Drive-Thru Back 2 School Festival

*Please note that the festival is still in need of donations. Read more below.

Due to ongoing issues from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Back 2 School Festival has announced that this year’s event will be drive-thru only. The 2020 Back 2 School Festival will be held at Watauga High School over two days; Friday, August 7, and Saturday, August 8, with each school being assigned a specific time for their families to come pick up supplies.

The schedule is as follows:

FRIDAY, AUGUST 7
9:00-10:30 | Green Valley
11:00-12:30 | Mabel/Parkway
1:00-2:30 | Bethel/Blowing Rock
3:00-4:30 | Cove Creek/Two Rivers

SATURDAY, AUGUST 8
9:00-10:30 | Hardin Park (Last names A-K)
11:00-12:30 | Hardin Park (Last names L-Z)
1:00-2:30 | Valle Crucis/Home School
3:00-4:30 | Watauga High

“Our mission remains the same,” said festival coordinator Kendra Sink, “to make sure each Watauga County student returns to school with the tools they need to start the school year off confident and prepared. This year is going to look a lot different from previous years, but we are still committed to providing kids with much needed school supplies.”

Sink added that the Back 2 School Festival still needs around $10,000 in donations in order to meet the “unprecedented need in our community.”

In addition to the drive-thru style pickup, face coverings will be required for all attendees, both inside their vehicles while picking up supplies, and inside the shoe tent where children will be selecting a new pair of shoes. Only 25 people will be allowed inside the tent at a time.

“The school-specific pickup times will allow us to maintain social distancing in compliance with the guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services and the executive order from Governor Cooper,” said the festival’s publicity coordinator, Matthew Lucas. “This year has given us some unique challenges, so we’re asking everyone to bear with us so we can get everyone through the line as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. Every child who needs them will get the school supplies they need.”

The Back 2 School Festival was created in 2013 to provide school supplies free of charge for any Watauga County student whose family is struggling to meet the high cost of back to school shopping. Last year the festival provided supplies for over 1,200 students, and anticipates a higher number this year due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

You can learn more by visiting www.back2schoolfestival.org.

10 Kid Friendly Scavenger Hunt Ideas

Are you looking for adventure ideas for your kids this summer? Check out these ten kid friendly scavenger hunt ideas! You will have lots of fun and create many memories.

#CampDreamWorks – A Virtual Summer Camp Experience

In this unique time of physical and social distancing, CampDreamWorks was established as a way for kids to expand their imagination, spark creativity and stay connected during summer.

To help kids (and parents!) escape for a quick break and a bit of summer fun, DreamWorks Animation will offer a variety of easy-to-follow virtual activities every week. Kids can draw beloved characters along with DreamWorks artists, join a DJ-hosted Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts dance party, create a Spirit Riding Free inspired obstacle course & more, all while staying home! CampDreamWorks will help keep summer fun for kids missing out on summer camp, at home!

#CampDreamWorks was designed to create an engaging atmosphere for kids of all ages. Each week will feature DreamWorks themed activities and livestreams to help families staying home during summer, including Draw alongs, live concerts, dance parties, paper crafts, STEAM activities, obstacle courses, and many more!

Weekly Themes
o Week 1 – June 22 – Welcome Week (Boss Baby & Shrek)
o Week 2 – June 29 – Celebrations (Trolls)
o Week 3 – July 6 – Space (Captain Underpants)
o Week 4 – July 13 – Creatures (Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts)
o Week 5 – July 20 – Dragons (Dragon Rescue Riders)
o Week 6 – July 27 – Camp Traditions (Spirit Riding Free)
o Week 7 – August 3 – Magic (Wizards)
o Week 8 – August 10 – Jungle Jam (Madagascar)

Activity Guidelines

Blowing Rock’s FREE Virtual Summer Day Camp

Let’s kick-off a new week with great news from the Town of Blowing Rock’s Park and Recreation team.

Summer Day Camp is one of their most treasured and anticipated programs of the year, unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they were unable to have summer camp. HOWEVER, that doesn’t stop them from wanting their campers to have the best summer possible during these unprecedented and wacky times. They have come together with local businesses to provide activities for campers ALL SUMMER LONG! Get ready to experience science experiments, arts and crafts, virtual field trips, interactive virtual games, education series, and more!

Click here and let the FUN begin!

PBS KIDS Campaign Helps Children & Families Thank Essential Workers

This month, PBS KIDS invites children and families around the nation to give thanks to the people who are helping their local communities amidst the fight against COVID-19. Kicking off during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8, 2020), the PBS KIDS “Thank You Neighbors” campaign encourages families to celebrate essential workers in their communities – from teachers and healthcare professionals, to grocery store clerks and delivery personnel. Resources to help children share their gratitude and learn about the roles helpers play in the community are available on pbskidsforparents.org, which will be updated throughout the month.

“Gratitude is a powerful tool— it’s something we can give back to those who help us every day, and it offers children a therapeutic outlet that leads to positive emotions,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, Children’s Media and Education, PBS. “Fred Rogers said it best when he said, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ There are so many people who are helping in our communities today, and we encourage families to join us in celebrating them for making our communities safer, stronger and healthier in this unprecedented time.”

Throughout the month on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, PBS KIDS and local PBS stations in communities across the nation will provide fill-in-the-blank cards for families to complete and share digitally with the hashtag #ThankYouNeighbors – thanking teachers and essential workers. PBS KIDS has also created printable coloring sheets with fill-in-the-blank prompts that can be e-mailed to teachers and essential workers, or posted in windows for community helpers to see.

On pbskids.org and the PBS KIDS Games app, children can play the Hero Maker Game, which allows them to create essential worker heroes like postal carriers, utilities workers, first responders, doctors and more. The game is inspired by PBS KIDS series XAVIER RIDDLE AND THE SECRET MUSEUM, which is based on the children’s book series, Ordinary People Change the World. In addition, the PBS KIDS for Parents website will feature articles that can help parents teach their children about the essential workers in their communities and how to be a good neighbor.

PBS KIDS videos will also help children explore the helpers that make up a community, and how to say thank-you to others. From DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD to PBS KIDS’ “You Me Community” music videos, a variety of content is available on the free PBS KIDS Video App. Additionally, a “Thank You Neighbors” playlist from PBS KIDS favorite series is available on PBS KIDS YouTube.

And in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day (May 5), PBS today announced the educators selected for the PBS 2020 Digital Innovator All-Star program, which recognizes teachers nominated by their local PBS stations as leaders in their communities. Read more here.

Join PBS KIDS in saying #ThankYouNeighbors on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

The lights are off but the Turchin Center is OPEN!

During this time of COVID-19, the Turchin Center is offering art experiences that you can enjoy from home. There is an experience for all ages!

Disney Bedtime Hotline is back for a limited time

Disney Bedtime Hotline is back for a limited time from shopDisney.com! Parents, call 1-877-7-MICKEY to hear a special goodnight message from your favorite Disney characters, all from the comfort of home.

Let’s have a Social Distancing Egg Hunt!

With local egg hunts canceled, the virtual version is based on a similar concept.

High Country Residents are encouraged to create artwork eggs of any sort and place them in your windows for children to spot. Families can travel around in their car and go on an egg hunt. Thanks to ASU Professor, Trudy Moss, for this excellent idea!

Are you in? Help spread the word.

Dolly Parton will read bedtime stories to kids

“Goodnight with Dolly” is premiering this Thursday, April 2, 2020.

Everyone’s favorite Book Lady is bringing children and families everywhere just what they need during a time of unrest. Goodnight with Dolly is a 10-week special series of weekly videos featuring Dolly Parton reading select Imagination Library books.

Goodnight with Dolly launches on April 2, with the hope that this gift will further inspire a love of books and shared storytime during this important period. The weekly read-aloud series features several of the Imagination Library’s wonderful books including “The Little Engine That Could.” Watty Piper’s classic tale of a determined little engine has been an inspiration to generations. This year marks the 90th Anniversary of “The Little Engine That Could.” For many years the story has been a source of inspiration for Dolly and it is the welcome book that all newly registered children in the United States and Canada receive when they sign up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Dolly hopes this series of stories will provide comfort and reassurance to coping kids and families during the shelter-in-place mandates.

Cincinnati Zoo Offers Home Safari Resources

As reported on their website, Cincinnati Zoo is helping make your children’s hiatus from school fun and educational.

They invite all families for a Home Safari Facebook Live each day at 3pm EDT where they will highlight one of their amazing animals and include an activity you can do from home.

If your family does not have social media or cannot watch every day at 3pm, then all videos will be uploaded to their YouTube channel.