Thursday 19

COLUMBIA KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM, for ages 4-5, stories and activities to help with the first day of kindergarten, 2 p.m. today; 7 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday, Howard County Central Library, 10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. Free; registration required. 410-313-7880.

Friday 20

ELLICOTT CITY BRIDGE PROGRAM, play and improve your skills, bring a bag lunch, coffee and tea available, sponsored by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Fridays, Kiwanis-Wallas Recreation Center, 10481 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free. 410-313-7279.

Saturday 21

LAUREL NATURE PROGRAMS, for all ages, "Bird Walk," a guided hike in search of birds in refuge habitats; field guides and binoculars recommended, 8-10 a.m.; "Night Hike," search for owls, bugs, bats, frogs and more, 7:30-9 p.m., Patuxent Research Refuge, North Tract, Route 198, between Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 32, Laurel. Free; registration required. 301-497-5887.

BALTIMORE AQUARIUM PROGRAM, for ages 8 and older, children ages 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult, learn about the rescue of animals through the aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue Program, learn about careers in the marine animals field, participate in a mock rescue, tour the animal rescue facility behind the scenes and more; wear comfortable clothing and non-slip shoes, 9-11 a.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 28, National Aquarium in Baltimore, Pier 3, 501 E. Pratt St. $45; ages 60 and older, $39; ages 8-11, $35; registration required. 410-576-3833 or www.aqua.org.

COLUMBIA BABY-SITTING CLASS, for ages 11-14, learn about first aid, emergency procedures, age-appropriate activities and other baby-sitting skills, participants receive a certificate of attendance, sponsored by the Columbia Association Teen Center, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., the Barn, Oakland Mills Village Center, 5800 Robert Oliver Pl. $48; Columbia residents, $40; registration required. 410-992-3726.

STARGAZING PARTY, for all ages, telescope viewing of planets, galaxies and nebulae, the moon and other satellites, weather permitting, sponsored by the Howard Astronomical League, 8-11 p.m., Alpha Ridge Community Park, Route 99, west of Marriottsville Rd., Marriottsville. Free. 410-531-3899 or www.howardastro.org.

Monday 23

COLUMBIA ARTHRITIS EXERCISE CLASS, ongoing, exercises and activities to increase mobility and function and decrease pain and stiffness, taught by Arthritis Foundation-certified instructors, sponsored by the Columbia Association Athletic Club, 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 5435 Beaverkill Rd., Columbia. $3; members, free. 410-730-6744.

COOKSVILLE GAMESMANSHIP, for ages 11-17, a librarian leads a game session, including Scrabble, Life, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Clue and others, or bring a favorite, beginners welcome, 7-8:30 p.m., Glenwood Branch Library, 2350 Route 97, Cooksville. Free. 410-313-5577.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROGRAM, for those with English as a second or third language, practice English skills in a group setting, presented by the English Conversation Club, 7:45-8:45 p.m. Mondays, Miller Branch Library, 9421 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free, registration required. 410-313-1950.

Tuesday 24

COLUMBIA ARTHRITIS AQUATIC CLASS, ongoing, gentle exercises in warm water to aid in decreasing pain and stiffness, taught by Arthritis Foundation-certified instructors, sponsored by the Columbia Association Swim Center, 9:30-10:15 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10400 Cross Fox Lane. $3; members, free. 410-313-7000.

ELLICOTT CITY CHESS PROGRAM, for players ages 9-17 of all skill levels with some basic understanding of chess, a scholastic tournament, 5-7:30 p.m., Miller Branch Library, 9421 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free. 410-313-1950.

Wednesday 25

BRIDGE AND PINOCHLE GAMES, a drop-in program, play bridge and pinochle, or bring a favorite table game; bring a bag lunch, coffee and tea available, sponsored by Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays, Kiwanis-Wallas Recreation Center, 10481 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free. 410-313-7279.

ELLICOTT CITY KNITTING GROUP, a drop-in program, knit and crochet afghans, blankets, baby clothes and more for local charities, hospitals and senior centers, sponsored by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, Kiwanis-Wallas Recreation Center, 10481 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free. 410-313-7279.

ELLICOTT CITY CHILD CARE DISCUSSION, "Shaken Baby Syndrome," for parents and child care providers, increase your awareness of the syndrome and learn about prevention, sponsored by the Howard County Child Care Resource Center, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3300 North Ridge Rd., Suite 380, Ellicott City. $10; registration required. 410-313-1940.

SINGLE FATHERS SUPPORT GROUP, for separated and divorced fathers, a therapist discusses issues and concerns in a confidential environment, 7-8:30 p.m., National Family Resiliency Center, Suite 121, 10632 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. Fees on a sliding scale, $10-$50. 410-740-9553.

COLUMBIA WRITING CLASS, Bernadette A. Lear, a grants collection coordinator with the Enoch Pratt Free Library, discusses proposal planning and basic writing skills, 7 p.m., Howard County Central Library, 10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. Free; registration recommended. 410-313-7860.

CATONSVILLE MOTHERS SUPPORT GROUP, a national support group for working and at-home mothers, discussing personal needs and interests of women during their active parenting years as individuals and promoting the value of the work of mothers, sponsored by Mothers and More, Southwest Baltimore Chapter, 7 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, Immanuel United Church of Christ, 1905 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville. Admission, free. 410-455-0498.

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT GROUP, for friends and relatives of those with a mental illness, sponsored by National Alliance for the Mentally Ill-Howard County, 7:30 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month, Harmony Hall Retirement Community, 6336 Cedar Lane, Columbia. Free. 410-772-9300.

-- Compiled by LINDA JAMES

and GERRI MARMER

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