designed for children ages 5-12. The workshops are offered on the first Saturday of each month between 9:00 a.m. and noon at all The Home Depot stores. Children accompanied by an adult construct projects from pre-fabricated kits. The kits are designed to be both educational and practical.
The Home Depot's Kids Workshops offer useful projects including the creation of toolboxes, fire trucks and mail organizers, as well as more educational projects, such as a window birdhouse, bughouse or Declaration of Independence frame kit.
The workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety, while at the same time helping to instill a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, this fun time allows for quality one-on-one time between adults and children.
In addition to the newly constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron, similar to The Home Depot associates' aprons, and an achievement pin.
Fun Facts
Since 1997, 12 million projects have been built at Kids Workshops
More than 750,000 children built their first toolbox at The Home Depot
Nearly 600,000 birdhouses have been constructed at Kids Workshops
More than 290,000 children have built a step stool at Kids Workshops to help them reach higher 75 children per store attend a Kids Workshop on average while many stores have 200 kids attend regularly
Find Kids Workshops at Your Local Store