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Monday, August 31, 2015

Be Amazed!: A Corn Maze Round-Up

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 2:47 PM

DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
Looking to have some good, old-fashioned fun with your family this month? Corn mazes give kids and adults alike the opportunity to stretch their legs and solve what amounts to a life-size puzzle. Below we’ve listed six local spots where you can test your sense of direction this month.

The Great Vermont Corn Maze, Danville          
Info, 748-1399 vermontcornmaze.com                                                                                                                                         

This maze, on a third-generation dairy farm, has a new design every year. Situated on 10 acres, it's a serious challenge; visitors should be able to walk for about an hour, without a rest, to find their way out of the maze’s 3 miles of trails which includes some hillside walking. If you'd prefer something less intense, try the smaller maze on the property. 
$10 for children ages 5-15 and seniors ages 60 and over; $15 for ages 16-59; and free for children under 5. Farm animals, 100 feet of underground tunnels, barnyard golf and a kids village are all free with admission to the mazes. Popcorn, ice cream and beverages are available to purchase. Open Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat- Sun 10-5pm; visitors cannot enter the big maze after 3 p.m. All children under 15 must be supervised.
Open now through October 17.

The theme of this year's 12-acre corn maze — which features a built-in sound system and a series of bridges — is "Under the Sea." Toddlers can explore a mini maze and an OK Corral play area and livestock barn with donkeys, bunnies and pigs. On Saturdays, the maze is open late and admission includes a glow stick and marshmallow roasting. Admission includes all mazes, livestock barn and weekend wagon rides.
$10 for ages 4-11; $12 for ages 12 and up; $10 for seniors over age 65; and free for children under 4. 50% discount for military service members. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturday; and closed Tuesday.
Open now through October 26. 
 
Visitors can take a one- or two-mile jaunt through seven-foot walls of corn, tracking their progress by punching a card at numbered stations scattered throughout the course. Don't miss the farm market, animals and a few wooden play structures also on the premises.
$5 for children; $8 for adults; free for kids under 3. Open 10 a.m-6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. No maze tickets are sold within an hour of closing. 
Open Labor Day through October 31. 

  • Percy Farm Corn Maze, Stowe
    Info, 371-9999
Located just off the middle of the 5-mile Stowe Recreation Path, this maze takes approximately one hour to complete. Visitors can pet baby calves and goats and feed them for a quarter as well.
$3 for students and senior citizens; $6 for adults; free for children under 8 and members of the armed services. Open 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Open now through mid-October. 

Visitors navigate this six-acre maze, designed in the shape of the Fort, looking for history clues and collecting stamps. A short maze for children age 4 and under with adult supervision provides an easier option. 
Free with $8-$17.50 admission to the fort; free admission for children under 5. Open weekends, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Last entry is at 4:30 p.m.
Open now through October 19. Open Columbus Day. 

  • Whitcomb’s Land of Pumpkins, Williston
     Info, 879- 5239
This year this four-acre, educationally themed maze is focused on learning about Vermont’s new recycling laws and includes a scavenger hunt for items including some giant pumpkins planted within the maze. 
$4; free for children under 5. Open weekends, 10a.m.-5p.m.
Open mid-September through the end of October.

This maze is over 5 acres, with more than 3 miles of paths. The maze is designed to be slightly challenging without overwhelming maze goers. Average time to complete the maze is 30 minutes. Comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended

$6. Open weekends, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Haunted Maze events on October 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.
September 26 -November 1. Open Columbus Day.


Know of other corn mazes we didn't mention? Share your recommendations below! 


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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Home Cookin': Easy Sandwich Upgrades

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 11:30 AM

2015-08-25_08.57.49_1.jpg
Last year, when my son Cal was in first grade, he wanted a turkey sandwich with cheese and mustard packed in his lunch box every single day. I went along with this for a few months, eventually convincing him to let me add a few leaves of lettuce or baby spinach.

I always offered other options. He always insisted on his "usual." But I couldn't help but notice that most days the "usual" came back half eaten, at best. We needed a change, so I set out to come up with some new, exciting sandwich choices to break out of our turkey rut. 

If your kids are stuck on a boring sandwich,  these ideas might help them make a break from the usual.


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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Family-Friendly Picks at the Middlebury Film Festival

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM

The Distant Touch
  • The Distant Touch
The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival kicks off later this week, and there's something for movie buffs of all ages to enjoy. 

In this new, four-day festival, all the films were made by first- or second-time directors.  

Organizers classified 15 of the 95 short and feature films as family-friendly (they contain no strong language, nudity or graphic violence). The subject matter of some of these films may be more appropriate for older kids or teens, however.

All of the films designated for families will be shown during the Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning screening blocks. 

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Get Out!: The Island Line Trail

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 9:01 AM

Sarah pulls Elise in a bike trailer along the Island Line Trail at sunset - TRISTAN VON DUNTZ
  • Tristan Von Duntz
  • Sarah pulls Elise in a bike trailer along the Island Line Trail at sunset

As cyclists-turned-parents, Tristan and I enjoy touring Vermont's many excellent off-road bike paths — like the Stowe Recreation Path, the Cross Vermont Trail (between Plainfield and Wells River), the Burlington Recreation Path and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail — with our 9-month-old daughter, Elise. But our favorite so far is the Island Line Trail. It runs 4 miles each way from Airport Park in Colchester to the end of a causeway that juts out into Lake Champlain. (Cyclists can go even farther into South Hero with the Local Motion Bike Ferry.) 

On a recent summer evening, Tristan and I pulled into Airport Park. We loaded Elise into her bike trailer, which was attached to my bike, and headed north on the path. The park was bustling with kids and families playing baseball, having picnics, and playing on a well-equipped playground. As we pedaled north, we met people going in both directions. Some were serious cyclists zooming along at top speed, while others were more casual riders, like a young couple on a date and several fishermen biking with their poles sticking out behind them.

We pedaled through a suburban neighborhood, then a lakeside community, and finally onto the causeway, which is a built-up path that runs on a flat, repurposed railroad bed into the middle of the lake. The path has water on both sides, and we noticed wildflowers tucked in among the rocks lining the trail and big, beautiful trees clinging to small patches of ground. Birds flitted all around us as we rode by. 

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Words at Play: Puppets

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 2:00 PM

DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
This is the second post in a new blog series about encouraging a love of language in young children written by professional storyteller Peter Burns.

I visit many home daycares through the VSA Vermont Start with the Arts program, a free, arts-based literacy program for child care providers and the children in their care. We read a book and then do a literacy-based art activity. Lucy, a small stuffed white rabbit, makes an appearance during each visit. I voice Lucy as she interacts with each child. Lucy asks everyone how they have been and if they have done anything exciting during the week. Because she is so small, and sits on the floor, she often talks to the children about their socks and shoes. Everyone loves petting Lucy's soft ears.

The original Lucy was a little black cat. She arrived in my backpack and when the children called, “Lucy, are you in there?” she emerged. Once, a little boy looked at Lucy and asked if she was a real cat. I had to say no. A few years ago I lost Lucy in a house fire. Before going to a new home daycare, I replaced her with a little white rabbit, which I also called Lucy. When I arrived at the new daycare, I explained that I had a little friend in my backpack and that she was shy. The children called out, “Lucy are you in there?” and out of habit I said, “Meow.” Unfortunately for me, Lucy was clearly not a cat. I had to think quickly so I said, “Lucy, you're not a cat.” I took Lucy out of the backpack and explained that rabbits don't have a sound of their own, so Lucy pretends that she is different kinds of animals. Now, when the children call out, “Lucy, are you in there?", sometimes I say, “Moo” and then they say, “Lucy, you're not a cow.” If I say, “Oink”, they say, “Lucy, you're not a pig.” Finally Lucy emerges from my backpack and I have her say, “You're right, I'm just a little white rabbit.”

You can make a puppet from almost any object. Thimbles and bottle caps make great finger puppets and small paper bags make wonderful hand puppets. You can draw a face on the bag and add yarn or string for hair. A puppet does not have to be a fancy to work well. I like to tell stories about food using a shiny silver spoon as a puppet. A child can look into the concave part of the spoon and their reflection will be upside down. The back of the spoon makes them right side up again. There's no need to put on a full-fledged puppet show. If you use your puppet to start a conversation with your child, interesting interactions are sure to follow.

Peter Burns has been a professional storyteller for more than 25 years. His work has been featured on National Public Radio. Peter works with VSA Vermont and the Vermont Humanities Council. He also teaches bike classes for Local Motion. He can be reached at heatofhistory@gmail.com.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Burlington Preschoolers Become Helping Heroes

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 12:36 PM

A BCS preschooler sports a superhero cape in the Archibald Neighborhood Garden - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • A BCS preschooler sports a superhero cape in the Archibald Neighborhood Garden
It's morning meeting time in the Blue preschool classroom at Burlington Children's Space. Eleven kids wearing sandals and sun hats sit in a loose circle on the classroom floor, wiggling around as they practice a song with guidance from one of their teachers, Meghan Laskowski. 

When the song ends, it's time for the 4- and 5-year-olds to transform into Helping Heroes. Several kids grab felt capes and headbands and belts fashioned out of fabric remnants. In the hallway, all of them put on stretchy gardening gloves and line up, holding hands with a partner. 

The Helping Heroes program — which their other teacher, Charles Winkelman, describes as a civic-oriented curriculum — began this spring. The children designed and sewed their own superhero costumes, which they wear to clean up trash in the neighborhood. A micro-grant from the ONE Good Deed Fund paid for gloves for each child and a wagon for pulling along supplies and collecting trash.

Outside the classroom, a flyer is thumbtacked to a bulletin board, advertising the Helping Heroes Hotline. "We are here to help!" it states."If you ever need us when we're gone, leave a message on our phone."

"We can clean up your garbage for you. We can show you the tree pose," the flyer continues. At the bottom, the children have signed their names in all caps with markers. 

The preschoolers follow Winkleman out the doors of the McClure Multigenerational Center, a building in Burlington's Old North End that houses BCS as well as the Champlain Senior Center.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Get Out!: Baby's First Camping Trip

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Elise woke up smiling after her first night of tent camping. - TRISTAN VON DUNTZ
  • Tristan Von Duntz
  • Elise woke up smiling after her first night of tent camping.
My partner, Tristan, and I have been excited to take our daughter, Elise, camping since she was born. Sharing our passion for nature and exploration has long been part of our vision for family life. 

We waited until Elise was 8 months old for her first camping trip. I was nervous that she wouldn't like it or would be scared to sleep in a tent, but —despite some interrupted sleep — our first foray into camping was a success, and we learned a few lessons along the way. 

We took advantage of a free, mid-week afternoon with nice weather to pack up and head to nearby Groton State Forest, about 10 miles from our house. There are five beautiful state parks that offer camping there. We chose to stay at Ricker Pond State Park, at a campsite right on the water. 

Setting up camp with a baby was a new experience. We awkwardly juggled all of our responsibilities: keeping Elise safely occupied, changing a very messy diaper, setting up the tent, rolling out the sleeping bags and getting dinner going. Eventually, we sat down to an early meal of sandwiches, chips and lemonade while Elise chowed on spoonfuls of mashed fruit and cereal. 

After dinner, we took a hike, with Elise in the hiking carrier and our dog, Odin, trotting along beside us. We walked up the camp road to the Cross Vermont Trail and, after a short distance, turned onto an unmarked side trail. We meandered along a stream through mixed deciduous and conifer forests. After about a mile we came to a granite outcropping that sloped down to another bigger and very beautiful stream with deep, bubbling pools of water. 

We spent some time sitting on the rocks overlooking the stream, pointing out ducks to Elise and watching Odin paddle around. The sun was setting over the lake upstream and we could see glimmers of the warm colors through an opening in the trees. Not wanting to be caught in the dark, we hoisted Elise back into the carrier, called Odin out of the water and hiked back to camp. On our way back, we enjoyed some blueberries we found along the trail.

Back at camp, we had the daunting task of putting Elise to bed in an unfamiliar spot. She was starting to show signs of fussiness, so I put her in the tent to play with some toys, unwind and get comfortable in this new setting. After a little while I laid down with her to read a story and nurse her but, even after both of those things, she was still squirming around. So I played some quiet music on my phone and rubbed her back until she fell asleep.   

Once Elise was down, I joined Tristan by the fire he had started. We each drank a cold beer and made some S'mores. We listened as loons called across the lake and an animal we couldn't see fished along the shore below our campsite. Odin fell asleep next to us by the fire. Eventually we joined Elise in the tent and settled in for the night.

Unfortunately, I didn't sleep very well because I was listening for Elise to wake up — which she did five times. Each time she fussed a bit and I soothed her back to sleep. At first, I was worried about waking other campers from neighboring sites. But when I heard the cries of a toddler we met earlier just a few campsites down, it put a little smile on my face. Another mother and baby were learning to camp together, too. 

We woke up in the morning around 7 a.m., packed up and headed back to our house for breakfast and coffee. On the car ride home, we were already making plans for our next camping excursion.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Champlain College Summer Academy Teaches Teens Game-Building Skills

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 2:08 PM

Showcasing games built during the Game Academy's first session - CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE
  • Champlain College
  • Showcasing games built during the Game Academy's first session
Seventeen-year-old Tom Lunday lives in San Francisco — the heart of the tech world — but he traveled all the way to Burlington this summer to learn about video game development. Tom was one of 78 high school students who participated in the Champlain Game Academy at Champlain College in July.  

“There’s actually not a whole lot of great game design programs out on the West Coast that fit my need for more of a cooperative environment,” the teen explained.

At 9 a.m. last Tuesday morning, Tom and his three collaborators were already hard at work developing their final project. They divided up their responsibilities and monitored their progress using professional project-development software projected onto a screen above their work area. “

I find there’s almost something magic about when they get together and start making games,” said Dean Lawson, the program’s director. “Some of them, they’ve been waiting their whole lives to do this and we’ve given them the knowledge and opportunity to try it out. For a lot of them, they’re blown away by it.”

The Champlain Game Academy started three years ago with 20 students. Since then, it’s quadrupled in size and now offers two sessions per summer. The ambitious goal of the camp is to create a miniature version of the college’s four-year game development program in just two weeks.

Students attending the academy delve right in, learning industry software and the different skills required to create a successful video game. Everyone leaves with a basic familiarity with the 3D-modeling software Maya, which enables users to make realistic objects; the 3D game engine Unity, which handles graphics, sound and the physics of motion; and a working knowledge of the programming language C Sharp. But the academy isn’t just selling skills; it’s selling the opportunity to explore.

According to Lawson, “You come, you try all the things. So everybody has to do art, everybody has to do game design, everybody has to do programming whether they have any interest in it or not. They try it out because very often they find surprising things like, ‘I’m an artist, but I enjoy programming as well.’”

Or sometimes they discover that, even though they’re good at it, they don’t enjoy programming much at all. Last Tuesday, Tom Lunday, who was assigned the role of coder for his group, grimly sorted through pages of code, attempting to debug it. Although he loves game development, he acknowledged that coding can be tedious. “That’s the nature of programming and why I could never be a programmer full time,” he said.

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New Village Farm Camps

New Village Farm Camps

Shelburne, VT

New Village Farm is a teaching farm that hosts Summer Camps, After School, and Homeschool Programs. We seek to reconnect children to nature, gardens, animals and the outdoors. Our programs combine structured activities with lots of discovery time to interface with chickens, goats, sheep, and cows. We’re raw, we’re unpolished,…(more)

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