Monday, December 22, 2014

Brain Bee Seeks High School Participants

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Winners of the 2014 Vermont Brain Bee - COURTESY OF THE VERMONT BRAIN BEE
  • Courtesy of the Vermont Brain Bee
  • Winners of the 2014 Vermont Brain Bee
Know a high school kid who's interested in how the brain works? They might want to participate in the sixth annual Vermont Brain Bee, a neuroscience competition and learning opportunity.

The event takes place at the University of Vermont College of Medicine on February 7, but the registration deadline is Monday, January 5. Don't miss it!

What's a brain bee? Watch this video to learn more.

Still have questions? Contact coordinator Lisa Bernardin at 

Friday, December 19, 2014

On the Fly: Last Stop: Israel

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 8:41 AM

The girls in Jerusalem - JESSICA LARA TICKTIN
  • Jessica Lara Ticktin
  • The girls in Jerusalem
One of the many questions we were asked before we embarked upon this ambitious journey was, “Why are you going to the Middle East?” Given the recent war here, and the unrest in the general region, people were concerned about our safety.

Twenty years ago, I came to Israel to work on a kibbutz for the summer and to explore my Jewish identity. It felt important to me as a young adult, especially because I had no real sense of what it meant to be Jewish. I had always existed in between worlds. 

I grew up with a Jewish-atheist father and a non-Jewish mother (even though she converted, in my opinion, she remained a Christian at heart), and I was raised in a Protestant community. I had no Jewish friends, and though we celebrated all the Jewish holidays, I didn’t really understand what it meant to be a Jew — except that I was different.

Going to Israel back then was a transformative experience. I found myself not only in a community of Jews but in a whole country of Jews. My extended family and newfound friends welcomed me into their homes. There was no need to explain why I didn’t eat pork or why I didn’t celebrate Christmas.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Home Cookin': Butterscotch-Pistachio Blondies

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Last weekend, my 7-year-old, Cal, and I decided that we’d do our best to put together packages of sweets for our neighborhood friends. But what to make?

I subscribe to updates from several cooking and baking blogs, and when a recipe for pistachio blondies from the Sweet Paul blog popped up in my inbox, both Cal and I got excited.

We love pistachios. He eats them by the handful as an after-school snack, and I love to put them on yogurt, along with fruit, for a little salty-sweet kick at breakfast. We had to give the blondie recipe a try.

The original recipe calls for white chocolate and lemon, but I wanted to go in a different direction. We left out the lemon, and swapped butterscotch for the white chocolate. Our modifications worked beautifully.

These bars are rich and delicious, and their lovely golden color, studded with green pistachios, make them a great-looking gift to boot. Cal thought they could use some red M&Ms on top. I’ll leave that up to you.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Fly: Bedouin Style

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Crossing the border on foot - JESSICA LARA TICKTIN
  • Jessica Lara Ticktin
  • Crossing the border on foot
Ever since I watched the film The English Patient years ago, I have wanted to go on a trek into the North African desert and sit under the magnificent stars at night, wrapped in a warm woolen blanket, sipping tea and sleeping in a Bedouin tent.

Well, I got to do a version of this last week. Instead of the North African desert, we were in the northern Arabian desert, and rather than just me and my husband, our three children were along with us. And, alas, I did not look as glamorous as Kristen Scott Thomas in the film, as I am now eight months pregnant and cannot sit on a camel or move very gracefully.

It might not have been The English Patient, but we did stay right across from the giant rock formation and sand dune where the 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed. This gave me comfort; I was close to some kind of desert film and could adapt my fantasy.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: A Beginning, A Muddle and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Recommended for ages 8 and up.
  • Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Several years ago, when my 11-year-old daughter, Kate, and I began writing stories together, I perused the Fletcher Free Library for a good resource for teaching kids to write. That's when I discovered this terrific book. 

A Beginning, A Muddle and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing by Avi is the story of Avon, a snail, and his friend Edward, an ant. Delightful silliness ensues as Avon attempts to become an author. Things don't always go smoothly, such as in this interaction between the two characters:

“Wait a minute!” cried Edward. “We’ve talked a whole lot about writing, but we’ve said nothing about your grammar.”
“She was a very nice creature.”
“What about your grandpa?”
“He was nice, too.”
Edward nodded. “I suppose one’s grammar is always relative.”

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Hour of Code Proves No One's Too Young to Program

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 11:43 AM

  • Donna Sullivan-Macdonald
  • Coding is fun!
Anybody can learn computer programming. That's the message from the nonprofit, which launched its second annual Hour of Code this week. The campaign encourages schools to introduce students of all ages to computer science.

Over the last year, more than 59 million students worldwide have tried the Hour of Code, according to's website.

In Vermont, 212 schools are participating in Computer Science Education Week this year, up from 120 last year. Seventy-seven of those schools are offering coding instruction to their entire student body.

Peter Drescher, education technology coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education, attributes the uptick in participation to the rising interest in STEM education and the maker movement. People are starting to realize that kids who can code will have more career opportunities as adults, Drescher says.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

On the Fly: Turkish Delight

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Turkish delight - JESSICA LARA TICKTIN
  • Jessica Lara Ticktin
  • Turkish delight
Turkish delight: This was the extent of the girls’ knowledge of Turkey before we arrived in Istanbul. They knew it was a dessert and that Edmund from C.S Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe wanted to eat copious amounts of it.

Our first day in Istanbul, we were lured into a shop with mounds of freshly made Turkish delight in all kinds of flavors and colors. The girls were hopping with excitement as the young man behind the counter offered them tastes of piece after piece, each coated with powdered sugar: pistachio, coconut, mint, hazelnut and assorted fruit varieties.

It was delicious, yet the girls were slightly disappointed. They had imagined Turkish delight to be a white and creamy, pudding-like dessert that Edmund heaped into his mouth, spoonful after spoonful. Although it was tasty, Dahlia and Lola couldn’t understand Edmund’s obsession with these small, gelatinous squares.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spruce It Up

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Tree hunting in Middlesex - MEADOW RIDGE FARM
  • Meadow Ridge Farm
  • Tree hunting in Middlesex
The Greeks and Romans were among the first to bring evergreen boughs inside during the winter months — evidence that humans have long appreciated the many benefits of cut conifers. Harvesting your own boughs, wreaths or trees is a great family activity, provided everyone dresses warmly. Advance research on varieties guides the selection process: Fraser, balsam or spruce? A sled helps haul the greens — and the kids — out of the woods. Also, check with your local municipality or solid waste district for information about "treecycling" options after the holidays are over. Happy Sawing!

Bakersfield Tree Farm
, Route 36, Bakersfield, 

Balsam Acres, 
36 Elmore Road, Worcester
, 223-7028

Breezy Hill Acres, 
3325 Pine Hill Road, Newport
, 334-6858

Isham Family Farm, 3515 Oak Hill Road, Williston, 872-1525

Larry's Tree Farm
, Route 108, Bakersfield
, 827-6123

Meadow Ridge Farm, 
18 Merritt Road, Middlesex, 

Moffatt’s Tree Farm, 
1252 Wild Branch Road, Craftsbury
, 586-6900

Northern Vermont Christmas Tree Farm, 766 Lapland Road, Waterville, 

Paine’s Christmas Trees ,4904 Laporte Road, Morrisville
, 888-5632 

Purinton Family Tree Farm,
 190 Pond Road, Huntington
, 434-4385

Russell Dairy and Tree Farm, 1248 Route 116, Starksboro
, 453-2208

Sharp Farm
, 204 Cobble Hill Road, Milton
, 891-6225

Tester's Vermont Christmas Trees
, 2317 Roaring Brook Road, Barton, 

Urie's Tree Farm
 , 1694 Old Stage Road, Williston
, 879-2720

Werner Tree Farm
, 429 Painter Road, Middlebury, 388-7781

White's Christmas Tree Farm,
 255 Jericho Road, Essex Junction, 

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tell Us What You Think of Us; Win a Prize!

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Kids VT is thinking about shaking things up in 2015, and we'd love to hear from you. What should we keep? What should we change?

Tell us in our online reader survey by Wednesday, December 17, and you'll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Kids City! We'll pick three winners at random.

Click here to take the survey.

Home Cookin': Fancy Weeknight Pasta

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 8:31 AM

Dressed-up penne - ERINN SIMON
  • Erinn Simon
  • Dressed-up penne
We eat pasta at least once a week at my house. My kids like it, it’s reasonably healthy and there are a million ways to prepare it. When I’m too tired or busy to really deal with dinner, or I just haven’t been to the grocery store in a week, there’s always a box of pasta and some crushed tomatoes in the pantry. But my kids are never that excited about plain old spaghetti with red sauce. So I’m always thinking of ways to dress up pasta that are truly tasty, but not too labor intensive.

I came up with this recipe while prepping squash for our Thanksgiving family dinner at Burlington Children’s Space. I put pasta on the school menu that week because I thought it would be easy to prepare for lunch while multitasking, but I had no idea what I would do with it until the roasted squash came out of the oven. The BCS kids loved it, especially when served with extra parmesan for sprinkling on top.

I made it for dinner at my house, too. While each kid insisted at first that there was something in the dish they didn’t like (kale and squash, I’m looking at you), they all ate it happily in the end. The familiar cheddar, the salty parmesan and the secret ingredient — a tiny sprinkle of nutmeg — won them over.

I love this dish because it satisfies my dueling holiday season urges to eat sensibly and indulge. Try it with a green salad and some garlic bread next time it’s pasta night at your house.

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Theater in the Woods Camp

Theater in the Woods Camp

Middletown Springs, VT

Theater in the Woods Vermont: Quality Time Our two-week day camp ignites and unites kids through their creativity and discovery of their talents. During two 2-week sessions of day camp in the hills of Middletown Springs in Rutland County, kids 7 through 16 create magical theater and kind community. Theater…(more)

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