Children Feed

Skeletons and butterflies

Skeletons and butterflies

​When a thunderstorm kept the J S Jenks kindergartners from visiting the Chestnut Hill Library for a program, the library came to them. Author Cynthia Kreilick read aloud in Spanish and English with the children from her book "Lucha y Lola," illustrated by her daughter Alyssa. The story, about travel and change, is inspired by the Calveras (skeleton depictions) associated with the Day of the Dead that Kreilick encountered on a family trip to Mexico. It concludes with the protagonists starting a butterfly kite-making business to draw attention to the plight of the endangered monarch butterfly population. The Kreilicks were featured in the Chestnut Hill Local in 2012 www.chestnuthilllocal.com/2012/11/26/mother-writes-daught...

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Grandson learns Yiddish

11 year old learns Yiddish

Your correspondent  was staying with an old Quaker friend in Maine and her 11 year old grandson came over one evening for an overnight visit.

 
The grandson had decided to learn Yiddish, the language spoken by the characters in Art Spiegelman's graphic Holocaust family memoir "Maus" after reading and becoming intrigued by the narrative. (Yiddish, an amalgam of German, Hebrew and Aramaic used  by the Jews of Eastern Europe and Russia since  before the 12th century  suffered a serious decline with the near extermination of its speakers during World War II.)
 
So I eagerly introduced the grandson to some choice Yiddish expressions I learned from my grandparents  and the next morning I wrote him a letter incorporating those words in context. I suggested he read the letter aloud to Grandmom for practice and they indulged me in letting me video them.
 
 
 

Weaving with fabric Harry Potter style

Melissa Maddonni Haims led kids in weaving the fence at the J.S Jenks School in Chestnut Hill  with colorful strips of fabric as part of the community’s annual Fall for the Arts Festival. Sections of the fence represent the colors of the Jenks School and also represent the Houses the of Hogwarts School for Wizardry. The Harry Potter festival descends on the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia the weekend of October 17th. Watch video here.


From Cuba to U.S in Operation "Pedro Pan"

While tying up bags of compost at the Henry Got Crops farm in Roxborough, Raisa Williams, a retired dean at Haverford College, recounted how she was one of fourteen thousand Cuban children brought to the United States in 1960 as part of “Operation Pedro Pan.”  Although her mother had been a staunch supporter of the Cuban revolution, things began to change. Amid rumors that she might not be able to stay in school unless she complied with a government requirement to be sent somewhere summer- long to perform community service, Williams’ parents opted for the 14 year old Raisa and her 11 year old sister, to come to the States through the Peter Pan program of Catholic Charities in conjunction with the U. S. State Department. Once here, the girls would be able to apply for visas for their parents.

What she thought would be a couple months separated from her parents, stretched out to two years.  For a young girl, this was an adventure and she was relatively content at a camp in Florida where she studied English and other subjects. But when it became overcrowded, she was transferred to an orphanage in Pottsville, PA.  “The orphanage was – an orphanage.”

And Cuba? “I love the place. The people have suffered enough. It’s no fun to be in a dictatorship for the last 50 years. You can’t talk. You can’t say anything. But when I was there in 2011, people were beginning to be very vocal about things.”

“Lo que me estrano de Cuba es sol, la calidad de la persona, el modo que son simpatico…la musica….” She hopes to live there again one day.

Watch video here.


Spotted: Princess Sofia the First

Princess Sofia the First was walking briskly down Germantown Avenue Sunday morning headed toward a birthday party. Haviva Goldman helped explain her purpled gowned daughter Annalena’s enchantment with the newish princess in the Disney empire. Watch video interview here.


How Lego conquered the toy industry brick by brick

Legos - it's about the brick

The Lego Company has been fantastically successful. In each of the last 5 years sales have risen 24% and profits, 40%. But it was not always so. For most of its 80-year existence, its reach did not extend so far beyond Billun, Denmark, where Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter unable to secure enough wood to build furniture during the 1930s depression, began experimenting building wooden toys.

The company under Christiansen’s progeny soared in the last couple decades but tie-in products to the Star Wars and Harry Potter movies nearly doomed the company in 2003; sales of those products crashed when the movie franchises hadn’t yet come out with new films.

This, according to Wharton Professor Dave Robertson and former LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at Switzerland's Institute for Management. Robertson, a Chestnut Hill resident, discussed his new book, “Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry” at the William Jeannes Library in Lafayette Hill this past Thursday evening.

He began his slide talk by distributing baggies, each packed with the identical same six logo pieces, and instructed the audience to “Build a duck” and gave us only a minute or two. Participants then brought their “ducks” up to the front table. At the end of the talk, Robertson pointed to the wide variation of these Lego “ducks” as evidence that incredible creativity is possible even when severe constraints are imposed, a major thesis of his book.

He credits Lego Company’s resurgence to its imposition of key constraints: drastically reducing the number of parts (about 14000 different ones at peak) that had made the manufacturing process unwieldy, getting back to products that are more “Lego-y” and subjecting product proposals to the approval a committee of 3 seasoned Lego designers. And, ultimately, insisting that projected profitability be a constant constraint.

What Lego pioneered was not just a toy, Robertson maintains, but a system of play. And that system “is about the brick.”

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Empty Bowl Dinner fights hunger and homelessness

Diners get to pick out a hand made bowl

Twenty five percent of Philadelphians live below the poverty level. This somber statistic was delivered last night to hundreds of diners, along with delicious soups and breads donated by dozens of restaurants and caterers, at the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network’s 15th annual “Empty Bowl Dinner”  held at the Lutheran Theological Seminary.

Through a large network of religious congregations and volunteers, the Network (“NPIHN”) provides emergency and transitional housing and support services to families facing homelessness, like the Baez family, now “alumni”, who recounted their continuing personal struggle to support themselves and stay together as a family.

Watch video here.

The Baez family found shelter with the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network