New Jersey Elementary School Has a Vending Machine That Dispenses Books to Stellar Students

LightFieldStudios/iStock via Getty Images
LightFieldStudios/iStock via Getty Images

At Leonardo Elementary School in Middletown Township, New Jersey, teachers give out gold coins to kids who win Student of the Month awards or exhibit other laudable behavior. The coins aren’t made of chocolate or anything else inherently valuable; instead, children insert them into a book-filled vending machine and choose their next riveting read.

According to NJ.com, a parent suggested the idea to PTA president Sandy Lamb after hearing about a similar machine in a Utah school, and the parents and administrators then worked together to secure the $3800 needed to purchase their very own Bookworm Vending Machine from Global Vending Group. It’s known as “Inchy” and can hold between 200 and 300 books, offering a wide array of reading material for every type of reader.

Principal Peter Smith told NJ.com that he hopes Inchy will encourage students to read outside the classroom.

“I view reading like a sport,” he said. “In the same way, you cheer students on and want them to be the best.”

It also positions reading as a reward, while other programs often use reading as the means to a reward. For example, Pizza Hut’s beloved BOOK IT! program motivates children to read a certain number of books in order to earn free pizza, with the rationale that they’ll learn to love reading along the way. Initiatives like those can definitely have a positive effect on young readers, but they also might imply that reading is something you have to get through in order to deserve the prize. In other words, you have to eat your vegetables before you can have dessert.

The book vending machine is an opportunity to teach children that reading actually is the dessert. Since it’s only been up and running for a month, it’s probably too soon to tell how Inchy has impacted students’ general outlook on leisure reading. The same can’t be said for other schools in the district, however; according to Smith, they’re already interested in getting their own book vending machines.

[h/t NJ.com]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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An Illinois School District Has Banned Fully Remote Students From Wearing Pajamas While Learning

The great thing about Zoom is that it's almost impossible for people to tell if you're wearing pajamas.
The great thing about Zoom is that it's almost impossible for people to tell if you're wearing pajamas.
August de Richelieu, Pexels

Having most of your interactions via video chat can be a little exhausting, but it does come with a few perks—like being able to wear your pajama pants without anybody knowing or caring. For students facing remote learning in Illinois’s Springfield School District, however, PJs are against the rules.

WGRZ reports that the dress code for Springfield’s learn-from-home plan includes a ban on pajamas, which a number of parents aren’t too happy about.

“I don’t think they have any right to say what happens in my house,” parent Elizabeth Ballinger told WCIA. “I think they have enough to worry about as opposed to what the kids are wearing. They need to make sure they’re getting educated.”

Aaron Graves, president of the Springfield Education Association, doesn’t actually appear to disagree with Ballinger.

“In truth, the whole pajama thing is really at the bottom of our priority scale when it comes to public education,” Graves told WCIA. “We really want to see kids coming to the table of education, whether it’s at the kitchen table with the laptop there or whether it’s the actual brick and mortar schoolhouse. Raising the bar for all kids and helping them get there, whether they’re in their pajamas or tuxedo, is really what’s important.”

Though the pajama prohibition was part of the regular in-school dress code [PDF], imposing it from afar will definitely be more difficult. Fortunately, the administration’s enforcement policy is pretty vague; a statement shared with WCIA explained that “there are no definitive one-to-one consequences” for wearing your pajamas to online school, and teachers will decide what to do about any given violation.

In other words, it looks like kids with easygoing teachers (and parents) will get to stay in their nightshirts, while others might have to learn their multiplication tables in tuxedos.

[h/t WGRZ]