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Lesson Plans to Fill Your Summer

Local attractions bundle fun and learning

Lesson Plan: 20th Century Art

Location: Storm King Art Center


One of the worlds most outstanding sculpture parks is in our own backyard. In Orange County, the Storm King Art Center is a 500-acre outdoor art museum, with more than 100 sculptures integrated into a welcoming landscape of rolling hills, fields, and woodlands.  Visitors can walk the grounds for close encounters with works representing many of the 20th century’s most influential artists.

The liberating outdoor setting is ideal to introduce children to larger-than-life sculpture. They can even walk under, over, and through some pieces. For example, Maya Lin’s Storm King Wavefield is an interactive experience. Visitors are encouraged to walk over massive berms of earth and grass.  Noguchi’s Momo Taro, based on a Japanese folk tale, was created with young children in mind. One Mark di Suvero sculpture is accompanied by a rubber mallet for gonging.

This year, Storm King celebrates its 50th anniversary with special exhibits and events. There are numerous family programs throughout the season, which ends on November 14, including docent-led family art walks, kite flying, and concerts. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10am–5:30pm. Admission is $12 adults; $10 seniors; $8 students K-12; and free for children under 5. Old Pleasant Hill Rd., Mountainville. 845-534-3115.


Lesson Plan: Golden Years of Early Aviation

Location: Rhinebeck Aerodrome


The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is a living museum of antique aviation. Some 70 early “aeroplanes” are on display, making the collection one of the world’s largest.  The 1909 Bleriot, the oldest flying plane in the U.S., was controlled by the pilot shifting his weight. The Aerodrome also features automobiles, motorcycles, early engines, a tank, and other memorabilia from 1900-1935, representing the Pioneer Era, World War I and the Lindbergh/Barnstorming era.

“Kids get an experience here which engages all their senses,” says Don Fleming, the vice president of the Aerodrome’s board of trustees. “They see how the colorful planes operate, hear the rotary engines, and even smell the odor of castor oil gasoline.”


The air shows are the highlight of a weekend visit. Fleming advises that you dedicate at least two hours to your visit, beginning with a look in the museum buildings. The main event starts with a fashion show of period clothing and a parade of antique trucks and cars.  During the air show, a selection of the 19 airworthy planes takes to the sky. Afterwards, the pilots talk about the planes’ mechanics and history.


The season begins with an Open House on June 5. The air shows will be presented June 12 through mid-October. Admission is $20 adult; $15 teens and seniors; $5 children 6-12; and free for children 5 and under. 9 Norton Rd., Rhinebeck. 845-752-3200. 


Lesson Plan: Regional History of Transportation

Location: Kingston Trolley Museum


On the original site of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad stands the Kingston Trolley Museum, which not only offers rides on a vintage trolley car, but also presents exhibits and programs highlighting the history of rail transportation in the Hudson Valley. On display are trolley, subway and rapid transit cars from the United States and Europe, including eight trolley cars from 1897 to 1952.

This year, the museum’s “Rails to Trails” exhibition pays tribute to railroad lines of a bygone era, with a collection of photos and historical postcards of the railroads in their heyday. They’re presented alongside photos of those sites as they exist today, as public “rail trail” linear parks.

While it’s one thing to see the trolley cars, it’s even better to ride in one. After you visit the museum, you’ll climb aboard the Johnstown Car 358 for a 1½-mile ride to the Kingston Point picnic grounds on the river’s shore.

The museum is open weekends and holidays from Memorial Weekend to Columbus Day, Noon-5pm. Admission, which includes the trolley ride, gallery and the restoration shop, is $5 adult; $3 seniors and children 2-12. Children under 2 are free. 89 East Strand, Kingston. 845-331-3399.