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Spring 2017


STUFF the Upper Valley’s go-to guide for parents, families and caregivers

Camps for tweens & teens · Art of the Selfie · Say “YES” to Theatre · Young Hacks Academy

Curtains for Cursive? Let's Cook! Kids in the Kitchen

This issue sponsored by Kearsarge Magazine

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Cradle & Crayon, Inc. A safe and nurturing environment promoting exploration in math, science, art, music, literacy, and language

Ages 6 weeks to Kindergarten Now accepting applications for Cradle & Crayon South at 45Danielson Lyme Road, Hanover, NH Call Brenda (603)646-4242 or Email Openings available for children

72 Lyme Road, Hanover, NH 03755 ages 6 weeks to 24 months Second Location to serve infants and toddlers Call or Danielson opening in email the fallBrenda at 45 Lyme Road . (603) 646-4242 - now accepting applications. 2



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Spring 2017


YES! Youth Ensemble Studio



At Northern Stage, aspiring young actors, performers and technicians from area schools are treated to (and challenged by) exceptional training at this professional theatre company. By Heidi Synnott


Young Hacks Academy



Founded in 2012, this nontraditional summer camp not only teaches kids age 9 to 15 computer programming languages, teamwork and presentation skills — it also emphasizes the importance of getting outside and “unplugging.” By Kim J. Gifford


DEPARTMENTS 18 Art: Peeps to Peeple By Kate N. Luppold, Library Arts Center 19 Calendar Fun events for all ages around New Hampshire and Vermont Compiled by Amy Cranage 30 GreatKids Award Winner Congratulations Savannah Bathrick of Claremont, N.H. By Leigh Ann Root

32 Moms: The MELT Method By Laura Jean Whitcomb 34 Science: Making Music By Marcos Stafne, Montshire Museum 36 Parenting: The Five Protective Factors By Maggie Monroe-Cassel, TLC Family Residence Center

A Teen's Favorite Subject? Selfie! Young people are constantly engaging in self-expression. Why not channel this enthusiasm into art and writing? This camp encourages kids to use technology in an adventure in selfdiscovery. By Kim J. Gifford


38 Eat: Get Your Kids into the Kitchen By Laura Jean Whitcomb

Who Need Cursive, Anyway? Handwriting exercises were once an integral part of elementary school. By connecting letters into words on special lined paper, children cemented spelling skills and honed manual dexterity. By Kim J. Gifford UPPERVALLEYKIDSTUFF.COM



editor’s note In mid-December, I received an email notice that enrollment for next summer’s camp sessions was OPEN! “Goodness,” I thought to myself, “I haven’t even finished Christmas shopping!” I promptly filed the email in a “Summer 2017” folder for reference later on. Well, “later on” is now. In a way, contemplating our children’s summer vacations in the midst of mud season is a welcome distraction — a reminder that the snow will melt, the leaves will grow back on the trees, and the lilacs will bloom. While folks in the south revel in the joys of spring, we continue to scrape our windshields and keep that shovel in the trunk. Summer camp? Bring it on! The Upper Valley is blessed with an impressive variety of summer camps and programs to entertain, enrich, and energize our kids. The real challenge is in choosing between the many amazing options. Perhaps your youngster refuses to put the paintbrush down? Or is she a drama queen (or king) who sings Broadway tunes 24/7? Maybe a curious insect collector, insatiable soccer nut, or budding computer coder? Whatever their fancy, there’s a camp for that. Happy spring! Amy Cranage Associate Editor


Jennifer Stark ADVERTISING

Leigh Ann Root WRITERS

Kim J. Gifford Kate N. Luppold Maggie Monroe-Cassel Leigh Ann Root Marcos Stafne, Ph.D. Heidi Synnott Laura Jean Whitcomb Leigh Ann Root Laura Jean Whitcomb Jim Block

The Kid Stuff logo (flower symbol pictured above) is hidden in one ad in this issue. To enter, find the logo and email the following to (with “Find the Flower Spring 2017” in the subject line): 1. The ad (name of the business) in which you found the logo 2. Your full name and mailing address 3. How "green" is your family? What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint? Do you recycle? Compost? We’ll select TWO winners to receive a $20 gift certificate to Little Bear Pottery in North Sutton, N.H. Winners will be announced on Facebook and in the summer issue. Good luck! Congratulations to the winter issue winners of gift certificates to Z Toys and Gifts in Newport, N.H.: Donna Foster of Claremont, N.H., Steven Kelley of Windsor, Vt., and Marta Smith of Charlestown, N.H. The winner of the Tomie dePaola picture book was Karen Wimmer of Bethel, Vt.


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Find the Flower and win FREE Stuff




Kid Stuff is the go-to guide for parents, grand­parents and caregivers. Published four times a year (spring, summer, fall, winter), Kid Stuff is available at 100+ locations across the Upper Valley, and mailed to schools, child cares, doctor/ dentist offices and hair salons. Copyright 2017 by Kearsarge Magazine LLC. All photographs and articles copyright by the photographer or writer unless otherwise noted. Except for one-time personal use, no reproduction without written permission of the copyright owner(s) is allowed. ON THE COVER Stacy Bathrick of Claremont, N.H. is the winner of the Cover Kids photo contest for spring! Pictured is her son, Samuel, and his dog Chevy. Bathrick is a pediatric nurse for Valley Regional Hospital Primary Care, an elementary school drama director, a kids fitness instructor and a photographer at heart! Your child could be on the cover this year; see details at


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Camp Programs Pre-K to 8th Grade Scholarships & Discounts Available!

Contact us at 802.359.5000 or Locations in Quechee, South Pomfret, Washington, VT and Hanover, NH

Montshire Summer Camp

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CALLING YOUNG PERFORMERS! Spring Musical Theater Intensive: A “West Side” Weekend | March 25-26

A weekend of master classes introducing your young performer to our 2017 Season. Barn alumni performers teach master classes in acting, singing, and dancing, focusing on material from Godspell, The Secret Garden, West Side Story, and All Shook Up. Sessions for young performers age 8-12 and 13-18; $150/student for the weekend.

Register Today! Preschool Nature Camp • Montshire Explorers Outdoor Discovery Camp • Inventors’ Workshop Upper Valley Adventures • Aquatic Investigations Aquatic Explorers • Montshire Maker Camp Creative Coding Camp • Exploring Nature through Art Engineering Design Workshop • Science Camp

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Upcoming: Junior Intern Company & Mainstage Auditions | April 29-30

Spend your summer with the Barn! The Junior Intern Company is comprised of young artists ages 12-18 who produce and perform our 5-show Children’s Theater Series over a 9-week period. Acceptance into the program is based on audition and interview; performance and tech internships are available. Also auditioning for children’s roles in our Mainstage production of The Secret Garden. Auditions to be held in New London and White River Jct.; sign up for a spot today!

Summer 2017 Theater Camps | July 10-August 11

Weekly theater camps available for ages 6+ in acting, voice, dance, playwriting, and more. Morning and afternoon options each week; camps are taught by Barn Company members and professional guest artists. Join us! Visit for details on any Barn education program, to register for a camp or class, or to sign up for a youth audition New London Barn Playhouse • New London, NH • 603-526-6710




d ud i n B g s ’ T y e h l e spi l a V

At Northern Stage, Youth Ensemble Studio is alive and well.

Eric Love


BY HEIDI SYNNOTT These are the words of Olivia Swayze, 13, of Tunbridge, Vt., a happy student of theater and the Northern Stage Youth Ensemble Studio (YES) program that provides the right mix of place, time, support and encouragement and a bar set high by professionals. Northern Stage Producing Artistic Director Carol Dunne brought her experience and success in youth mentoring programs to Northern Stage. As the former producing artistic director of the New London Barn Playhouse, Dunne recalls her motivation in creating the YES program for Northern Stage. “Coming from the New London Barn, a theater company based on mentoring, I felt that Northern Stage needed an education program that focused on middle to high school students, giving them the gift not only of excellent teaching but also of the lessons taught by a fully professional, disciplined theater company,” Dunne says. “In 2013 we started with 6 kids. We now have 30.” “The goal of YES,” Dunne says, “is that our young actors receive a quality of theater training that they cannot experience anywhere else in our region. They grow as actors, performers and technicians and continue to perform in their local school and community theater companies, enhancing the quality of those companies by bringing professional behavior, training and discipline with them.” ››››› UPPERVALLEYKIDSTUFF.COM





YES does much more than provide theater training. “Most kids in the YES program this year are middle school age — 6th to 8th grade — a challenging age for many,” says Eric Love, assistant artistic director and director of education. “They feel at home here. The YES experience gives them a community. We provide them with training, put them in costumes, give them cool things to say, create an environment that is encouraging and accepting, and they really shine.” It is no wonder why students feel at home with YES and no wonder why they flourish. “I see the power of theater for them. I treat them like professionals. Kids love being taken seriously. They love exceeding our high expectations,” says Love. The YES program spans the course of the Northern Stage season from September through May. “It’s been a joy for me to watch them grow and nurture their talent. For an adult professional actor, acting is work, and they enjoy it, but for kids? It can literally change their lives. I see it happening at Northern Stage so clearly.” Speaking of his student who wrote the poem “For the Love of Drama,” Love says, “You can hear, in her words, how much she treasures her experience.”

A DYNAMIC MENTOR YES draws students from both sides of the river. Ella Falcone, 14, of Plainfield, N.H., has been taking theater classes at Northern Stage since she was 5. “One of my favorite YES experiences,” says Falcone “was Flat Stanley because all of the people were so nice, and we had a lot of fun, as well as making a fantastic show. Another thing 8


WEB Find out more about YES and other educational offerings at that causes me to continue YES is our fabulous instructor Eric Love. He always has tons of energy, and he always supports us and helps us build our acting skills by throwing challenges at us every day.” Second-year YES student Roberto Silva, 13, of West Lebanon, N.H., explains, “This program means the world to me. My best friends do this program, and I met them in this program. We have the best time and laugh so much! The YES group is my big theater family.”

NINE MONTHS, THREE PRODUCTIONS “What I love about the YES program,” explains Love, “is that it’s not a one-time experience. We build a strong ensemble by performing three productions a year. To prepare for those three productions, the YES kids rehearse intensely, attend all of the main stage productions, take master classes with main stage actors, and celebrate their accomplishments with pizza parties. Through the art of theater, YES teaches students teamwork, problem solving, and how to work hard and dream big.” The 2016-17 YES troupe consists of 30 students. They opened the season in October with “PrehistoROCK!” and then bravely undertook Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” in January. The culminating production in the season, “Dear Edwina, Jr.,” is scheduled to be performed on the main stage Saturday, March 25 through Tuesday, March 28. The public is invited to attend.


Why does YES matter to Northern Stage and the Upper Valley? “Without theater lovers of tomorrow, the theater will begin to fade today,” remarks Dunne. “We nurture local young artists. They are our family. It is Northern Stage’s mission ‘to change lives one story at a time,’ and often the most profound influence we have is on our young people.” Heidi Synnott is a sales and marketing assistant at Northern Stage. She has written for daily newspapers and trade magazines throughout New England. A relative newcomer to the Upper Valley, Heidi and her husband enjoy hiking and gardening and treating their children and grandchildren to Northern Stage productions. Northern Stage is a regional nonprofit LORT-D professional theater company with a mission to change lives, one story at a time. Founded in 1997, Northern Stage has offered more than 115 highquality, professional productions of new works, classics and musicals. The company celebrates its 20th anniversary season this year.

WIN TWO TICKETS TO SEE “DEAR EDWINA, JR.” Northern Stage is offering two tickets to “Dear Edwina, Jr.” to a lucky reader of Kid Stuff! In this production geared toward ages 3 to 14, young Edwina Spoonapple, advice-giver extraordinaire, directs the neighborhood kids in a series of buoyant production numbers for the latest edition of her weekly “Advice-a-Palooza.” For a chance to win, send an email to (with “Dear Edwina, Jr.” in the subject line) by March 19, 2017. Please include your name and mailing address. Good luck!

Summer 2017

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See our website for more information, or call our offi office. ce. UPPERVALLEYKIDSTUFF.COM 802-649-7096 KID STUFF | SPRING 2017



Not Your Typical Summer Camp

Young Hacks Academy gets kids excited about computers. BY KIM J. GIFFORD The words “summer camp” used to conjure woodsy images of rural outdoor settings, swimming, hiking, canoeing and letters home to mom and dad. Today, these words encompass day camps and specialized programs in just about everything from sports to the performing arts to computer programming. And that’s exactly what’s happening in the Upper Valley. Young Hacks Academy (YHA) which holds sessions locally in July at Richmond Middle School in Hanover, N.H. — allows computer lovers to “geek out” in learning programming languages such as Scratch, Java and PlayCanvas while developing tech leadership skills such as presentation, teamwork and communication. The term geek, however, may not be a fair way to describe these campers. Program Director Thomas Bacon and his staff work diligently to expand the traditional notions of what it means to be a computer programmer. Bacon has developed a program that incorporates outdoor activities, appeals to a broader audience, and surprisingly targets younger children, ages 9 to 14, as opposed to teenagers.




FOUR STATES, FOUR YEARS, 1,400 KIDS YHA was founded in 2012. Since then it has grown to include 17 camps in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York and will be expanding into Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine. In its first four years, YHA served 1,400 children. Morgan Meliment, a junior instructor at the Hanover location, notes that as a 7th grader he attended an ID tech camp. “Young Hacks has a really nice personal vibe that the other camp didn’t have. It is also significantly cheaper than an ID tech camp, but the quality of learning is the same or better. It is a really great value over all,” says Meliment. Bacon, whose background is in marketing, originally came up with the idea of YHA as a camp to serve his local community of Colchester, Vt., but it quickly grew beyond his expectations. “I realized that there was a demand for it. Parents were definitely interested and kids were really hungry for it.” His interest came out of being a parent. He felt “a growing frustration” that computer science was being offered only to teenagers at a high school level. He be-

lieves that programming and foreign languages are similar in that children have an innate ability to grasp both at a young age. “The fact that kids have so much access to technology, specifically as consumers, but have very little knowledge of it, seemed to make lot sense to really focus on literacy and giving kids more experience,” Bacon says.

followed by programming tips that students might use throughout the day. Campers then work before breaking for a snack and fresh air. After a bit more programming and lunch, students again go outside for “some vigorous outdoor games,” says Dennison. “Everyone is involved in these games, which

can be oriented around programming themes and are intellectual and physical at the same time.” Sometimes campers embark in traditional games, such as tag, as well.

Bryce praises the camp, saying it taught him “Scratch, working tougher, and learning from my mistakes.” He worked on projects that involved solar energy and saving mountain gorillas. Summarizing the experience as ideal for children interested in learning the basics of coding, Gene Soboleski says, “The challenges were interesting and the instructions for learning how to code were easy to follow, but difficult to master.” Beth Fernandez of Thetford, Vt., chose YHA for her son, Mikey, as an opportunity “to learn something during the summer while at the same time having fun.” He loved it. “I would say it exceeded my expectations,” she says. “He came home every day eager to go back. The fact that he was actively learning a skill while at the same time loving it, made it a big success in my book…my favorite part was that I didn’t hear a single complaint from my son during the whole camp.” Bacon says that this is not at all unusual. “Anecdotally, it’s been amazing. Parents will say ‘my kids never speaks to me, but this week they were so excited they wouldn’t shut up,’” he says.



Gene Soboleski of Hartford Village, Vt., enrolled his 10-year-old son, Bryce, at YHA last summer. He was particularly impressed with the outdoor component. “I am of the belief that exercise increases blood flow to the brain and helps stimulate learning and aids in retention,” Soboleski says.

Bacon designed the camp to be appealing to girls as well as boys. “What we’ve found is because of the sense of purpose that we’ve added to the camp experience; it really resonates with girls, who might otherwise feel ‘computers are not my thing.’ This idea of citizenship and application is something they are interested in,” ››››› he says.

FOUR STEPS TO SOLVE A PROBLEM At the same time, Bacon wanted to make the learning experience more meaningful to a wider range of kids, giving them a sense of agency by designing programming projects that are issue-based. These challenges deal with climate change or animal extinction, for example. “They might build a video game about the disappearance of honeybees, but it has to be informative and tell a story or create a dialogue about the issue,” explains Bacon. The core of Young Hack’s curriculum is based on the four steps of problem solving: research and investigation of the issue, planning and documenting, creating, and review. Bacon feels this final step really sets the camp apart from others in that it helps students learn collaborative and communication skills that are useful to them in all areas of life. The camp experience, however, is not limited to sitting in front of a computer screen. Eric Dennison, an instructor at the Hanover camp, explains that each day begins with “an unplugged activity” such as a team-building exercise, game or puzzle that they do collectively away from the computers; this is




SUMMER CAMPS & PROGRAMS Unfortunately, while the camp does attract both genders, they are still witnessing an 80/20 split. “The girls we do get are really impressive and fully engaged,” says Bacon.

FAMILIAR FACES YHA chooses its mentors from area schools. Dennison, a computer programming instructor at Hanover High School, got involved because of an interest in seeing how other teachers approach computer programming. He has found the experience “valuable.” “It’s also kind of fun to be among young kids for awhile. There is a lot of enthusiasm and raw joy in them in doing the things we do,” says Dennison. Meliment signed up as a junior instructor this past summer finding it “exciting to go to work every

morning. I probably would have even worked there for free.” The camp not only provides students with technical skills that many find empowering, but also creates a sense of community. “I think as an enrichment opportunity parents are blown away by it,” said Bacon. “They say, ‘Whoa, this is igniting something in my child.’ For a lot of kids, some who are on the autism spectrum, the camps have been a great success. Parents may have been struggling with helping their


kids to find their place in the world and this provides community for them. One of the things I didn’t anticipate when I started this was how supportive the environment really is.”

2017 Summer Camps in Art, Nature & History

Justin Morrill State Historic Site Strafford, Vermont

Drawing & Watercolor Camp

Monday-Friday, June 19-23, 9:00am-12noon Explore the fantasy of nature, history and architecture through drawing, writing, mapping, painting & journals. Ages 6-12

Preschool Nature Camp

Monday-Friday, July 10-14, 8:30-11:30am Experience the wonder and beauty of nature through hands-on activities, songs, stories, games, arts and crafts. Ages 3-5

$125 per session

Preregister your child 802•765•4288 today!





Kids s p m a C g n i k Coo SUMMER 2017


Ages 9-12 9 a.m.– 3 p.m. Extended camp available until 4 p.m.

JUNE 26-30 Around the World JULY 24-28 The Science of Cooking AUG. 21-25 Cooking with Books

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Young people are constantly engaging in selfexpression. Why not channel this enthusiasm into art and writing? BY KIM J. GIFFORD For the last few years, I have spent a week each summer at AVA Gallery & Art Center in Lebanon, N.H., leading teens on a path of self-discovery through the crafts of art and writing in a camp called Selfie! Monsters, Heroes and Secrets Selves. In many ways, it is an exercise in “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Instead of asking kids to put their phones down, this camp actually encourages them to use electronic devices to facilitate the creation of art. Attendees range in age from 12 to 17. Getting teens to open up and keeping up with their fast-paced and energetic natures can be challenging. Experimenting with a wide variety of mediums, word games and short writing prompts quickly grips their imagination — sometimes producing amazing results. By marrying each writing prompt to an art project, this camp puts a twist on traditional writing exercises. 14



Two of last summer’s campers, Sarah Wood, 12, of Claremont, N.H., and Ingrid Cole-Johnson, 13, of Newbury, Vt., worked on art and writing prompts to explore their alter egos, fears, obsessions and self-image. Projects included collages and masks (obsessions), clay sculptures (fears) and a recreation of a childhood selfie (self-image).

To express what “marks” them, the girls sketched ideas for tattoos, and then transferred their favorites onto their skin as temporary henna tattoos. They shared their favorite (and often surprising) musical choices. Each painted her own watercolor self-silhouette and filled in a traced shadow drawing with words and favorite things that she felt best represented her. To get the writing juices flowing, the group played word games such as Hiakubes and formed Haikus out of the words that landed faceup after throwing the dice. Next, it was time to write a poem based on the prompt “I Come From…” The only rules: the first line of the

poem must begin with “I Come From…” and end with “I Am…” The poems were then transferred onto posters. Each art assignment introduced a new medium such as watercolor, acrylic, clay or collage. It was interesting to observe how the campers would approach each prompt with little direction; I simply placed the supplies on the table. Wood, for example, found some tissue paper and transformed her poster into a three-dimensional work by adding raised red roses. Designing henna tattoos had to top the list of the campers’ favorite activities. They used smartphones to google henna designs, sketch›››››

Looking for a writing prompt you can try with your teen? This one comes from Tristine Rainer, writer of Your Life As Story. Using a set number of facts (between 5 and 10), ask your teen to describe how to be him or her-self engaged in their favorite activity. “How to be Ellie Dancing,” for example. It’s amazing how easily this list of facts reads as a poem. It is an easy way to produce a piece of writing and builds self-confidence when kids read the results.




Check out our SUMMER 2017 camps and programs! There is something offered for every age and ability. Visit our website for more details.

Where students are athletes and artists...

Sunapee, NH • 603.763.0589 •

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ing their own on paper, and then drawing outlines on their hands and legs with white eyeliner before applying the actual henna. The girls reveled in recreating a photo from childhood, bringing in props and rearranging the art studio to achieve desired results. They discussed the meaning of the photos they brought in, why they had chosen it and how they felt about recreating the picture now. Cole-Johnson was pleased to discover a shaggy orange pillow in the studio that served as a makeshift red dog from her childhood. Like any good camp, the aim of Selfie! Monsters, Heroes and Secret Selves is to provide kids with a fun and creative experience. Meeting new people and immediately sharing intimate aspects of one’s self can be daunting. But playing with words and images rather than being judged for “getting it right” quickly puts introverted campers at ease. By holding up a mirror to their inner selves, these teens not only had fun being creative, but also dispelled their monsters, became their own heroes, and peeled back the layers to reveal a part of their secret selves — completely through their own creations. Mission accomplished! Kim J. Gifford is a writer, photographer/artist, and avid dog lover. Her Bethel, Vt., home is always filled with nieces and nephews and her three pugs: Alfie, Waffles and Amore. Visit her blog at Special thanks to the Selfie! campers for sharing their artwork.

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“Follow the boardwalk up and down stairs and ladders on many levels. Cross the bridges and climb (occasionally crawl) into the caves. So many gorgeous views at multiple elevations make this a photography lover’s dream. The mountain setting and the beautiful river nestled in the gorge among the massive boulders makes this a nature lover’s dream...” (Patricia visited August 2016)

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Art Smart

Peeps to Peeple

With a little imagination and some craft supplies, the iconic spring confections make sweet works of art.

BY KATE N. LUPPOLD One of the first signs of spring is found not outside, but inside stores where colorful sugar-coated marshmallow baby chicks called Peeps take over the shelves and grab our attention. Over the years, Peeps have become icons of spring. While these sugar coated confections have a way with a sweet tooth, they are also undeniably appealing to an artist. Every spring, these zany little chicks and bunnies appear in Peeps dioramas, a crafting phenomenon gaining popularity nationwide. The Library Arts Center in Newport, N.H., hosts the longest running Peeps Diorama Contest in the state. This annual event is open to participation by children and adults in the entire region. Thousands of visitors come to see the amazing creative dioramas that take over the gallery every year. Constructing a Peeps diorama is fun for all. This is a great rainy day kitchen table project. Making Peeple is fun do alone, with friends or with family. Why not throw a “Peeps to Peeple” party? The results are always hilarious and often adorable.



WHAT YOU NEED · Peeps in a variety of colors and shapes (some to eat and some with which to craft) · Basic craft supplies (such as yarn, fabric, googly eyes, pompoms, lace, ribbon, chenille, buttons, paper clips, etc.) · Scissors · A shoe or other box (no bigger than a boot box) · Hot glue gun, glue and/or tape

GET CREATIVE · Choose a theme (such as a favorite story, book, movie or sport; a nursery rhyme, your



With young children, we recommend a low temperature glue gun used with adult assistance and supervision.


Looking for inspiration? Think about history, current events, pop culture, politics, trends, art, etc., and a topic is sure to grab you. For a multitude of ideas, search on “Peeps Diorama” on the Internet. The Library Arts Center’s web site has a portfolio of photographs from past years’ contests where you will notice many entries play on the word “peep.” Kate N. Luppold, director of the Library Arts Center in Newport, N.H., is an ardent proponent of building community through the arts. family, friends or school — the sky is the limit!) · Lay your materials out on a table or other work area · Use your imagination to adorn your Peeple — a scrap of lace becomes a tutu; a paperclip can be transformed into eyeglasses, figure skates or a crown; a scrap of tissue paper might make a lovely dress or overalls · Consider entering your creation into the Peeps Diorama Contest to be held in April. Entry is free, prizes are provided by Peeps and Company, and involvement brings laughter to all. Full entry and event details may be found at


The calendar is sponsored by Harbor Handiman

March 5

Sunday/12 to 4 p.m.

March 1

Family Arts Day Talented local artists lead free hands-on workshops in stilt-walking, face painting, printmaking and more! Refreshments will be available. >> The Sharon Academy High School, 6704 Route 14, Sharon, Vt. >> Free >> sharonacademy.orgÂ

Wednesdays/9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Sensory Lab for Tots Children and caregivers are invited to explore self-guided sensory art

March 10 Friday/10 a.m.

Heroes of the Underground Railroad An inspiring exploration of the lives and work of notable Abolitionists and slaves that sheds light on everything from secret messages along the routes to music from the period. >> Claremont Opera House, 58 Opera House Square, Claremont, N.H. >> $5 >>

March 11 Saturday/11 a.m.

No Strings Marionettes: Wasabi A Dragon’s Tale With a little help from her wise fairy friends, a spunky Princess outwits Wasabi to save the kingdom and the day. The performance begins with an interactive sing-along and ends with a behind-the-scenes look at the puppets. >> Claremont Savings Bank Community Center, 152 South Street, Claremont, N.H. >> Free >>

stations which offer tots the chance to play with finger paint, modeling dough, moon sand and more. >> ArtisTree Community Arts Center and Gallery, 2095 Pomfret Road, South Pomfret, Vt. >> $5 drop-in >>

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March 11

March 19

Saturday/1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday/3 p.m.

Take Apart Day Ever wonder what’s inside the household appliances you use every day? Join us and explore the gut of VCRs, toasters, cameras and toys where you’ll find gears, cams, motors, and other components that work together to form complex mechanical and electrical machines. >> Montshire Museum, One Montshire Road, Norwich, Vt. >> Free with museum admission >>

March 18

Saturday/11:00 a.m. - 1 Mile Fun Run 12 p.m. – 5k Race

16th Annual Shamrock Shuffle 5k Road Race & 1 Mile Fun Run Fun prizes for top overall male and female. Unique medals for top three in each age group. Bananas, bagels and beverages available. Benefits Youth Activities Scholarships. Reduced fee if registered before March 10. >> Lebanon City Hall, 51 North Park Street, Lebanon, N,H. >> Adults $28, youth 13 to 17 $23, youth 12 and under $18 >>

March 18 and 19 Saturday/7 to 10 p.m. Sunday/11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

7th Annual Howel Classic Saturday is date-night for grown-ups to play indoor mini-golf, swing to jazz music, and enjoy tasty hors d’oeuvres while kids age 4 to 11 party in pajamas. On Sunday, the course is open and daytime golfers get to snack on pizza and treats. >> Howe Library, 13 South Street, Hanover, N.H. >> Saturday: Adults $60, Kids Pajama Party $15; Sunday $5 per person >> 20



CHaD Battle of the Badges Hockey Championship 10th Anniversary Police officers and firefighters from across the region gather to play hockey to benefit the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. >> SNHU Arena, 555 Elm Street, Manchester, N.H. >> $10, kids 5 and under free >>

March 24 and 25 Friday/6 p.m. Saturday/3 p.m.

Middle School Carnival and Circus Under the direction of a highly skilled circus professional, middle school students treat spectators to a family friendly rollicking good time. Before the show, enjoy a variety of games and activities for children at the student-led carnival. >> The Sharon Academy High School, Route 14, Sharon, Vt. >> $3 >>

March 25 and 26 Saturday and Sunday/Various times

Maple Weekend An entire weekend is dedicated to the local folks who spend countless hours every spring collecting and boiling sap from maple trees to make delicious syrup. Enjoy pancakes, donuts, sugar on snow and more! >> Locations throughout New Hampshire and Vermont >> >>


March 27 Monday/10 a.m.

Pete the Cat After Pete the Cat is caught rocking out after bedtime, the cat-catcher sends him to live with the Biddle family to learn his manners. The minute Pete walks in the door, he gets the whole family rocking — except for young Jimmy Biddle. Join Jimmy and Pete on an adventure of friendship. Recommended for preschool to grade 3. >> Lebanon Opera House, 51 North Park Street, Lebanon, N.H. >> $4 to $10 >>

March 31

Friday/6 to 9:45 p.m.

Branch Out! For Teens ArtisTree and Spectrum Teen Center invite teens (only teens) to Branch Out the last Friday of every month. Creative activities, free appetizers, finger foods and snacks! >> ArtisTree Community Arts Center and Gallery, 2095 Pomfret Road, South Pomfret, Vt. >> Free >>

April 1

Saturday/10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Science Day at Dartmouth Graduate students from eight STEM departments invite area students to visit their laboratories, meet real scientists-in-training, and learn about a wide variety of fields of scientific research. Fun demonstrations and hands-on activities. Learn just how exciting research can be! >> Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center, Dartmouth College, Dewey Field Road, Hanover, N.H. >> Free >>

April 7

Friday/9:30 to 10:45 a.m.

Early Childhood Craft and Story Explore one of the Upper Valley Waldorf School’s early childhood classrooms with your child, make a simple craft, and enjoy a short puppet story. Pre-registration requested: 802-296-2496 ext. 11. >> Upper Valley Waldorf School, 80 Bluff Road, Quechee, Vt. >> Free >>

April 8

Saturday/3 p.m.

Akwaaba Traditional African Drum and Dance Ensemble African drumming and dance come to vivid life with the rhythms and styles of different tribal groups from West Africa. Energetic and engaging performances are a reflection of the group’s name, which means “welcome” in the Akan language of Ghana. >> Claremont Savings Bank Community Center, 152 South Street, Claremont, N.H. >> Free >>

April 9

Sunday/11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Flavors of the Valley Taste the flavors of the Upper Valley at this premier sampling event. Enjoy fresh produce, artisan bread, award-winning cheeses, tasty jams, maple cotton candy, hand-crafted sweets and many other delicious local goods. >> Hartford High School, 37 Highland Avenue, White River Junction, Vt. >> $10 per person, children 6 and under free ($30 maximum per family) >> Find more on Facebook!





April 14

April 22

Friday/5 to 6:30 p.m.

Saturday/1 p.m.

Peeps Diorama Contest and Party Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite diorama. Partygoers enjoy Peeps-themed refreshments, including a Peeps s’more roast in the parking lot (weather permitting). >> Library Arts Center, 58 North Main Street, Newport, N.H. >> Free >>

April 15

April 27 ArcAttack

Annual Egg Hunt Come meet the Easter Bunny, hunt for eggs, and visit with your friends! Wear your mud boots and remember your Easter Baskets! >> Arrowhead Recreation Area, 18 Robert Easter Way, Claremont, N.H. >> Free >>

April 15

Saturday/8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Safe SitterÂŽ Training This medically accurate program teaches girls and boys age 11 to 13 how to handle emergencies when caring for young children. Students get hands-on practice in basic lifesaving techniques so they are prepared to act in a crisis. Preregistration required. >> New London Hospital, 273 County Road, New London, N.H. >> $50 >>


Spring peepers and the quacking of wood frogs can be heard in vernal pools when the woods wake up in the spring. Bring the whole family for a learning adventure and discover who lives there and why they these temporary habitats are so important. >> The Fells, 456 Route 103A, Newbury, N.H. >> Free >>

Thursday/10 a.m.

Saturday/9:30 a.m. 1st grade and under Saturday/10:30 a.m. 2nd grade and older


Discover Vernal Pools


In an electrifying show unlike any other, ArcAttack takes kids on an interactive journey of discovery to learn the science behind the amazing show they see on stage. ArcAttack inspires curiosity about physics, mathematics, chemistry and engineering. Recommended for grades 4 to 9. >> Lebanon Opera House, 51 North Park Street, Lebanon, N.H. >> $4 to $10 >>

April 28

Friday/7 to 9 p.m.

Middle School Fun Night Middle schoolers are invited to enjoy music, food, games and fun in the pool. A collaborative initiative of UVAC and Hartford Parks and Recreation. >> Upper Valley Aquatic Center, 100 Arboretum Lane, White River Junction, Vt. >> $5 >>


April 30

May 11

Sunday/1 p.m.

Thursday/10 a.m.

Earth Gardens and the Seeds of Life: Planting a Traditional Family Garden Celebrate spring with a gardening program for the whole family. The day includes storytelling, music, hands-on demonstrations, activities and suggestions for garden recipes, crafts and games. Preregistration required. >> Morrill Homestead Education Center & Grounds, 214 Morrill Memorial Highway, Strafford, Vt. >> $5 per person, $10 per family >>

May 2 to 30 Tuesdays/10 to 11 a.m.

Blooms, Buds and Bugs April showers bring May flowers. It’s time to get outside and enjoy the beauty of spring. First four meetings are at LSPA, last is at The Fells. >> Lake Sunapee Protective Association, 63 Main Street, Sunapee Harbor, N.H. >> The Fells, 456 Route 103A, Newbury, N.H. >> Free >>

May 6 and 7

Saturday and Sunday/10 a.m.

Opening Weekend at The Fort at No. 4 Visit the various homes within the 18th-century fortified village and engage in period games. View period cooking, baking, spinning, sewing, artillery and musket demonstrations. >> The Fort at No. 4, 267 Springfield Road, Charlestown, N.H. >> Tickets $5 to $10, children under 5 free >>

Biscuit A frolicking little puppy named Biscuit loves exploring, making new friends, and even stirring up some mischief. Along the way, Biscuit learns about the joys of having a family. Recommended for preschool to grade 3. >> Lebanon Opera House, 51 North Park Street, Lebanon, N.H. >> $4 to $10 >>

May 13

Saturday/11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Cow Pie Bingo One ticket gives a family of four admission to a spring day full of fun — including a Cow Pie Bingo square (and a chance to win $500), music, crafts, games, lunch, all-you-can-eat ice cream and a silent auction. >> Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School, 104 Lyme Road, Hanover, N.H. >> $25 per family includes all activities and food >>

May 16

Tuesday/10 a.m.

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun Lucy is one of a kind and Ralph loves to point that out. Lucy’s defining moment comes when Ralph truly needs her help. This tasty musical empowers children when faced with bullying to always do the right thing. Recommended for preschool to grade 4. >> Woodstock Town Hall Theatre, 31 The Green, Woodstock, Vt. >> $6 >>

Find more on Facebook!





May 27

May 20

Saturday/11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday/2 to 4 p.m.

Kite Day at Balch Hill

Open Fields Medieval Festival

The Thetford Green comes alive with the sights and sounds of a medieval village. There will be food, Join the Hanover performances, crafts, Conservancy for a games and other joyous and colorful activities for kids afternoon of kite-flylarge and small. Cosing in the breezes of tumes encouraged. Balch Hill. This annual >> The Green, favorite, sponsored Academy Road, by Red Kite Candy of Thetford, Vt. Bradford, Vt., makes >> $7/person, age for great family fun 4 and under and includes snacks. free >> Balch Hill Natural Area, Hanover, N.H. >> >> Free >> Find more on Facebook!



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Who Needs Cursive, Anyway? As we write less and tap more, the results are not necessarily what we expect. BY KIM J. GIFFORD The name “John Hancock” and his distinctly large script on The Declaration of Independence have become synonymous with the word “signature.” But, according to some educators who are proponents of cursive writing, if Hancock were a child growing up today, he might not be able to write his own name in cursive — let alone read it. Indeed, the dominance of technology in schools has led to a decline in cursive writing. But is it truly a dying art? Conversations with educators around the Upper Valley suggest that cursive handwriting is far from doomed; in fact, most schools teach cursive handwriting through the 5th grade.

THE TEACHERS’ VIEW “We are teaching it,” says Bill Hammond, principal of the Marion Cross School in Norwich, Vt. “It is not as prominent a subject as it used to be, but we are still teaching it…. It is not just about being able to write in cursive, it’s about connecting letters and recognizing connections between letters — using these letters to get a sense of words.” Even in 6th grade, students at Marion Cross School are required to keep handwritten journals, says Hammond. “I think part of the compromise is we don’t teach cursive handwriting in as much detail as we did 30 years ago.” Jonathan Fenton, a 5th grade teacher at marion Cross School, believes that the death sentence pro-

nounced on cursive writing comes, in part, from the fact that a majority of people “have just assumed — without much pause, reflection or quality research — that it’s an obsolete skill.” Lisa Floyd, an 8th grade English teacher in Randolph, Vt., and vice chair of the Bethel School Board, explains that schools today have 6½ hours “to teach everything from adaptability [and] respect for yourself and others as well as math, science, music, English, world languages and art.” It’s no wonder cursive isn’t taught anymore! Floyd acknowledges that students “will spend dramatically more time typing than they will writing,” but still sees a benefit in teaching cursive writing — primarily for the ability to decode ›››››




“Cursive has been proven to help students who have difficulty reading and spelling because, when you write in cursive, an entire word becomes a unit and the letters are not separate entities.” – Andra Mills, certified educational and dyslexia therapist



handwritten letters and read historical documents. Unfortunately, she notes, a growing number of students cannot read her handwriting when she provides feedback in cursive.

DOES IT REALLY MATTER? Why all the fuss when kids today have access to all sorts of writing implements from tablets to laptop computers? Martha Langill, principal at Lebanon Middle School in Lebanon, N.H., advocates for cursive because “it is a more efficient way of writing.” Others, like Andra Mills, a professionally certified educational and dyslexia therapist, believe that in addition to keyboarding, it is imperative to teach students to write in cursive for a myriad of reasons. MRI studies reveal that the act of cursive handwriting “actually activates massive areas in the brain involved in thinking, word rendering and language. Cursive handwriting has been proven to help students who have difficulty reading and spelling because, when you write in cursive, an entire word becomes a unit and the letters are not separate entities,” says Mills. Fenton believes that recent MRI research may have instituted “a budding awareness and appreciation” for handwriting. He cites his daughter’s high school English and humanities teachers, who are now requiring handwriting annotations and the use of handwritten Post-It™ notes in response to this research. On his part, Fenton has his 5th graders compose poetry by hand and uses spelling and vocabulary tests and instruction as an opportunity to practice cursive while anything longer, like essays, are done on the computer.


Mary Fettig, educational support coordinator at Upper Valley Waldorf School in Quechee, Vt., feels handwriting “is one aspect of how we integrate movement and thinking. Learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development as it activates both sides of the brain and strengthens handeye coordination.”

LOSING GRIP Mary Blake, an occupational therapist, at Therapeutic Dimensions in White River Junction, V.t. wholeheartedly agrees. She feels that a lot of children today lack the foundation skills that kids had 20 years ago, “such as picking up a pencil and knowing where to put their fingers.” Blake feels that handwriting uses muscles in the hands in the way they were intended, allowing each finger to touch the tip of the thumb and utilize tools such as a pencil, scissors, knife, and fork. She has visited less technologically advanced countries and noticed that children there are better able to pick up and hold pencils in a way that American children cannot. In fact, Derek Tremblay, headmaster at Mount Royal Academy in Sunapee, N.H., notes one of the differences between his established students and new kids coming from other schools is the strength of their grip.

SCRIBE ANXIETY As they progress through school, the requirement to write in cursive can produce anxiety for some students. Harvie Porter, a SAT supervisor at Randolph Union High School, in Randolph, Vt., notes that, historically, students were instructed to write the certification statement on the SAT in cursive. In recent years, this caused anxiety

Reach New Heights.

An independent school with a public purpose. for test takers who could not write in cursive. And now, the College Boards no longer require students to write this statement in cursive. At the same time, administrators at many postsecondary institutions find it challenging to read the handwriting of recent high school graduates. Office staff members at a local technical college bemoan the poor legibility of students’ signatures. An administrator at a local private elementary school complains about the ability to decipher the signatures of college interns.

TAKE IT HOME Writing tutor Jane Friedlander of Thetford Center, Vt., says there is an alternative to incorporating cursive into teachers’ busy workload: setting aside small amounts of time at home for children to practice cursive. Some parents even seek outside instruction for their children. Area teacher and artist Maryann Davis says that she was been hired by one parent to teach cursive to her son as an art form. “She came to me concerned because she saw the research that validates that cursive writing should be taught,” Davis says. Upper Valley homeschool mom Meg Pillsbury demonstrates how attitudes toward cursive have changed over the years. Pillsbury, who has taught all seven of ›››››

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her children at home, admits to “diligently” teaching her first four children to write in script. By the fifth, she was “less diligent.” The last one now writes in script for three minutes a day.

SELF-EXPRESSION IS THE BOTTOM LINE Blake cautions that there is a need to step away from the computer in order to gain perspective. Tremblay agrees, “Our culture right now is all about expression — even if it means adversely affecting someone else.” In his opinion, cursive allows students to slow down and think before saying something that might be hurtful. He adds that early exposure to technology at home might suggest that children do not need immediate computer instruction at school. “My 2-yearold can navigate an Amazon Kindle just fine,” he says.

Yet, keyboarding is obviously also essential. Eloise Ginty, principal of Mount Lebanon School in West Lebanon, argues, “I don’t think cursive is the end all in terms of developing fine motor control. There are all kinds of other ways we can get kids involved with that, and I would hope this would happen before 3rd and 5th grade — which is when cursive kicks in.” Ginty feels that technology offers children new forms of expression. “Kindergarteners can now get thoughts out on paper with dictation or drawings or by creating digitally, which I really believe is the definition of writing, getting their thoughts on paper,” she says.

“Cursive allows students to slow down and think before saying something that might be hurtful.” – Derek Tremblay, headmaster at Mount Royal Academy in Sunapee, N.H.


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A talented artist sets her sights on a dazzling career. GreatKids Award

Savannah Bathrick of Claremont, N.H., is the GreatKids Award winner this spring.


Spring's GreatKids award is sponsored by Balanced Bookkeeping in Grantham, N.H.



Savannah Bathrick, an eclectic and highly creative 8th grader, is our GreatKid Award recipient for spring 2017. She’s a makeup artist, animal lover and homeschooler all wrapped up in a beautifully honest and loving soul. She describes herself as quick witted, caring, and a brutally honest friend. Savannah says, “I like long walks on the beach, snuggling with my cat and I’m inspired by music. I love to sleep, eat, hang out with friends, and I love my alone time, too.” A family friend, Dr. Corinne Sullivan, talks about Savannah’s brutally honest nature, “Being honest will not always gain you the most friends but will make you a valued friend. Honesty requires stepping out of your own world and observing the world around you. This is Savannah,” she says. It’s rare to meet a 14 year old who knows exactly what her future will hold. Without hesitation, she says, “I want to be a professional makeup artist.” From the spectacular creations done on herself to her makeup artistry for the drama club, she’s already making her own original way. Explaining what it means to be artistic, Savannah says, “It’s the expression of multiple creative ideas and thoughts you have each and every day.” Amongst her high aspirations and frank persona lies a playful teen. She loves to skateboard, play video games (role playing games like SIMS), and considers herself to be a professional crazy cat lady. Savannah is a student at Virtual Learning Academy Charter School and loves homeschooling for the flexibility it offers. Savannah’s 3rd grade teacher Colleen Coskren says, “After 40 years of teaching, there are students who hold a special place in your heart. Savannah is one of them. She continues to be that same free spirit and loving individual. She sees the world a little differently and is her own person. She was extremely focused and motivated as a student. She took ownership of everything and ensured it was a reflection of who she was and what she had to say.”


“She has a remarkable connection to her family’s welfare and happiness, especially when support is needed. She has been taught to believe in herself, to be strong and confident. It’s most impressive that she has taken all she has learned and brings this to others. Every year she volunteers at the “You’re Amazing” Self-Esteem Project where she instills these qualities in other young girls,” Coskren says. “Savannah has the ability to pay attention to grand concepts and small details around her. This makes Savanna exceptional as a person and artist. This is exemplified in her work on her FXME website where she transforms herself into a myriad of creatures,” says Dr Sullivan. “Everyone who has the privilege of knowing this bold young woman cannot help but share themselves with her and grow from the experience. She’s an inspiration to my two young daughters.” Savannah’s sister-in-law, Hope Bathrick, describes her as funny and a joy to be around. “She’s endlessly happy and has an incredible infectious laugh. She never complains and always puts her best foot forward. I’m proud of Savannah for the beautiful, wise and kind woman she is developing into,” says Bathrick.

Congratulations to one extraordinary and great kid, Savannah Bathrick! Your future looks as sunny as your shimmering personality! Leigh Ann Root is a freelance writer, photographer and yoga instructor. She lives in Newbury, N.H., with her husband, Jonathan, and two children, Parker and Joleigh.

The 5th Annual “You’re Amazing” Self-Esteem Project & Pageant Upper Valley girls in grades 5 to 8 are invited to attend the 5th Annual “You’re Amazing” Self-Esteem Project & Pageant on Saturday, March 18, at the Claremont Senior Center in Claremont, N.H. This free community based event was founded by Stacy Bathrick of Claremont with the goal of instilling positive self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth in local middle-school girls. On this day filled with mini seminars and engaging activities, volunteers from the community offer opportunities to try new hairstyles, participate in fitness fun, sample healthy food, and learn from inspiring guest speakers. The event concludes with dinner and pageant at the exquisite Claremont Opera House. For more information, email Bathrick at





The MELT Method Attention parents and caregivers: Open Door teaches a self-treatment technique that can make your whole body feel better in just minutes. BY LAURA JEAN WHITCOMB PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM BLOCK I’m running errands — one place to another to another — and an orange and blue poster catches my eye: The MELT Method is a selftreatment technique that can make your whole body feel better in just minutes. Hmmm. I like the sound of that, so I pull the sign off the bulletin board. (Sorry other people who might be interested, but I really need this.) Back home later that afternoon, I turn on my computer and type in the poster’s website. The MELT Method is a class offered at Open Door on North Main Street in White River Junction, Vt. Open Door is an integrative wellness center; it looks like they have a variety of classes and workshops from dance and martial arts to cooking and meditation. A few emails later and I’ve set myself up for a Thursday session.

THE PLACE Kate Gamble, Open Door founder and creative director, greets me at the door. She is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and physical therapist. “I have injuries from dance, and MELT is one of the few things I have found to be beneficial,” she says. “It’s a complement to what-



ever your activity level is — from athlete to aches and pains.” I’m not an athlete, for sure, but I do have some carpal tunnel happening and I wouldn’t mind easing the tightness out of my shoulders. Gamble introduces

Sarah Goodman, MELT instructor

WEB Sara Goodman, the hand and foot MELT instructor. She hands me a glass filled with water, and instructs me to drink. “The reason we feel pain is we are dehydrated;


the fascia layer is dehydrated on a cellular level,” she says. “Think of your body as a sponge. If you pour water in, it just runs off. But if you massage the water in, the sponge will expand and become flexible.” I ask Goodman about her MELT background. Goodman took a class in New York City, and liked it so much that she took the hand and foot certification classes where she learned about the neurofascial system — the interconnectedness of the nervous and the connective

improve performance, or people who want to improve healing after injury or surgery. It’s very subtle but good stuff.”


tissue systems — and the complementary MELT techniques. When she’s not teaching MELT classes, Goodman is a textile artist with a school/studio in Lyme, N.H. “I sit at a loom and use my body really hard and in repetitive ways,” she says.

THE CLASS A yoga mat is set up on the floor. Nearby there is a bag, which contains four small foam balls, and a roller. I took off my shoes in the entryway and I stand barefoot on the mat. The first step, similar to yoga and meditation, is a body scan — what hurts? What doesn’t hurt? Then Goodman walks the class through the foot techniques with a set of foam balls. You place one ball (then the other) strategically under one foot and follow a set of instructions that is like a whole new language: glide, indirect shear, direct shear, rinse. She explains how each step works to gently stimulate the connective layer, answers questions, and reminds us to breathe. MELT reminds me of massage, the application of pressure on the body to relieve stress, combined with reflexology, pressure on just the hands and feet. But with MELT you don’t need another person; it is something you can learn and do on your own. Once we’re done with our left foot, Goodman asks us to bend

I feel pretty good after the session, limber and my blood is flowing. As Goodman hands me a second glass of water, I ask about the amount of pressure you should use on the ball. “Your body will tell you what you need,” she says. “It’s something you can fit into your day — take classes and learn it over time, then do it independently at home. Fifteen minutes three times a week, and you will really see a difference.” Fifteen minutes, and I can do the hand techniques at my desk? That, I can do.

forward. One hand reaches longer than the other, showing that I’ve stretched out one side of the body via my feet. I’m excited to try the MELT Method on my right foot and see if my other arm stretches out. (It does.) The class continues with a series of hand techniques and inLaura Jean Whitcomb is a mother of four struction on how to use the roller (two human children and two pet children) on your spine, calves and ankles. in Grantham, N.H. Goodman explains that an athlete developed the MELT method, and there’s a great deal of science behind the thorough and systematic therapeutic For voting techniques. Whaleback “It’s like giving yourself a massage,” she says. “It’s not supposed to hurt; it should feel 2017 WMUR Viewers' good. Anyone Choice can try it — people with arthritis, athletes to

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Making Music From science to technology to math, hands-on experiences can help your child choose an instrument. BY MARCOS STAFNE I told the same lie to my piano teacher every week. Without fail, she would ask if I had played daily between lessons. I always said “Yes,” but my fingers gave me away as soon as I touched the keys. Like many kids, I played with the piano for about an hour a day. I sat underneath the keyboard and pretended it was a fort. I ran my matchbox cars along the curves of the music stand. I rearranged the pictures on the lid of the piano so that my uncle wouldn’t stare at me while playing “Für Elise.”

INSIDE THE INSTRUMENT My parents assumed that I would be naturally inclined to play the piano because we had one in the living room. The truth was I just wasn’t interested in playing the piano. I was interested the mechanics of the piano that made noise. I often looked inside to see how the mallets worked and plucked the strings to see the differences in the vibrations. As soon as I figured out how it worked, I finally warmed up to playing the piano (but that



Making Music: The Science of Musical Instruments runs through Sep. 17 at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt. As they wander throughout the 2,500-square-foot exhibition, kids learn that all musical instruments — from a simple flute to a synthesizer — are tools that use science, technology, engineering and mathematics to make a pleasing noise.


wasn’t until I was a teenager). Learning how a musical instrument works is one of the first steps in learning how to play. In Making Music: The Science of Musical Instruments, the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt., showcases how musical instruments are created and played, explores the relationship between differences in design and the sounds produced, and investigates stories of the people who make and play them.

FROM “PLAYING WITH” TO REALLY PLAYING Experimenting with real instruments can help kids satisfy their burgeoning interest in music. Ben Van Vliet, executive director of the Upper Valley Music Center in Lebanon, N.H., sees kids making connections to musical instruments every day. “Kids have lots of experiences with toy instruments throughout their early development, but there is a special moment when they get a real instrument in their hands for the first time,” says

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Van Vliet, “Once they’ve had a few lessons, there’s a realization that they can make music and, all of a sudden, it’s another voice for the child.” Van Vliet recommends that families attend concerts to watch and hear musicians playing. Even watching YouTube videos can give your child a sense of how an instrument works. Also, if one of your child’s classmates plays an instrument, perhaps arrange for a musical play date. Over time and through exposure, you will find the right match for your child.

WHEN PLAY BECOMES (UGH) WORK What should you do if your child gets frustrated with an instrument? Van Vliet’s advice is to encourage him or her to stick with it for a few years to gain a deeper knowledge about the instrument and develop proficiency. If, after a couple of years, your child wants to try something different, he or she can make an informed decision about switching. If the switch happens too soon, your child will never be able to take full advantage of knowing how to play the instrument. Sticking with the original choice is also an excellent exercise in commitment, patience and perseverance. Marcos Stafne, Ph.D., is the executive director for the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt. Growing up, he played piano, recorder, hand bells, clarinet, trumpet, accordion and cello. These days, he is trying to learn to play the harmonica.

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The Five Protective Factors This handful of strategies can help parents succeed.

BY MAGGIE MONROE-CASSEL Parenting is hard. Parents need support systems in order to succeed to the best of their potential. Today, much of the available support is geared towards families at risk for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) — events that create trauma in a child’s life. ACEs include the stresses of poverty, physical or sexual abuse and more. It is important to remember, though, that all families need help and support in parenting. As adoptive parents 31 years ago, my husband and I could have used a lot more support than we thought we needed. This was not because we were at risk, lacked

Everyone needs someone to let off steam and share concerns with. Sometimes a family member fulfills this need and sometimes friends help. Connecting with other parents reminds us that our worries and stresses are not unique; we’re all dealing with similar struggles. 36


skills to figure things out, were poor, or lacked family support. All parenting is hard work, and adoptive parenting comes with its own unique set of challenges. Today, I find myself working for a family resource center focused on helping parents discover and nurture their strengths for successful parenting. I am learning all kinds of things I could have used as a parent years ago; the most useful tool I have found is a list of Five Protective Factors for Strengthening Families:

To protect your own family, make sure you get enough sleep, exercise and eat the right food. Try to build up savings so those inevitable yet always unexpected repairs to car or home don’t add undue stress. If you see signs that another family is in stress, reach out and offer to help by caring for the kids or delivering a fully prepared meal to their home. Communities of faith, service clubs and other community groups sometimes maintain special family funds to help families in financial crisis.




Parents can overcome hard times — and rebound. Everyone has challenging days. Whether those days occur occasionally or often, there are ways to prepare.


Everyone needs someone to let off steam and share concerns with. Sometimes a family member fulfills this need and sometimes friends help. When family and

friends are hard to come by, the local community can help by offering parents’ groups, blogs and opportunities for families to gather together. Connecting with other parents reminds us that our worries and stresses are not unique; we’re all dealing with similar struggles.

PARENTS CONCRETE 33 PROVIDE SUPPORT IN TIMES OF NEED Parents may not always be aware of the services available to help with basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. Perhaps a family needs help to get to the doctor for a well-child checkup or needs guidance to local resources. If you are a parent, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Know of a kid doing great things? Nominate them for the Great Kids Award!

Great Kids

4 FACILITATE KNOWLEDGE OF 4 PARENTING AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT No parent is an expert in child development or how to help children manage social and emotional issues. Research shows that just as children’s brains and bodies develop, so do their emotions and their ability to express themselves. A great online resource is VROOM (, available as a smartphone app. VROOM provides tips throughout the day about how to help build your child’s brain at the bus stop, the grocery store or home.

5 SUPPORT HEALTHY SOCIAL AND 5 EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN YOUNG CHILDREN Whether interacting with our own children or others’, we as adults can encourage and gently acknowledge their successes. Ask them about their feelings and explore with them how they express their feelings. The Center on the Social & Emotional Foundations for Early Learning has a great website for more information on the social and emotional development of young children (csefel. Upper Valley Haven 713 Hartford Avenue White River Junction, Vermont 05001 802.295.6500

Application can be found online at

Upper Valley Haven

Illustration on front: Gouache prototype by Sabra Field for the Upper Valley Haven © 2016

There are many tools for healthy family outcomes, but these five statements encompass the core of them. Communities, schools, faith institutions, clubs, caregivers and parents can all work towards strengthening all families. Maggie Monroe-Cassel is executive director with TLC Family Resource Center (previously known as Good Beginnings of Sullivan County). TLC Family Resource Center serves all families in Sullivan and lower Grafton Counties of New Hampshire. Learn more at

The need in our community is great. Join us in making a difference for more than 14,000 people each year in the Upper Valley who are facing poverty and homelessness. Adult, Family & Seasonal Shelters Education Food Shelf Service Coordination Children’s Program Volunteer Services 713 Hartford Avenue • White River Junction, VT 05001 (802) 295-6500 • UPPERVALLEYKIDSTUFF.COM




Get Your Kids into the Kitchen Cooking is not only a basic life skill. It is also an art and a science (with a little bit of math thrown in).

BY LAURA JEAN WHITCOMB My parents taught me many things, but perhaps the most helpful was how to cook. When I was a young child (7 to 10), I’d love to watch my mom in the kitchen. Sometimes she’d give me some scraps of dough that I could mold and bake right along with her. Then one Christmas I got my own Betty Crocker easy bake oven. Oh, how I loved to bake tiny cakes and mini-cookies by the heat of a light bulb! I didn’t realize how valuable this skill was until I went to college. I could cook just about anything in a toaster oven or hot pot. Even in graduate school, my apartment was often the location for dinner parties or chili cookoffs. When my study group was hungry, I rummaged around in the kitchen to see what I had and was able to put together a quick chicken stir fry and serve it over rice. “You made this?” my friend asked. “I wouldn’t be able to.” If you’d like to get your kids in the kitchen, here are a few ideas:

1 Think of this as an activity with your child. Treat it the



same way you would if you were going for a hike or going to a movie. Focus (no electronic devices!) and have fun.

2 Start slow. I started with popcorn in the microwave. Then we moved to an egg in the microwave, and how to reheat something. Maybe do the same with a toaster: toast vs. bagel vs. English muffin. Then you can tackle the oven.


3 Make sure clean up is a part of the activity. Dirty as many dishes as you want — but you’re going to help wash (or dry) them afterward. (We’ve even had to vacuum the floor, thanks to a flour bag explosion.)

4 Include safety tips like washing your hands, not licking your fingers or the spoon, how to use a knife or peeler, and how to

WIN FREE STUFF Share a recipe with Kid Stuff for a chance to win this baking kit and $25 giftcard to PriceChopper! Email your recipe to; one winner will be chosen in April. behave near a hot stove. Show the kids where potholders are, where hot pans should be set, and what to do if something does go wrong.

5 We moved from the microwave to oven baking pretty quickly. I started by having my son (or daughter) pour in the measured flour or crack the egg in a separate bowl. Then they moved to measuring the ingredients themselves and added them to the bowl while I read the recipe out loud. Now they read the recipe themselves, measure themselves, mix themselves (I’m usually nearby). You can take any recipe and break it into stages, based on the age of your child, to get them involved.

6 Let your child have some control — it’s okay, really, if the frosting on the holiday cookies doesn’t look perfect. They will get eaten!



· · · · · ·

7 Get them their own utensils. There are some “safe” knives for children — made of nylon or plastic, some with guards — on the market. You can also buy them their own set of measuring cups and spoons; my daughter has her own mixing bowls and she takes great care of them.

8 Have them plan a meal. They can go through a recipe book, pick out what they want to cook, make it, and serve it for a family dinner. It’s a huge confidence boost when everyone digs right in!

9 Celebrate the failures, too. Not everything is going to taste great (was I supposed to add ½ cup sugar or ½ cup salt?). Talk about what might have happened, and how you can make the recipe

better next time. (And don’t yell unless it’s a safety issue.)

10 Let them create a recipe. I have a couple great basics — Alfredo sauce, shortbread cookies, pound cake — that can be altered. When should we add broccoli to the pasta? Do we have to use vanilla, or can we try almond or lemon, in the cookies? They can even rename the recipe; chocolate chip cookies may become monster choco bars! Sure, cooking can be a chore. But it can also be a hobby, a career and it can provide a feeling of independence (I don’t need to ask mom to make my breakfast). Studies show it can also lead to healthy eating; if you cook your own meals you are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables. So, as time (and your sanity) allows, spend an hour or two in the kitchen with your kids each week. You’ll be glad you did, especially when they’ve made you a meal — and cleaned up!

Kids love to wash veggies with a colander in the sink. Keep the mixer unplugged so little fingers don’t get curious. Avoid splashes; add chunks to hot liquid with a spoon. Grating, peeling and slicing soft fruit is fun (with supervision). Share tricks, like using the egg shell to get a piece of shell out of a cracked egg. Read a cookbook from start to finish. Look at the introduction in the front, the information about measurements and cooking times, then skim through to see what recipe you might like to make. Give kids sticky notes to put on their favorite pages.


Laura Jean Whitcomb lives in Grantham, N.H., with her husband, two children, dog and cat. She is the publisher of Kid Stuff and Kearsarge Magazine.



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Kid stuff spring 2017  

NH/VT summer camp ideas, the benefits of cursive, teaching kids to cook, spring events and activities and more are in this Upper Valley publ...

Kid stuff spring 2017  

NH/VT summer camp ideas, the benefits of cursive, teaching kids to cook, spring events and activities and more are in this Upper Valley publ...