Archive | Creative teaching

Jane Goodall’s Message of Hope

A very special opportunity was given to myself and son Angelo when Nature’s Path asked if we wanted to attend Jane Goodall’s lecture in Vancouver. My answer, in a heart beat was yes (!), and I’m most appreciative to Nature’s Path. This brand follows a beautiful manufacturing process, clean ingredient list and they are 3rd party GMO-free verified. Thank you for giving us an experience we’ll always remember. Here are the highlights from Jane Goodall’s lecture last week and fun contest details.

Jane entered the stage at Vancouver’s Orpheum theatre and my first thought was how much I love her ponytail. I have a new view of my own ponytail, with greying hair at the temples, as one to be worn with pride. My 10 year old son reported that she was a ‘comedian’ and he loved her chimpanzee stories and humour throughout the lecture. Don’t feel sad that you missed the opportunity because her Ted Talk contains many of these wonderful stories and information about how kids can be involved within her Roots and Shoots organization.

I felt it important to write about the experience because I left feeling hopeful. Jane Goodall has seen deforestation and destruction at the maximum degree and yet her lecture is one filled with hope. She talks about how we make decisions using only our brains and the environmental disconnect might be happening because we aren’t thinking with our brain and heart combined. We are such a clever species but we are destroying the only planet we have. Interesting that it’s empathy we teach children in school to combat bullying, and this emotion of connecting the brain and heart will also help our environment. Making small steps to connect children with nature, disconnecting them from electronic overload, and guiding their love for our earth is important. Jane’s quote “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” ― she really lends to the fact that if kids don’t care about the world around them, they will do nothing to nurture or care for it.

Many large, global issues cause my brain to really shut down because of the enormity. Examples of this are terms like global warming, ocean, air, soil pollution and habitat loss. I’m not alone in feeling like these huge environmental problems are just too far out of reach for one person to help fix. It was amazing to hear Jane say she believes the small changes we control in our everyday lives do make a difference and are very important. Asking questions about things you don’t believe are right like factory farming and being proactive with engaging children with nature, unplugging, growing a garden, kindness, etc. These are all acts that can make a difference; what level is up to you, but participate with small ones because it helps. Jane’s message is one of hope. And it was so refreshing to hear in her 80 years of life, she looks to our children to continue her voyage to get the earth back and repair the damage we’ve inflicted.

Heading into Earth month, I feel her hope and will do all I can with spreading the message. As we stood up to leave the lecture, Jane suddenly came back to the microphone and told us to Google ‘Wounda’. Thank you to Nature’s Path for helping me remember the video she wanted us to watch which is about a chimpanzee named Wounda (meaning close to death) that is nursed back to health and released into a chimpanzee sanctuary. Grab your children and enjoy the magic at minute 3 between Jane and Wounda – it is amazing. I’ve embedded it for you to watch here:

In addition to giving me a voice to spread the word about Jane Goodall’s journey of hope, Nature’s Path offered MommyFootprint,  EcoBravo and Spokesmama a cereal prize package so we are teaming up for a really fun contest! My household loves and eats Nature’s Path granola and cereal  ~ does yours? We want to see your Nature’s Path breakfast.  To gain a contest entry, simply take a picture of your Nature’s Path breakfast and/or share the below graphic on Instagram and/or Twitter and include hashtag #Envirokidzbox. With each hashtag, you’ll be entered to win (feel free to enter daily). Here are my accounts to follow if you need contest reminders: Instagram and Twitter.

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Thanks again to Nature’s Path for including Angelo and myself in this beautiful opportunity to hear Jane speak. I can’t help but believe this is another feather in Angelo’s wings to soar and fly with inspiration to help our environment. We will use the experience to give back.

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West Coast Natural Toy Magic

My love of Waldorf, naturally handcrafted toys is more than just admiration of a person’s craft. When you see a toy that has tenderness infused into the stitches and wooden seams, you absorb the love that was given to make this special toy. Being a West Coaster that is connected to two of the leaders in the Waldorf play and education fields, I’m super honored to be hosting a contest with Bamboletta Dolls and Natural Pod.

I’ll start with Bamboletta. If you haven’t read their story, please click over and be ready to fall in love. The heart of Bamboletta is the founder Christina who has developed a business model that creates a better world. She has perfected a craft, taught others, and along the many years of hard work, never sold out with how the dolls are manufactured and what materials are used to make them.  Christina and her busy helpers have stayed where the dolls were created – right here on the West Coast making her magic bloom. What is new with Bamboletta since we last checked in? Over to Christina.

We’ve introduced 2 new styles last year that have been extremely popular. They are different then the traditional type of Waldorf doll as they are sewn to have more flexible limbs. Great for having a snuggle or a tea party! We will continue to do what we do, which is to create high quality dolls made with the best ‘ingredients’ we can find. I’m working hard to find more and more local sources my materials and have started working with a mill in Nova Scotia to get our yarn hair from. All our dolls are made right here in the Cowichan Valley by local moms creating a strong community of women working together with a lot of love hand crafting these dolls. They are infused with love in the stitches and will be an item that your child will eventually pass on to their child when they get older.

We are so excited to have our own Little Buddy doll from Bamboletta for this contest (her picture is in the contest box at the bottom of this article). She is so sweet and the beautiful touch at the front of her hair is a handspun yarn made by a local weaver from Cowichan Valley. Details are never left out with the Bamboletta ladies. Here is a picture of the Bamboletta shop. Doesn’t it look like Santa’s Workshop with magic and creativity bursting out the doors?

bamboletta doll shop

Over we go to Natural Pod who I’ve known for many years. They were one of the leaders in the naturally made toy movement 9 years ago and they haven’t slowed down with earth stewardship. With more of a global focus now, Natural Pod has shifted their expertise to help design and build beautiful, sustainable natural play spaces, furniture and open-ended play items that foster different learning environments for children. Their mission to foster how children can develop and learn from their environment when the focus is play is so important. They continue to inspire and ignite passion for teaching with the beautiful environments they create. I invite you to check out their Fan Page and look at the pictures of open-ended play spaces they’ve dreamed and delivered over the years. Very inspiring! More words from owner Bridgitte.

We serve educators and children in childcare, home-day, preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle schools along with hospice and special needs students around the world. Raw materials for our products are sourced as close as the forests near our office on Vancouver Island and the wood we use is Forestry Stewardship Certified (FSC), supporting responsible forestry practices. Our other products are made of natural wood, wool or silk and finished in plant-based dyes, harmonic beeswax or in some cases are left naturally unfinished. The bulk of our product line is not only recyclable, but even 100% naturally compostable. Since our beginning, we have worked with over 500+ different learning organizations and have successfully delivered more than 27,000 products to our customers.

Check out how lovely this newly created classroom space is from Natural Pod.

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Now over to the fun part of this feature – a contest!  Can you imagine winning a Bamboletta Little Buddy and Natural Pod Wooden Rocker? You could pretty much call Christmas shopping a wrap if you are the lucky winner! My thanks to Bamboletta and Natural Pod who are waiting to ship the lucky contest winner these two items. The contest runs from November 13, 2013 – November 20, 2013 – closing at midnight. This contest is open to North America. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Beeswax Leaf Garland

The weather for the month of October has been stunning on the West Coast. If you walk down the street, through a trail or park, you might be lucky enough to feel a falling leaf against your face. If only we could bottle up the beauty of Fall leaves as they turn all the different shades of orange, red, yellow, and more. But you can! Leaves and other beautiful bits of nature like acorns can be preserved for years with beeswax.  So before all the leaves have fallen and composted back into the earth, collect a few of your favourite and create tabletop confetti or a garland of leaves to hang in your window. The smell of beeswax drifting through your home and lingering on the coated leaves is another wonderful bonus to this craft.

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Step 1: Collect leaves. My kids liked the look of alternating different leaf types and colours on the banner they created. I like the look of the same type of leaf, different sizes and colours.

Step 2: Buy a brick of beeswax and create a double broiler to melt the beeswax. I used a frying pan with a little pot that is now dedicated to only beeswax for the interior broiler.

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Step 3: Once the beeswax is melted, grab a leaf by the stem and fully submerge into the melted beeswax. Have newspaper nearby to transfer the leaves onto to dry. You’ll be amazed how only one coat works and how fast the beeswax dries! I wouldn’t let kids help with this step. I burned my finger tips a couple of times during the leaf dipping process.

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Step 4: Let leaves dry and decide if you want to leave them for Autumn tabletop confetti or if you’d like to string them into a garland. We did two methods. My kids decided to tie leaves onto hemp string. This was very quick and super easy. I think coloured yarn would look amazing too. We just tied the string around each leaf stem until we had enough leaves for our window treatment.

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Step 5: The other method of stringing our beeswax leaves was sewing them with needle and thread. This is a great idea if you have lots of the same types of leaves to hang. You thread the string through the base of the leaf stem. If you think the garland is going to be heavy with a large number of leaves, use a more study material like fishing line to thread through with a needle.

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I love crafting with nature. It’s free, right outside your front door, and you know the compost is ready when it’s time to say goodbye to these decorations.

Related Articles:

Preserving Fall Memories

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Earth Day Projects For Schools

Do you have a really cool idea that promotes environmental stewardship within a school but haven’t been able to get approval to implement it? This is usually a good time to pop your head into the principle’s office and ask “what’s happening at our school for Earth Day?” If they look at you momentarily stunned – you are in luck! Your awesome idea stands a good chance at getting passed because school administrators often needs help coming up with Earth Day projects. Here are 3 ideas that can be organized quickly and with little cost.

DIY Bike Racks & Bike Challenge

I will be trying this idea with my own family for Earth Day week. I was hoping to have the school’s support but I might be biking solo with my clan on April 22nd. I can only hope that my children understand the importance of celebrating Earth Day by challenging ourselves to try new things that reduce waste, fuel, or consumerism. Here is where the inspiration for this idea came from – picture credit Punyx Tumblr:

If your school already has bike racks this Earth Day project is already easy. If not, I love the idea of using up-cycled tires to make them and how much easier can it be to build a bike rack? Our school doesn’t have bike racks so I thought this project of building them teaches the importance of up-cycling materials already available. The other half of this project is to post a challenge sheet in each classroom and kids can record the number of miles or Kms that they walk or bike ride to school during Earth week (April 22-26). At the end of the week, classes or Grades can tally their totals for the number of carbon emissions or greenhouse gas emissions saved by the act of walking or biking instead of kids being driven to school. There are conversion calculators on the web that can transcribe these numbers. The school could post the total number and I think kids that don’t normally bike or walk to school would feel very proud!

Neighborhood Beautification

Working with your city’s environmental department is a great way to get ideas for helping the community on Earth Day. Does the school’s neighborhood have any invasive species or plants that kids can help the city identify and control? Is there a section of forest or river/stream close-by that can be swept for litter? And if it’s okay with the city – have kids make seed bombs in school and then throw into an approved area of the woods. David Suzuki’s Queen Of Green has a link on how to make DIY seed bombs. What could be better than unleashing children into nature with something to throw? They would love it!

Another way to beautiful your school’s neighborhood is to mark storm drains with fish decals to show they lead to waterways and should be protected from chemicals, paint, etc. We marked the storm drains along our street a few years ago – it was a great activity that my kids are still proud of! Again – getting the kids outside with an activity seems like a win/win. Many storm drain marking kits come with literature to hand out so they children become the educators with this project.

Earth Day Festival

This last project will take more time and energy to plan – but the results would be awesome. The key to keeping children engaged about learning how to help the environment is to let them speak to the issue. Kids know better than anyone little ways to help the environment. Not just for one day – little things that can be incorporated into our daily routine that just might inspire permanent change in our households.  One station of the Earth Day festival could have kids talking about how to pack a litterless lunch and why that is important. Maybe this idea could catch on and become a routine day of the week where students bring littler-ess lunch every Monday. Another station could be a game with a sorting station. There would be one large bin with 10 items that need to be sorted into compost, recycle or garbage. Fun! Another station could have a planting station where each child plants a seed into an empty egg carton cup or empty paper milk carton they’ve brought from home.  Having the children in charge of stations where learning is ‘hands-on’ has a larger impact than adults simply talking about it.

Good luck and be sure to post your experiences with Earth day projects within your school on our Fan Page – keep the inspiration flowing!

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Eco Easter Ideas

It seems like most things these days, making something yourself is the best way to avoid toxic nasties. Easter is no different and so I’m excited to share some DIY projects inspired by the Dilly Dally Kids display window (for DIY Easter decorating), egg dying, and Easter egg hunt ideas that minimize waste and traditional Easter junk.

Let’s start with the display window ideas that got me excited to write this article. When it comes to the wonderful world of Pinterest and DIY I try hard not to take on projects that just aren’t obtainable. So when I saw pictures of this feather garland made by Dilly Dally Kids – I knew I wanted to photograph it, write about it and try it. Owners Tyler and Claire hung feathers to twine with clothespins – don’t you love the effect? I even collected a  few feathers from the beach with the kids so that a memory and real feathers could be included in this decoration.

Also displayed by DDK (Dilly Dally Kids) store owners are beautiful paper mache eggs. And for parents looking to minimize or eliminate purchasing more plastic eggs this year to hold treasures, paper mache eggs would be a great addition to an egg hunt. I found an easy DIY tutorial for this using hodgepodge & tissue paper via Pinterest. Here is the inspiration from DDK’s window and look how beautiful the paper mache eggs look nestled in gorgeous nests made from willow branches and a sprinkle of feathers. Imagine a forest walk to collect all of these treasures?  This is so inspiring to discover and decorate with pieces of nature gathered to create unique Easter decor!

Can we talk about Easter morning and one easy, Eco way to reduce plastic crap? Get your kids moving and working for their Easter treasures! The hunt my kids have loved over the last few years didn’t include little trinkets in each egg for the kids; rather a clue to where the next egg could be found. And at the end of the hunt my kids would find one sustainable gift from the Easter Bunny. Last year the kids found fishing rods and I think this year it will be tennis rackets. Anything that promotes keeping them active and playing outdoors I’m all in favour for. For the younger crowd that still delight in discovering toys – check out these adorable wooden bunnies & chicks from DDK. This line of wooden toys is from Europe, each one handmade and painted. You could create a nest similar to the one featured above (in mini form) and arrange these little friends for your sweeties to find.

Now that my sons are a little older (ages 9 and 10) the Easter Bunny sends them all over the neighborhood Easter morning. Pictures taken from a camera or handwritten clues leading kids from egg to egg to a figure in a neighbor’s garden, traffic sign, unique fence/door/garden decoration in the neighborhood is really fun and awesome for the kids. They go running from clue to clue – not thinking about chocolate or candy. They are on the hunt and using their mind, body, and energy to uncover each clue. This is the part of Easter my kids talk about every year and I love it. For my younger kids, the Easter Bunny sets up their hunt in a forest trail. It keeps them safe from traffic and the eggs are scattered along the forest floor and they also lead the kids to a more sustainable Easter gift rather than lots of little trinkets.

My last Easter tip is for parents that have the traditional egg dying craft with kids. With my new found love of using beets to dye icing, play dough, and to eat – I find it easy to dye using vegetables from my fridge. But one drawback to organic colours is sometimes they are not as bright or exciting as artificial. If you are looking for a kit to give you more of a colour spectrum, but still keep the process natural – check out these great egg dying kits! Lucky locals to Vancouver still have lots of time to stop by Dilly Dally Kids on Commercial Drive to pickup thoughtful selections of chocolate, toys, egg dye kits and totally adorable Easter books!

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