The Blue Backpack Chronicles: Movement and Marble in Middlebury | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

The Blue Backpack Chronicles: Movement and Marble in Middlebury


  • Alison Novak
Typically my 3-year-old son, Theo, has boundless reserves of energy. But when I buckle him into his car seat, he gets really mellow. That makes long country drives a pretty relaxing option on our days together.

Last week, we headed down Route 7 to Middlebury. Theo chilled in his seat, and I pointed out silos, cows, vegetable stands and even a camel along the way. 

Before hitting the downtown area, we peeled off onto Exchange Street so we could check out Maple Landmark Woodcraft, a toy manufacturer. The colorful, six-car wooden train out front was calling Theo’s name and, despite the chilly temps, we spent a good 15 minutes climbing through it, pretending we were engineer and passenger.

Inside the shop, Theo and I perused the offerings and watched through big windows as workers crafted wooden toys. Along with its famous magnetic name trains, Maple Landmark carries traditional games, all sorts of toy vehicles and stocking stuffers such as mustaches on sticks and spinning tops.

Soon it was time for a morning snack; we satisfied our cravings at Otter Creek Bakery. Theo and I split a delicious sour-cream coffee cake muffin while we ogled the seasonal treats behind the counter, including sourdough bread loaves baked in the shape of bats. 
The Ilsley Public Library, right down the street, was offering a kids’ yoga class that day and though I wasn’t sure how my little individualist would do with a structured, indoor activity we decided to give it a go. We entered the library’s meeting room and saw a large circle of dozens of yoga mats, which were soon occupied by more than 30 kids. In the hands of a less-skilled instructor the class would have been mass chaos but the teacher kept it light and fun, leading the mini-yogis in a series of animal poses and showing them how to pick up pom-poms with their toes and sort them into color-coded egg cartons.

The kids’ area of the library was an attraction unto itself. A train table, paper crafts, a fish tank and even a yellow bathtub for playing and reading in kept Theo busy. It was a good reminder that visiting new libraries can provide hours of fun in the chillier months.

We capped off our visit with a stroll down to the Marbleworks district, where we ran over a long, wooden bridge and hopped around on smooth hunks of marble, just wet and slippery enough to keep things interesting.

If you go:

Maple Landmark Woodcraft is located at 1297 Exchange Street in Middlebury. Store hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit

Ilsley Public Library is located at 75 Main Street in Middlebury. Visit for hours. My First Yoga with certified instructed Rachel Klatzker is on Mondays, 10:30-11:15 a.m., through November 18 in the Community Meeting Room. Get there early – the space seems to fill up fast!

Otter Creek Bakery is located at 14 College St. in Middlebury. Visit for hours.

The Historic Marbleworks District is right off Main Street in downtown Middlebury.

This post was written by Kids VT contributor Alison Novak, who lives in Shelburne with her husband and two kids. Every week this fall, she and her 3-year-old son, Theo, will embark on an inexpensive excursion to someplace they’ve never been. The Blue Backpack Chronicles — named for Theo’s trusty travel backpack — is a blog series about their adventures.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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