April Reading Buddies

Teachers rock! Hands and hearts were busy as we spent our final Reading Buddies of the school year recognizing the fabulous educators at Thurston Woods Campus. The “littles” and their “bigs” created more than 50 (!!!) personally designed floral arrangements and wrapped “blooming” cookies for their Teacher Appreciation Day.

Extra special thanks to Stacy Roller for the fabulous cookies and tags and to Trader Joe’s Glendale for their generous flower donation! We are grateful for our families and continued community support to show that KIDS CAN DO THIS! We love building a happier, stronger metro Milwaukee community!

Reading Buddies, November 2017

Our buddies at Thurston Woods are wonderful mentors for our little ones in kindness and in reading. It came as no surprise that the mentors asked their teachers to add an extra service component to our Reading Buddies day in November. In addition to reading, snacks, and art this time we also packed care kits for the individuals we serve through St. Vincent de Paul. We contacted our lead, Ms. Ladonna, at SVDP to see what the diners needed. We collected the items and then our big and little buddies packed the bags together. The care kits were handed out over Thanksgiving. We are really looking forward to seeing our buddies again in 2018!

Reading Buddies at Thurston Woods Year 3 Starts!

Perseverance. Mixing colors.  Sign language. Budding friendships. Snacks.

What do these five things have in common?!? Thurston Woods Reading Buddies, of course!

Our third year of building relationships with our Reading Buddies program at Thurston Woods Campus began today. Children, educators and parents shared a morning full of joy getting to know one another.  The photos speak volumes about the love, compassion and patience that come from the children.

We started our time together with a read-aloud called The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do, and focused on the importance of trying hard and keeping a “can do” attitude. We used sign language to sing “The More We Get Together.” Then the little buddies partnered with their big buddy mentors who read self-selected books to them.

Ms. Nicole continued our theme of perseverance by sharing a quote by Artist Georgia O’Keeffe: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Jointly, the partners mixed color and created “tints” to paint an O’Keefe-inspired landscape to donate.


Snacks and casual chit-chat wrapped up our time together before the Thurston Woods students picked a take-home book and headed back to class.  Kudos to the children for demonstrating what it means to treat one another with love and respect!  My heart is filled with hope.

-Lynn Raines

Thurston Woods Reading Buddies Project Manager

Toddlers and Kids on a Mission Co-Founder and Managing Director


Reading Buddies: Cooking with Our Fifth Grade Mentors

It is hard to believe that our second year of our Reading Buddies project has come and gone. To make it memorable, we changed things up a bit and invited in special guest helper Chris Keadle. Chris is a retired social worker who founded Kickstart Cooking for Kids, an after school cooking program in Waukesha. Instead of creating an art project to donate to a local senior center as we typically do, Chris helped the kids learn two recipes they can easily make at home.  In between making granola bars and parfaits, the buddies took out some time to read with each other. Thanks to a grant from Christ Church Episcopal in Whitefish Bay we were able to send home the students with the ingredients to recreate the recipes and also a kid-friendly cookbook for more culinary adventures.

We are so very grateful to the staff and students of Thurston Woods Elementary school. In addition to being wonderful hosts, the fifth grade students are perfect mentors for our young children: Modeling maturity, patience, and excellent reading skills.  These students are so caring that they’ve decided to embark on one more project with TOAM this year. We are working with them to finalize the details but we’re hoping to go off-site for an after school May service project.  Our older TOAM kids will be able to participate alongside them. Stay tuned!