November 19th, 2012

by Ahmir, age 7

A turkey would be a good pet (meal) because you could cook it for dinner and eat it. So first you wash it off. Then you take his feathers off, and throw them in the trash. Next, you put him in a pot on the stove. Once he’s done, get him out of the pot. We put the turkey on the plate, and then we eat him! We wipe our hands off after we eat.

written during after-school tutoring at Spells Writing Lab

October 23rd, 2012

We love our volunteers, so we’re working to make it easier for you to sign up for volunteer opportunities and find out when we need help. In the new Spells Volunteer Information Center (VicNet), you can see when we need volunteers, sign up for specific volunteer slots, track your volunteer hours, and even update your contact information, all in one convenient place.

To log into VicNet, first click on the Volunteer Login tab in the upper right-hand corner of our homepage.

This will take you directly to the login page, where you can enter the email address you used to sign up with Spells on our volunteer application, and the password you selected on the application form (or, the one included in your emailed invitation to use VicNet).

If you forget your password: Click the “Forgot your password?” link on the login page. You will be prompted to enter your email address, and click the Go button. If you continue to experience difficulty accessing your information, please email our volunteer coordinator for further assistance. She can send you your VicNet password by email.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see a screen similar to this one (click to view larger):

Using the tabs, you can view mail from our volunteer coordinator, review and update the information you included on your application, view your schedule and sign up for volunteer slots, view your service history, or change your password. Most of these are easy to figure out, so we’d like to concentrate on the My Schedule tab.

When you click on the My Schedule tab, you will see a calendar similar to this one (click to view larger):

This tab lets you view and print your schedule, in addition to adding or removing yourself from a schedule. The Help Wanted balloons on the calendar indicate volunteer opportunities that still need more people.

To schedule yourself, simply click on one of the Help Wanted balloons. On the next page, you can see a list of the volunteers already attending and how many more slots remain. Select the Schedule Me button to sign yourself up!

If your plans have changed and you need to remove yourself from the schedule, simply click on the date you’d like to edit and select the Remove Me button. Please note that you may not be able to remove yourself less than twenty-four hours before the volunteer opportunity. If you need to make a last-minute cancellation, please contact our volunteer coordinator directly.

We hope this system is clear and will help make it easier for our volunteers to know when they are needed and schedule themselves. If you have any questions about using the new Volunteer Information Center, please let us know at!


September 20th, 2012

We had such a great summer at Spells Writing Camp this year, and we’re still putting the finishing touches on several projects. But here’s one that’s ready to go—a four-episode web series written and produced by some of our Writing Webisodes week campers.

We’ll be creating more web series on Mondays and Wednesdays this fall during our new weekday writing workshops after tutoring. If you like what you see and want to help our students bring their ideas to life, register to volunteer or send us an email at


May 1st, 2012

With just over a week to go before our big spring fundraiser with Buzz Bissinger, and only two weeks until his new book, Father’s Day, hits stores, we thought you might like to get a sneak peek at this amazing new memoir. Newsweek recently ran an excerpt of the book, and Buzz made a video featuring him and his twin sons, which can be viewed below. Tickets for Being Buzz Bissinger are still available, or check out the silent auction items, which can also be bid on from afar!

April 29th, 2012

Scientists recently discovered a mysterious egg that doesn’t seem to belong to any animal species they know of. They can’t figure out what it will hatch into, but they can tell it’s going to hatch soon. A leading research team turns to you for help. Will it be a bird, a fish, a land animal? Will it even be from Earth? What does it eat? How does it behave? Learn about common animal behaviors, then decide how your unique creature is going to act, and what kind of adventures you’ll go on once it hatches!