The Urban Farm at Stapleton recently suffered a great loss to its animal population and to the programs they support, and need your help to rebuild!

They need new, high-quality animals, a birthing barn, and possibly some livestock guardian dogs to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again. Can you help? [ read more ]
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The Urban Farm at Stapleton Needs Your Help!

[ Monday, February 13, 2017 | 0 comments ]
The Urban Farm at Stapleton recently suffered a great loss to its animal population and to the programs they support. They intend to fill that void with new life and a directed focus on their responsibility to the new animal residents, to those who care for them, and those who learn from them.

They have received an outpouring of support from the community that has heartened them and given them strength during this difficult time. This will greatly help toward covering the cost of a completely new fenced enclosure and will start them down the road to replacing the animals.

With more than 40 volunteers helping, a temporary secure fenced area was constructed for remaining goats and sheep, and they were brought home last weekend. Construction of a new, secure fence and gates will begin shortly.

The goats and sheep will be replaced with particular types of high-quality animals that can help fulfill the Farm's mission in the most effective way—two types of goats—Boer Goats and Nigerian Dwarf Goats to be used in Field Trips, Storybook Farm, Fiber Arts, Animal Husbandry, and 4-H Programs.

Prices vary, but here are some parameters on what it costs to replace our herd:
  • Nigerian Dwarf Goat: $300-$600 each, goal is 5 goats.
  • Boer Goat: $400-$900 each, goal is 4 goats.
  • Shetland Sheep: $600-$1,000 each, goal is 3 sheep.
With a donation of $1,000 or more you get to name one of the new animals!

In addition, a goal is to build a birthing barn to allow animals to give birth in a safe, quiet, heated shelter. This will also allow program participants and visitors a new and unique visitor experience at TUF. The estimated cost of such a facility is in the $30,000 range.

The addition of Livestock Guardian Dogs is also being considered.They stay with the group of animals they protect as a full-time member of the herd. The mere presence of a guardian dog is usually enough to ward off predators. Livestock Guardian Dogs could also be integrated into educational programs to teach how dogs can have a career as working animals.

HOW YOU CAN DONATE. Visit and click on the Donate Now button. You will be able to specify if you wish to donate to the goat and sheep initiative or make a general contribution. With a donation of $1,000 or more you get to name one of the new animals!

Thank you so much from everyone at the Farm, from the kids and families they work with, and from the animals.

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Snow Mountain Ranch - Fun for the Whole Family!

[ Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | 0 comments ]
Last weekend, my family and I headed up to the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch for a little wintertime getaway. We hadn't been there before, so didn't know what to expect, and were all delighted. The grounds are beautiful, the weather clear, and there were so many activities to choose from, we feel like we need to go back to do more! Since it's only two hours from Denver, that makes it easy!

We visited during one of the "Break the Ice Weekends," so had even more choices for activities. We started Saturday morning with a free guided snowshoe tour to an old gold mine. None of us had ever been snowshoeing before, so were excited to give it a try. My daughter is 9 and took to it like she'd been doing her whole life - on the return she was the one leading everyone. Our 4-year-old got a little cold (it was about 9 degrees out that morning), but loved the halfway-point stop for hot chocolate and a cookie by the fire.

We found the gold mine!
Since it was a pretty chilly day and we'd had a big morning, we opted for indoor activities for most of the afternoon. We started with archery lessons at the Kiva center, which has been something I've wanted to do since I was a Robin Hood-obsessed kid. My husband and daughter were the best shot, but all of us hit the target more than once.

After archery we stayed at the Kiva center and rollerskated and played a little basketball. My 80s childhood rollerskills came in handy, and the kids loved the skating so much we came back for more on Sunday afternoon.


Next it was s'mores making at the campfire and some art at the Craft Center. There are a ton of craft options for both kids and adults for just $5. They offered a glass fusion class (making beautiful pendants) one morning, but we didn't make it. My daughter could have stayed at the Craft Center her whole weekend - poster coloring, painting (canvas and ceramic), leatherworking... Such a fun place!


Sunday morning we opted for tubing - a family favorite - and the kids played some "King of the Mountain" since there were tons of giant piles of snow. There was no fee to use the tubes, so we each got one, which we hadn't done before at places where you have to rent the tubes individually. It was a blast hooking up and all going down the hill together!
After lunch we returned to the Kiva center for more rollerskating and basketball, plus a little volleyball and air hockey. 

There were so many activities, we felt like we could have stayed a week and not run out of things to do. My husband and I really wanted to cross-country ski, the kids wanted to check out the pool, and we would have loved to fit in ice skating and the indoor climbing wall. Next time! Other activities include sleigh rides, dog sled rides, yoga, snow games, animal tracking, weird science, Little Explorers club, curling, evening movies... So much to do!

Snow Mountain Ranch and YMCA of the Rockies are currently offering Snowtacular specials if you want to check them out - you can even bring your pets! (In cabins, that is, as pets aren’t allowed in the lodge rooms...)

Snow Mountain Ranch:

January 2 – March 4: Stay three nights in an Indian Peaks lodge room at Snow Mountain Ranch for just $328 (includes two free breakfasts per night booked) Or, stay four nights in a three-bedroom cabin at Snow Mountain Ranch for one low price of $792.

April 2 – April 15: Stay three nights in an Indian Peaks lodge room at Snow Mountain Ranch for just $168 (includes two free breakfasts per night booked) Or, stay four nights in a three-bedroom cabin at Snow Mountain Ranch for one low price of $582.

At Estes Park Center: 

Stay three nights in a Central Lodge Room at YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center for one low price of $168 (includes two free breakfasts per night booked). Or, stay four nights in a three-bedroom cabin at at YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center for one low price of $582.

Plus, pets are allowed in cabins for just a $15 fee per pet/per night with a max of 2 pets per cabin – just in case the four-legged family members are coming along.

Guest post by Mindee Forman Read the full story »
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What You Didn't Know About Montessori

[ Tuesday, January 31, 2017 | 0 comments ]
Image courtesy of DIY Genius
The number of Montessori schools is growing. Why? Montessori studies tell us it is an effective method of education that provides students with a strong academic foundation, strong social intelligence, higher levels of executive function, and an understanding of the responsibilities that go along with the interdependence between oneself, the larger community, and our environment.

Sometimes families seek out Montessori for their children because they attended Montessori and recognize the deep and lasting impact a Montessori education had on their lives. Others seek it out because they had an experience in a different educational system that didn’t resonate for them. Regardless of why they are looking for a Montessori school, there are a few things that most parents and families are (pleasantly!) surprised to learn about Montessori. Perhaps you will be surprised as well.

1)  Montessori is not just for early childhood education.
Many of the most well-known, highly regarded public, charter, and private Montessori schools throughout our country span through elementary, middle school, and high school! So, why do so many people think that Montessori is just for early childhood? Maria Montessori, the pioneer of the Montessori Method, started her research with young children and developed the early childhood curriculum first. She discovered that the first six years of life were critical to the personality and attitudinal development of children, which is why so many Montessori schools in the U.S. started with early childhood—perpetuating the misunderstanding that Montessori is just for early childhood.

What you may not know is that Maria Montessori laid a foundational curriculum for all ages, and her work in higher education continued and continues to be developed by trained Montessorians over the last century. The beauty of the curriculum, which touches all ages of development, is that it adapts to meet the developmental challenges of students so they can successfully navigate and excel at the crucial tasks.

2) Montessori pioneered the “Sustainability” and “Environmental Education” concepts before they were trending subjects.
The Montessori “Practical Life” curriculum included care of the environment and nature study, gardening, and farming well before “Sustainability” was a household conversation. Young children are taught to care for themselves, others, and the environment as core tenants of the Montessori pedagogy. As these children grow older, they are taught to grow and prepare food for themselves, learn how various ecosystems are interrelated and interdependent, and how they are responsible for the health and well being of our planet. At the middle and high school level, students are taught how to create micro-economy businesses through the work of their hands, and they often run farms or manage urban gardens that they develop products from.

3) The Montessori curriculum goes beyond traditional subject matter.
Because the Montessori curriculum was developed based on Maria Montessori’s core tenant, “Follow the Child,” the curriculum is built to be highly individualized and responsive to the interests of each student in the classroom. In order to do this, it includes content that other curriculums often don’t include, such as practical living skills, all of the sciences, cultural studies, creative arts, music, event planning, economics, entrepreneurship, community service projects, sensorial refinement, and any other areas of interest for students.

If a student is passionate about art, for example, the teachers are trained to expand the art curriculum to directly respond to their interests. And, if students needs extra support in a certain subject area, the teacher can provide lessons to help them catch up to their peers.

4) Children are free to move throughout the classroom even in the older grades.
Maria Montessori made an amazing discovery that has been reinforced by recent brain research: learning is primarily a function of doing things with our minds and bodies working in tandem. That means we need ALL of our senses activated in order to be efficient learners. In fact, our auditory and visual senses (the ones targeted in more traditional educational models) are not the primary sources of learning at all: our hands are! Fortunately, Maria’s curriculum is designed so students interact with kinesthetic materials, which isolates concepts in core subject areas while engaging all of the senses.

Furthermore, freedom of movement in the classroom helps students develop an awareness of their bodily needs. Whether that means being free to use the bathroom or have a snack when their body signals that they need to, or taking a few minutes to do yoga in the middle of class, movement is not only permitted, it is encouraged as long as it is not disruptive to the work anyone else is doing. In short, the body is not separate from the mind, and Montessori teaches the children to use both!

5) Montessori curriculum is designed around three-year developmental stages in every child’s life.
Research has shown that our lives from birth to age 24 can be divided into four developmental planes, each of which spans six years and is made up of three-year sub-planes. Montessori curriculum and classroom age groupings are intentionally structured around these three-year sub-planes so students can reap the greatest academic and social returns from their classroom experience:

1st Plane of Development = Physical and Biological Independence (0-6 years old)
·  0-3 years old: Progression and Peak
·  3-6 years old: Assimilation, Refinement, and Acquisition of Skills (Mastery)

2nd Plane of Development = Mental Independence (6-12 years old)
·  6-9 years old: Progression and Peak
·  9-12 years old: Assimilation, Refinement, and Acquisition of Skills (Mastery)

3rd Plane of Development = Social Independence (12-18 years old)
·  12-15 years old: Progression and Peak
·  15-18 years old: Assimilation, Refinement, and Acquisition of Skills (Mastery)

4th Plane of Development = Spiritual and Moral Independence (18-24 years old)

The first year of each classroom’s cycle is the foundation year, the second year the year of exploration, and the third year the culmination/capstone year. Of these, the capstone year, a year of application and fruition, is the most important. Because the curriculum spirals upward, all of the concepts presented until that point have laid a foundation for this final year of learning. It is also a year of leadership, in which the older students have the opportunity to be role models and mentors, giving back to their community in a positive way while simultaneously cementing their own learning. By the end of the third year, students will have grown dramatically and will be ready to start in on the next stage of development.

6) Not all Montessori Schools are created equal.
The word “Montessori” is a generic term that refers to a teaching philosophy, curriculum, and pedagogy rather than a franchise or a brand. As such, there can be a wide variety of approaches to implementing Montessori, and some people use the term without keeping fidelity to the pedagogy and the philosophy, or worse yet, without following it at all. Be cautious of schools that call themselves “Montessori Inspired” or that don’t reflect the core tenants of the Montessori philosophy.

About the Author
Rachel Averch
Rachel Averch co-founded the Montessori Children’s House of Denver in 1991 and serves as the President and CEO. She is a founding member of the Colorado Montessori Association, currently serving on the Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee. She also sits on several review teams for school accreditations and speaks at local conferences as an education advocate. She holds a bachelors of arts in Education Administration and has the following certifications and credentials: AMS Primary Certification through the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, CDHS Director’s Credential, and a Level IV Professional Credential.

Other Montessori Resources

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New No-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic for Cats from DFL

[ Monday, January 16, 2017 | 0 comments ]
Photo courtesy of 9News
The Dumb Friends League (DFL) will open a new spay/neuter clinic for cats on Tuesday, January 17 as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the number of cats on the streets and in shelters. The Dumb Friends League Solutions – Cat Spay/Neuter Clinic will offer fully subsidized (no-cost) spay/neuter surgeries for all Colorado cats, including feral cats, community cats (tame or feral free-roaming cats), and owned cats. Anyone can bring a cat to the clinic for spay/neuter surgery, regardless of income. 

The Dumb Friends League Solutions – Cat Spay/Neuter Clinic will be located at PetAid Colorado on 191 Yuma St. in Denver, conveniently located in central Denver near I-25 and 6th Avenue and will be operated by the DFL and staffed by members of the Dumb Friends League veterinary team. 

The clinic will augment—not replace—the Dumb Friends League mobile spay/neuter program. The goal of the clinic will be to spay or neuter 10,000 additional cats per year. 

For more information, visit

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Tony-winning Fun Home at the Denver Center through January 22

[ Thursday, January 12, 2017 | 0 comments ]
Every once in a while a Broadway musical comes along that surprises, moves and excites audiences in ways only a truly landmark musical can.

The "groundbreaking" "uplifting" and "exquisite" new musical Fun Home was the event of the Broadway season, receiving raves from critics and audiences alike, winning five 2015 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and making history along the way. Based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home introduces us to Alison at three different ages, as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood.

Robert Petkoff, who recently headlined the DCPA Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd, plays Bruce (the father) in the show.

A refreshingly honest musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes, “Fun Home is extraordinary, a rare beauty that pumps fresh air into Broadway” (New York Times).

Show information:

Fun Home

January 10-22, 2017

Denver Center for the Performing Arts - The Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Ticket Price: Starts at: $30 at or 303.893.4100

Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – – is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for this productions in Denver.

Age Recommendation: Ages 13+ due to adult themes

Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes with no intermission

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