Kids’ Almanac (Dec. 8-15)

Eleanor Roosevelt and her daughter, Anna, having fun at Val-Kill in Hyde Park (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum)

Sunday, December 11
Earn your Junior Ranger badge at Val-Kill, thanks to industrious Dutchess County student

Success is not just about ideas, right? It’s about follow-through. And 10-year-old Mariama Dabo is a Dutchess County kid who makes things happen: For example, she created the Junior Ranger activity book for the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site! I couldn’t wait to hear more, and here’s what Mariama told me about the experience: “In the school I am in right now, we had a Passion Project last year. For my topic, I wanted to do something to help the world. I am really into National Parks and Junior Ranger Programs, and when I learned that Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill did not have a Junior Ranger Program, I was upset. Eleanor Roosevelt is someone I admire a lot because she was a strong woman and stood up for what she believed in. I also admire Eleanor Roosevelt because she was one of the first women to sit and vote in the United Nations, and in my school now we go to the Montessori Model United Nations in Manhattan.

“I researched more about Eleanor Roosevelt and created a Junior Ranger booklet for my school project. My favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote is, ‘The way to begin is to begin.’ I worked on the project for six months (it was all school year almost). My mom and I decided to go and show the ranger at Val-Kill my booklet. This was in June 2016. They liked it so much they wanted to use it! The ceremony is this weekend. I hope that it helps kids learn about Eleanor Roosevelt and draws more attention to that park because it is important to me.”


Your family can explore Val-Kill and meet amazing Mariama at “Every Kid in a Park: Junior Ranger Day” this Sunday, December 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. Try the hands-on activities, tour the house and hike the grounds to earn your Junior Ranger badge. The visitor center opens at 12:30 p.m., house tours are offered at 1 and 3 p.m., and the special ceremony to award Junior Ranger badges to Mariama and anyone else who has completed the program takes place at 2:30 p.m. Tours cost $10 per person, children aged 15 and under get in free, and the grounds are free and open everyday from sunrise to sunset. Did you know that families with a fourth-grader can be admitted for free with the voucher printed from

Val-Kill is located at 54 Valkill Park Road in Hyde Park. For more information, call (518) 929-6231 or visit or


Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite at the Egg

Are you trying to figure out how to delight your family with a Nutcracker performance that will engage even your youngest children? How about seeing Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite this Sunday, December 11 at 3:30 p.m. at the Egg in Albany? Watch as Max and Ruby receive a package from their uncle containing characters from the Nutcracker ballet, and Grandma reads the story to them. This 90-minute performance includes traditional music from The Nutcracker as well as original songs, and lots for kids to see and enjoy. Tickets cost $18 per child, adults are admitted free with a ticketed child.

Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite takes place at the Hart Theatre in the Empire State Plaza in Albany. For tickets or more information, call (518) 473-1845 or visit To learn more about the show, visit

Holiday Open House at Washington’s Headquarters

Looking for ways to warm up your kids to our local and national history? Put down the books and computers, and head over to “Warm up at the Washingtons’” this Sunday, December 11 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site. The Hasbrouck House is decked out in seasonal finery; costumed interpreters are available in each room to answer questions; live period music plays throughout the afternoon; and you can fortify yourselves with cookies and warm cider near an outdoor fire. And admission is free for the day!

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is located at 84 Liberty Street in Newburgh. For more information, call (845) 562-1195 or visit or


Tuesday, December 13
Understanding IEP workshop in Kingston

Are you advocating for your child with special needs, but feel overwhelmed with phrasing, terminology and paperwork like IEPs? Come to “Understanding Your Child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)” this Tuesday, December 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cioni Building boardroom in Kingston. This is a chance to review language and information for each section of the IEP, who contributes which pieces, how to monitor progress and additional tools. The workshop is especially helpful to families transitioning from Early Intervention (EI) to Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), or from CPSE to the Committee on Special Education (CSE).

This program is presented by the Kingston City School District and the Kingston Special Education Parent Group. It is open to all parents, caregivers, community members or service providers in the Kingston Central School District and Ulster County who are new to this process or need a refresher. The Cioni Building is located at 61 Crown Street in Kingston. For more information, to register or to learn about upcoming programs, call (845) 658-8103 or (845) 746-3013, e-mail or visit


Erica Chase-Salerno is so grateful to celebrate another chocolate-filled birthday this week. She can be reached at