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Weekend Out: Spend a family day down at Sunflower Farm

Most Coloradans aren’t too far removed from nature. Front Range cities boast great parks and access to vast wilderness areas.

And while hiking or biking have their advantages, a trip to Sunflower Farm in Longmont offers families a chance to experience a truly rural lifestyle.

“Our intention is to give the public a taste of farm life in a real country setting,” says owner Bren Frisch, who has lived on the farm with her husband and three kids since 2000.

Beginning today and continuing every Saturday through November, Frisch and her family open the farm to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 55-acre property is used mainly to grow alfalfa, sunflowers and pumpkins. But Frisch has turned the farm into a kid-friendly smorgasbord of fun with simple play activities at every turn.

Hand-built treehouses lead to ziplines through the cottonwoods, with sandboxes and forts tucked into various nooks and crannies. Kids can pet bunnies and wandering lambs, go for a pony ride or collect eggs from the chicken coop.

Tire swings and climbing ropes await tots, and during chilly spring weather Frisch invites families to roast marshmallows over an open fire.

“You don’t want to rush in and rush out,” Frisch says. “You’ll want to stay all day, and plan to bring a picnic or even take a nap in a hammock.”

Frisch leaves the schedule open, encouraging free-form play and

Explore Colorado With Fun Outdoor Events From Planet Explore

With Spring’s glorious temperatures, Colorado is a joy to explore. The North Face has made outdoor participation a priority with Planet Explore a portal to the outdoors for people of all ages to find outdoor events in their area.

In Denver, Planet Explore has teamed up with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, the Blufflake Nature Center, Trips for Kids Denver/Boulder, Big City Mountaineers and Environmental Learning for Kids to help promote these fantastic events.

1) Bluff Lake Nature Center has planned several events that will help you celebrate Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 21: STARGAZING. The Bluff Lake Nature Center will kick off Earth Day events on April 21 with a members-only event at dusk. An amateur Astronomer will bring his telescopes to Bluff Lake and share the wonders of the universe.

Thursday, April 22: EARTH DAY. On Earth Day, BLNC will partner once again with Stapleton-area business on our Locavore Earth Day event. A number of local businesses will donate a portion of their day’s proceeds to Bluff Lake Nature Center.

Saturday, April 24: RECYCLING. Bring your electronics, baby gear, and more to Bluff Lake for FREE (or low cost) recycling. BLNC will also be showing recycled art from local artists and their educators will work with children to assemble small worm bins. The recycling opportunities that will be available include B-Logistics (books, CDs, DVDs, video games), WeeCycle and Techno+Rescue (electronics). Check for specifics.

Sunday, April 25: WESTERLY CREEK CLEAN-UP. Help BLNC and your Stapleton neighbors as they spend time cleaning-up Westerly Creek. This is an annual neighborhood tradition, and they collect a wide variety of trash – from the common (plastic water bottles) to the extraordinarily large (mattresses).

Saturday, MAY 1: SPRING TREE PLANTING. This is a great opportunity to teach children about nature as they learn to plant trees and shrubs. Register at

2) Big City Mountaineers is partnering with Leave No Trace and AEE (Association for Experiential Education) at the National Get Outdoors Day event June 12. They also have the

Helping students, one school and one teacher at a time

On an early February morning at Stedman Elementary School, the pressure was high.

Two students vomited. A few cried at their desks. Another imagined goblins might get him if he failed.

It was the day the third-graders took their first Colorado Student Assessment Program exams, and the 8- and 9-year-olds were all nerves.

Students rubbed lucky “Zap CSAP” lapel pins. They repeated mantras of test-taking techniques and practiced positive self-talk taught to them by their teacher, Dawn Romero.

The reading test — given to third-graders weeks before exams in math and writing so results can be used to help struggling kids before the end of the school year — was a stop on the long road to get most Stedman students performing at grade level or better by summer.

Only six of Romero’s two dozen students began the school year reading at grade level.

Another four students were at least two grade levels behind.

“I will get them ready for the fourth grade,” Romero had promised. “I will get them up to fourth grade plus six months.”

But on that February morning, fourth grade was a long way away. Romero was focused on the CSAP, the annual proficiency exams given to Colorado’s third- through 10th-graders.

Stedman lately has done well on the assessment, and Romero is arguably the engine behind that success. After handing out the students’ first test, Romero issued her standard pep talk.

“Deep breath,” she told the class. “Think positive. I have total faith in you.


“Not a harder job in the country”

In the increasingly loud debate around reforming America’s public school system, most every change being discussed focuses on the teacher.

Reforms are calling for a