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What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had outdoors?
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GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK in Colorado. I felt
like a tiny ant playing in a gigantic sandbox. Very surreal.
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Shortly after we got married, my husband and I took a trip to COSTA RICA. One morning, we went white-water rafting with a group of 20 strangers. I expected to drive up to a quiet, clear, babbling brook. Instead the tour van pulled up to a river which was a swirly, churning, muddy Class IV rapid. Terrified and excited, we all got to know each other real quick.
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Alison and her kids at the Falls of Lana
Finding Peace in Nature
s the school year draws nearer and the pandemic continues to rage in many parts of the country, I find the words of a Wendell Berry poem, “The Peace of Wild Things” swirling in my head. It begins:
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I’ve always appreciated Vermont’s pristine natural environment, but in recent months, I’ve felt especially grateful for it. In March, when schools abruptly closed and we were thrust into a completely unfamiliar rhythm, walks in the woods became a daily practice for my family that somehow seemed to anchor us to the earth. As the weather warmed, we began taking longer excursions to places like Lemon Fair Sculpture Park in Shoreham, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park in Woodstock, Alburgh Dunes State Park in Alburgh and the Falls of Lana in Salisbury. Despite everything that has changed, the unspoiled beauty of our state has remained. And a lot of things have changed. With camps and classes closed, this summer has been like no other. Same goes for this “back-to-school” season. In this month’s issue, Margaret Grayson writes about the tough decisions parents are facing about work, childcare and school this fall. Though circumstances vary, what’s clear is that Vermont families are encountering issues they’ve never dealt with before — and there are no simple answers. Find “Working Class” on page 16. And on pages 8 and 9, find articles that explore how some local schools are using outdoor spaces this coming year, and why Vermont is uniquely suited for this kind of learning. I’m also pleased to introduce “Art Lessons,” a new column from Winooski teacher Emily Jacobs. Each month, Jacobs will share a project she’s done with her students and offer advice for how to try something similar at home with your kids. In this issue, she explores the work of contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley, who centers people of color in his vivid, large-scale portraiture to critique their historic marginalization. Find it on page 10. We will all face a myriad of challenges this fall — some we can anticipate, and others we may never have expected. Berry’s poem ends with the words: “For a time/I rest in the grace of the world and am free.” I’ll be holding tight to the comforting fact that we live in a place where that “grace” is easy to find. ALISON NOVAK, MANAGING EDITOR
HEATHER POLIFKA-RIVAS, “USE YOUR WORDS” COLUMNIST
When I was 16, my sister, brother and I took our first sibling solo backpacking trip. After a day and a night of solid rain in New Hampshire’s WHITE MOUNTAINS, the weather broke, and we slept on a rocky mountaintop under a full moon — without a tent. I’ve never forgotten that night of sharing secrets, eating dried figs and basking in the moonlight. BRETT ANN STANCIU, “BOOKWORMS” COLUMNIST
Our family took overnight camping trips when I was little — hiking up to various lodges on the LONG TRAIL. I have so many great childhood camping memories — but the time our family dog went after a porcupine halfway up the mountain stands out. KIRSTEN THOMPSON, ART DIRECTOR
CONTRIBUTOR’S NOTE (“Art Lessons,” page 10) is an art educator, avid reader and food enthusiast who lives in Burlington with her husband, Adam. She can be found organizing her book collection by color and, depending on the season, swimming in waterfalls, hiking amid fall foliage or cross-country skiing through snowy woods.
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Rob Donnelly illustrates the tough path parents are walking this fall as they contemplate childcare, school and work amid a pandemic.
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haven’t sent the package yet. I still want to add a few things,” I told my 9-year-old niece in Finland during a recent video call. “Let’s see if it arrives by Christmas,” I continued, smiling. “Or by my birthday,” my niece added dryly, referring to next February. Although we said these things lightheartedly, both of us knew they were not really jokes. Among so many other effects of COVID19, delivery of international packages is extremely slow, or even suspended, due to air travel restrictions. “You’re right,” I told my niece. “It may not arrive until around your birthday.” Then I continued, thinking out loud: “You’ll probably like completely different things by the time it arrives.” My niece nodded in agreement. A third grader who is enjoying the last lazy weeks of her summer holiday is different from a kid in the midst of fourth grade. My niece is at the age when friends, returning from their summer vacation, have grown taller and look different somehow; when a thing that was recently loved may abruptly be deemed childish; when favorite colors still change often. In the life of a 9-year-old, a few months is a long time. Suddenly, the nature of my little parcel changed. It is no longer a box that will travel from Vermont to Finland in weeks. It is a time capsule: a collection of things that will embark on a long journey through the unpredictable months of fall in the United States and Europe, to be discovered one winter afternoon in Finland. After the call ended, I knew I had to rethink what to send. This was a parcel bound for the future, after all.
KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
MEALTIME BY A ST RI D H E D B OR L A GUE
Caribbean-Inspired Salad Travel with your taste buds to a tropical locale
INGREDIENTS Pickled red onions •
3/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
Salad dressing •
1/2 cup strong ginger beer (I used Reed’s)
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
PHOTOS: ANDY BRUMBAUGH
onsidering the state of our world right now, tropical vacations likely won’t be happening for the foreseeable future. For now, food is a great way to transport your family to far-flung destinations. This light, flavorful salad is the perfect dish for the steamy summer months. I’ve never visited the Caribbean myself, but my parents traveled there many times, usually on a mission to collect butterflies — one of my father’s passions. They loved the culture, the forests, the natural beauty and the food. Though this salad is not based on a traditional recipe, my mother confirmed it was reminiscent of some of the dishes they had during their travels. You can adapt this salad based on what you have on hand. I used a mixture of papaya, mango and avocado on a bed of peppery arugula and watercress. The greens did a wonderful job offsetting the sweetness of the fruit. The quick-pickled red onions gave the dish a crunchy tang, and the jalapeño added a hint of heat. (I deseeded mine and only used half. You could use more if your family likes things spicier.) In place of croutons, I used plantain chips, a starchy cousin of the banana that’s ubiquitous in Caribbean cuisine. The dressing was entirely my own creation, but the mix of spicy ginger and sweet honey would be right at home in the islands. I served this salad along with simple jerk chicken thighs and coconut jasmine rice. If a meal could embody sunshine, this would be it. Eat it al fresco, and wash it down with a cold bottle of ginger beer to complete the experience.
5 ounces baby arugula, washed
1 bunch watercress, leaves only, washed
2 ripe mangoes, cubed
1 papaya, seeded and cubed
2 ripe avocados, cubed
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped finely (or more, to taste)
Plantain chips for garnish
DIRECTIONS 1. To make the pickled onions, bring the vinegar and honey to a simmer. Transfer to a jar that contains the sliced red onion, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. 2. To make the dressing, combine ingredients in a jar that holds at least twice as much as the ingredients (to allow for the fact that the ginger beer is carbonated), cover tightly, and mix well by shaking. 3. To make the salad, toss the greens together, then top with mango, papaya and avocado. Add the pickled onion, jalapeño, and plantain chips. Toss to mix. Dress before serving.
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EDUCATION BY K AT H L E E N KE S S ON
Nature as Teacher How some schools have embraced learning outside not typically afraid that their kids will get Pacem School teens testing lost, injured or attacked by wild animals, homemade boats so there is not the risk aversion we see here. They know that in order to become truly intelligent, one must explore their world, and the study and enjoyment of nature is woven throughout the entire curriculum. Even in the higher grades, when more time is spent on academics, all young people spend a minimum of an hour outdoors daily, yearround. And guess what? Young people tend to do as well or better academically as their U.S. counterparts in and engaged when high school, even they do focus on Students at Thetford though there is little academics. Elementary School testing and a great I did a case cleaning sweet potatoes deal of emphasis study in the 1990s, on creativity and funded by the project-based learning. Vermont Institute for Science, Math Though more of us are becoming and Technology, of the Barnet School, a aware that children suffer from “naturepublic school in the Northeast Kingdom deficit disorder,” a term coined by author that had organized its K-8 curriculum Richard Louv, outdoor learning has around the themes of food, hunger and been slow to catch on in the U.S., despite community. The educators at this school studies showing that those students have made full use of the surrounding 98 acres fewer sick days, better motor skills and of wilderness. Students and community improved fitness — and are more attentive members had built educational spaces
LAKE CHAMPLAIN WALDORF SCHOOL BUILDS SIX NEW OUTDOOR CLASSROOMS Parents and students arrived at Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne on a steamy Saturday morning in July ready to get their hands dirty. Wearing sneakers, shorts, sun hats and cloth facial coverings, the volunteers gathered to help build six outdoor classrooms that will be used in the coming school year. Four of the spaces will be ready when school opens in late August; two will be completed by students in the fall. As a saw whirred in the background, Waldorf parent Julie Jennings explained the available tasks to kids and adults: moving stumps and wood pallets into the woods, measuring and drilling boards for outdoor desks, pulling up poison parsnip on the forest trails, or staining a fence surrounding the kindergarten classroom. “That’s a really chill job,” Jennings said of the last option. Outdoor learning has always been an important component of Waldorf education, but this coming 8
KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
A new outdoor classroom, illustrated by 11th grade student Wren Van Deusen
school year — which will begin as a pandemic rages in many parts of the country — the pre-K-12 independent school plans to embrace it more fully than ever. That’s because research has shown that the risk of contracting the coronavirus diminishes greatly in the open air. In fact, the strategy of moving classrooms outdoors to combat disease dates back more than a century; in the early 1900s, as tuberculosis raged, children in the Northeast attended classes under outdoor tents, on building roofs and, in one case, on an abandoned ferry,
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN WALDORF SCHOOL
Into the Wild
COURTESY OF PACEM SCHOOL
COURTESY OF THETFORD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
n 2010, my oldest son moved his family to Norway, abandoning a senior-level position with the federal government to live in a cottage on the edge of a fjord. My two granddaughters had spent their early childhoods in a progressive, naturebased day school in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, and the eldest had one year of U.S. public kindergarten under her belt. I wondered what first grade in her new village school would be like. Both children were fluent in the local language by the time school started that fall, and my older granddaughter, Anika, excelled academically. But stark differences in educational approaches soon became apparent. Norwegian parents and educators put an emphasis on fostering cooperation, independence and selfesteem over academic skills. Norwegians feel these social and emotional attributes are best learned by students spending the majority of their time in nature, engaged in exploration, exercise, nature study and teamwork. My youngest granddaughter, Freya, spent her entire Norwegian preschool career outdoors. Picture this: 3-year-olds exploring heavily wooded unfenced areas, climbing trees, breaking ice in a fjord with an ax, boating, building a fire, rock climbing, carving wood, and taking midday naps outdoors in all but the most inclement weather. Visiting Norway, I was astounded by the fearlessness and physical capabilities of very young people. Norwegians are
for water study, bird-watching, weather monitoring and the arts. The school had numerous raised garden beds where students planted and cared for indigenous crops and herbs, and a composting station in which the heat of decomposing matter was measured. These fortunate young people often went fishing on Fridays and enjoyed cross-country skiing in the winter. Teachers noticed a number of benefits from the outdoor learning: fewer discipline problems, broader academic achievement among all kids and more enthusiasm for learning. A number of Vermont educators
according to a recent New York Times article. They kept warm by cocooning in blankets and resting their feet on heated soapstone. The Turtle Lane Campus of the Lake Champlain Waldorf School, which sits on 22 acres of wooden Nature Conservancy land bordered by the LaPlatte River, is an ideal canvas on which to reimagine learning in the time of COVID-19. The outdoor classrooms, which will be used all year, will be scattered throughout the woods and connected by elevated walkways built to protect the fragile wetlands. Features will include propane heaters, hammock seats, canopies made from parachutes, and poles with hooks to hang portable chalkboards. Volunteers are building 40 convertible wooden desk-benches, and students will also have access to oversize clipboards for working outside. A tiered amphitheater, situated in a grassy field in front of the school building, will provide an ideal spot for larger assemblies and performances. A large parent donation allowed the school to take on the ambitious project. The outdoor classrooms were designed by head of school Jas Darland, who assumed the helm of Lake Champlain Waldorf School last year. Prior to moving to Vermont, Darland founded and managed the Waldorf Garden School in
can impact society. The school will also offer new enrichment classes for younger homeschoolers, which will focus on topics including nature journaling and math in nature in the fall. Chance Lindsley is the principal of the public K-6 Thetford Elementary School and an ardent supporter of outdoor education. Thetford has been fortunate to have the services of Cat Buxton — local community organizer, educator, consultant and founder of the Pacem student Ripley Boyden tagging a monarch butterfly
COURTESY OF PACEM SCHOOL
have received mini grants to implement outdoor education this fall, and I recently spoke with school leaders who are enthusiastic about moving some school activities outdoors. Pacem School in Montpelier is an independent middle and high school that serves both full-time students and part-time homeschoolers. At Pacem, students cocreate the curricula, learn at their own pace and incorporate environmental stewardship into their lives. Lexi Shear, director of the school and a science teacher, told me the school has long made good use of the woods and fields surrounding the school building on the campus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. This fall, educators there are planning to move even more of their academic classes outside. Although the impetus for this move is to mitigate the risk from the coronavirus, teachers and students are excited for the curricular opportunities it will afford. As the middle school science teacher remarked, “Being outside makes unanticipated discoveries and adventures in learning much more likely. My youngest group can traipse around looking for insects. My oldest group can be investigating water quality.” The high school U.S. history class will study changing land use in New England, from Native people through settlement to the present, with a big focus on what can be learned from physical clues in the surrounding landscape. The middle school social studies class will learn about civics through building a model village, with the goal of wrestling with what it really takes to build a new community and understanding how the landscape
Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition — who helped the school set up a gardening and compost program years ago. Lindsley is collaborating with local parents and teachers who would like to see that aspect of the school expanded to include a greenhouse and an animal barn. Outdoor education at Thetford is not just about food production.
Atlanta, Ga., the first accredited forest elementary and middle school in the Southeast, where she helped other schools in the region design open-air spaces. Outdoor education, she said, “is near and dear to my heart.” Classrooms built in nature have different characteristics that make them more conducive to different kinds of learning, Darland explained. A space with an expansive Volunteers cutting feeling might lend itself to oration, wood for convertible for example, while a quiet, tuckeddesk-benches away space would be ideal when students need to complete a task that requires focus or intellectual stamina. While many Vermont public schools have released plans for a mix of virtual and in-person learning, Darland said Lake Champlain Waldorf School plans to be open full time in the fall. High school students, who used to be based on the school’s Bostwick Road building, will move to the Turtle Lane campus this year. The Bostwick campus will be used for early childhood programs, which the school plans to expand to include a part-time morning forest preschool program. In
Kindergarten teachers Sue Rogers and Bette Nuñez have used the surrounding forest as a learning environment for many years. In their outdoor classroom, children make fires; build structures; identify insects, animals and plants; and engage in play-based learning. The teachers report that the children love it outdoors and that little “discipline” is required. Our attitudes toward outdoor education may change as we begin to see innovations such as these taking hold in Vermont schools. Brewster-Pierce Memorial School in Huntington, in a joint project with the Securing Access at Huntington Community Forest project, has just received a $50,000 grant from L.L.Bean to enhance its outdoor education program. Educators, students and community members will reap the many benefits of learning in the 245-acre forest right outside their door. In this era of climate instability and species extinction, it is urgent that young people learn to live sustainably and responsibly. Vermont, with its stunning scenery and unique working landscape, is the perfect place to learn how to do this. Moving the classroom outdoors is a great way to start. Kathleen Kesson is professor emerita of teaching, learning and leadership at Long Island University-Brooklyn. She is the former director of teacher education at Goddard College in Vermont and was the founding director of the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education at the University of Vermont, a research and policy organization. She currently lives in Barre.
grades 1-12, average class size is between 12 and 14 students, which will help with physical distancing, and all classrooms have doors to the outside and sinks for handwashing. The school will abide by the state’s protocols for schools, requiring students to wear masks even outside if they are less than six feet apart. Christina Bell is a parent of two Lake Champlain Waldorf School elementary students and a member of the school’s board. Though reimagining education during the time of the pandemic is not an ideal situation, Bell said, one of the driving questions behind building the outdoor classrooms has been: “How can we as parents come together and create the best possible year for our kids?” The school was already focused on “immersive outdoor education,” said Bell, so “it’s exciting to be able to solve a problem through one of our strengths.”
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ART LESSONS B Y E M I LY J A COBS
Representation in Art Exploring the work of Kehinde Wiley with kids
uring the past few months, many of us have isolated ourselves due to the coronavirus — working remotely and engaging with friends and family through Zoom instead of in-person visits. As a result, we have felt our worlds shrink. With so much art and literature accessible online, though, opportunities still exist for children and caregivers alike to learn, find inspiration and express themselves creatively. A group of Winooski Middle School students did just that during my recent summer art class online, called “The Portrait Studio.” Students convened over Zoom for this virtual learning experience, which centered on the artwork of Kehinde (pronounced keh-HIN-day) Wiley — one of America’s most prominent contemporary portrait artists. Wiley is best known for his larger-than-life paintings celebrating Black and brown bodies and personalities within the context of the Western art world, which has historically underrepresented, demeaned or entirely excluded people of color. Most historic portraits in the Western art tradition feature white, male aristocrats and have either omitted people of color or relegated them to the shadows and peripheries, often in servile positions. Sadly, these historic artworks reflect an accurate and systematic marginalization and oppression of people of color in our society. Wiley — himself a queer African American man — seeks to critique and counteract this oppressive history by centering and celebrating Black and brown beauty and strength in his large-scale portraits. Wiley grounds elements of his portraits in the trappings of traditional European portraiture — a subject in a powerful stance making eye contact with the viewer; an ornate floral motif in the background; a sense of opulence — but centers Black, Latinx and Indigenous individuals and families dressed in their preferred styles of clothing. He often infuses his color palettes with vivid or neon colors. In doing this, Wiley subverts tradition and critiques the historic marginalization of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) individuals in art history, and in society as a whole. While Wiley has painted well-known political and pop-culture figures — including president Barack Obama, the Notorious B.I.G., Salt-N-Pepa and Spike Lee — the majority of his portrait subjects are “everyday” individuals he 10
KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
has encountered on the streets of cities, towns and villages around the globe, from Harlem to Mumbai, Senegal to Rio de Janeiro.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMILY JACOBS
Nadine Ikizakubuntu with “Different Flowers From the Same Garden”
“Black Is Beautiful” by Sherihan Abdulaziz
In my virtual Portrait Studio class, students met on Zoom to study and discuss the work of Wiley, as well as the history and ideals in which his art is grounded. Each student then created their own large-scale portrait inspired by Wiley’s artwork, featuring a BIPOC individual — whether themselves, a friend or a celebrity they admire. Fourteenyear-old Sherihan Abdulaziz shared her thoughts on Carol Duong the importance of with “Thorns” including individuals of all races and cultures in art “so that people of all colors feel included and welcome.” Nadine Ikizakubuntu, also 14, commented on the how seeing oneself represented or reflected in art “can help people to feel seen and loved and important.” Nadine’s Wiley-inspired portrait, titled “Different Flowers From the Same Garden,” depicts herself in a favorite outfit, holding in her arms the baby sister of a close friend. The visual arts can be an effective and inspiring conduit not only for self-expression but for expanding one’s worldview
LEARN MORE •
View Kehinde Wiley’s work at kehindewiley.com and artsy.net/artist/kehinde-wiley.
Hear Wiley speak about his work at thekidshouldseethis.com/post/ a-new-republic-the-portrait-work-ofartist-kehinde-wiley.
GATHER YOUR MATERIALS and better understanding experiences beyond our own. Having taught visual arts to students ranging from ages 4 to 14 for nearly a decade, I have seen that even very young children are able to find inspiration in art that reflects experiences outside of their own; empathize with the sentiments that art conveys; and reinterpret an advanced artistic style in their own unique way.
While my summer art students primarily used colored pencils for this project, crayons or markers would also work well. Choose a medium that will allow your child to draw their subject’s facial features in some detail. Watercolor paint can make filling in the background spaces much faster. Make sure you have appropriate colors to be able to accommodate a wide range of skin tones. If you’re looking for an alternative to drawing, you and your child can create your own Wiley-inspired portraits through the art of collage, by cutting figures out of magazines or newspapers and gluing them onto your own drawn floral backgrounds or patterned art paper.
POP CULTURE B Y KE E GA N A L BA UGH
Fathers and Friendship
ne evening in May, I slouched against the kitchen island and started sobbing. Two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself drained. Raising two children, one 18 months old and the other a few weeks shy of her 4th birthday, while my partner and I both tried to work was having a hugely negative impact on my mental health. After a few minutes of letting the tears flow, I wiped my eyes with my sleeve, then grabbed my phone. I opened up Marco Polo, an app for group video messaging, and tapped the “record” button. “It’s hard to describe the feelings I was having ... I think I’m just fried … The past two nights, Penny’s had a hard time going down to sleep. Usually, she goes down pretty easily, but she’s been, like, up and crying. And then, when she finally went down ... I just, like, I just started sobbing.” After delivering the monologue, I went to get a drink of water. Within the next half hour, several fathers responded to my video, offering empathy, support and thoughtful words. I felt better. Supported. Connected. At the start of the pandemic, Dad Guild — the nonprofit organization I helped start in 2018 — started a Marco Polo group so local fathers could connect virtually. Now, it boasts more than 20 fathers, with a dozen who post and respond to videos regularly. After four months of participation, group members have remarked that this is the closest and most comfortable they have ever felt with a group of men. I agree. This type of vulnerable, supportive
network among fathers, and men overall, is not common. According to a survey completed in the United Kingdom by YouGov, a global public opinion company, “around 18 percent of men said they did not consider themselves to have close friends.” Thirtytwo percent stated they did not even have a best friend. And, typically, dads start off without much support prior to the birth of a child. In a 2015 Massachusetts General Hospital survey of more the 900 expectant fathers, one-third of the respondents “answered ‘nobody’ when they were asked who they could go to for support and information about fathering skills.” Although the numbers are alarming, I’m not surprised. In our society, men are conditioned to bottle up their feelings and mask their vulnerabilities. But men need opportunities to connect, share and listen. The positive impacts of social connections are clear. In a Johns Hopkins University study, it was found that “blood pressure rates improved 17 percent when men suffering from heart disease had the support of friends and a spouse, as opposed to just a spouse.” And research at the University of Michigan “has correlated being part of a social group to a 67 percent improvement in symptoms of depression.” I think about how my own social life has looked over the years, and how the older I’ve gotten, the more challenging it has been to find meaningful, healthy friendships. When I was in high school and college, I could literally walk down any hall and bump into people I knew.
The importance of social connections for dads
After college, once I started working, it got a little trickier. Spending time with friends and engaging in personal conversations usually required intention and planning. Shortly after kids entered the picture, the number of friends I felt I could talk to regarding personal matters dropped to less than five. So, what can we do? Here are some ideas for fostering meaningful friendships with other dads, most of which are still possible during this time of social distancing: • Search for a dad group. They may be few and far between, but search your community for any dad groups or clubs. In the Burlington area, fathers who have regularly attended Dad Guild events have tripled the number of dads they feel they can turn to when they want to discuss fatherhood topics, according to a recent survey. • Find a Meetup or Facebook group around a specific interest. Have a hobby? Search for groups of people with like-minded interests. Connecting over a shared interest can lead to lasting friendships. • Connect with your neighbors. Bake some cookies and bring them to a neighbor you don’t really know, or just spend more time grilling on your front
lawn. A lot of times, we live around awesome people but don’t really take the time to connect. • Volunteer for a local cause. What are you passionate about? Chances are, if you volunteer with an organization with a mission that aligns with your beliefs, you’ll connect with people who share similar ideals. • Reconnect with friends from the past. We get busy and don’t always prioritize reaching out to those we already have established relationships with. Take a moment and reach out to someone you haven’t spoken with in a while. In our Marco Polo group, one of the fathers welcomed his second daughter in July. While at the hospital, another dad, who owns a local coffee business, dropped off iced coffee for the father and all of the nurses on the unit. That night, the father recorded a message: “Thanks so much for all the support. It really means a lot. I’m getting a little emotional ... It’s just been really amazing getting to know you guys and sharing everything that’s going on in our lives. I feel in a really different place, um, in terms of the sense of community to where I was, I don’t know, maybe six months ago ... I appreciate you guys. I’ll catch up with you soon.”
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VERMONT VISIONARIES B Y CAT CU TI L L O
What follows are distilled quotes from a conversation with Essex Junction resident Annie Cooper, a longtime swim instructor for children and adults with a passionate local following. Cooper moved to Vermont in 1996 and has owned Swim With Annie since 2009. She stopped offering swim lessons during the pandemic and is now dipping her toes into new plans for the future.
ON BEING A SWIM TEACHER: If I can [say anything] about swimming at all, it’s that it saved me. And it saves me through my life repeatedly. I really do wake up in the morning ready to go and give at my work. Swimming is like breathing for me. There are kids that walk into pools and just swim. It’s the kids that don’t who were most intriguing to me — [and] still are. We’re asking so much of the 12
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children. We’re asking them to trust me. We’re asking parents to trust me. This child—who probably doesn’t put their own socks on yet or doesn’t know how to tie their shoes yet — I’m going to ask them to assume an enormous amount of responsibility for themselves in water. It’s a lot we’re asking of children. But they can do it. I really like having the parents there with me, because I never want to forget that I’ve got your gift in my hands. What I get back are these deep, beautiful relationships, this sense of community and family. I care about every child. I
PHOTOS: CAT CUTILLO
Find a of An video kidsv nie at t.com
care about every family. And they, in return, care deeply about me.
ON MOVING TO VERMONT: The fact that children were [put] first here, and that’s who we prioritized, that made me move here. Also, when I was little, I had seen [the 1975 film] The Adventures of the Wilderness Family. I’m from Brooklyn. Moving to Essex, Vt., was this idealistic version of everything I’d ever dreamed of.
ON ADAPTING TO COVID-19: I stopped [swim lessons] on March 9. I can’t have kids coming to lessons the same way anymore. I treat COVID safety at equal value of learn-to-swim safety. [But] with swimming, I’ve had 54 years to study it. COVID-19 is a game of “no-backsies.” I can’t take back that one time that kid coughed on you.
ON GOING FORWARD: I was in the Peace Corps in 1988 and ’89 in Botswana. And the Peace Corps idea
is, you go and you work your way out of a job. And so the whole point is to do what you do somewhere so that you become obsolete. Children learn best through their own exploration of water, with someone as their guide. Due to COVID-19, and my thoughts on how I need to change what I’m offering, I’ve removed the word “lessons” from my vocabulary, completely stopped offering them, and am reinventing what it means to discover swimming through innate choice, [while] hoping to bring even more aquatics to our area. I dream of the time Chittenden County has a rich, vibrant flow of aquatics: water polo, synchronized swimming, diving and so much more. Right now, I continue my wonderful and long relationships with PT360 and the Essex Resort & Spa, as well as keeping my sights on my 14-year dream of seeking to build and facilitate more indoor yearround swimming access for all.
HABITAT BY MARY A N N L I CKT E I G
Basement Playroom S
Sophie coloring on her chalkboard
PHOTOS: MARY ANN LICKTEIG
pending extended time at home can feel less confining and more safe and serene if your space is comfortable and thoughtfully arranged. One Shelburne family finished a fortuitous basement remodel just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders. It gave them a dynamic, multiuse playroom, organized storage space and streamlined laundry facilities. The timing couldn’t have been better. “Yes, thank God,” said Antonia Hinge. She and her husband, Nick Hinge, are parents of 4-year-old Sophie and 3-year-old Theo. In early lockdown days, when it was still cold and snowy, they took full advantage of their new play space, where Sophie and Theo can snuggle into a beanbag chair in the reading nook under the stairs, try on red cowboy boots in the dressup area, stock a mini grocery cart with wooden fruits and vegetables, and make music with the castanets, bongos and recorder in the music bin. They usually run straight for the swing, a canvas pod — you can find it on Amazon — hanging in the middle of the room. Antonia and Nick undertook the remodel last winter, and the transformation happened like a home makeover on TV: dramatic and fast. The “before” pictures show a basement with a concrete floor, concrete walls, and a washer and dryer at one end. Clutter fills the rest: bikes, fans, a window air conditioner, assorted furniture, a roasting pan, a slow cooker and boxes still unpacked from the family’s move three years prior. The “after” footage pans around a play space as bright and organized as a preschool. Though working full time, the Hinges managed to complete the project in under six weeks, coming in under their $5,000 budget. Inspired? It’s a project that could still be done, despite COVID-19 restrictions. Keys to this family’s success: purging quickly, doing much of the work themselves (Nick did the construction, and Antonia painted), reusing lumber and furnishings they already had, and enlisting help for the skills they lacked. Nick credits his wife with driving the project. “She gets an idea; she runs with it,” he said. She wanted a basement play space for the kids because their toys were taking over the main floor.
Mom Antonia looks on as her kids jump on the trampoline
Mom Antonia looks on as her kids jump on their trampoline
But the basement still needed to house laundry, storage and Nick’s ski shop, where he stores and tunes his skis, and she didn’t know where to start. That’s where Claire Mahoney and Marlene Simson came in. The pair own Moov Home & Moving Consultants in Richmond. “I found their help just invaluable,” Antonia said, “because I knew I wanted this space. I just didn’t know how to get it. Or how to do it. And they came down, and they just saw it.” Mahoney and Simson are still working with clients. They wear masks in homes now and do walk-throughs and styling virtually, if clients prefer. They recommended that Antonia and Nick create “intentional spaces,” such as the reading nook and dress-up area. Children have them at school, said Mahoney, a former educator; it makes sense to continue the concept at home. She and Simson suggested carpet tiles for the
A reading corner
playroom floor and faux shiplap, painted white, to enclose storage and utilities. Antonia was sold. Step one: Clean out. Antonia bought two shelving units and set aside things to keep. The family purged unwanted items, selling them on Craigslist, donating them to Goodwill, or passing them on to friends and family. Instantly, the space looked bigger and felt like a blank canvas, Antonia said. Next, she entertained the kids on weekends to give Nick uninterrupted blocks of time to build walls. That was crucial, Nick said: “It’s those fits and starts that make projects like this really hard.” Then the carpet went in. Simson and
Mahoney recommended Milliken & Company carpet tiles, “which are really nice because they’re commercial grade, so they’re good for kids and pets,” Antonia said. “And then if they totally destroy part of it, you can just pull up squares and then replace them.” New England Floor Covering installed the carpet, which accounted for roughly half of the project budget. Nick and Antonia gave Mahoney and Simson free rein to furnish the playroom. With a goal of keeping the space somewhat timeless, they picked two shades of blue for the walls and “Obstinate Orange” to make the stairs and railing pop. They suggested chalkboard paint for the wall at the base of the stairs, and Antonia went to work. Mahoney and Simson went shopping. They bought artwork, tables, chairs and toys. Some things are new; others came from consignment shops; and some — Antonia’s stuffed bear, Nick’s hobby horse, and a table and chairs painted by Nick’s grandfather — have been in the family for generations. Even the children’s baby monitors are back in service, mounted on the basement rafters to help Nick and Antonia keep tabs on the kids while they’re playing. The whole room was picked up and picture ready the Saturday morning that Sophie led a guest down the stairs, stopping in front of the chalkboard that said, “Welcome to our playroom.” “Ta-da!” she said. Then she turned to the chalkboard and said, “I’m gonna mess this up!” She and Theo cycled through the swing, the tea set and the dress-up clothes — “There you go, bud,” Antonia said, helping Theo into a red tulle dress. They sang “Happy Birthday” and “Let It Go.” And they sat together in the swing, rhythmically tossing out toys. Before they had the play space, Nick and Antonia walked around their main floor picking up toys every night after the kids went to bed. The first weekend after the basement was finished, the kids played down there while Nick and Antonia sat upstairs and drank coffee, uninterrupted, for 45 — 45! — minutes. “And at the end of the day,” Antonia said, “we can close the door and not care about the mess." KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
BOOKWORMS B Y BRE TT A N N S TA N CI U
A coming-of-age tale that explores a complicated family
n August of 1974, when my family moved from Colorado to New Hampshire, the first thing my father unpacked was our black-and-white television. President Richard Nixon resigned that day, and my father wanted to see the news coverage. I still remember how deeply my dad — no Nixon fan — cared about the president’s resignation. Reading Daphne Kalmar’s second middle-grade novel — Stealing Mt. Rushmore, due out on August 18 — reminded me of how politics can strongly influence young kids, often without their awareness. Although the book takes place more than 40 years ago, in the summer leading up to Nixon’s resignation, the novel’s themes are pertinent today. The book stars 13-year-old Nellie, a plucky girl in a houseful of boys in Somerville, Mass. Her mother disappeared five months ago, leaving no forwarding address or phone number. Her father, a short-order cook in a diner, struggles to single parent and earn a living. The plot rolls along as Nellie and her younger brother scheme to take a family road trip to Mt. Rushmore to see the monument of the four presidents her father idolizes. As the book unfolds, Nellie begins to ask hard questions about what that monument — and family — means. While Kalmar does not offer any tidy closure, she shows how a family can be both loving and complicated. A Hardwick resident and former elementary and middle school teacher, Kalmar received numerous accolades for her 2018 novel, A Stitch in Time. The book was chosen as an NPR Best Book of 2018, one of the “50 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books for Kids” by Book Riot, a BookPage Best Books of 2018: Children’s Books and a finalist for the Vermont Book Award. On a hot Sunday in July, Kalmar spoke with Kids VT outside the Jeudevine Memorial Library in Hardwick, where she volunteers as a trustee. Kids VT: Without giving away too much of the plot, can you talk a little about why Nellie’s mother disappeared? Daphne Kalmar: Nellie’s mother was very unhappy. At that time, women only had a couple of choices. They were expected to just have this gene for maternal caretaking
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“We’ve been presenting a view of history that is so warped on one side for so long.” and housekeeping and all of the rest. Men either had it or they didn’t, but it wasn’t an expectation or a moral failing if men were not maternal. Back in those days, fathers were expected to provide financial security and put food on the table. KVT: I particularly admire how you acknowledge in the book that the relationships in Nellie’s family are complicated. DK: Something that’s always annoyed me is that kids are often told that they owe their parents forgiveness, no matter what. I think that’s a horrible thing to tell a kid, because it undercuts their anger and their own feelings about their situation and their relationship with the parent. That’s not what forgiveness is. As Nellie says, “If I decide to forgive my mother, I will.” If I’m going to send a message in the book, it’s that you forgive people in your own good time — if you feel you need to or want to. I don’t think it’s true forgiveness if it doesn’t come from somewhere very deep. It should never come from an obligation.
KVT: The multiple themes in this book — gender roles, racial segregation, the Vietnam War controversy — would make this a great discussion book for middle-grade students. DK: I agree. When I taught American history, I used to present Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre [showing British soldiers in an orderly line, firing on colonists] as propaganda — which it was. We would talk about point of view and his message. Why did he present this scene as a slaughter? How powerful do you think his engraving was? It doesn’t matter if the kids remember what the Boston Massacre was; it matters that they know how to be critical thinkers and how to look at potential propaganda, dissect it and doubt it. KVT: That kind of discussion could open up some enormous questions about American history. DK: It’s time we stopped whitewashing
history, certainly in the classroom. We’ve been presenting a view of history that is so warped on one side for so long that I think it explains a big part of why we are in the situation we are in now. It’s such a divided country. It’s time we provide more than one perspective. And if people aren’t comfortable with that, that’s too bad. The Galaxy Bookshop hosts Kalmar’s book launch on Tuesday, August 18, 4 p.m., at Atkins Field in Hardwick; preregistration is required for this socially distanced event. That evening, Kalmar will read from her book and answer questions on Zoom at 7 p.m. Preregister at galaxybookshop.com. Learn more about Kalmar at daphnekalmar.com.
MUSICAL NOTES BY BE N J A M I N ROE S CH
Listening to Learn Using music to facilitate discussions about race
• “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone: Positive, upbeat and quirky, this song puts a playful spin on diversity and offers a message of acceptance. • “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke: Cooke’s soaring vocals, as well as the simple story and profound symbolism, make this a perfect starting point for talking about racism.
• “Alabama” by John Coltrane: Coltrane wrote this mournful jazz instrumental piece two months after the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four young girls. Share the history with your kids, then listen together. • “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder: A story sung with emotional anguish, this generational portrait captures the systemic racism so pervasive in American cities.
• “Say It Loud, I’m Black & I’m Proud” by James Brown: Inspiring and unbelievably funky, this song is all about expressing unabashed pride in who you are. • “Cry No More” by Rhiannon Giddens: Released only as a video, this song was recorded after the 2015 mass shooting at a Black church in Charleston, S.C., and uses call-andresponse and a somber chorus to capture the sorrow.
SONGS FOR TEENS
RD ORE RECO
KING RECORD S
If you have middle or high schoolers, chances are they’re ready to dig into the deeper, more complex conversations these songs may inspire. For songs with explicit lyrics, do what feels right for your family; however, try not to make them an automatic barrier to discussion. Teens are often exposed to and can handle more than we realize. (* = explicit lyrics)
SONGS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES
• “Blackbird” by the Beatles: It’s exciting to reconsider this quiet gem from The White Album through the lens of civil rights, which is what Paul McCartney says he had in mind when he wrote it. • “Young, Gifted and Black” by Nina Simone: An irrepressible artistic force, Simone offers this direct and earnest song to inspire pride and confidence in a world that often has rigid ideas about who is considered “gifted.”
n a society filled with racial tension and violent images, it’s so important that we talk honestly with our kids to help them understand the complex world in which they’re growing up. And yet, as parents, it’s often difficult to know how to start conversations with our kids about topics such as racism and the fight for civil rights. We all worry about how our words will be heard and perceived by others. Add in a dose of adolescent self-consciousness, and race becomes an easy subject to avoid around the dinner table. But, as parents, we have an obligation to expose our kids to ideas and history, even if it’s hard, so that they can build their own understanding and help create a more tolerant world. But where do we start? Cue the music. From Billie Holiday to Kendrick Lamar, countless artists have used music as a way to understand history, demand accountability and present a path forward. During my 12 years of teaching English at Burlington High School, I often relied on music as an entry point to challenging conversations. Listening to music often made it easier for my students, who came from a wonderfully diverse range of backgrounds, to open up, say what they thought and, most importantly, share their own stories and experiences. I later created a class called “Hip-Hop and Social Justice.” I was consistently amazed by the way music helped kids process the complex role that race plays in our lives. Below, find a selection of music that parents can use as a springboard for discussion. So much depends on the age of your children and your family’s past experiences, but the hope is that these songs can inspire meaningful connection and dialogue.
• “Freedom” by Beyoncé (feat. Kendrick Lamar): An instant classic with an unforgettable verse by Lamar, Beyoncé’s inspiring anthem is fierce and poignant. • “Changes” by 2Pac*: With 2Pac’s inimitable flow, this song attempts to process decades of racial pain and violence, ultimately challenging us as a society to do better. • “Black Rage” by Lauryn Hill: Written in response to the death of teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by police in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, Hill’s poetry and vocals embody the anger felt by so many Americans of color. • “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar*: This uplifting song has become a staple of the Black Lives Matter movement and offers a complex but ultimately hopeful message of unity. • “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday: With lyrics that read like poetry, Holiday’s haunting performance evokes the searing imagery of lynching. This list only scratches the surface. Start looking, and you’ll discover a wealth of inspiring music that responds to racism and the struggle for civil rights. Ask your kids what kind of music they like. Ask what inspires them. Then listen and learn together. KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
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As the school year looms, parents face tough decisions about jobs and childcare BY MARGARET GRAYSON
or many parents, facing down the rapidly approaching school year has forced them to confront a reality with few good options. The thought of sending kids back to school, where they will potentially be exposed to hundreds of other children in an era when physical distancing is advisable, has prompted some parents to file paperwork to keep their kids home; the Vermont Agency of Education reports that by July 15, homeschool enrollments were up by 75 percent over last year. Others worry that their kids’ education and morale will suffer at home. And many working parents, who can’t stay home full time, don’t have a choice at all. “I feel like we are in a lose-loselose situation,” said Michelle Steele of Bristol. Steele teaches high school French and Spanish at Middlebury Union High School and has three kids, ages 4, 6 and 9. When school buildings closed in March, Steele found herself juggling three hours of Zoom classes every day with her teenage students while trying to help her own kids with online learning. “It was a nightmare,” she said. “It went so badly for us. I’m a certified educator; I should be able to do this with my own kids!” But her kindergartner, in particular, proved a challenge. “He was excited about Zoom for about two weeks, and then he refused to do it anymore,” Steele said. “He checked out really quickly.” Teachers such as Steele didn’t qualify for childcare for essential workers. Her husband was working from home, too, and they found the situation untenable. She estimated that her kids completed about 30 percent of their assigned schoolwork. In some ways, Steele is happy to send them back to school in-person. Her family’s district is adopting a hybrid model, where the kids will be in the school building two days per week. She’s looking into hiring someone to stay with them on the days they are at home. Steele thinks that going back to in-person school part time will be better for her kids both academically and socially. But she’s also scared. “I’m so terrified for the experience they’re going to have,” she
admitted, citing reopening protocols such as having to wear masks all day and having less freedom to interact with friends during recess and PE. “Is that an experience we really even want for our kids?” She expects to be in her school building five days per week, which makes her worried for her own health, too. She’s had friends ask if she’d be interested in quitting her job and homeschooling other people’s kids, teaching in one of the “pandemic pods” that small groups of parents with the means to do so are organizing around the country. Steele finds the idea potentially problematic. “I carry the health insurance for my family, and I can’t afford to leave my job,” she said. But she’s also passionate about her work and has more philosophical reasons for staying at a public school. “I do want to fight for public education,” Steele said. “We could probably afford to keep our kids home … [But] I’d rather use my voice to say, ‘Let’s figure out how to make this work for all families.’” Shannon Planck, a mom of three in Barre, said she’s heard of people organizing small neighborhood school clusters, where different parents pitch in. She likes the idea in theory but doesn’t think it’s possible for her family. She’s a single parent of a 5-year-old, a preschooler and a toddler, and she works full time. “Even if I could magically quit my job … I’m not a kindergarten teacher,” Planck said. “That’s a really important skill, and it’s not something that’s easy to pick up on your own.” During the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order Gov. Phil Scott issued in the spring, Planck leaned on her mother and the kids’ father, who would take them for short periods of time. When her kids were home, she would let them watch TV or play online so she could squeeze in virtual appointments with the other kids in her life — those she works with as a speech pathologist. “They were watching more TV than I would like them to,” Planck said of her children. “And when you hear a crash at the other end of the house, you have to run and see what they’re doing.” This fall, her 3-year-old will be in preschool two days per week, and Planck will likely rely on family and a babysitter to watch her on the
other three weekdays. Planck has enrolled her kindergartner at the school where she works. But she wonders what will happen if her kids get sick and she has to miss work days. “I have to keep my job and benefits, because I need to pay my bills. Also, my students really need speech therapy services,” Planck said. “It’s a lot of uncertainty. I do constantly wonder if I’m making the right choice, sending them to school. But I don’t think it’s fair to [my kids], either, if I’m trying to cram in schoolwork on nights and weekends.” For families with members who could be at a high risk for the
was working on a remote option.) Taylor said this would relieve parents of the pressures of designing their own curriculum, allow schools to have a system in place in case a resurgence of the coronavirus caused schools to fully shut down again, and make schools safer for the kids who do need to attend in person by reducing the total number of students. Taylor started a petition on Change.org requesting that the state mandate a fully remote option or offer a statewide downloadable homeschooling curriculum. The petition has received around 750 signatures. These problems have been on a lot of parents’ and educators’ minds, and in the media. When Jane Lindholm, the primary host of Vermont Public Radio’s “Vermont Edition,” ended an episode on school reopenings on July 27, the typically unflappable radio personality was candid. “I am in full freak-out mode,” she told listeners. Lindholm told Kids VT her two young kids will be attending first grade and preschool in person this fall, but she doesn’t know how she and her husband will manage the part-time school schedule while both are also working. Even before COVID-19, she said, childcare was expensive and hard to find. “I think that the pandemic has highlighted a crisis that already existed,” Lindholm said. “I don’t think it was a surprise to any of the families with small children. But I think a lot more people in power have to pay attention to it.” The problems with Vermont’s childcare industry have been well documented. According to a 2020 report from Let’s Grow Kids, “71.5 percent of children 5 and under live in families in which all available parents are in the labor force.” The report states that Vermont would need to add 8,925 childcare slots for kids age 5 and under to meet demand. Instead, the pandemic has seen both the University of Vermont
I think that the pandemic has highlighted a crisis that already existed. JANE LINDHOLM
coronavirus, calculations are different. Jack Taylor, a dad of three in East Calais, has an 8-year-old daughter with a seizure disorder and a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s disease. Those health factors led Taylor and his wife, Jennifer, to decide that their three kids will be homeschooled this fall. It won’t be easy — Jennifer is already the main caretaker for her mother. Jack will return to work as an elementary school behavior interventionist. “For me, returning to work, the stress of being exposed and then possibly bringing something back home, is stressful,” Taylor said. “It’s not going to be easy. We’ll work it out.” What would help, Taylor said, is if every school district offered a fully remote option for families. (Some districts have already said they will. The superintendent of the Washington Central Unified Union School District, where Taylor’s kids are enrolled, wrote in a memo on July 31 that the district
and Saint Michael’s College close their childcare centers — though the Early Learning Center at St. Mike’s will reopen in late August as a nonprofit, according to its board chair, Laura Lee. According to reporting by WCAX-TV, these closures left 100 Chittenden County families suddenly without care this summer. Before the closure, there had been 600 children on the waiting list for UVM’s program. Women are often hardest hit when it comes to childcare issues. A recent report from the Vermont Commission on Women found that 43.9 percent of separated women in Vermont live with minor children, compared with 21.6 percent of separated men. “Nationally, women are four times more likely than men to take time off from work when children are sick,” the report continues. Experts believe childcare needs contribute to the wage gap between men and women, which persists in Vermont. According to a recent survey of more than 2,500 working parents by Northeastern University, 13 percent had to resign or reduce work hours to care for their children during the pandemic, and 60 percent of those were women. One Winooski parent, Kelly, recently sent her two kids back to their childcare center, but not because she felt ready to do so. She was told she’d lose her spot in the program if her family didn’t return — and, as a single, working mom, Kelly knew that losing childcare would be disastrous. She’d been laid off during the early days of the pandemic but now is able to return to work part time. Kelly said she left her husband last fall after experiencing domestic abuse. (Kids VT agreed not to print her last name due to these circumstances.) Since then, balancing work and parenting has been “chaotic,” she said. Kelly works as a sleep technologist, but she found herself having to leave work frequently to pick up one of her kids because they got sick — and that was before the global pandemic. Her work performance, she said, has suffered. “The system has never worked, and now it’s even worse, and it’s frustrating,” she said. “I’m just constantly having to choose between my career and my children.” KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
JUST FOR KIDS Coloring Contest!
Three winners will each receive an annual family membership to the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium. Send Kids VT your work of art by Thursday, August 20. 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 September issue of Kids VT. Send your high-resolution scans to email@example.com or mail a copy to Kids VT, P.O. Box 1184, Burlington, VT 05402.
KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
Birthday Club .....................................19 Coloring Contest Winners .........19 Connect the Dots Puzzle .............20 Major Minors .....................................21 Puzzle Answers ................................23
Title _______________________________________ Contest sponsored by
Artist _____________________________________ Age ______________ Town __________________ Email _____________________________________ Phone _____________________________________
JUST FOR KIDS
COLORING CONTEST WINNERS
to these August Birthday Club winners!
Join the Club!
To enter, submit information using the online form at kidsvt.com/birthday-club Just give us your contact info, your children’s names and birth dates, and a photo, and they’re automatically enrolled.
Our judges were wowed by the fabulous submissions mailed in this month. Collette, 5, created a swirly, silver mist to surround her rainbow-colored lion. Sevenyear-old Eda filled the sky with colors and made her lion pop off the page with contrasting dayglow and dark shades. Harper, 10, added finely detailed patterns and drawings to create an impressive underwater habitat. Thanks to all who entered! We can’t wait to see what you have in store this month.
The winners of annual family memberships to the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium are…
HONORABLE MENTIONS “BLACK LIVES MATTER”
Indy Roberts, 10 Montpelier
Athalbjort, Ciara and Ozzy each win each win a day pass to Petra Cliffs. ATHALBJÖRT lives in Essex Junction and turns 5 on August 29. Her hobbies include conducting science experiments, making art, bird-watching, gardening, writing stories and poems, playing board games, and bicycling. She has a vivid imagination and loves to learn, especially about space!
Ian, 9 Burlington
“Lion in the Mist” Collette Perry, 5
Electra Tremblay, 9 Ferrisburgh “LION AND HIS FRIENDS”
Annabel Kos, 7 Burlington
“LION IN THE WATER”
Addie Tremblay, 5 Ferrisburgh
CIARA lives in Essex Junction and turns 4 on August 9. She loves painting, swimming and building with MagnaTiles. She is very adventurous and imaginative, and loves playing with her big brother, Paddy.
Fiona Raphael, 4 Monkton “THE SKIER”
Sabastian Muller, 6 Montpelier “LION OF COLOR”
Ave Kaolin Gough, 6 Windsor
COME CELEBRATE AT
OZZY lives in Vergennes and turns 7 on August 9. He loves dogs, especially his black Lab, Thunderdog. His favorite hobbies are biking, camping, fishing, finding Waldo and spending time with family.
PETRA CLIFFS! • Recommended for ages 5 and up
Victoria Bove, 6 Colchester
TOP TITLES “BUTTER”
Ula Spotzler, 5 Burlington
• Optional outdoor party tent space until the weather gets too cold!
“LEONA MEANS LION”
petracliffs.com • 802-657-3872 105 Briggs St., Burlington, VT
6 to 8
• Facial coverings required for everyone indoors
PLEASE CALL OR BOOK ONLINE TO RESERVE A TIME FOR YOUR CLIMBING & ROPES COURSE PARTY!
“Rainbowtastic” Eda Josinsky, 7
Leona Thompson, 5 Burlington “TIG”
Ella Lacelle, 7 Cabot
“Normal” Harper Hayes, 10
9 to 12
BOLTON VALLEY KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
JUST FOR KIDS SUMMER GETAWAY BY MARC NADEL
Yakkity Mac decided to pack, To socially distance from neighbors, But when they followed along, In a big happy throng, He said, “Next time please, don't do me favors!” So how did Mac get his privacy back? Just connect the dots, tots!
ANSWER P. 23 20
KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
JUST FOR KIDS
NAME: NOAH AGE: 16 TOWN: WAITSFIELD
MAJOR MINORS COMPILED BY SEVI BURGET-FOSTER
Fun fact: I can hold my breath for two and a half minutes. Quarantine project: A project that I have been working on during COVID-19 is restoring my grandfather’s Boy Scout knife. When my grandfather gave me the knife, the blade was coated in rust and the sheath was held together with duct tape and was disintegrating. I removed rust with lots of sanding and polished the blade. I also made a new leather sheath from scratch. During the process of making the leather sheath, I learned many techniques and important information about leather craft. When the shiny knife and new sheath were finished, they looked like they will last another 65 years.
We asked Vermont kids and teens to share some of the projects they’ve accomplished this summer. Find their responses below. NAME: MYLES AGE: 13 TOWN: EAST WALLINGFORD
Fun fact: I was born in a snowstorm, then the 2007 nor’easter hit. Quarantine project: I did my best to assist my parents with our family business, Thrive Center of the Green Mountains. The hours were even longer than normal, so I would help clean a lot, mail letters, organize files, water plants, take out the trash and, most of all, stay on top of my schoolwork. They did their best to help me but were often preoccupied. My mom often tells me that my ability to stay upbeat without complaining, plus being patient, is a huge help. We had to really come together as a team to stay afloat and be available to help patients. NAME: ELLIOT AGE: 12 TOWN: FAIRFAX
Fun fact: I love sports — any kind, really, but definitely baseball, basketball and football. I also love wearing a baseball hat and playing the trumpet. Quarantine project: One project was making a video for my town about wearing a mask. I did it with the other members of the Good Citizen Club. We all recorded ourselves talking about how it really is awful wearing one, but because of so much science showing how helpful they are, we recommended everyone wear one when in local businesses. NAME: LORELAI AGE: 13 TOWN: EAST CONCORD
Fun fact: I am a Girl Scout and Space Camp graduate. I have met two astronauts and touched a piece of the moon two different times. Quarantine project: During the lockdown, I was unable to do many of my favorite outdoor activities. When I heard that Girl Scouts was doing the “Love the Outdoors” challenge, I knew I had to join in. My plan is to go explore new hiking trails throughout Vermont with my mom. We have a goal to hike every weekend for the rest of summer. I love having the chance to see lots of cute critters, flowers and plants on our adventures. Being outside in nature really helps me feel relaxed and calm during these stressful times. NAME: JACKSON AGE: 9 TOWN: TINMOUTH
Fun fact: I have memorized almost all of the Broadway musical Hamilton. Quarantine project: I decided to memorize the Gettysburg Address because I thought it was a good idea, and I was right. At first, I just thought I couldn’t do it. I saw a bunch of words, and I was about to give up before I even got started. But then, my mom helped me find a video on YouTube of someone singing it. So, I had a little bit of courage to be able to do it. I am good at memorizing songs but not great at plain sentences. It took me three days to memorize the whole song and perform it for the Good Citizen Challenge set up by Kids VT.
NAME: HADIYA AGE: 9 TOWN: SOUTH BURLINGTON NAME: BLAKE AGE: 12 TOWN: RANDOLPH CENTER Fun fact: Blake is a Girl
Scout who wants to see the world. Quarantine project: Blake decided to start a business in order to help her community by making face masks, while at the same time earning her Entrepreneurship badge for Girl Scouts and earning money for a school trip to Germany next spring. She offers a listing of her fabrics they can choose from and three different sizes. She has been able to help others by cutting out fabric for others to sew their own masks, too. Blake will be able to continue doing this for a long time, as schools will be opening up and more masks will be needed for daily use, keeping her busy through the summer.
Fun fact: I like puppies, and I love playing with slime! Quarantine project: During the pandemic, I watched lots of videos about how to make all kinds of slime. My daddy suggested that I start a slime business! We bought lots of ingredients to make all kids of slime — normal slime, fluffy slime and cloud slime. We made an order form where people can choose what type of slime they want, what color and scent they want, and if they want glitter or beads mixed in it. It’s called Hadiya’s Magical Slime. We texted a link to the order form to all of my friends. And I plan on selling my slime at craft fairs!
NAME: LUKE AGE: 10 TOWN: JERICHO
Fun fact: I love seafood, especially mussels. Quarantine project: I have been building mountain bike trails behind my house — and jumps, of course! NAME: LILY AGE: 13 TOWN: BETHEL
Fun fact: Lily is part of Girl Scout Troop 40126 and is active in basketball all year. Quarantine project: Lily joined the Virtual Running Club and Virtual Cooking Club because they gave her an opportunity to learn more about the cooking and stay involved in Girl Scouts. While making recipes for her studies and also for her family, she saw that several people in her community couldn’t get out and get their usual things to be able to have homemade foods. She and her brother picked a lot of rhubarb for pies! The orders still keep coming in for some special orders and for rhubarb crisp, too. KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
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INNOVATION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
ARE YOU A GOOD CITIZEN? Mackenzie Graham is! The Tinmouth 11-year-old wrote and delivered a speech about voting rights for the Camp O'Connor Civics Challenge. Entering this national contest was one of the July activities in the Good Citizen Summer Challenge. There are lots of ways to be a Good Citizen this summer. Complete an activity and send us the evidence. We'll enter you in a prize drawing, and maybe publish your work in Kids VT or Seven Days to inspire others. With support from:
Vintage machines evolve into modern technology in a National Historic Landmark.
Hands-on activities are limited, but there’s lots to see!
KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
Evslin Family Foundation
New activities posted at goodcitizenvt.com on AUGUST 12!
802-674-5781 8/5/20 10:32 AM
8/7/20 1:27 PM
USE YOUR WORDS B Y H E AT H E R P OL I F KA - R IVA S
Celebrating the peak of summer with monarch butterflies
ow many more months until my birthday?” That’s my 7-year-old daughter Ruby’s favorite question these days. I quickly do the math and give her an approximate answer. My response is always met with a whine, followed by her huffing out of the room. I try to reassure her that, even though her birthday is far away, there will be many fun times and adventures between now and then. I encourage her to savor each day. Such wise advice. Too bad I don’t adhere to it. Back in March, when quarantine began and everything seemed like it was ending, I found myself wishing away the days. If I could just make it to the end of the school year and summertime, things would be better, I thought. I tried sending telepathic thoughts to Mother Nature. Please stop snowing, I begged. During this time, I kept seeing the meme that stated: “Nature isn’t cancelled.” Whoever coined the phrase was right, but it made me bristle. Was that person pontificating about this from a sunny California trailhead? Did they know that there were still stubborn clumps of snow hiding under the branches of our cedar trees? Regardless, I dutifully tried to encourage “spring” walks with Ruby and her 12-year-old brother Henry, hoping we could focus on the present. I desperately tried to weave science lessons into our mundane strolls. “Hey kids, look! Those daffodils are sprouting! Why are those flowers always the first to bloom in the spring?” I asked them. My tween’s typical response: “I don’t care, Mom.” After the rains, Ruby, the more eager and inquisitive of my children, and I played worm rescue. We’d run out to the driveway and pluck the swollen worms and gently bury them into our dormant raised garden beds. I wanted so badly to “embrace the suck,” even though I, too, was counting down the days until something special and better came along. I kept reassuring myself that despite this trying time of gray skies, social isolation, homeschooling and weird worm shenanigans, summer would eventually come. In fact, summer was already on its way — thousands of miles to our south. Over the last three years, my children and I have come to associate the peak of summer with finding our first monarch
butterfly. You see, monarchs cannot live in cold-weather climates, so they winter in Mexico. As the warm weather starts to mercifully spread to the Northeast, the monarchs begin their migration to Vermont. We usually see our first monarch in early July. Within days, our garden of milkweed plants are dotted with monarch eggs. They are tiny and white and sort of roundish yet pointy-ish with small ridges. Very scientific, right? Finding that first egg is how we know summer is in full force.
Heather releasing a monarch
We love finding the eggs because that begins our annual adventure of hatching them, raising caterpillars, then finally releasing the butterflies back into nature. Last year we released more than 50 monarch butterflies during the course of the summer and fall. Nurturing monarchs is pretty easy. Since butterflies are insects, they change forms throughout their life cycle, a process called metamorphosis. If you’ve ever read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, you know it all starts with an egg, which you can find on the underside of a milkweed leaf. This little egg will gestate for about three to four days. Then, pop! Out comes a caterpillar. When it first hatches, it’s just a few millimeters long. Then, as Carle’s picture book explains, the caterpillar gets super hungry and eats everything it can until it’s really fat. In the case of the monarch caterpillar, it will eat milkweed almost constantly for about 10 to 14 days. After the caterpillar grows to about one inch in length — or “the teenager phase,” as I like to call it — it will stop eating you out of house and home and
climb up to a flat surface. You can tell the caterpillar is beginning to enter into its chrysalis, or pupa, phase when it hangs in a J shape and ignores everything you say and do. If you time your observations right, you might be lucky enough to see it wiggle and shed its caterpillar skin as it becomes a bright green chrysalis. After another 10 to 14 days, the chrysalis slowly cracks open, and a monarch butterfly emerges. Now that it’s become a young adult, you can release it out into the world. My kids and I were already three creemees into summer when I found our first egg of the season in our backyard. A sense of relief washed over me. Was it possible that our summer might have a recognizable routine? How could something so simple as an egg bring out such emotion? Our normal summer plans had been ambushed by COVID-19. No camps. No sleepovers. Masks anytime we left the house. I wanted to reassure my kids that we’d have a good summer despite these unprecedented times. But how do you maintain a sense of calm when everything around you is unstable? My children don’t know what school will be like next year or even what’s going to happen next week. But they do know that when Mom finds a monarch egg, she will put it in a container and let it grow. They know that, just like last year, we will feed the caterpillars daily and laugh at how much poop they produce. They know that, when we travel to our family’s lake house, Mom will pack up the car and bring the caterpillars on the road trip, too. Just like years past, the kids will argue over who gets to release the butterfly, and Ruby will squirm and shriek as the insect’s newly formed legs cling to her tiny fingers. My wish for my children is that they will see that, despite the chaos, these monarchs are still doing their thing. That, though so much right now is unpredictable, nurturing the life cycle of something as simple as a butterfly is still a reliable adventure. I want them to embrace the feeling of being connected amid the unfamiliar, and to understand that if we tune out during this trying time, we might miss something special. See kidsvt.com for more detailed directions on how to raise a monarch.
8/7/20 11:52 AM
with the Fam? The Kids VT team is rounding up resources for parents looking to entertain and educate their children at home. Find inspiration in the Wee-Mail newsletter.
Subscribe at kidsvt.com
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8/7/20 11:52 AM
PUZZLE PAGE ANSWER
SEE PAGE 20 FOR PUZZLE
Puzzle Solution: To complete his retreat, Mac dog-paddled away in his fastback kayak! And that's the fact, Jack!
A Little Egg Lay on a Leaf
KIDSVT.COM AUGUST 2020
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