Kids VT, Summer 2024

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Cathy Resmer


Colby Roberts


Robyn Birgisson

Kaitlin Montgomery

Logan Pintka


John James


Don Eggert

ART DIRECTOR Rev. Diane Sullivan


Jeff Baron

John James


Matt Weiner


Marcy Stabile


Gillian English

Emily Hamilton

Elisa Järnefelt

Astrid Hedbor Lague

Ken Picard, Brett Stanciu

Sarah Tuff


Andy Brumbaugh

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur


Rob Donnelly

P.O. BOX 1164 • BURLINGTON, VT 05401


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This Summer I Will...

This summer I will sleep in.

This summer I will enjoy the sunshine.

This summer I will enjoy the rain.

This summer I will listen to the sounds of thunder.

This summer I will listen to the sounds of the wind.

Make the Most of It

Wow, that happened fast. I’m referring to the onset of summer — I swear it was just stick season, but I thought I saw a firefly in my lush, green yard last night!

I’m also thinking of my son’s adolescence; Graham graduates from Winooski High School on June 15. He was still in preschool when Seven Days bought Kids VT in 2010. Now he’s six foot one and can bench-press 350 pounds.

Like Graham, Kids VT lifts above its weight: We use our resources to help Vermont parents and their children discover all there is to love about this amazing place we call home.

That often goes beyond pointing out kid-friendly activities, as we do in every issue. In this one we also launch the latest version of our summer Good Citizen Challenge. Created in 2018, the Challenge invites young people in grades K-8 to do 25 activities, such as attending community events or going to museums, and rewards them for participating.

Every child who completes and submits a Challenge activity will receive a sticker that says “I’m a Good Citizen” and an invitation to a reception at the Vermont Statehouse on September 19. All participants are also included in a drawing for the grand prize: a free trip for two to Washington, D.C., donated by Milne Travel.

There are other prizes, too — free tickets to Vermont Lake Monsters games or a Vermont Green FC match, $50 gift cards to Phoenix Books, a 2025 Vermont State Parks vehicle pass. The Good Citizen participant who designs the best “I Voted” sticker will have their creation mass-produced and available at their town polling places on Election Day in November!

We’ll be seeking Good Citizen entries all summer long — online and in person at events, including at two Lake Monsters games. This year we’ll also o er incentives for submitting activities as they’re completed, rather than waiting until the deadline — Labor Day, September 2.

Another thing to add to your seasonal bucket list: relaxing. This issue begins and ends with summer-themed poems from the Burlington-based Young Writers Project, which connects student writers and helps them publish their work. Doing nothing is something both poets pine for. Don’t we all, these days?

Congratulations to the class of 2024. See you at the ballpark!

This summer I will sit inside and do nothing.

This summer I will sit outside and still do nothing.

This summer I will watch the fireworks light up the sky.

This summer I will watch the sunset darken the sky.

This summer I will play games with friends.

This summer I will watch movies with family.

This summer I will have fun.

This summer I will relax.


This poem was first published by the Burlington-based Young Writers Project, a free online community where teen writers and visual artists explore, create, connect and get published. Find more information at


Elisa Järnefelt is an illustrator and writer who lives in the Champlain Valley with her husband, daughter and senior dog. She enjoys learning the names of backyard birds, planting “one more thing” in her garden, creating comics and designing new illustrated products for her small business, As Little Cooking as Possible. See them at

Good Citizen-aged Graham, 11, at the Vermont Statehouse in 2017 Cathy and Graham shortly after casting their ballots on Town Meeting Day
KIDS VT SUMMER 2024 7 On the Cover Rob Donnelly’s take on “Independence Days” Welcome 5 Poem: “This Summer I Will...” Columns 8 In Case You Missed It: Summer Events 10 Short Stuff 13 Mealtime: Berry Tartlets 30 Use Your Words: “Find Myself Longing for Summer” Just for Kids 27 Coloring Contest 28 Coloring Contest Winners SUMMER 2024 Family Is an Odd Onion A comic by Elisa Järnefelt 14 Hit the Trails Five fun family hikes Independence Days Seven ways to help 6- to 10-year-olds become more self-reliant 16 22 13 19 SCIENCE TECHNOL0GY ENGINEERING ARTS MATHEMATICS ON A TEAM! Scientific, Technical, Engineering, Visual and Performing Arts, Service Learning, and Early Learning. Community and school-based teams for age 4 - college 802 272-2766 • VTDICREATIVITY@GMAIL.COM DESTINATIONIMAGINATION.ORG • CREATIVEIMAGINATION.ORG START NEW TEAMS! START NEW TEAMS! k6h-DestinationImagination060524.indd 1 5/30/24 11:42 AM WE HAVE Music and Art day camps for kids MIDDLESEX, VERMONT WWW.CAMPMEADE.TODAY SUMMER CAMPS! k6H-PlanetaryArts(CampMead)060524 1 5/23/24 1:43 PM WE CARRY A LARGE SELECTION OF VT FOOD PRODUCTS Maple Syrup, Cheese, Salsa, Dressings & More! 802-655-3440 277 Lavigne Rd., Colchester • M-Sa 7am-7pm • Su 7am- 6pm • MC/Visa/Disc LIKE US ON FACEBOOK! Farm Market • Bakery • Greenhouses WEDNESDAY CONCERT SERIES JULY 10, JULY 17, JULY 24TH, JULY 31ST FRESH, IN-SEASON PRODUCE ALL SUMMER! PICK YOUR OWN! Strawberries start approx. mid June Blueberries start approx. 3rd week of July Food truck and Beverages (for adults) 6-8 ! STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL JUNE 22 11am-4pm OUR BAKERY BAKES FRESH EVERY DAY! Come picnic anytime, feed the friendly goats & play on the playground! K6h-SamMazza060524-2.indd 1 5/31/24 4:17 PM

Can’t-Miss Summer Events


Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction. $5-30; free for kids under 6.

Grab your swords and turkey legs and start practicing your best spells and sonnets now, because the Vermont Renaissance Faire is back in town — er, towne. Pirates, princesses, jesters and jokers of every age find all sorts of medieval merriment over two days of revelry presented by Vermont Gatherings at the Champlain Valley Exposition.

Fourteen weeks separate Memorial Day and Labor Day, the uno cial start and end of summer, respectively. That sounds like a lot of time, but don’t be fooled: Summer will go by in a flash. It always does. Best, then, to take full advantage and pack your days with everything that makes summer in Vermont great: creemees, swimming holes, cookouts and, of course, summer fairs, festivals, concerts and other events that keep us breezin’ through the season.

Find more family fun each week in the Seven Days calendar, or online at fun.

camp cooking and fiber arts from the Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword. Costumes are far from required, but they sure are fun. Whether you’ve had a tunic handsewn by your local seamstress or just plan to dig your old Lord of the Rings costume out of the closet, the whole family can enjoy hopping back in time for a weekend at the faire.

Every installment of this annual festival draws entertainments such as music, dancing, acrobatics, historical demonstrations, an artisan alley of authentic craftspeople and merchants, and samples of mead and cider made all over the state. Last year’s lineup featured the real live jousting of Equus Nobilis; the comedic stylings of the Ladies of Integrity, Aristocracy, Repute, and Society (L.I.A.R.S.); ancient Celtic drumming from Cu Dubh; mischievous antics and stunts by the Pirates of Fortune’s Folly; readings from father-daughter psychic duo Lord Fafnir & Spawn; and demonstrations of sword fighting, armor repair,

Also try...

WATERBURY ARTS FEST: The quaint town of Waterbury transforms into an open-air gallery and street fair at this annual family-friendly festival. July 12 and 13, downtown Waterbury. Free.

FESTIVAL OF FOOLS: Musicians, acrobats, circus performers and others descend on the Queen City for a raucous street festival featuring more than 100 live performances. August 2 to 4, downtown Burlington. Free. vermontfestivalo


FESTIVAL: Beat the heat with cool new films by first- and second-time filmmakers. August 21 to 25, various locations, Middlebury. $14-143.

The Vermont State Fairgrounds in Rutland COURTESY OF DONNA WILKINS PHOTOGRAPHY
The Queen greeting a young subject at the Vermont Renaissance Faire
Find more family fun each week in the Seven Days calendar, or online at


Tuesday, August 13, to Saturday, August 17, Vermont State Fairgrounds, Rutland. Admission TBA.

Beginning on August 13, rural Vermonters will show off their prize pigs, heavenly horses and blue-ribbon bovines at one of the oldest agricultural events in the country: the Vermont State Fair in Rutland. Now in its 178th year, the fair will feature a rodeo, motorcycle racing, a demolition derby, and a horse-mounted shooting competition with local cowboys and cowgirls. Toss in a heaping portion of sausages, fries, maple creemees and whirly carnival rides — not necessarily in that order — and you’ve got all the makings of timeless summer fun.

Headlining this year is country singer-songwriter Tyler Hubbard, of Florida Georgia Line fame. Also on the bill is a Back to the Futurelike throwback to the quainter yesteryear of neon clothes, big hair and synth pop: “Abducted by the ’80s,” featuring musical guests Wang Chung, A Flock of Seagulls, Naked Eyes and Animotion. If, like many of us, you’re old enough to remember the ’80s, there is always something there to remind you


FRANKLIN COUNTY FIELD DAYS: For a true agricultural fair experience, head to the county with the most farmland in Vermont. Don’t worry: You’ll find plenty of rides and fair food, too. August 1 to 4, Franklin County Fair Grounds in Highgate. $15.

CHAMPLAIN VALLEY FAIR: Come for the pig races, giant gourds and fried dough; stay for the demolition derby and concerts by the likes of Flo Rida, the Gin Blossoms and Cole Swindell. Beware the Ring of Fire. August 23 to September 1, Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction. $6-185.

TUNBRIDGE WORLD’S FAIR: Country fairs don’t get much more authentic than this Orange County classic. September 12 to 15, Tunbridge Fairgrounds. $15-50; free for kids under 12.

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER, but Seven Days education reporter Alison Novak is still on the job! Find her latest stories at


Introduce your kids to the classics or discover a new family favorite Wed.-Fri. 5pm-10pm Sat. 12pm-10pm; Sun. 12pm-5pm 3 Mill St., Burlington 802.540.1710 The Boardroom
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The newly expanded Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum is now open to the public; it hosted a celebratory block party on May 11. Visitors can walk through a woodland, climb on a “mountain” and stand inside the control booth of a 13-foot-tall robot. The lead designer behind the new experience is Manchester resident Yoshi Akiyama, a former Imagineer and chief designer of Tokyo Disneyland.

Wonderfeet is a traditional children’s museum, executive director Danielle Moore explained in a phone interview. Unlike ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, or the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Wonderfeet doesn’t focus on teaching educational concepts. It’s devoted entirely to encouraging self-guided play.

Its colorful playscapes stimulate kids’ imaginations and give them tools such as building blocks, costumes, hard hats and plastic vegetables that they can use in open-ended ways.

Playing pretend helps kids develop language, math and social skills, Moore said. Plus, it’s just plain fun. One thing she often hears from busy families is that they don’t have as much unstructured downtime as they used to. “The opportunity to just have undirected play is something [kids] ask to come back for,” she said.

Many of the exhibits are funded by local employers such as Casella, Green Mountain Power, Heritage Family Credit Union and Killington Resort. It’s a way for businesses to support a resource for local families and also encourages kids to see themselves living and working in the community in the future.

— C.R. Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum, 66 Merchants Row, Rutland. $3-$8; free for kids under 1.

The Pigeon and Friends Land in Burlington

Anew exhibit at ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain lets visitors immerse themselves in the imaginative world of a celebrated children’s book author. “The Pigeon Comes to Burlington! A Mo Willems Exhibit” opened at ECHO on May 25. Willems could be called the Taylor Swift of children’s books right now. He

wrote and illustrated all of the top five most checkedout picture books of 2023 at Milton Public Library. His beloved, award-winning cast of characters includes Gerald, Piggie, the Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny. This “play and learn” exhibit, co-organized by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book

Art, will let ECHO visitors interact with elements of the Willemverse. They can spin laundromat washing machines to uncover Knuffle Bunny, don a wearable bus, make Willems-inspired art and launch foam hot dogs at the Pigeon. Kids will love that last one, ECHO development director Nicole Bova said, “but I also want to try it out.”

Bova used Willems’ books to help teach her own daughter, now 8, to read, and she’s “super stoked” about the exhibit. It will run twice as long as most — through Sunday, January 5. Willems won’t visit Burlington in conjunction with the exhibit, but the Pigeon will make an appearance on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30.

— C.R.

“The Pigeon Comes to Burlington! A Mo Willems Exhibit,” at ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, 1 College St., Burlington. $16.50-$20; free for members and kids 2 and under.

There’s More to Explore at Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum “The Pigeon Comes to Burlington! A Mo Willems Exhibit” at ECHO A performer at Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum’s May 11 celebration

Libraries Help Kids Read 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Reading 1,000 books to your kids sounds daunting, but it’s actually easier than you might expect according to Megan Estey Butterfield, youth librarian at Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library.

“If you’re reading at least one book with your child every day, then by the time they go to kindergarten, you will have read over 1,000 books with them. Reading 365 books a year adds up very quickly,” Butterfield said.

Fletcher Free Library is one of 189 Vermont libraries that participate in the national 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Each site develops its own approach and way of celebrating young patrons who reach the goal.

The Bennington Free Library has hosted the challenge for about 15 years; more than 50 children in Bennington County have completed it. Bennington’s participating families receive a packet of materials and mark o 200 books at a time. When a child completes a milestone, they can visit the library for a sticker and a free book. Once the child has achieved the

1,000-book goal, they receive a certificate and can choose a book to have dedicated to them in the children’s library.

Linda Donigan, Bennington’s youth services librarian, attributes part of their success to working with other librarians in the county. “We develop the materials together, and we share ideas from our big library to the smaller libraries, like in Stamford and Readsboro,” she said. In that community spirit, these libraries created their own Bennington County-specific logo and stickers.

Families can read multiple books per day, and they can log the same book multiple times, either through an analog method or an app, Donigan explained. “If you read the same book 20 times, it counts 20 times,” she said.

Fletcher Free Library launched its e ort in 2019. Butterfield had planned a kicko event for March 18, 2020, that was canceled as a result of the pandemic. The program continues, however, and Butterfield said it’s had a slow but promising start. Two children have made it to the goal so far.

She invited families who are feeling stuck and don’t know what to read to come to the library and ask for one of the bags of librarian-selected children’s books created for the program.

When a 4-year-old recently hit the 1,000-book mark, the library held a graduation ceremony for him. His father explained that, because of the pandemic, his son had spent a lot of his childhood “in hiding,” and this was the first time he was celebrated for something publicly. “He bowed when he got his certificate, and he was really, really happy,” his father said.

The proud dad said the bags of books allowed their family to take fewer trips to the library and read more, which was helpful when they went into lockdown in 2020. He would read his son at least three books a day and believes incorporating story time into their daily routine made a positive impact. “He isn’t reading on his own yet, but he loves just looking at books,” he said.

Vermont Kids Compete Creatively in Destination Imagination

“Abroken jar, a bit of stone — the remains of the past are all around us. Have you ever wondered what those things might have been used for or what they meant to the people who made them?” That’s the tantalizing beginning of the 2023-24 scientific challenge posed by Destination Imagination.

Each academic year, the 25-year-old, largely volunteer-run global nonprofit issues a series of challenges organized by a variety of themes — such as engineering, fine arts and community service — and invites kids and teens from kindergarten to college to complete them by incorporating various elements into an eight-minute skit. This scientific challenge requires participants to “create and present a story about a character whose discovery of an artifact leads to a finding.” The skit also has to include an archeological investigation — and a puppet portraying a character from the past.

Jane Youngbaer, Vermont state a liate director, explained that DI’s science and tech challenges always include a theatrical component and the arts-related

challenges always have technical aspects. It’s one of the things that distinguishes DI from other academic competitions such as FIRST Robotics.

This year 31 teams registered with Vermont’s DI a liate, and 25 signed up for the state tournament. Some teams were organized by schools, others by homeschoolers, makerspaces or families. The state champs, a group of fifth and sixth graders from Randolph Elementary School, completed the scientific challenge. Their skit focused on the Hamsa Hand, and they created a story that wove in Medusa,

a choreographed dance to an altered pop song by Meghan Trainor and a contemporary feminist message: “No means no.”

Their performance was compelling enough to earn them a chance to compete at the DI Global Finals in Kansas City, Mo. at the end of May. That event drew teams from more than 40 states, every continent except Antarctica, and countries including Turkey, Qatar, China, Korea, Mexico and even Ukraine, Youngbaer said.

The Randolph Elementary students didn’t place in the final competition, but they enjoyed meeting other DI teams. And Youngbaer is already thinking about recruiting teams for next year’s challenges. “We want people to start thinking about them and getting organized this summer,” she said.

— C.R.

Previews of the 2024-25 challenges are available at destinationimagination. org, though full descriptions won’t be released until August. For more information, contact Jane Youngbaer at

— G.E. Find a list of participating Vermont libraries at 1000booksbeforekindergarten. org/find-a-program/vermont.
A graduate of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is recognized at Fletcher Free Library for his accomplishment.
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Left to right: Charlie Lafayette, Mio Armstrong, Maddie Russo, Claire Proulx, Riley O’Brian, Aubrey Orzell and Jane Youngbaer at the DI Global Finals
comes to Burlington!: A Mo Willems Exhibit is co-organized by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and The Eric
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Frangipane Berry Tartlets

Every year for my sister’s birthday on July 1, I try to make a fun dessert that incorporates summer berries, especially blueberries and strawberries. She isn’t a cake fan, so it’s a creative challenge.

Last year, I made a tart with berries and frangipane (a delightful almond cream). When I was looking for inspiration for this recipe, my family suggested revisiting those flavors.


Cookie crust:

• 3 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 10 tablespoons room-temperature butter

• Cooking spray

Frangipane filling:

• 1 cup almond flour

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 2 tablespoons flour

• 2 eggs

• 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


• Sliced strawberries

• Blueberries

• Powdered sugar for dusting

Because I delight in all things mini, I decided to make tartlets with a vanilla wafer cookie crust. I used simple mu n pans to make them — using cupcake liners makes them easier to remove from the pans because the crust is a bit fragile. You could make these tartlets ahead of time and put them in the fridge to pull out later for a summer dessert — or even as part of a delightful afternoon tea! K


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix cookie crumbs, sugar and butter until well combined. (I used a food processor.) Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners and spray lightly with cooking spray.

2. Press crust mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Press down with fingers or a small glass, making sure that the sides and bottoms are of even thickness.

3. Bake the shells for 5 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool on a rack while preparing the filling.

4. Mix together all frangipane filling ingredients until smooth. I used a food processor, but you could use an electric mixer or a wooden spoon.

5. Divide the frangipane evenly between the tartlet shells, then press down lightly with plastic wrap on top to even out the filling.

6. Bake the tartlets for 14 minutes, until slightly puffed up and light golden brown.

7. Cool for about 5 minutes before topping with berries.

8. Carefully remove cooled tartlets from muffin tin.

9. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Capturing the flavor of summer. Yield: 12 tartlets MEALTIME
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Hit the Trails

Five fun family hikes

Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State for good reason. Options abound to get your family into the woods. From easy saunters to impressive peaks, there’s no shortage of treks suited to all ages and abilities.

Here are a few suggestions from the Kids VT archives, first published in 2011 and 2019 — and updated to include current info.

Don’t forget to pack water and snacks, and do a tick check when you get home!


Trailhead is off Route 53, near Branbury State Park, Salisbury

This spot is no secret — there’s even a Long Island rock band called Falls of Lana — but there’s a reason why everyone knows about it: in a word, waterfalls. There are a few different trails spidering around the four tiers of tumbling water at the Falls of Lana; you’ll hike less than half a mile on the easiest trail to the lower-falls viewpoint. From there, it’s another half a mile to the upper falls and the turquoise swimming hole. Note:

Footing can be tricky. In August, families can continue on to Rattlesnake Cliffs, closed March 15 to August 1 for peregrine falcon nesting. If the falls seem too freaky for a swim, head to adjacent Lake Dunmore for a dip. Stop at A&W Drive-In in Middlebury for a rootbeer float on the way home.


2295 River Rd. Fork, Killington, thundering-falls

In 2008, trail workers made history when they opened the first universally accessible portion of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail — right here in Vermont. Anyone who uses a wheelchair or stroller can get on this 900-foot, smooth boardwalk over the Ottauquechee River floodplain for awesome views of the 140-foot falls. It’s short but, for anyone who’s tried to wrestle wheels over rocks and roots, very

sweet. Quesadillas and wings are on the menu at the Lookout Tavern nearby.


State Forest Rd., Groton,

This easy path rewards hikers with views of the surrounding water and mountains. Its gradual, 1.5-mile ascent traverses rocky steps constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program for young unmarried men in the 1930s. Nearby, the Kettle Pond Loop Trail takes hikers on a three-mile saunter around this undeveloped and pristine pond. With more than 26,000 acres, Groton State Forest offers a range of hiking and camping options. Pick up a trail map and check out the exhibits and naturalist programs at the Groton Nature Center. Adventurous eaters might want to try global tacos and rice bowls at nearby Nacho Mama in West Danville.


Lincoln Gap Rd., Lincoln,

Named after the 16th president — “Honest Abe” Lincoln — this 4,016-foot peak is the fifth-tallest in the state. A five-mile

round-trip hike features relatively smooth terrain in the beginning, with more strenuous climbing near the final ascent. Inquisitive hikers might want to check out the wreckage from a 1973 Cessna plane crash, not far from the summit. The pilot, fortunately, made it off the mountain alive. Afterward, treat yourself to small-batch ice cream or lactose-free goat milk gelato at Lu•lu in Vergennes.


537 Robert Frost Rd., Ripton,

This one-mile, toddler-friendly trail pairs plaques of Frost’s famous poetry with a scenic route dotted with blueberry bushes and birches. Across the road lies Frost’s cabin, where the acclaimed poet summered for 39 years and wrote prolifically. Although New Hampshire claims Frost as its own, the poet is buried in a church cemetery in Old Bennington. He ended his Pulitzer Prize-winning poem “New Hampshire” with the line, “At present I am living in Vermont.” Visit the Vermont Maple Market in Middlebury for a maple creemee before nap time. K

Hikers on top of Mount Abraham in Lincoln
13 years of local reviews, parenting tips and day trip ideas at


July 5; August 2

Art-based activities, food trucks, lawn games, and community!

Live Music: July 5 – Mal Maiz August 2 – Dwight + Nicole

Health. Organic foods. Co-op discounts. Creative recipes. Good habits.


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DAYS Independence

Seven ways to help 6- to 10-year-olds become more self-reliant

Last month my wife, Ann-Elise, and I watched as our teenage children cleared another developmental milestone: They drove by themselves to Massachusetts to catch a flight to Seattle, where they spent a few days hanging out with their cousins.

We got up at 5:30 a.m. to see them o . Graham, 18, was behind the wheel; his 15-year-old sister, Ivy, was in charge of the documents. They’d worked together to come up with a budget.

We got a text from Ivy a few minutes after they left: “Love you! Haven’t died yet.”

Ha ha.

Their trip was a culmination of all the ways we’ve encouraged their independence from a young age. I wasn’t thinking about it that way when we bought their plane tickets, but the significance of the event struck me after I listened to an interview with psychologist and Boston College professor Peter Gray. Gray spoke with “Hidden Brain” podcast host Shankar Vedantam about why he believes kids need more freedom from adult direction and supervision.

“In many ways, adults have taken over children’s lives,” Gray said. Parents these days are expected to be teachers as well as comforters and nurturers, and “the cost has been that it takes away from children’s own initiative, from children’s own opportunities to figure things out for themselves and learn how to solve problems.”

The episode, titled “Parents: Keep Out!,” is available at

Inspired by the podcast, I made a list of a few ways in which we helped Graham and Ivy become more self-reliant. A new generation of parents might be interested in trying them during summer vacation — especially since many young kids have lived through a pandemic that disrupted their socialization and left them, and their parents, unsure about taking risks.

I’m here to tell you it’s OK to try these experiments in independence with your kids.


Independence Days

Let them walk places on their own.

It’s empowering to be able to get from point A to point B by yourself. Is there a friend’s house your child could walk to or a well-known place like the library? If that’s not an option, look for other opportunities to let them roam in a familiar

quarters got stuck in the claw machine. I told her that she had to ask the manager for help, and she agreed — if I would go with her. I held her hand while she approached the counter. The manager listened, apologized and opened up the machine. He returned her quarter to her and gave her one of the stu ed animals that she’d been trying to win. Score! Another less intimidating option might be to have your children order for themselves at a restaurant. If you think they’re ready and the place is not too busy, ask the kids if they would like to sit at a separate table or at the counter. For a 7- or 8-year-old, this could feel like a special treat.

If you’re in a store and wondering where to find an item, ask your child to approach an employee to ask for help. These supervised interactions with strangers can boost kids’ confidence, and, in my experience, adults often respond with kindness. I’ll never forget one time we were at the movies when Ivy was 6. We let the kids play arcade games at the theater afterward, and one of Ivy’s


Don’t know how to broach this subject with your kids?

Psychologist and Boston College professor Peter Gray recommended a good line in the “Hidden Brain” podcast episode “Parents: Keep Out!”

Ask them: What is something you’d really like to do that you feel you could do on your own?

Ideally, that leads to a constructive conversation about boundaries and risk-taking — and it’s “an acknowledgment that what the child wants to do is actually important,” he said.

sign for the bathroom?” we’d ask. “Can you point us toward the food court?”

I loved doing this in airports.

I’d have them check the digital signage to tell us if our flight was on time and what gate we needed to get to. Then I had them lead the way. When I asked Graham about this recently, he said he liked it but it got old by the time he was 10. Now when we travel together, the kids usually walk ahead to our destination and meet us there.

spent countless hours there pretending we were Star Wars characters at our rebel base. I’m a big believer in helping kids find those spaces. If you don’t have a Pine Passage, try setting up a tent in the yard or build a little clubhouse. Blanket forts work well, too. Then let them play on their own.

Let them take real risks.

For us, this meant buying hunting knives for the kids when they were in second grade. It felt a little extreme at the time, but it was one of the supplies they needed for Crow’s Path Field School.

Send them into stores by themselves.

This is the best way to turn a boring chore — picking up something at the store — into a memorable excursion. I remember the first time I sent Graham and Ivy into our local Shaw’s at ages 9 and 7. I had forgotten to get almond milk and eggs, so I gave the kids $10 and presented them with this special mission. “No impulse buys,” I said. I stood outside and waited. When they emerged from the store, they were all smiles. They proudly showed me the almond milk and the eggs, which were the cheap kind, not the ones we usually buy. That left them with enough money to a ord their prize purchase — a bag of small plastic skulls. This was not an impulse buy, Graham explained, because it was fall and we always decorate for Halloween.

Give them some space

“And we got 20 skulls instead of one big one, so it was a good deal!” he said. Hard to argue with that logic.

Have them look for signs.

As soon as our kids could read, we started asking them to steer us in the right direction at places such as parks, zoos and museums. “Anybody see a

When I was a kid growing up in suburban Detroit, our tiny fenced-in yard included a row of pine trees. There was a narrow corridor between the trees and the fence where my sister and I would play with our friends; we called it the “Pine Passage.” We were still in the yard but out of view of our parents. We

Until they moved up to middle school, they spent one day a week during the academic year out in the woods at Rock Point in Burlington. Through Crow’s Path, they learned knife safety and carving skills, as well as how to start, tend and be safe around fires. We practiced with them on camping trips and in our backyard, too. They carved all kinds of implements, including spoons and a spatula we still use, and they demonstrated the ability to act responsibly with potentially dangerous tools. Best of all: Nobody got hurt.

Teach them to cook and bake.

Start small — help your kids master a simple recipe, and it will give them a sense of achievement and positive reinforcement when people try their food and like it. For Graham, it was banana bread. Ivy has perfected a brownie recipe. Breakfast was the first meal they learned to cook on their own. Now they make the morning meal for their friends after sleepovers, complete with eggs, fruit smoothies and chocolate-chip pancakes. Graham recently grilled the most incredible maple-glazed bacon. Alas, he’s probably ready for a grill of his own soon. K

area such as a park.
K1-NationalLifeDoGoodFest060524 1 5/20/24 8:25 AM KIDS VT SUMMER 2024 21

Open to all K-8 students Activity Checklist

This summer, you can doomscroll through political news for hours on your phone and grow increasingly anxious about the election in November, or you can channel your energy in a more positive direction — helping the kids in your life take the Good Citizen Challenge.

This fun and engaging civics project promotes positive engagement with groups and activities that strengthen kids’ connections to their local communities — the places where they can have the biggest and most immediate impact. It shows them that they can make a di erence and leaves them wanting to do more.

Through the Challenge, participants become more aware of the civic architecture of their communities — public spaces such as libraries, parks, city halls, town greens, the Statehouse — as well as the news outlets that cover what goes on in those places.

The Challenge encourages participants to think of themselves first and foremost as Good Citizens rather than as political partisans. Good Citizens show up, take responsibility, pitch in, keep up with current events and work well with others. Doing these activities is a step in the right direction!

You could win…

• A trip for two to Washington, D.C.

• Gift cards from Phoenix Books

• Tickets to Vermont Lake Monsters games

• Tickets to Vermont Green FC games

• The ability to direct $500 to a local nonprofit of your choice

• A 2025 Vermont State Parks vehicle pass

• A behind-the-scenes tour of the Statehouse

• Your “I Voted” sticker produced in your town on Election Day.


Anyone in grades K-8 who completes and submits one activity by Labor Day, September 2, 2024, will be entered to win a free trip for two to Washington, D.C., from Milne Travel. The more activities completed and submitted, the more times the participant will be entered in the grand prize drawing.

Activities must be completed during the Challenge period, from May 24 (Memorial Day weekend) through Labor Day, September 2, 2024.

*These activities can be completed and submitted more than once for additional entries in the prize drawing.

1. Design a New “I Voted” Sticker

Work completed for each activity may only be submitted once. The only exception: Writing a Front Porch Forum post about any activity counts as another activity.


Some prizes will be distributed as weekly incentives throughout the summer, so it benefits participants to submit something every week for more chances to win. Others will be distributed at the September 19 Statehouse reception to participants who did the work that best exemplifies the qualities of a Good Citizen. Anyone who completes all 25 activities will be named a Distinguished Citizen and will be honored at the reception. Some activities come with prizes of their own.


Teams of three or more participants are eligible for two special team prizes:

• one for the most activities completed by members of the team — each activity completed by any team member counts toward this total

• one for the team that submits the best quality of work

Both teams will get to direct a $500 grant to a nonprofit, nonpartisan civics or community organization of their choice. Each team member will also be entered individually in the grand prize drawing for the number of activities they themselves completed. No purchase necessary to win; employees of Seven Days and sponsors are not eligible for prizes.

After voters go to the polls on Election Day, they receive an “I Voted” sticker. This is a way of promoting participation in our democracy. Design a new, 2-inch circular “I Voted” sticker that everyone will want to wear! A panel of judges will choose one to be reproduced by the Secretary of State’s O ce and distributed at the polls in the winner’s town on Election Day in November.

2. Borrow Something From the Library*

Visit your local library. Borrow something from the collection — a book, a movie, a museum pass, a cake pan, gardening tools, etc. Tell us what you borrowed and why. Be sure to return it on time!

3. Visit a Memorial*

Public memorials commemorate people and events a community wants everyone to remember. Visit a memorial near where you live and find out who it honors and why. Tell us which one you picked and why it was placed there.

4. Read a Comic Book

The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction produced Freedom and Unity: A Graphic Guide to Civics and Democracy in Vermont with help from Vermont Humanities and the Secretary of State’s O ce. It’s an overview of the various ways local government works. Get a copy from the Secretary of State’s O ce or find it online at css-studio/cartooningprojects/ freedomandunity. Tell us what you learned.

Find more details and submit challenge activities at:

5. Go Jump in a Lake — or a Public Pool*

Take a dip in a public pool or in a pond or lake at a Vermont State Park. Find out who pays for it to operate and takes care of it. Who makes sure it’s safe to swim there? Is there anything you can do to help? Tell us what you learned. Can be repeated at di erent locations.

6. Support a Local Business*

Pick a business in your community that you and your family buy from regularly and fill out a comment card or leave a positive review online to show your support. Share your comments with us. Can be repeated at di erent locations.

7. Visit the Fire Department

Contact your local fire department and ask if you can drop by to talk with a firefighter or rescue squad member. Ask them why they joined the fire department or rescue squad, how long they’ve been doing this work, what kind of training they receive, and how you can help them keep your community or family safe. Tell us what you learned. If you have it, share a photo of your visit.

8. Search for a Deed

Go to your city or town hall and find the deed for a property that’s meaningful to you. How old is it? How many people have owned it? Do you recognize any of the names on the deed? Take a photo of the deed and tell us which property you chose and what you learned.

9. Attend a Community Event*

There are lots of community events during the summer: festivals, parades, concerts, talks, games, fireworks shows. Go to a gathering near the area where you live. Tell us about your experience. Lake Monsters games and Vermont Green FC matches count!

10. Write a Thank-You Note*

Think about someone in your community who you depend on, who helps you out without asking anything in return — this could be a snowplow driver, a mail carrier, a janitor, a librarian, an election worker, a business owner who sponsored a community event you attended. Write that person or group a thankyou note letting them know that you see and appreciate them. Give them the note, and share a copy with us.

11. Connect With Your Neighbors*

Join your neighborhood’s free Front Porch Forum — or, if you’re under 14, have an adult in your household subscribe — and contribute a post about the Good Citizen Challenge, sharing something you’ve learned. Be sure to write “Good Citizen Challenge” in your post. You can repeat this activity, posting about other activities you’ve completed. For every Good Citizenrelated post you write, you’ll be entered in a ra e to win a $250 gift certificate to a local store of your choice.

12. Organize Support for a Cause

Gather donations for a local nonprofit or nonpartisan charity of your choice by encouraging friends, neighbors or family members to contribute. Expand your impact by using Front Porch Forum or social media to seek donations or promote your fundraiser. Tell us which charity you chose and why and how much you raised. Everyone who completes this activity will be entered in a ra e to win an additional $500 toward their cause.

13. Pick Up Trash*

Spend at least 15 minutes picking up litter in a public park or playground. Send a photo of the stu you picked up and threw away. Don’t forget to wear gloves — and never pick up needles. If you find one, tell an adult.

14. Play or Sing

“America the Beautiful”

The words to “America the Beautiful” were written by Katharine Lee Bates; the melody that we sing today is by Samuel A. Ward. Record yourself singing or playing it on your instrument and send us the recording.

15. Visit a Historical Site or Museum*

Visit one of the area’s many historical sites or museums. This could be a local museum of any kind, a historical site or the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier; Fort Ticonderoga in New York counts, as well. So does the Vermont Statehouse! Tell us: What was your favorite part of your visit? Who works there and maintains it? You can often check out free museum passes at your local library.

16. Find Your Polling Place

You won’t be able to register to vote until you’re 18, but if you could vote, where would you go to cast your ballot?

Find out where your polling place would be — by asking your town clerk, librarian or a registered voter who shares your address — and tell us.

17. Work Together With Someone From a Different Background*

Find someone who comes from a di erent background or perspective. For example, this could be someone from a rival school, someone whose family looks di erent from yours, someone who practices another religion or supports an opposing political party. Do something positive for your community together. Share a photo of you with this person and describe your di erences. Tell us about your joint activity.

18. Watch a Candidate Forum or Debate*

There will be lots of opportunities to hear from candidates for o ce in 2024. Watch the presidential debate scheduled for June 27 or a local candidate forum or debate before or after Vermont’s August 13 primary election.

Challenge Organizers Partners Underwriters The Evslin Family Foundation
2023 grand prize winner, Cecilia Neffinger, and her mom, Mary, with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders
Good Citizens at the Morristown Centennial Library raised $529 at their bake sale to help the Johnson Public Library after the July 2023 flood.

Good Citizen Challenge Activity Checklist


Embedded in Vermont’s natural and cultural communities, Pond Brook School approaches education through the lens of the Champlain Valley; in woodlands or in community centers. Pond Brook provides hands-on, rich and engaging curriculum, based in and around Bristol.

19. Show What Vermont’s Motto Means to You

Vermont’s state motto is “Freedom and Unity.” Create a piece of art explaining what that means to you. It could be a drawing, collage, song, poem, sculpture, video, mural — whatever you like! Share it with us.

20. Read the News*

Read an issue of your local community newspaper, in print or online. Don’t have a copy? Look for it at the library. If your town doesn’t have its own news source, read at least five articles from a statewide news outlet such as Seven Days or Tell us the most interesting things you learned.

21. Watch or Listen to the Local News*

22. Find the “Masthead”*

In a newspaper, the section that describes who works for the paper, who owns it and where it is printed is called the “masthead.” Online, you can usually find that information on web pages called “about us” or “our team” or “contact us.” If you’re reading a newspaper, listening to the radio, or watching something on TV or online, figure out who made it and where they are based. Share a photo of this information as proof. This activity can be repeated with di erent news outlets.

23. Talk to a Journalist*

Interview a reporter from your local newspaper, radio or TV station, or online news service. Why did they become a journalist? What are their favorite stories to cover? How do they decide what makes the news? Which one of their stories had the biggest impact? You can do this in person, in a virtual meeting or by email. Tell us what you learned and share a photo if you have one.

24. Take a Quiz: Is This Real?

Powerful advances in technology are making it di cult to trust that what we see is real. Test your powers of observation by taking one of two tests: Which Face Is Real at or Spot the Troll at Tell us how well you did.

Watch the local news on WCAX, NBC5, ABC 22 or Fox 44 or the latest episode of “Vermont This Week” on Vermont Public, or listen to a local news show or podcast from Vermont Public, WDEV or another radio station. Younger participants can also listen to an episode of “But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids.” Tell us which station and program you chose and what you learned.

*These activities can be completed and submitted more than once for additional entries in the prize drawing.

25. Take Control of Your Tech Use

Digital devices such as tablets and smartphones are designed to distract you and keep you looking at them. You can improve your ability to focus on what matters to you by taking control of your tech use. Do at least one of the suggested activities on the Take Control checklist from the Center for Humane Technology, at humanetech. com/take-control and tell us about your experience.

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Alana Berman showing her “Freedom and Unity” poster
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Classes & Camps
Sun Safety Tips Cover up Wear wide-brimmed hats, sunprotective clothing and sunglasses. Stay Indoors Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun's UV rays are strongest. Wear Sunscreen With a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. The higher, the better. Most skin cancer is preventable! Reduce your skin cancer risk by limiting sun exposure. Did you know? Vermont has the second highest incident rate of melanoma in the U.S.A. cancer 2h-UVMCancerCtr052224 1 5/16/24 10:52 AM HOPE.EQUITY.POWER! Heck Yeah! We Got Your Back! LGBTQ+ Leadership LGBTQ+ and Allied Youth Camps Youth & Family Supports So Many Awesome Events! K2h-OutrightVT0324 1 3/7/24 12:26 PM KIDS VT SUMMER 2024 26


Coloring Contest!

Three winners will each receive a sun-protection kit from the University of Vermont Cancer Center. Send Kids VT your work of art by August 9. Be sure to include the info at right with your submission. Winners will be chosen in the following categories: (1) ages 5 and younger, (2) ages 6-8 and (3) ages 9-12. Winners will be named in the Fall Issue of Kids VT. Email your high-resolution scans to with “Coloring Contest” in the subject line, or mail a copy to Kids VT, P.O. Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05401.

Contest sponsored by

Title Artist Age Town Email Phone



“Flower Flow”

Nicole Bingham, 5 DERBY 5 & under

This issue’s winners were chosen by a distinguished panel of a dozen judges that included Seven Days visual art editor and proofreader Alice Dodge; creative director Don Eggert; and the illustrator herself, art director Diane Sullivan. As always, some of the 80-plus submissions elicited strong reactions — “Is that a criminal bunny?! It is!” one judge exclaimed while examining Chip Devitt’s black-andwhite striped critter. Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all who entered. Special shout-out to art teacher Joanna Elliott of Edmunds Elementary School and her talented students. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next!

“Little Bunny Foo Foo”

Calder Michelin, 8




Emerson Fitch, 5, Montpelier


Chip Devitt, 6, Williston


Ella Baker, 9, Burlington


Simone Brandau, 5, Fairfield


Nash Boehm, 9, Burlington


Brad Dishon, 9, Isle La Motte

The winners of a $10 Tinkering Turtle gift card are…


Twyla Jevries, 8, Essex


Ophelia Bailey, 7, Shelburne


Mieke Gray, 10, Winooski


Maizie Roskam, 4, Colchester


Amara Krisher, 4, Underhill


Ady Longo, 5, Colchester


Finley Cochran, 5, Lowell

“Good Versus Evil” Madilyne Olivia Alexander, 11 ROUSES POINT, N.Y.

9 to 12


Evangeline, 7, Middlesex


Elijah Joseph, 7, Barre


Siena Lennox, 8, Vergennes


Evelyn Maxine, 9, Bolton


Mara Bissonnette, 10, Middlebury

“THE BUNNY” Bridget, 9, Duxbury

Get the newsletter featuring notable news, arts and food stories handpicked by our editors. Sit back, relax and read up on what you may have missed.

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Find Myself Longing for Summer

Summer is not my favorite season, summer is not really my jam, but as June, July, and August approach in their usual pack, I find myself longing for the winding days, the heat that slowly drives us all crazy, crazy enough to leap bare-legged into freezing Lake Champlain and actually enjoy it.

Summer is not my favorite season, summer is not really my jam, but when elementary school is over and middle school becomes my next impending doom, we’ll be biking, roaming, laughing as we chase the ice cream truck so far it has to stop and relinquish the frosty treat that melts faster than we can lick it o our fingers.

No, I’m not excited for the summer constellations of angry red bumps that’ll surely appear on my everything before the week is out, but summer means nothing, nothing to stress over, nothing to finish, no deadlines no nothing, except summer.

No, I’m not excited for the summer muggy, clinging heat made all the worse by my thick hair and insistence upon being outside, but summer means everything, everything lazy, everything fun, everything sweet and cool, everything sunny and warm and summer.

Summer is not my favorite season, summer is not really my jam, but as school break comes up on us quicker than spring can end, I find myself longing for summer.


This poem was first published by the Burlington-based Young Writers Project, a free online community where teen writers and visual artists explore, create, connect and get published. Find more information at

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Take this free class to improve skills, set goals, and plan for the future.

Spend your senior year at CCV and meet your HS graduation requirements while also completing a free year of college.

CCV is committed to non-discrimination in its learning and working environments for all persons. All educational and employment opportunities at CCV are offered without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other category protected by law. CCV is an equal opportunity employer. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
and get prepared for life after high school!
offers a full continuum of opportunities
7D_Kids_Backcover.indd 1 5/30/24 12:54 PM K1T-CCV060524 1 5/30/24 2:02 PM
middle and
school students.

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