Friday, January 31, 2014

Recommended Reads: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Ages: High school – will likely appeal more to girls at first blush, though boys will be intrigued once they get past the fact that both protagonists are female

Awards: Listed as a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, and winner of both the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel and the Golden Kite Honor.

Plot: We’ll just come out and say it: this synopsis isn’t going to be satisfying. That’s because it is critical to give as little as possible about the plot of Code Name Verity away. So what to say? It seems safe to reveal that this is a novel about friendship, more specifically the friendship that blooms between a Scottish girl and an English girl who meet while both are serving Britain during World War II. The Scot is a spy and her best friend is a pilot, both pressed into incredible acts of bravery almost daily in the fight against the Nazi forces. The surprises just keep coming in this book. There is heartbreak, anguish, and cruelty, and there is also humor, warmth, and love. We really can’t give anything else away. Sorry. You’ll just have to trust us, or, failing that, the book’s numerous accolades (see above).

Our Take: Know that this is a heavy book. Some of the scenes are downright harrowing, as it’s difficult to watch characters you love – and love them you will – enduring the ruthless cruelty of war. A further argument that this book is not for everyone is the complexity of its format and plot; the deviously clever surprises that will delight proficient readers will stump those who are less able, making this book a frustrating, rather than breath-taking, mission. Let it be breath-taking. Don’t give it to students until they’ve got the emotional and literary wherewithal to handle it. It’s worth the wait, and they’ll thank you for holding out. Both protagonists are developed admirably, but Julie, the irrepressible Scottish spy, is particularly top-notch, the kind of character that will cause major devastation when you come up for air after a stint of reading and realize that, because she is fictional, you’ll never get to meet her. Parents may wish to read this book before, or alongside, their teenagers, both because it will be fun to discuss the unexpected twists and turns, and simply because it is wonderful.

Adult Content: The wartime setting of this book makes for some gruesome references to violence, but they’re not described in too much detail.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

AIM, CAST, and Audible

We have had several encounters this past week with different ways to access books and curriculum in ways that benefit learners of all kinds. 

First, Dr. Yellin has been "reading" a new book, League of Denial, about the role of the NFL in denying the dangers of concussions among football players. Long a reader of e-books on his iPad, he is accessing this book via, which is an Amazon subsidiary that provides audio versions of popular books. There is a membership fee, which entitles members to one "free" book per month, and there is a free 30 day trial. 

Yesterday's mail brought the Winter issue of the magazine of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, ED. The cover story was about CAST - formerly The Center for Applied Special Technology - and how Dr. David Rose and CAST's other founders forever changed the conversation about how books and other educational materials can and should be made accessible to all learners and created the field of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  It's a fascinating and well-written piece and is available online. Dr. Yellin is a proud member of the CAST Board of Directors.

Finally, a colleague shared a resource from the National Center for Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM), a CAST initiative. This resource, an extensive article entitled, An Educator’s Guide to the Acquisition of Alternate Format Core Learning Materials for Pre-K–12 Students with Print Disabilities, includes detailed information on resources teachers and administrators can use to locate and obtain materials for all kinds of learners, including those who need large print, Braille, and audio materials. The article describes the needs of teachers at specific levels and in specific situations and contains extensive discussions of the benefits of each resource and how and where it can be obtained. 

Whether you try an audio book, gain a better understanding of UDL, or learn how to obtain a book for a child who has difficulty accessing print materials, we hope our encounters this week prove helpful to you and the students you care about.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Benefits of Demystification for Teens with ADHD

A small but interesting study from a team of Canadian researchers sheds light on the benefits of demystification -- "the act of putting into plain words what an individual's strengths and weaknesses are, without the use of judgment or labels" -- on teenagers with ADHD.

The researchers built on earlier studies that demonstrated that parents who participated in training programs that provided information about their children's ADHD had improved decision making and knowledge, and their children had improved adherence to both medication and non-medication interventions. Similarly, elementary school children with ADHD who attended demystification workshops gained both knowledge about ADHD and had more favorable opinions of medication and other methods of treating this condition.

The study's focus on teens was prompted by data showing that less than half of teens with diagnosed ADHD who have been prescribed medication stick to their medication regimes, even when their symptoms continue to cause distress. Furthermore, the decision to stop medication is most often made by the teens themselves, whether or not their parents support this decision. The researchers in the present study wanted to see what would result from having teens participate in a two-hour workshop which addressed the following topics: "characteristics of ADHD, evidence-based treatments, strengths and weaknesses associated with ADHD, the connection between ADHD and the brain, how ADHD in adolescence is different from childhood ADHD, what to expect in the future, and important steps to self-advocacy, such as knowing when, who, and how to ask for special accommodations in school."

The study results were strongest when looking at improved self-advocacy information; students who participated in the demystification workshop had a significant and lasting improvement in recognizing which adults could help them with their ADHD and in recognizing ways they could take steps on their own to manage their ADHD. The researchers found an unexpected level of concern among the participants as to the safety of ADHD medications, including questions about combining these medications with alcohol or "recreational" drugs. The researchers note that more investigation is needed to determine how to best transmit information to teens with ADHD, but concluded, "A key strength of the demystification workshop was the notable change in adolescents' individual self-advocacy knowledge." They note that this will "allow adolescents to take more initiative in recognizing when support is required, seeking support from others, and knowing what steps they might take to help manage their ADHD symptoms."

Friday, January 24, 2014

Recommended Reads: Heat by Mike Lupica

Heat by Mike Lupica

Grades: 5-8

The Plot –  Spoiler alert!: Twelve-year-old Michael Arroyo’s pitching arm is incredible – so incredible that he should have it made. It seems that he shouldn’t have a care in the world, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the first pages of Heat, readers are introduced to Michael, his seventeen-year-old brother Carlos, and many of the friends he’s made in his neighborhood in the South Bronx. But although his sons talk about him often, Michael’s father never makes an appearance, and eventually we learn why: Michael’s father died suddenly several months before. It was his final wish that his sons stay together. But there is no one to take them in, since the Arroyos left the rest of their family behind when they fled Cuba for New York, and Carlos and Michael worry that Children’s Services will split them up if they go into the foster care system. So, they craft an elaborate lie, trying to hold out until Carlos turns eighteen in a few months and can serve as Michael’s legal guardian. Meanwhile, Michael’s fastball is causing jaws all over New York State to drop, earning him lots of attention as his team dominates the local competition in their quest to make it to the Little League World Series. But a formal complaint is lodged by jealous coaches of rival Little League teams, claiming that Michael must be older than he says he is. Michael’s father left much of the family’s paperwork behind when they fled Cuba, and without his birth certificate Michael is banned from playing with his team. After having a spat with a new girl in the neighborhood, the first who has ever turned Michael’s head, it seems that everything in Michael’s life is going wrong. But, with the help of his friends, things turn around for Michael just in the nick of time, and all of his problems are solved in one immensely satisfying, if somewhat improbable, scene.
Our Take: Mike Lupica serves up a winner with Heat. Michael is, perhaps, a little too good to be believed -- honest, athletically gifted, kind, funny, humble, grounded -- but you could hardly ask for a better role model for young athletes. And his commitment to maintaining all these admirable qualities, even while dealing with the anguishing hard knocks life has dealt him, will be inspiring to young readers. Parents don’t need to worry about whether they should let their child read another sports book or make him/her read a “quality” book instead; Heat has it all. Lupica’s descriptions of games are nail-bitingly vivid, revealing his “other” job as an ESPN commentator and sports columnist. Young baseball fans will relate to Michael’s fixation on the sport and learn a lot about the importance of practice, tenacity, sportsmanship, and friendship. But this book will appeal even to those who aren’t captivated by America’s pastime. The book is filled with humor, in large part thanks to Michael’s irrepressible best friend and catcher Manny.  Its plot is compelling and its writing is exceptional. We highly recommend Heat to baseball lovers, dreamers, and everyone who loves a well-told tale. 

Adult themes: None.

Interesting Background: Lupica was inspired to write Heat by the Danny Almonte scandal. In 2001, it was discovered that all-star South Bronx pitcher Almonte had lied about his age, saying he was twelve instead of fourteen so that he could star on a Little League team of younger players. The scandal is mentioned several times in the book.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Paper Crafts Make Learning A, B, C's Simple and Fun

In a recent search for innovative ways to teach youngsters the names of letters, we came across two free resources too delightful not to share. We were looking for something pretty specific: a system that turned each letter into a recognizable shape so that the familiar image would trigger both the shape of the letter and the sound it represents. A tall order to be sure, but we were delighted with two wonderful ideas we discovered.

The first, shared by the Totally Tots blog, is a collection of crafts, one for each letter, which artsy parents or teachers can make with their little ones. For example, capital A is given two eyes and teeth and turned into an alligator. Capital H receives windows, a door, and a rooftop to turn into a house. It’s important not to neglect the lowercase letters when learning the alphabet, and luckily, they’re available, too.
There are no templates to download, but the letters are as simple as they are ingenious and should be easy to reproduce with glue and construction paper. Kids will have great fun decorating the letters. After it’s finished, the whole alphabet should be displayed for easy reference. A minor, cautionary note, however: The orientation of some of the letters is altered in their presentation on the website. For example, the lowercase f, dressed up to look like a fish, has been rotated 90 degrees. This makes it look more like a fish, but sideways letters may cause confusion among young learners, so it’s best to display the letters right-side up. After your child has made and admired each letter the way it’s presented on the website, be sure to hang it up the right way. 

The second resource is not for the faint of heart or wobbly of hand, but patient adults with some free time will be delighted with the results. Paper crafter Markus Fischer has generously made available free templates  for three-dimensional versions each uppercase letter. Download the PDFs, print them in color, cut them out, and glue them together –you may wish to consult his tutorial for one of the trickier letters if you’re a beginner to paper craft—for a whimsical, ingenious way to teach kids their letters. We suggest printing on cardstock to make the letters more durable; after all the work of assembling them, you’ll want them to last. Children will have fun handling the letters, examining them from all sides, and using them to form words.

Do you have any innovative ways to help children remember their letters? We’d love to hear them!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Recommended Reads: Where Things Come Back

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Grades: The content is easy to read, but younger readers may miss the depth of this book. We recommend it to emotionally mature 8th graders and up.

Awards: Printz Award, Morris Debut Award

Plot: Where Things Come Back contains two interlocking story lines that seem unrelated initially but connect powerfully by the end. One is the story of Cullen, who has just finished his junior year of high school in tiny Lily, Arkansas. His summer is an especially tumultuous one: addition to facing the hallmark social and romantic trials of a teenager, he must cope with his cousin’s drug-induced death and then his adored younger brother’s sudden disappearance. While Cullen is obsessed with finding his brother, his town is obsessed with the alleged sighting of the largest woodpecker in existence, previously thought to be extinct. The aptly named Lazarus woodpecker seems unrelated to Cullen’s story, but readers should keep an eye on this important symbol. The second story line begins with eighteen-year-old Benton’s sudden recall from his religious mission in Ethiopia, which results in his revered father’s anger and shame. Cullen and Benton never meet, but each inadvertently sets off a series of actions that will collide and permanently alter the lives of those around them. This novel is equal parts dark humor and heartbreak, but it ends with an unambiguous rush of warmth and joy. Young readers will finish the book quickly but find themselves pondering its meaning for a long time.

Adult Content: Seventeen-year-old Cullen, the protagonist, is sexually active, and frequent references are made to his sexual encounters with girls, though none are described in any detail. The sexual content of the book won’t be objectionable to most parents, but some might want to skim it first if they’re worried. The book also contains some profanity—on par with a PG-13-rated movie, or so—and there are references to drugs in the beginning of the book, though since Cullen’s cousin dies of an overdose, it’s safe to say that drug use is not glorified.

Our Take: Where Things Come Back is brimming with profound symbolism, and there is a richness to its multitude of themes that would make it a great starting point for innumerable discussions about topics as varied as family, friendship, grief, fame, hope, religion, expectation versus reality, coping, imagination, conformity versus individuality, redemption, forgiveness, destiny, and love. We were intrigued not only by the richness of the individual characters, but of their relationships to each other and their surroundings.

While we recommend this book, it’s important to point out that struggling readers might have a tough time with it. Although the language is not overly complicated, the plot can be tricky to follow. Benton’s story begins, chronologically, several years before Cullen’s narrative, though the two stories are told side by side. Making two timelines, one for each story line, and filling them in as the book progresses, will help. Another thing that makes this book tough for weaker readers is Cullen’s imagination. He is frequently lost in his own fantasies, which are shared in vivid detail and begin with little warning. Most of them tend to turn out involving zombie takeovers or talking woodpeckers, but before the absurdity sets in, the tone is so similar to the tone of the rest of Cullen’s chapters that some readers may find it difficult to tell the difference between Cullen’s daydreams and his reality.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hip-Hop and Shakespeare: Best Friends? Yes, According to MC Lars

When you catch your teenager nodding in time to his headphones, don’t accuse him of shirking his English homework. If he’s listening to MC Lars, chances are he may be diligently contemplating themes in Moby Dick. Don’t believe us? Visit Lars’s homepage. The first thing you’ll notice is a cartoon drawing of Edgar Allan Poe (and his trusty raven, of course). MC Lars’s popularity, mostly outside of classrooms, is proof that intellect and hip-hop are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can go together as well as his well-crafted lyrics pair with his infectious beats.

When MC Lars was sixteen and a self-described geeky white guy, he starred in his first hip hop performance. Back then, of course, he was known as Andrew Nielson, and his audience was made up not of dancing club go-ers but his teachers and classmates at an assembly at his high school. Nielson’s class had been assigned to write a parody of Macbeth, and, intrigued by the rhythmic witches’ chant, he wrote some lyrics and laid them over a self-made house beat. “Rapbeth” was the first hip-hop performance of Nielson’s career, though it was a while before MC Lars made it big. He had to graduate from Stanford first, where he majored in 19th century American literature but also spent hours in Stanford’s campus radio station poring over their hip-hop vinyl collection.

Lars’s tracks are catchy, often humorous, and always smart. They’re also family-friendly; though songs like “Hey There Ophelia” may leave younger kids unschooled in Hamlet scratching their heads, rest assured that his lyrics are never offensive. Lars has written about topics as diverse as the absurdity of airport security, the self-defeatism of some environmentalists, and the baffling nature of hipsters and of emo music. But as educators, we admit that we’re partial to his more scholarly tracks about things like manifest destiny, the metric system, Harper’s Ferry, and, of course, literature.

MC Lars loves showing audiences how hip-hop and literature really aren’t strange bedfellows. He’s done seminars on the topic and even gave a Tedx Talk at USC on the topic. Currently, he’s working on a book on the history of hip-hop culture. He’s also putting together a pilot for an educational hip-hop TV show for children, and does educational hip-hop outreach work (did you know there was such a thing?) with various historical organizations to raise awareness and preserve American literary history.

Eager for a taste? MC Lars shares lots of his videos freely; “Ahab,”  a hip-hop retelling of Moby Dick by Ahab himself is one of our favorites. (Some of our favorite lyrics include “The first one to spot him gets this gold doubloon / Now excuse me while I go be melancholy in my room,” and “He charged the boat, and it began to sink / I’m like, ‘How about that? Hubris really stinks.’”) And we love “Flow Like Poe”  off of his most recent album, The Edgar Allan Poe EP. Though MC Lars plays at venues and concerts around the world, this track premiered at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in 2012. 

So hip-hop-wary parents: Let your kids listen to MC Lars. He’s a living, breathing, rapping embodiment of the way passion and creativity can revolutionize education.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Masa: Empowering Families Through Education

Today we have a guest blogger, Jessica Coffrin-St. Julien, who writes about Masa, a nonprofit organization based in Bronx, New York.

Three evenings a week, in the moments before 6 PM, some 60 children and their parents rush from their homes toward busy Melrose Avenue in the South Bronx. They walk briskly, backpacks in tow, to a cafeteria located on the ground floor of Immaculate Conception Church. As students enter the utilitarian space, they know where to go and what to do: they approach their designated tables, greeted by the familiar face of their tutor. Parents make their way to a small stage, where they participate in workshops. The room is abuzz with quiet energy; children giggle with their tutors, chew on pencils, furrow their brows as they work through tough problems. Parents greet each other warmly in Spanish and lean in from their seats to hear the evening’s workshop facilitator.

This program is Masa, a Bronx-based non-profit that promotes academic achievement, civic engagement, and leadership among under-served families, with a particular focus on families of Mexican descent. As a long-time board member of Masa, I– along with my fellow board members and our wonderful, if tiny, staff – have been deeply involved in planning and implementing our programs. Founded in 2001 as an advocacy group promoting in-state tuition for undocumented students, Masa has retained its focus on education over the years, expanding and deepening our services to meet the needs of the community we serve.

As reported by the New York Times, New York City’s Mexican community has had poor educational outcomes relative to other local ethnic groups; about 41 percent of Mexican youth between ages 16 and 19 in the city have dropped out of school, while no other major immigrant group has a dropout rate higher than 20 percent. The reasons underlying this astonishing gap in academic attainment are complex, but its very existence speaks to the pressing need for programs that provide educational supports to the city’s Mexican population. In Masa’s case, this need is made all the more urgent because the vast majority of our students attend schools in local District 7. At least according to results from 2012-2013 State exams in English and Math, District 7 is the lowest-performing of the 32 districts in New York City.

All this is to say that there are real barriers to educational success for Masa’s students. However, there are also real opportunities and strengths to build upon. Masa’s families are deeply committed to academic achievement; they conceive of education as key to securing a better future for their children. They have sacrificed immensely in support of that dream, navigating an unfamiliar new city, working long hours, and diligently monitoring their children’s progress at school. Oftentimes, our families simply lack access to some of the tools or resources foundational to achieving their goals, such as access to tutors, knowledge about the complex local public education system, and English language skills. (This last issue is rendered more complex for the subset of our parents who did not have access to formal education as children, and therefore have limited literacy skills in Spanish.)

With these issues in mind, Masa has enlisted an ever-growing roster of dedicated volunteers to provide tutoring and homework help for Masa students. We work with outside organizations to provide information to parents about the complexities of school enrollment, language access, and services available for English Language Learners and students with special needs. We offer English classes for parents. And we strive to do it all while creating a welcoming community space. For our parents and children, navigating local bureaucracies can be an alienating and sometimes degrading experience. At Masa, we want families to feel safe, welcomed, and empowered.

Jessica Coffrin-St. Julien has served on Masa’s board since 2009, closely supporting program development and operations. In the past, she has worked at several out-of-school-time programs; currently, she works for an education non-profit, doing research and supporting a variety of school-level pilot projects. She feels lucky to be part of the Masa community!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Recommended Reads: Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys      

Grades: 7 and up

Awards: William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist

Plot: Between Shades of Gray tells the story of a fictional character’s experiences during Stalin’s little-acknowledged attempt to “cleanse” the Baltic region of anti-Soviet populations he considered undesirable. The book opens on a night in 1941 when fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother are forced from their home by armed Soviet soldiers and deported. Lina’s gentle, thoughtful father is considered by the Soviets to be a dangerous intellectual, and his family is guilty by association. Lina eventually learns that her father was separately arrested earlier that day and has been sent to a prison camp. Meanwhile, she is loaded into a filthy, crowded train car with her mother and brother and sent to Siberia, where they are forced to fight for their lives in a work camp. The family and other deportees endure starvation, illness, freezing temperatures, cruel guards, and backbreaking labor. Lina struggles to remain hopeful in the face of the very harshest adversity, buoyed by her mother’s incredible love and strength. 

Adult Content: None, though the book relates a vicious period in history and violence is described in the book (not gratuitously). It should be noted that the themes in this book are very stark and some young readers may find them excessively troubling.

Our Take: This book is incredibly harrowing. Although most sixth graders should be able to read the sentences without difficulty, wrapping their heads around the content may not come as easily. We recommend that parents and teachers hand this book only to students who demonstrate a good measure of emotional maturity. Author Sepetys is the child of a Lithuanian refugee, and her burning need to communicate to the world what her father’s motherland endured during the Russian invasion is almost tangible throughout the book. Sepetys did a great deal of research before writing Between Shades of Gray, much of which involved interviewing survivors about their experiences. She shares information about her process and experiences in the back of the book, which makes for a fascinating endnote. Few adults know much about this particularly bleak facet of World War II, which is startling when one considers the scope of Stalin’s destruction; it is estimated that more than six million people were affected by these forced migrations from the Baltics and that over a million people died as a result. Between Shades of Gray will teach readers about this dark chapter of history, and about the indomitable nature of the human spirit and the power of love.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Heading Off Academic Trouble in College

Over the past few weeks we have heard from a number of college students who were dismissed or suspended from their schools because they had failed one or more courses or did not meet the required GPA standards set by their programs. Some of these students had long standing learning challenges; others had never previously encountered academic difficulties. But they all had some things in common and their experiences may help you or your college student avoid going down the same road.

  • Medical and emotional crises can take a toll on academic performance. If your son or daughter has a medical problem - mononucleosis, an extended bout of the flu, or a sleep or eating disorder - it's important to monitor how their illness is impacting their ability to attend class and complete their work and exams. Likewise, students with depression -- whether long-standing or newly evident -- may be unable to meet their school obligations. When these situations arise it is often best to take a medical leave or arrange for "incompletes" in the affected courses. This is preferable to one or more failing grades.
  • Keep in mind that colleges have no obligation to remove a failing grade from a student's record, no matter why that student might have failed. An "F" on a transcript stays there, even if the course is repeated successfully later, and this can have an impact on graduate school or employment applications, as well as driving down a student's GPA.
  • The sooner students with diagnosed disabilities of learning, attention, or executive functioning arrange for accommodations with their college's Office of Disability Services, the better. Accommodations -- things like extended time on exams, special arrangements to get class notes, and other helpful supports -- are never offered after the fact. If a student needs accommodations and doesn't arrange for them with the Office of Disability Services, or gets them but doesn't use them, there is no "do over" for the classes involved. 
  • When a student without a history of learning problems suddenly runs into academic difficulties in the more demanding setting of college, it is time to investigate why this is happening. A neuropsychological and academic assessment, such as the kind we do here at The Yellin Center, can shed light on previously undiagnosed learning, attention, or emotional problems and provide strategies to help the student succeed.
  • College students are legal adults, but the fact remains that the part of the brain that is involved in decision making, judgment, and other executive functions -- the prefrontal cortex -- continues to develop until around age 25. As difficult as it may be for parents to monitor their college student's academic performance or medical or emotional well-being, parental involvement can be crucial for a student who is struggling with academics because of these kinds of issues.
  • Colleges generally have procedures for academic warnings during the course of a semester and for appeals from academic suspensions or dismissals. However, by the time a college has determined that it is necessary to suspend or dismiss a student, the college administration generally believes that "taking a break" from school may be in the student's best interests. Re-admission may require the student to demonstrate that he or she has taken steps to deal with their problems, including showing satisfactory grades at another school in the course or courses that the student failed. 

By monitoring your college student's academics and being proactive when problems may arise, families can help their students avoid academic failures and make sure that they are on track for success in their college careers.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stone Barns Farm Camp

Attention New York parents: Worried your kids’ urban lifestyle is too far removed from nature? Stone Barns Farm Camp may be just the thing for your youngsters.

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture  is located just 25 miles north of Manhattan. Set among idyllic rolling hills and graceful woods, Stone Barns is dedicated to growing healthy and sustainable food using an agricultural system that’s good for animals, plants, nature, and people, too. Not only do they provide humanely raised animals and pesticide-free produce, Stone Barns is committed to educating children about food and stewardship, and to teaching farmers about restorative farming techniques.

Farm Camp will give kids from kindergarten through eighth grade the chance to do things they’ve probably only read about, or seen on TV. They’ll get to explore the pastures, fields, and woods of Stone Barns Center, learning about farming in a fun, hands-on way. Your child may discover she loves reaching into the silky feathers of a mild-mannered chicken to collect a freshly laid egg. Or, he may cultivate a talent for helping move sheep from pasture to pasture. Campers will learn about growing and harvesting produce and cooking delicious, healthy food, too. Camp at Stone Barns will be packed with activities designed to help kids forge connections to food, farming, and nature in a way that’s nearly impossible in New York City.

If your child is already booked for the summer, fear not: Stone Barn offers other opportunities for kids (and everyone else) to learn about farming and safe, sustainable, and healthy food production. Your child’s teacher may wish to book a visit  for the whole class, where K-12 students will go on a tour of the farm and get to try out a farm chore or activity. And you’re always welcome to take a family trip to the farm, which is open from Wednesday through Sunday year-round. Any time of year is a good one to visit Stone Barns, even winter; for example, visitors from late February through early March can learn about the maple sugaring process. Take a guided tour, or explore on your own with a self-guided tour.

Registration for 2014’s summer Farm Camp begins January 15th, and we urge interested parents to act quickly! You must be a member of Stone Barns, but the membership fee gives you a discount on camp enrollment and on the fresh, organic farm products sold in the Farm Market. Visit Stone Barns Farms’s camp webpage  for more information.

photo of chickens: woodleywonderworks
photo of sheep: Martin Pettitt