Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Congrats to our April Coloring & Writing Contest Winners!

Posted By on Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 12:37 PM


"Rainbow Space Duck" by Bronwyn Withers, age 5, South Burlington
  • "Rainbow Space Duck" by Bronwyn Withers, age 5, South Burlington

Nearly 150 creative coloring contest submissions covered our judging tables this month! Eleven-year-old Zoey Copp summed up the spring season with her bright yellow duck surrounded by a storm of rainbow drops. Madeleine Lantman, 5, dressed her waterfowl in a green top hat surrounded my multicolored grass. Lucia Hackerman gave her masterpiece an interactive twist, challenging our judges to find the four-leaf clovers hiding in her green mosaic. At right, find the three winners of annual memberships to the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium.

"Squeaky Stripes" by Hallie Miller, age 7, Milton
  • "Squeaky Stripes" by Hallie Miller, age 7, Milton
"Lucky Ducky" by Iana Mecca, age 12, South Burlington
  • "Lucky Ducky" by Iana Mecca, age 12, South Burlington


Our two writing contest winners this month impressed us with their thoughtful and powerful entries about a  emale that inspired them, in honor of Women's History   Month in March. They each won $25 gift certificate to the Crow Bookshop in Burlington. Here are their submissions:

Zahrah Muhammad, age 9, Essex
Someone who inspires me is my older sister, Firdaus. She inspires me by being confident about herself. She does this by talking in a loud and clear voice. Another thing she does that inspires me is to persevere and never give up. For example, I take ice skating lessons and there’s on trick that I can’t complete. My sister knew that I was struggling so she helped me learn the trick. I  ppreciate her and I am pleased to call her my sister.

Sam Skolnik, age 9, Middlesex
Seven months ago my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the night so clearly, me and my sister out on the porch in the crisp, tranquil night air, the tears. The air, the earth and the trees felt so indifferent, blowing around in the late autumn silence. I was shocked. I had no idea, not even the slightest hint that my mom, a healthy, fit, productive woman somehow could even have a risk of getting such a horrible disease. I was still shocked, when months later she ecided to do chemo. And again I was shocked, when the beautiful hair began to ruthlessly but slowly fall off her head. But I was even more amazed at how she handled this horrible process of destroying the monster that was trying to eat her, take her. She stood strong and tall above that monster, beating it back but paying for every inch of it. She still isn’t done beating that horrible monster back, but she’s close. She didn’t flinch, or try to hide. No, not my mom. She took that monster and wrung its neck. She took it and tossed it right out the window, strong and hard. And that is the woman who inspired me, told me through her actions that even when things are hard, you keep fighting, don’t flinch away. Never back down. And I will take that and listen to it. Thank you, mom, for showing this to me.

Find the Kids VT Writing Contest on page 40 and the Coloring Contest on page 41 in our April issue! You have until April 15 to submit your entries.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Mother-Son Poetry Experience at Fletcher Free Library

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 11:58 AM

Third-grade writer Harper - SARAH TUFF DUNN
  • Sarah Tuff Dunn
  • Third-grade writer Harper
When Shelburne Community School staged a third-grade author celebration last month, my 8-year-old son, Harper, was beside himself with excitement about his latest work, titled “Stupendous Skiing.” The words had just seemed to flow out of his Ticonderoga No. 2. “Have you ever wondered how to ski,” Harper wrote. “Well this book will tell you. Downhill or cross country. You name it. Skiing is the most popular snow sport in the world. So let’s get reading!”

As a mom, I was proud. As a writer who suffers from the occasional block — well, I was jealous. But when it came to his delivery, I was empathetic. Harper refused to read the words aloud, instead choosing to run around the classroom and eat Oreo cookies at 8 a.m. Chip off the old block, as they say.

Fletcher Free Library
  • Fletcher Free Library
So when I saw that Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library hosts something called the “Poetry Experience” on the first and third Saturday of each month, I had a bit of a light-bulb moment. Perhaps this could give Harper and me the tools for not only the written word, but the spoken word, too. We recruited our neighbor Ariel, a fourth grader, to join us on a frigid Saturday earlier this month. Upon arrival, we found our way to the library’s basement Community Room where there was a circle of empty chairs.

We sat there. And sat there. And sat there. The Poetry Experience was supposed to run from 1 to 3 p.m., but by 1:30, nobody had shown up. We decided to stage our own workshop, making up riffs on “Roses are Red” and haikus about chewing gum, and eventually giving up to check out the engaging “Exploring Human Origins” exhibit upstairs.

When I track down Rajnii Eddins, a poet, rapper and Burlington School District paraeducator who oversees the Poetry Experience, I learn that a family emergency had prevented his attending the workshop, which sprang out of his mother’s work as a writer and performer. “It’s about self-expression and imagination, not critique,” Eddins tells me over the phone. “Everybody has a story that’s valuable. It’s a safe space to be creative and vulnerable and willing to share. As a hip-hop artist, I know that one can benefit from having a platform.”

The Poetry Experience typically sees between five and 10 participants as young as 7 and as old as 80, says Eddins. Participants get time for writing and sharing their work. They also work in tandem to create a collaborative story or poem. Which means that Harper, Ariel and I weren’t too far off in creating our own Poetry Experience. In hindsight, it was a success — with not an Oreo cookie in sight (we went to Lake Champlain Chocolates afterward instead).

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Milton High School Students Explore STEAM Education, With a Dog

Posted By on Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 12:56 PM

Milton High School students work with Austin as teacher Courtney Reckord looks on - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Milton High School students work with Austin as teacher Courtney Reckord looks on
On a Tuesday morning last month, Courtney Reckord's high school students welcomed a new classmate: Austin. The barrel-chested mutt wagged his way into Reckord's Full STEAM Ahead class at Milton High School, greeting teenagers with wet-nosed nudges and enthusiastic prancing. Maybe Austin knew that it was his lucky day; these kids were about to make him a brace for one of his injured back legs.

As the acronym implies, Full STEAM Ahead draws on science, technology, engineering, art and math. Throughout the semester, Reckord and her students tackle projects that necessitate a holistic approach to learning — one intended to motivate students to solve problems by learning new skills. Most of the kids in the elective class are sophomores, with a smattering of juniors and seniors.

Reckord, 41, also happens to be the first educator-in-residence at Burlington's Generator makerspace. Along with the title comes a $500 monthly stipend, some of which goes toward supplies for Full STEAM Ahead. She also gets a work station at Generator and access to their equipment, including laser cutters, 3D printers, and woodworking and metalworking tools.

Preparing the cast - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Preparing the cast
The art teacher — who moonlights making jewelry — has worked at Milton High School for eight years. And while she occasionally incorporates techie elements into her classes, this is the first one she's taught that is entirely dedicated to STEAM curriculum.

Reckord’s students have already made personalized skateboards with laser-etched designs. They customized cardboard pinball machines from local company Cardboard Teck Instantute. Now, they're setting their minds toward making Austin a new leg brace.

Two years ago, the 7-year-old dog had anterior cruciate ligament surgery on both hind legs. His owner, Rhonda Keyt, says he struggles to get up on the couch and sometimes favors one leg over the other. When Keyt saw Reckord's post on Front Porch Forum looking for a dog with a disability, she responded. Reckord scheduled a visit with Austin and immediately fell in love.

Students prepared for the dog's first visit by taking a field trip to Yankee Medical in Burlington to see how braces are fitted for humans. The first step in making the brace is taking a cast of the injured leg. So when the dog arrived, the kids got down to business — after some requisite petting and exclamations of how friendly he was.
Teacher Courtney Record cuts off Austin's cast - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Teacher Courtney Record cuts off Austin's cast

The pup was skittish at first but soon settled down. He patiently allowed the kids to slip a stocking over one of the legs, then wrap it in plaster-covered gauze, which would harden into the shape of his limb.

After letting the cast set, Reckord snipped it off with scissors. Austin jumped to his feet and resumed running around the room, wagging his tail.

One student tenderly wiped excess plaster off the dog's leg. Then, the kids said their goodbyes to Austin with affectionate head pats.
Over the next few weeks, they'll be researching and prototyping the brace. "They are using the plaster cast as the negative," Reckord explains. "They will then create a plaster 'positive' that is close to the shape of the leg. They will use that to form the brace, in order to get it close to fitting. Then we will make minor tweaks to get it to fit better."

Austin will come back in late March to try on the contraption and see if it helps him.

Reckford isn't sure how it will all unfold. "It can be scary doing projects like this," she acknowledges, "because sometimes they don't work out." The kids might have to learn other skills, like 3D modeling, to make a hinge for Austin’s brace.

You can't be attached to the outcome, Reckford says. The benefits are in what students learn along the way.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Mother-Daughter Art Appreciation at UVM's Fleming Museum

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 11:46 AM

A reclining Buddha - SARAH TUFF DUNN
  • Sarah Tuff Dunn
  • A reclining Buddha
My 10-year-old daughter, Dillon, and I are the odd couple in our family. I’m a neat freak; she’s, well, a slob. I could barely play "Chopsticks” as a kid, while she’s playing Chopin. And when it comes to our artistic skills, it’s the same story. Dillon can paint like Chagall while my stick figures wouldn’t pass muster in kindergarten.

A Chinese robe - SARAH TUFF DUNN
  • Sarah Tuff Dunn
  • A Chinese robe
So it was with some mixed feelings that we jointly ventured to the opening reception of the spring exhibitions at the University of Vermont's Fleming Museum of Art. At Middlebury College more than 20 years ago, my favorite course (though I was an English major) was art history, so I was looking forward to seeing the museum's just-opened Gallery of Asian Art along with “Catherine Jansen: 1008”, a photography exhibit focused on India, and “Imbibe: Drinking in Culture,”  devoted to the ways that humans shape and share the beverages they drink.

Dillon and I walked in the front entrance from the cold, her purple pom-pom hat squarely on her head. She took one look around the crowd of adults and looked at me forlornly. “When will we go home?” she asked. “We just got here!” I said. Clearly, she needed a little direction, so I armed her with one of her favorite things — a spiral notebook — and a pencil and asked her to wander through the exhibits and write down which pieces were most special to her.

Decanter set - SARAH TUFF DUNN
  • Sarah Tuff Dunn
  • Decanter set
Less than 10 minutes later, she was back with her list. Inwardly, I rolled my eyes. How could she appreciate art in that amount of time? But as she led me through the Gallery of Asian Art and pointed out her choices — a bright-red dragon robe from the Qing Dynasty in the 1700s and the reclining Parinirvana Buddha from Burma in the 1800s — I found that they were the exact two that I would have chosen. The same was true as Dillon pointed out a surreal photo that she called “Big Rock” from “Catherine Jansen: 1008” and a delicate, sage-green decanter set displayed in the “Imbibe” exhibit.

Amazingly, through art, our odd couple had synergized. I was buoyed by the moment of connection.

“Why did you like all those pieces?” I asked Dillon.

“They are old, they are cool,” she said. And I was cool with that.

The Gallery of Asian Art is permanent, while Catherine Jansen: 1008 and Imbibe: Drinking in Culture will be at the Fleming Museum through May 21. Find more information here.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Printable Camp Planner

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 3:57 PM

Camp Abnaki
  • Camp Abnaki
Ready to get going on your summer planning? Want to make sure that you have coverage for all the weeks of summer? Click below for a printable camp planner — perfect for hanging on the fridge — then start penciling in camps for your kids!  camp_planner_PDF.pdf

Kids VT: Your One-Stop Shop For Summer Camps

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 10:02 AM

Camp Abnaki
  • Camp Abnaki
Whether you're new to the whole camp thing or you've been doing it for years, the process of planning your kids' summer schedules can be a daunting one. Many of us here at Kids VT are parents to school-age children. In other words, we can empathize. That's why we're doing everything in our power to make it easy to find the best summer programs the area has to offer.

In addition to four consecutive months of pull-out camp guides in our print magazine (starting this month!), we've created a special Vermont Camps page on our website. Here you'll find helpful articles from our archives that profile specific camps and provide general advice about preparing your kids for the camp experience.

Davis Studio
  • Davis Studio
New this year is a handy camp finder that allows you to search programs using different criteria, such as town, age group, and day vs. sleepaway. Click on any of the camps listed and you'll find a brief summary, plus a link to its website where you can get the nitty-gritty details.

If you prefer meeting face-to-face with camp staff, we'd love to see you at our 20th annual Kids VT Camp & School Fair, happening this Saturday, February 4, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Hilton Burlington on Battery Street. You'll find dozens of reps from camps and schools in Vermont and beyond, eager to provide you with lots more information and answer any questions you may have.

Looking for something else camp-related you don't see on our site? Let us know at ideas@kidsvt.com.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Welcoming Winter: A Roundup of Outdoor Events

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 12:20 PM

  • Courtesy of Green Mountain Audubon Center
  • Family Trek
Here's one way to survive Vermont’s looooong winter: Get outside. Outdoor events offer fun for the whole family and many cost little or nothing to attend. Below you'll find a roundup of some of the best things in store during the coming months. A word of advice: Dress warmly and bring an extra pair of socks for everyone. A thermos of hot chocolate isn't a bad idea either!

Starry-eyed riders sail over Shelburne Farms’ snowy fields in Full Moon Sleigh Rides, powered by a team of Percheron draft horses. Thursday, January 12 & Friday, February 10.

Nature-lovers of all ages explore exhibits and snowy trails at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science’s Winter Wildlife Celebration. Family-friendly guided tours and talks fill the morning, followed by indoor and outdoor games, crafts and a crackling campfire with toasty treats in the afternoon. Saturday, January 14.

Hot chocolate fuels wanderers during North Branch Nature Center’s Full Moon Snowshoe Hike beneath lunar light. Snowshoes provided. Saturday, January 14.

Families face the skies in Starry, Starry Night. Guided by the North Branch Nature Center’s staff, amateur astronomers learn the winter constellations, identify planets and check out the Pleiades and other celestial sights through a telescope. Dress warmly. Friday, January 20.

Shelburne Winterfest offers indoor and outdoor family activities, including horse-drawn sleigh rides, crafts, music, tasty treats and sledding. Saturday, January 21.

Aspiring anglers bundle up for a frosty morning at the Ice Fishing Derby, part of the Stowe Winter Carnival. Hot chocolate and refreshments keep the kids chipper and limited equipment is available for use. Ages 14 and under. Saturday, January 28.

Ice on Fire in Montpelier fêtes the heart of winter. The community festival begins with a parade of giant puppets at 2 p.m., followed by songs, theater skits, stories, winter games, satisfying snacks and a hearty bonfire. Sunday, January 29.

The Rikert Center’s Nordic Rendezvous and Back-to-the-Barn Tour celebrates snow with cross-country skiing, fat biking and snowshoeing on scenic trails to Robert Frost’s writing cabin, followed by spiced cider around a bonfire, a buffet dinner and a rousing barn dance. Saturday, February 4.

At the Green Mountain Audubon Center, adventurous kiddos and their parents search the snow for animal tracks and homes during the Family Trek. Then the group builds a campfire and makes merry around a crackling blaze, with snacks and hot chocolate. Saturday, February 4.

Wintervale invites the whole family to Burlington's backyard with children’s games and activities, plus local food and drink available for purchase. Free cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals and three miles of groomed trails to explore make for a fun — and active — day. Sunday, February 12 & Sunday, March 12.

A longtime tradition at the Montshire Museum of Science, Igloo Build features igloo expert and author Dr. Bert Yankielun leading a hands-on, all-ages workshop in domed-shelter construction. While at the museum, check out their new exhibit, Making Music: the Science of Musical Instruments, which combines stories and science, and an opportunity to make your own sweet sounds. Saturday, February 18.

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Vermont State Parks Offer New Year's Day Hikes

Posted By on Sat, Dec 31, 2016 at 9:26 AM

  • Courtesy of Vermont State Parks
  • Groton Nature Center
Looking to start 2017 with some exercise and fresh air? Multiple state parks are offering free, family-friendly guided hikes on New Year's day. Professional guides and outdoor educators will lead participants, sharing their knowledge and love of the Vermont outdoors.

Below is a list of participating parks. Preregistration is not required; simply show up ready to enjoy the outdoors and the company of other participants. Dress for the weather and bring beverages and snacks. Dogs are welcome on leash unless otherwise noted.

Hikes on January 1, 2017
Ascutney State Park, Windsor
Guide: Scott Davison (The Woodstock Naturalist) Meet at 10 a.m. at the ranger station. Hike: 1+ hour, easy terrain. Note: Not a summit hike.

Bomoseen State Park, Castleton
Guide: Caitlin Gates (Vermont State Park Interpreter) Meet at 1 pm at park entrance station. Hike: 1+ hour, easy terrain

Button Bay State Park, Ferrisburgh
Guide: Ron Payne from Otter Creek Audubon Society Meet at 9 a.m. at park entrance. Hike: 3 hours, easy terrain

Groton Nature Center, Big Deer State Park, Groton
Guide: Dave Spencer (local expert) Meet at 1 p.m. at Groton State Forest Nature Center parking area on Boulder Beach Road, 1.6 miles from Route 232. Hike: 1+ hour loop, easy terrain.

Hunger Mountain
, Waterbury
Guide: Caitlin Miller from the Green Mountain Club Meet at 9 a.m. at Hunger Mountain Trailhead (Waterbury). Hike: 3.5 miles, 5 hours, moderate to difficult terrain. Hike to the summit if weather permits.

Jamaica State Park
, Jamaica
Guide: Lowell Lake Park Ranger Scott Renker Meet at 10 a.m. by the park office at the entrance. Hike: 1+ hour, 1-mile, easy terrain. Participants will have the option of a longer hike along the same trail.

Niquette Bay State Park
, Colchester
Guide: Jessica Savage from Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation Meet at noon at the trailhead in Niquette Bay State Park. Hike: 1.5 miles, 2 hours, moderate terrain.

Taconic Mountain Ramble State Park
, Hubbardton
Guide: Bat biologist Alyssa Bennett Meet at noon at the Hubbardton Battlefield parking lot on Monument Hill Road. Hike: 2-3 hours, easy to moderate terrain, followed by fresh-baked cookies!

Underhill State Park
, Underhill
Guide: John Connell, Greenmont Farms Meet at 1 p.m. at gate just below Underhill State Park on Moutain Road in Underhill Center. Hike: 3 hours, easy to moderate terrain. Bring a snack and warm beverage to share!

For hike updates, please call (802) 249-1230. For more information on First Day Hikes and to view additional hike offerings as they are added, visit www.vtstateparks.com or check out Vermont State Parks on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Go Exploring: A Guide to Fun During Vacation Week

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 1:00 PM

  • Courtesy of Montshire Museum
  • Dinosaur Revolution
My favorite part of holiday break is hanging out with the kids after the flurry of gift-giving. We love to pull on our warm boots and snow pants and explore the outdoors. But if the temps drop, or the company isn't up for bundling up in bulky outerwear, there’s plenty to do inside to keep your crew amused and on the move. We'll likely be heading to the Montshire Museum’s Dinosaur Revolution exhibit before it closes on January 2. Here are some other indoor ideas — and a few outdoors ones — to keep you entertained during the upcoming school vacation!

  • Animal admirers greet Santa’s graceful friends and learn how these marvelous creatures survive the snowy season at Reindeer Up Close at ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. Monday, December 26, 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. & 2 p.m. While at the science center, get answers to your kids' questions about clouds and hurricanes at the traveling exhibit, The Zula Patrol: Mission Weather.
  • Courtesy of Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center
  • "Flip, Fly, Fun!"

  • On temporary loan from the Smithsonian Institute, X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside and Out at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium illustrates evolutionary history through translucent photographs of ancient sea creatures, in an elegant combination of science and art. Before you plan a visit, call ahead and reserve tickets for a planetarium show, too.

  • Treat your gang to a special night out. "Flip, Fly, Fun!" at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe transforms the stage with a dazzling array of jugglers, acrobats, aerialists and clowns. Wednesday, December 28, 7 p.m.

  • Giddy-up! Silver bells jingle as horses trot cherry-cheeked riders over snowy rolling hills by sleigh at Shelburne Farms. Daily from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., December 24-December 31 (except Christmas day); weekends through February.

  • Courtesy of Billings Farn & Museum
  • Christmas at the Farm
  • Families spend a day at Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock savoring the season the old-fashioned way. Partake in 19th-century crafts in a restored farmhouse, keep toasty by a woodstove and enjoy tasty treats. Bring your warmest clothes to take a tour of the barn, meet the livestock and enjoy horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides. Daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., December 26-January 1.

  • Ring in 2017 at Montpelier’s New Year’s Eve, beginning with a 5K race at 2 p.m., followed by a magic show and evening fireworks. First Night Burlington makes merry with the Church Street Dancing Dragons Parade at 6 p.m.; circus arts, theater and music; and fireworks at both 6:45 p.m. and midnight. On the state’s eastern side, First Night St. Johnsbury caps the year with activities including Nimble Arts’ Ruckus Circus and the Family Fun Fair from 4-8 p.m.

  • Put your healthiest foot forward at FirstRun, a New Year’s Day 5K in Burlington. With two kids’ fun runs and costumes encouraged, this sporty morning event is a virtuous way to begin the new year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Home Cookin': Pepparkakor, A Swedish Jultide Tradition

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 7:11 AM

Pepparkakor - ASTRID LAGUE
  • Astrid Lague
  • Pepparkakor
Probably the most quintessential Swedish Christmas treat is Pepparkakor, or Swedish gingersnaps.  They come in many different variations. You can roll them out and cut them into shapes or do what this recipe calls for and simply ball them up and flatten them into disks. You can ice them or leave them plain. I prefer mine along with a nice cup of coffee.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so there are plenty to share! Bring some to your holiday cookie swap or simply store the dough in your freezer and pull it out when you need a little something sweet. The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least several hours before baking and keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so don't hesitate to prepare it ahead of time.

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    Orchard Valley Waldorf School Summer Camps

    Orchard Valley Waldorf School Summer Camps

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    Summer Fun on both our Montpelier and East Montpelier, VT campus! Summer Play Days at the Childs Garden Campus (Montpelier) for ages 3-6. Weekly themes include Mother Earth’s Garden, Gnomes & Fairies, and Water Fun, all with a delightfully slow daily rhythm so young ones can soak up the fun.…(more)

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