The third component of our new Home Grown Stewards program is our private Facebook group where we post daily activities for families.
For 9 weeks this summer, from June 15 – August 14, participants can log in every weekday to find a new activity that can be completed at home, either with no materials needed or items you already have on hand. Each week has a different theme that the activities are based on.
Monday’s activities with Kim are aimed at our younger learners while Wednesdays with Ellie include a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) activity.
Finishing up our third week, we’ve already had some fantastic activities! The theme for the first week was birds, with followers encouraged to make a bird’s nest out of natural materials and other objects found around the house, engineer a bird that actually flies, craft silhouettes for their windows so birds don’t fly into them, and more!
Week two, which emphasized the importance of pollinators, had families fashioning a bee bath because bees and other pollinators need fresh water just as much as humans do, creating a butterfly feeder, and simulating pollination with a homemade bug.
With many families out of town and busy with 4th of July festivities this, the third week, we issued daily outdoor challenges, such as going on a listening walk, observing and relaxing in nature, and picking up litter.
For over ten years, Happy Dancing Turtle has been home to Eco Camp, week-long day camps focused on coaxing out a curiosity for sustainability and nature in young ones. It is, without a doubt, the highlight of our year. We love interacting with the kids, showing them new things, and just being goofy. Just look:
However, we made the prudent decision to suspend our in-person camping experiences this year, due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Staying distant at this time just makes sense even though it just breaks our hearts to be away from your smiling faces.
However, that does not mean we are going to suspend the mission of getting you an environmentally focused educational curriculum. Oh no! We’re not going to give up that easily.
That’s why we’ve designed our new program that gives you (essentially) the same experience of Eco Camp, only in the comfort and safety of your own home.
Our eco-counselors will give you the best environmental education…only from a safe distance.
Each morning, campers will have a chance to meet with their camp counselors in a brief Zoom meeting, where they’ll set the theme for the day, do a group activity, and connect with their fellow eco-campers to share what they’ve been working on.
This week’s blog post is written by Kim Norman, who will be entering her 6th year as an eco-counselor at HDT for this summer. For more information on Kim you can watch Kim’s introduction video. Head on over to our main page for more information on HDT summer programming,
Last summer I began a mission to grow in my children a love for the outdoors. We are not adventurous in the realm of camping or hiking, but merely enjoy exploring the world outside our back door. In my seeking, I have come across a handful of books that are on my reading list.
Mason is mastering the balance beam.
Currently, two books have had a profound influence on me. I am a parent, but also an educator. I strive to communicate to parents the importance of unstructured play. I am adjusting my approach to include more physical movement and outdoor play to raise more confident, resilient, and healthy children.
The first title, “Balanced and Barefoot” is written by Angela J. Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook (a nature-based developmental program). She describes, in easy to read terminology, the importance of unstructured, physical play. She moves beyond the playground and focuses on the need for children to challenge their bodies and engage the body and senses. She also examines how bodies grow and how a child’s environment can impact that growth. Active play is critical, and outdoor play is therapeutic.
This year has brought a lot of changes for everyone. One of the biggest changes here at Happy Dancing Turtle has been the development of our new Home Grown Stewards (HGS) program. Over the next couple of weeks, we will highlight each of the three components of HGS. This week, we’ll start with the Family Activity Kits.
It should never be understated the importance of raising awareness amongst future generations, our children, of sustainable practices. It is essential that future generations see our planet in a different way than we do, i.e. that they don’t see it as a source from which to extract any needed material to satisfy any slight desire.
Today, Friday, June 5 is World Environment Day. It’s a day that was created to bring political and social awareness to the environment on a global scale. It’s intention is to make aware that our planet is, indeed, all of ours. We are the planet’s caretakers.
Dave taking the time to show some gardening techniques.
Since World Environment Day’s inception, and it’s grand motivation, many great things have been done to help ensure that we can live in symbiosis with our planet. Awareness has risen on the importance of our place in the environment. Worldwide campaigns against deforestation, global warming, food waste, and air pollution have brought these concerns front and center. However, in the last several years, there have been political and commercial agencies that have disregarded these lesson.
Arbor Day is an international holiday that encourages celebrating participants to plant and care for their trees. Did you know that the word arbor is the latin word for tree. The first Arbor Day celebration was organized in a small town in Spain in 1594, but the first recognized celebration in the United States was in the Kansas Territory in 1872 where an estimated 1 million trees were planted.
Across the world, Arbor Day has been celebrated at different times due to the rotating nature of the seasons affecting the prime date for planting trees. For example, New Zealand honors Arbor Day on June 5, while in Namibia, the holiday isn’t celebrated until October 8.
Jim will be the first to tell you the importance of trees, whether they’re incorporated in your farm via agroforestry practices or simply providing shade on a hot day.
In fact, Arbor Day was only considered a regional holiday in the US until 1970, when, of all people, Richard Nixon initiated a national observance to take place on the last Friday in April (for this year, April 24, 2020).
*On a local note, late April is a perfect time to plant trees in Minnesota.*
Eco Camp registration is now open! If you’d like to learn more about a specific camp, visit our website for more details. You can even register and pay online.
Right now, we all need something to look forward to, especially our kids. What better time to sign them up for Eco Camp! This year, our theme is “‘Log In’ At Eco Camp” with a focus on the forest and trees, specifically maples, oaks, birches, and pines.
Kids will get outside and be up close with nature.
Here are the dates:
Grades 1-2 (Mighty Maples), June 22-26 Grades 3-4 (Outstanding Oaks), July 6-10 Grades 5-6 (Brilliant Birches) July 20-24 Prek-K: Ages 4-5 (Powerful Pines) August 3-7.
On Saturday, February 15, we held our 14th annual Back to Basics sustainability event at the Pine River-Backus School. There were a record number of participants and a wide variety of new and repeating vendors & presenters.
We were able to have a roving photographer (Thanks Marisa!) take some awesome shots of the event, and we would like to share some of them with you.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the average American spends so much on wrapping paper during the holidays that they could use it to cover almost 6,000 football fields with shiny, Santa clause covered paper. This year, we should try to see if we can minimize how many fields we can cover with these alternative wrapping ideas:
If you are a long time reader, you may remember Quinn’s article on Furoshiki. Furoshiki is a traditional folding technique originating in Japan. All you need is a pretty square of fabric big enough to wrap your present with. No tape or ties needed!
You can buy cheap cuts of fabric or use old bedsheets to create your very own wraps. Check out this great video demonstrating how unique your gifts will look.
2. Brown paper
This is a timeless classic. If you want to add even more style, be creative with markers or crayons to draw your very own artwork. Colleague, Nora W. just told me the other day that she gifted a package wrapped in brown paper to her nephew. He refused to open it because Nora had drawn Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in her own style. He cherished it more than what could have possibly been inside the box. Very cool.
As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, there are a lot of great alternatives to material gifts – volunteering/donating, giving experiences, spending quality time together, travel, etc. However, if you are choosing to give a material gift, there is something you can do to make it far more meaningful and extra special: Make It Yourself. Sound scary? It’s not! I promise. Let’s start with the warm fuzzies of why you might do this before moving on to tips and ideas.
Reasons to Make Homemade Gifts
They’re Gifts of the Heart: Let me tell you, making gifts is not a quick feat, but they mean more. Not only does the recipient appreciate the item, but they’re appreciating the thought, creativity, time, and work that went into making them something extra special – what a great way to show you care during the holidays! I love hearing the shocked “Auntie you MADE that?!?” when a gift is unwrapped. It’s so much better than any “wow!” from a store-bought gift.
They’re One of a Kind Gifts: When you’re making your gifts, they are absolutely one of a kind. Which means making a gift for that person who has everything and needs nothing may be a lot easier than finding the perfect gift for them.
My fav hat made by a friend.
Even if you’re making the same thing for two people, chances are they’re slightly different! If the gift is a common item, such as a hat, it’s not just another hat. It’s going to hold a special place in their collection because it was made with love (see reason number 1).
They’re Personal Gifts: If you’re willing to take time to make a gift for someone, chances are you’ve put thought into it ahead of time and chose that gift because you know it’s something they’ll love. Beyond that, making gifts allows you to personalize every detail. In homemade gifts you have the luxury of choosing the style, size, colors, type, fragrance, flavors, etc., all ensuring it’s just right for that special person.
They Can Be Fun & Relaxing to Make: Notice that I said “can” – which is addressed in number 1 below. Many times, people find a lot of joy and relaxation in the actual making of a gift, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved! I’ve found making no-sew blankets while I watch a movie with my husband or listening to an audiobook while I paint decorations for kids’ rooms to be oddly therapeutic.
Reuse & Upcycle: Making gifts gives you the perfect opportunity to turn old things into new, helping us reduce our environmental impact. Recycling or fabric scraps can be used in many kids’ toys, old house hold items like jars could be used in home decor, old clothing could be turned into new fashion. Get creative!