Monday, July 25, 2016

Hidden Talents Discovered in Starksboro!

One of the most rewarding parts of running a program involving children is unearthing their hidden talents.
During Week 3 I found out that the 3/4 group had built their very own town in the outdoor classroom space. They created homes, a meeting space, and a hotel for guests. They also created their own sets of laws for their village. The most fascinating part of the whole village is that John, the Health and Wellness teacher, did not give any instructions for the project. The campers vision became a reality because of teamwork and collaboration!

Laws of the village. Created by campers.

Woodland House

Personal home in the village


Woodland House
                      Woodland Homes
Lydia, our Literacy educator, unearthed campers abilities to create woodland structures. Students made lists of possible materials they could forage for outside. The spent time inside gluing moss, stones, flower, sticks, and leaves together to create very unique structures.

Students who were unsure about their skills quickly became master builders. Their ideas evolved over the week and the final products were intricate and exciting.

Lights, Camera, Action!
Skyler and Ashley joined us this week to bring the drama! In 4 days they had the 1/2, 3/4, and 5/6 group rehearsed and ready to share their adapted plays for family and friends! Some of the campers are ready for the real stage! They will get a chance to have their acting skills shown to the public when their film is shown in Bristol on Friday, August, 5th!

More Reasons to Love ELP During Week 3 in Monkton

Making new friends is a huge part of ELP!
Summertime is definitely meant for teachers and students to rest and recharge, but the educators and learners at ELP are keeping their heads in the game with out-of-the-ordinary ways to keep kids engaged and connected during the break. For many kids, ELP is a way to keep up with friends when seeing them every day gets a little trickier without having school and transportation to be the link. We are so happy to see friendships being forged and maintained thanks to the ANESU expanded learning program! Likewise, teachers are getting to work with different and varied age groups than they are used to and also have the perfect platform to try new things and sharpen their own professional games in a more informal and flexible learning environment than the regular school year can often provide.

Making wellness posters about healthy bodies also grows healthy minds!
We've had a great couple weeks in Wellness thanks to Mr. Hall. While the focus remains on getting kids active and using healthy fuel, we did have a chance to reflect as a group on other realms of wellness. The kiddos thought that treating other people well and refraining from becoming angry were very important...impressive thoughtfulness from elementary-aged students! Students worked with to dive into how many daily choices to make within each category of food and made some awesome posters to remind us all what and how much to eat for a healthy lifestyle. Of course, we played a lot of great games, went for walks to the pond, and moved a lot! We began to talk about stretching and breathing as we gear up for next week's yoga unit. We also began replicating letters and animals in order to get comfortable with the mimicking nature of yogic instruction.

In the STEM classroom with Ms. Zimmer, the kiddos spent a lot of time down by the pond discussing, making hypotheses, forming questions, and then researching many aspects about the pond. Students also discussed the life cycle of frogs, representing it in a couple of science-based art projects. In any spare time we had, we worked with our math facts across the four operations by several different games that have become very popular with all of the age groups.

Cooking and gardening have become a huge part of Ms. Gadhue's literacy block, which is a great way to practice and hone technical reading and writing skills. The students harvested mammoth cucumbers and radishes and put up several quarts of refrigerator pickles that we will enjoy next week. They are keeping up with recipe writing for our ELP summer garden cookbook as well, so that the recipes they learn this week can be replicated later on for family and friends at home. Learning to use garden treats for healthy eats fits great with our wellness themes and also helps students become stewards of the new MCS garden. These are great life skills that we are glad to be honing through expanded learning!

Perennial ELP favorite specials educator Shawn Kimball also joined us this week to get students familiar with cameras, Go-Pros, filming, and videography. Shawn will be joining us on and off in Week 4 and all of Week 5 in conjunction with Ashley and Skyler our theatre specialists to pull together some movies for the ELP Film Festival in Bristol on August 5th. ELP-ers as young as six right up through our oldest participants all learned how to use cameras and phones to take videos and even did some underwater Go-Pro filming at the pond, which was a perfect way to spend a sweltering Friday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


This week at the BES ELP we had tons of fun, and shared lots of laughs! We had lots of smiling faces return to us this week, and even made some new friends. It was awesome to see how many kids were so excited to come back and learn. This week our special was Shawn Kimball. Shawn taught us how to use different kinds of cameras and audio equipment.

Over in Math and Science with Heather, we focused on the science of colors, water, and light. We started off the week playing with frozen water balloons. The kids were amazed at how salt can change the feeling of the ice, creating bumps and ridges that we could fill with food coloring. The different colors would drip through the ice, creating some pretty cool patterns. We also worked with density and layering different types colors of liquids. Depending on the density, the different colors would either float to the bottom, or sink to the top. Our kids had some great hypotheses about what would happen with the different colors.

Cathy taught us all about relaxation and self love in Health and Wellness. It's so important to calm our bodies as well as our minds when we are feeling frustrated or anxious. We also focused on all sorts of fun games, like 20 questions, don't let the balloon touch the ground, and lots of others! At the end of the week, Cathy taught us how to sew. We had skill levels that ranged everywhere from newbie to expert. We put our newfound skills to the test and sewed a pillow that we could take home to snuggle with.  Inside of the pillows we put different spices and yummy smells that are calming for our minds.

For our special with Shawn, we learned all about how film works. Shawn brought in all sorts of cameras for us to play around with. I think one of our favorites was the GoPro since we could strap it to our forehead and get all sorts of angles and cool shots. Not only did we practice our tech skills, but we also utilized some of our acting tools from the week before to make for some funny skits. We were able to get outside, get our bodies moving, AND play with cameras and microphones. We look forward to seeing Shawn again!

Last but not least, Literacy with Priscilla. In Literacy this week, we did a lot of activities outside. Our 3/4 and 5/6 hung story walks outside of the school for our community to read when they walked by. If you want to check it out, Max and Ruby is in front of the school, and a very cool story about tractors and the outdoors on the back fence near the 1-4 playground. We have been taking lots of small field trips to the library, upstairs to the summer reading club, and all over our own schools campus.

Thanks for joining us for our second week of ELP. We really hope your children had just as much fun attending as we did teaching. Each child brings a different sort of joy and light to the group. It wouldn't be the same if even one of them was missing. Until next week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Week 2 In Monkton Serves Up Tasty, Healthy Snacks!

Stemming kale from the school garden... We are so lucky to have such a bounty!

Almost time for kale chips!
Mmmmm... healthy!
Stretches in wellness keep us limber and ready to learn...

Solar ovens during STEM time let the sun make our s'mores!

See you next week!

Summer School?!

The thought of going to school during the summer automatically makes most kids' stomachs turn. The Expanded Learning Program aims to alter that image. The ELP staff at Robinson Elementary is proud to be a part of that change. This summer, for the first time, all five schools that are a part of ANESU are offered a chance to participate in the ELP summer program.  

Summer ELP started on July 5th with 24 eager students. The first day flew by and had kids wondering how it was already time to leave. It seems like we hooked them day one! They may not have been so willing if it was not for the incredible educators we have on-board this summer. Lydia Davison comes to us from Beeman and is taking a creative, inventive approach to literacy. We welcome back Nancy Hellen who has the kids catching water bugs down in Lewis Creek and testing out flying machines in the classroom. John Amory, a familiar face around Robinson is getting the kids moving in Health and Wellness. We also have a a group of rotating specialists teaching science, film, and theater! 

Sean Kimball can be seen here teaching students the finer skill of boom operation during filming. All of the students were able to take turns during skits. Hopefully they will be able to use the skills learned with Sean in combination with their skills learned during Theater!

 On Friday of the first week we took the kids to Lewis Creek and spent time exploring. Nancy led science class in the creek. John played group games in the field. Sean had kids dunking the GoPro underwater to film the flow of the creek. One of the best parts of Vermont is using the landscape around us to learn!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer Session at BES

Hello friends and families of our ANESU Expanded Learning Program students! We just wrapped up our first week at BES, diving into our theme and exploring "A World of Colors." Our incredibly awesome staff of Cathy Turner- Health and Wellness, Priscilla MQuade- Literacy, Heather Best- Math and Science created multiple games and activities surrounding colors, while also promoting learning and fun! When asking kids of all ages, they said they didn't even feel like they were learning, just hanging out with new friends and participating in some pretty cool adventures. One of our favorite times of the day is lunchtime, a time where we all regroup and talk about things we learned, share laughs, and eat delicious lunches provided by the free summer meal plan located at the high school.

This week we were lucky enough to have Ashleigh Millett and Skyler Goff teaching us how to become someone or something new through theater and storytelling. Each of our four groups performed a small skit for the rest of the program on Friday to show off what they learned. What a great way to wrap up our week! In these performances, appearances were made by a witchy-woman who could transform into a giant beetle, a sassy, strong-minded baby bear, an ax-wielding, guitar playing woodsman, King Gentle of the forty thieves, and many other silly characters all made up by our students.

Switching gears to Math and Science, Heather incorporated some all time favorite games like UNO and Mastermind. Not only did we play the classics, but also some homemade versions including more colors, shapes, and some new vocabulary words.

In literacy, Priscilla is reading us colorful stories, helping us to create poetry using all five of our senses, and inspiring us to paint with beautiful watercolors. Our students are exploring how different colors make us feel.

Health and Wellness has been focusing this week on how our foods can effect our mood and bodies. Self exploration and positive thoughts about ourselves and our friends creates a safe and loving environment, an environment that everyone can thrive in and individuality is encouraged.

Overall, we couldn't have asked for a better week. The teachers and leaders all feel truly lucky and special to be able to work with your children. This group is kids is wonderful, and we're looking forward to another colorful week.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Three Schools Meet at Monkton... Fun Ensues!


Summer Lunch Menu from ANESU Food Cooperative
Bristol BASK Schedule***

Monkton's first-ever summer expanded learning program is following in the footsteps of its successful school-year program with a great start to our five weeks together!

Our wonderful core staff Shelly Cota, Caitlin Gadhue, Phil Hall, Taylor Zimmer, and visiting specialist Charles "Mr. Wizard" Black have made the MCS ELP the place to be for students who attend Monkton, Lincoln, and Beeman elementary schools. We are also grateful to Steve and Isaac, the MCS custodial team, for making sure that our learning spaces were clean and ready for the Tuesday start.

"Anyone who doesn't like math should come here, where it's fun." --sixth grader

Inside the STEM workshops the kids have worked with shapes, symmetry, and math facts. We started off the week exploring the shapes that naturally occur around the beloved Monkton Pond. After our geometric discoveries we discussed what symmetry was and created our very own symmetric art pieces using plants and other pieces of nature we collected. We then ended our week playing some math fact racing games and some addition connect four. All in all we had a great time getting to know each other while exploring some fun math topics! Can't wait to see what the next few weeks have in store!

We had a great first week of wellness here at MCS. We have started every workshop by reflecting on the food that we have eaten throughout the day. We place our breakfasts into categories (grains, proteins, dairy, etc.) and discuss the ways in which these foods are used to fuel our bodies. Based on the past week of sharing, our kiddos have been eating really well! It has been a very active week in wellness as well. We have learned new games such as Rock, Paper, Scissors Tag and completed personal fitness challenges based on individual goals. We have shared our favorite stretches and warm ups with each other, hiked to the pond, and had a chance to draw some of our favorite activities. We even had an awesome dance party with first and second grade group! It was a wonderful week of learning and having fun, we are excited for week number two!

Literacy workshops also explored the beautiful area of Monkton Central School. We visited the pond, read stories about frogs and made our journals for this summer adventure. We also spent time working in the school garden, harvesting kale and basil and working together to make a super batch or delicious pesto. We wrote the recipe in our journals, listed the steps we took to make our pesto, and enjoyed it as a special treat at our Friday lunch all together!

"Are we going to play science next?" --first grader

The Week One gang poses for a group shot after our Friday kickball game.
Our workshop leaders have decided to create a one-room schoolhouse (ORSH) on Fridays, where we will have an array of multiage activities that our whole crew can participate in together. We are very excited at this new way of looking at teaching and learning all ages! We started today with a whole-group kickball game and it was a blast. Look forward to more news about ORSH Fridays!

Enrollment is robust with new faces joining every day. If you are interested in sending your student, please contact Kate La Riviere Gagner at

"I like coming to summer camp. There's always something new." --third grader

***Please note! Bristol BASK is only open to families who have made all of the prior arrangements with the Mary Johnson Children's Center. ANESU ELP paperwork is for our 8am-12pm program only!