Posts filed under ‘Environmentalism’

Happy 14th Birthday Geocaching!


geocaching with kidsRemember the year 2000? In the United States, a pound of bacon only cost $3 and a gallon of gas set people back $1.26. The iPhone was still 7 years away from being introduced. But on September 2, 2000, some hearty adventurers, tired of being tied to an office cubicle day after day, launched Geocaching.com. The adventure to inspire outdoor play through GPS technology began.

Just like any story-worthy journey, Geocaching.com’s beginning was filled with uncertainty. Before “geocache” joined the ranks of approved Scrabble words or a Geocaching game piece rocketed to the International Space Station, Geocaching.com launched with only 75 geocaches. Today the site lists the locations and descriptions of nearly 2.5 million geocaches. Adventure is truly waiting to be discovered all around you, as long as you’re in the 180+ countries where geocaches are hidden [hint: you are].

geocaching with kids

Here are some more little known facts about the game you love:

  • The activity of geocaching was originally known as the GPS Stash Hunt.
  • What we now know as the first geocache was hidden on May 3, 2000.
  • The cost of running Geocaching.com was originally funded by the sale of donated tshirts.
  • More than 9 million people have created Geocaching profiles.
  • The word ‘geocache’ means ‘hidden location on Earth’, as ‘geo’ means Earth, and ‘cache’ is French for a hidden location or place.
  • Hugh Jackman goes geocaching (and other celebrities like cyclist Jens Voigt).
  • Share your Geocaching birthday wishes and personal geocaching fun facts (like when you started geocaching) on the Geocaching Facebook page.

geocaching with kids

The mere mention of the word ‘treasure’ is guaranteed to light up kids’ eyes. So, why not take them on a real-life treasure hunt with geocaching? People use global positioning devices and the internet to seek out items hidden by others. “When my guys were 12 and 13 it was fun to do geocaching where you find people’s hidden items via internet clues and GPS. It’s done all over the world [and] it’s fun to hide items too,” says mom of two, Kerri Hopkins. Want to try it? Check out Geocaching.com for help and download their free app!

Let’s Go Chipper into the Great Outdoors and find some Geocaches! When, where or what was your last Geocache? Share your story in the comments below or on Facebook!

September 3, 2014 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Recycle Craft: Contain Yourself!


Summertime is the perfect time to let kids explore while you’re outside; whether in your backyard, the beach, or a local park keeping everyone within eyesight or earshot creates a safe space for children to exercise some independence. And these explorations usually end up with kids coming back to you with pockets full of special “finds.”

This week we welcome our summer Chipper Intern, Alexa Swartz, and her ideas on where to put the treasures you decide to keep.

Chipper Intern – Alexa Swartz

I remember collecting things as a child when out hiking with my family. Many items are a part of nature so my parents always taught us the principals of Leave No Trace which meant we needed to leave most of what we found with nature and the animals using it as a resource for their habitat. But some items made it home and the mementos soon took over drawers and countertops. I like thinking back on this time and I realize it’s so easy to allow kids to contain these souvenirs with fun containers to store them in!

As an intern for Lets Go Chipper I will be posting weekly container crafts to offer ideas for all your keepsakes – they even make great packaging ideas for birthday gifts or housewarming gifts.

Not only will these crafts create a fun way for kids to store all their pieces of summer, but making crafts actually helps improve fine motor skills, strategic thinking and builds self-esteem in the process. Read more about the benefits of crafting!

Week 1: The Gum ContainerKids Recycle Craft | Collection Container

What you need:

  • A plastic gum container
  • Mod Podge, glue, or tape
  • Scissors
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Magazines, paper, paint or anything you want to stick on your container
  • Creativity

How to make your container: Kids Recycle Craft

  1. Set out materials on an easily cleanable surface allowing your child to create without worry. Breaking down a cardboard box is an easy way to create a workspace that protects counters or tables you don’t want to get dirty.
  2. Encourage your child to make a plan and think about what they want before immediately jumping in.
  3. Feel free to create! There is no right or wrong in this project so let their imaginations take flight and see what the container ends up looking like. Let them use any medium and design they want. This project is about the process and fun and memories that come from creating the container, don’t dwell on if the child will like the outcome and just let them enjoy the process.
  4. Enjoy! Fill the container with anything, from pens and pencils at school, to sticks and rocks found around the garden. Let it contain whatever the child perceives to be important to them.

What else would you do with this container? Share with Chipper in the comments below!

June 29, 2014 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Activity + Craft: Nature Walk and Craft Project


Explore the outdoors with your little one(s) and collect nature materials to make cute critters! Not only will you a foster a connection with nature, your kids can also exercise their imaginations and creativity. There is so much you can find outside: nuts, rocks, sticks, leaves, petals, and more. 

Nature Animals | Let's Go Chipper

Picture from naturallymom

Chipper Playfully Teaches: Earth and Space Science, Creative Arts and Fine Motor Skills.

Adventure into the great outdoors with young children and use the natural materials as craft supplies for creating creatures from the children’s imagination or animals identified on the walks.

Collect with a Partner | Let's Go Chipper

Collect with a Partner

Timing: One Hour
Explore and collect: 15 minutes
Craft Time: 30 minutes
Extra 15 minutes:
 Travel time and padding because projects with young children will always take longer than you plan!

What you need:

  • Reusable tote to carry found treasures
  • Cardboard bases from recycled boxes and scrap paper and materials for accessorizing crafts
  • Glue and string
  • A partner or chaperone
  • Imagination
Create a crocodile | Let's Go Chipper

Create a crocodile!

Chippers Tips:

  • Explain the rules of staying together “You can play, but don’t stray!” and the project
  • Check off that everyone has their tote for collecting items. While exploring, be it in the backyard of a school facility, house, childcare center, or beyond the yard, keep children on track by talking about what they might find; the colors, shapes, texture and more.
  • Assist young children with glue or glue gun and string assembly.
  • Welcome conversation while exploring. What do you see, hear, smell and feel?
Get bit by nature...creatively! | Let's Go Chipper

Get bit by nature…creatively!

Upon returning, sit down and talk about the items in the bag and what can be made; a butterfly from leaves, a nature cake, a boat from sticks, a car from rocks and bark. Welcome the conversation and encourage the creativity!

Chipper Activity + Craft: Nature Walk and Craft Project

Image from WildlifeFun4Kids

May 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Recycle Craft + Activity: Nature Journal


Chipper playfully teaches Earth and Space Science, Creative Arts and Fine Motor Skills.Create your own special nature journal with recycled materials that can both help save the environment and embrace the beauty of nature!

Let's Go Chipper | nature Journal

Collect Your Materials

Explore and Collect materials like:

  • Recycled paper (Paper bags, used computer paper, light colored newspaper, light colored magazine pages, etc.)
  • Cereal Box or any recycled cardboard box
  • Hole puncher
  • String and yarn
  • Paint, markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Leaves, petals, seeds, and sticks

Chippers Tips:

  • During your outdoor adventures, help your child engage their five senses to evaluate what they see, smell, taste, hear, and feel. When they find something that peaks their curiosity, ask questions and peak their interest in drawing or writing it in their journal.
  • Ideas to inspire creativity – cloud chasing or finding characters in clouds, bird watching, evaluating insects, making silly faces with friends, eating a piece of fruit and finding various types of leaves!
  • Tell your child to, “Play but don’t stray!” when they are exploring and to “Keep your tail on the trail!”
Let's Go Chipper | Nature Journal

Make your journal.

Making your Nature Journal: 

  1. For cover: Decide on the size of your journal and trace and cut out from your cereal box or every day box. You can use either side of the box to face out.
  2. Decorate the cover using collected and coloring materials.
  3. Journal pages: cut the paper bags or found papers to just within the size of the cover.
  4. With adult help use a hole puncher to make 3-5 holes lined up on the front and back cover. Do the same with the inside journal pages.
  5. Weave the yarn/string to connect the journal and tie a bow at the top or bottom to secure the bindry.
  6. Time for creating! Encourage story telling through pictures and images, words, and found materials all celebrating nature or daily experiences. Make it a weekly activity to explore the outdoors and then add to your nature journal!

    Let's Go Chipper | Nature Journal

    Explore and record!

Let’s Go Chipper into the Great Outdoors!

May 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm 2 comments

Chipper Tip: Only Rain Down the Drain!


Just Rain down the Drain

You see the signs right? And it seems obvious but millions of pounds of trash and plastic enter our waterways through our curbside drainage system each year. The effect on our plant and sea life is huge: about 22,000 bodies of water in the United States are considered “impaired” by the Environmental Protection Agency due to this pollution.

Let's Stroll Crissy Fields | Eco-Educational Book and App for Kids | Free Activities

As we celebrate National Wildlife Week and the theme being “water,” be inspired to take action over just acknowledging the importance of clean water for our animals on land and sea.

What we can do:

  1. If you see it, own it: Lead by example and pick up trash when you see it on the ground. Use good judgment, plastic/foil chip bags, paper bags, and plastic bottles are generally safe to pick up but be safe first.
  2. Make the grade: Collaborate with your classroom and take a walk through the neighborhood. A good stroll is healthy for both mind and body and the clean up helps foster a deeper connection with your community.
  3. Power to the Park Ranger – Chipper is the most enthusiastic ambassador in town and always pays respect to the ranger. Invite your local state or national park ranger, or junior ranger, into the classroom to teach kids about streams, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, even the little puddle along the path. All give life to the forest and eventually make it to the sea. Teaching kids the principals of Leave No Trace will inspire them to pick up any litter along the trails during spring and summer hiking and camping adventures

Here are some great tips and things to keep in mind:

Collaborate as a family, school, and community and join Chipper in Making Change for the Better – what we do as individuals makes a different for all! Print the label below, attach to recycled can, collect change, and donate to the Ocean Conservancy to help keep our water ways clean!

Making-Change-for-the-Better-Label_Waterways

Click here to download, print, and color!

 

Let’s go Chipper and remember to give a little thumbs up to the National Wildlife Federation!

Let's Stroll Crissy Fields | Eco-Educational Book and App for Kids | Free Activities

March 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

How Does Your Garden Grow?


ChipperMom_rev3_Chipper badgeWhen I first created Chipper his big adventures were to start at the windowsill of a bed and breakfast cottage nestled within a bed of color reminiscent of a Monet’s Garden painting. Chipper would delight in tales delivered by the cottage owner while guests were off exploring for the day; because Chipper knew kids were meant to be neither seen nor heard from here. I remember sharing the mission of my little squirrel with a producer whom looked at me and said: “Squirrels are rodents and I hate rodents in my garden.” That squirrels are active, curious creatures ready to explore and engage meant little to this producer …and, more importantly, passionate gardener.

Last week, I remembered my early inspiration after reading Weeds Find a Way, by author and poet Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher. That another writer would find beauty and personality in something otherwise destined to be dug up and discarded gave me a sense of camaraderie so I flipped through the pages. And then, I took the hardback book with me to story time. How would the kids see themselves when asked: “Are you a weed or a plant?” “And what is the difference?”

Both the story and illustrations captured the children’s (6-10 year olds) attention and the word for the day became “empathy.” The story excited conversation and reasons why we should just let the weeds grow.

There is a very whimsical rhythm to the flow of the text and illustrations and you feel like you are being blown carefree through the pages. Take time to discuss what it means to coexist and delight in the conversation. I highly recommend this book for the classroom and a perfect page-turner for the overnight with the grandparents. Pull the jacket cover off and save it as my ten year old did as she is determined to save this one for her own children some day. “I want it to look new again.”

The Chipper mom in me took to finding Jenson-Elliott so I could go knee deep into the weeds to learn a little bit more. I found a late bloomer to science and a teacher making up time as Jenson-Elliott designs Teacher guides to support her growing list of children’s books. Enjoy our conversation and happy planting:

Do you see children as weeds or flowers/plants? Weeds as plants are a wonderful metaphor for children. They are resilient, tenacious, beautiful, clever, adaptable, without all of our interventions, just as they are.

What is your earliest experience realizing the difference between a weed and a flower: I remember my curiosity about the difference between the planted and an unplanted world. I remember wondering around age four who planted certain plants. We lived in a really verdant area around Philadelphia, with yards that had probably once been landscaped but had reverted to a tangle of green.

We had a very overgrown rose garden that my mother struggled to bring to order, and I remember many afternoons running around in the back while she trimmed the thorny stems. We were new to the big old house, and it had been inhabited by a very old man before we moved in, so the formal rows of roses were leggy. One day I found remnants of a vegetable garden, broken down corn stalks, a tiny ear of Indian corn, growing behind the garage. All around it were wildflowers—weeds! —Queen Anne’s lace, black eyed Susans. One day I found a jack-in-the-pulpit. I have a very clear memory of seeing the little “man” inside his pulpit and how wonderful it was.

Living in suburbia, and seeing urban landscaping, a lot of kids—myself included—may think that someone went around and planted everything they see. I think I asked my mother, “Who planted those trees?” I really didn’t understand her answer: “No one, they just grew there.” It seemed mysterious and amazing, this world without people. Even today, I find that fact really moving, almost a relief. Singer Dana Lyons has a great line in his song, “Willy Says:” “Here’s a story that you may not comprehend. The parking lot will crack and bloom again. There’s a world beneath the pavement that will never end.” The natural world is so beautiful without our intervention. We don’t really have to do anything—just appreciate it.

What tips can you offer parents and educators on using the analogy of weeds/flowers and the lessons in developing friendships? I have curriculum in my free curriculum guide, downloadable on my website, that speaks to this issue. While I did not intentionally set out to teach a social-emotional lesson, I realized how embedded those lessons are after the book came out. Kind of funny that way—poets often don’t know what their poems are about until after they are written.

Weeds can teach us a lot in the social-emotional realm. They hold many qualities that we hope to engender in our children as human beings, and as learners. We hope they have grit – the ability to stick with something no matter what, withstand hardship, and thrive in spite of – and because of – challenges.

Weeds can also teach us a lot about appreciating the diverse qualities of others – the hidden beauties we may not see the first time we meet someone. Weeds teach us to look again at something we think we know well – or someone we think we have all figured out. When we have an opinion about someone – we think they are a “weed” rather than a flower, for example – we jump to conclusions about who they are. When we look more deeply, we can come to appreciate is that everyone has wonderful qualities – even thorny personalities.

Some wonderful curricula  and teacher training for helping children learn to appreciate each other in the classroom and beyond are the Responsive Classroom and Second Step, and my all-time favorite book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

What’s your favorite weed? In my neighborhood, I think cheeseweed is one of my favorites. It is in the mallow family, like many landscaping plants, and has geranium-like leaves. I would love to see fireweed, though, which Carolyn Fisher put in those beautiful final pictures in the book. I was not familiar with it before she did the art, but everyone I have shown the book to who is from Canada or the northwest says, “Ah! Fireweed! I love fireweed!” Carolyn, who lives in Canada, added many weeds I didn’t know in the art, and then I went back in and added them in the text.

How do your children inspire your storytelling? My science work with children has most inspired my work. I came to science late – in my early 30s –when I went back to school and took as many science classes as I could fit in before I had to go back to work full time. Every class was a revelation, a wonder, from biology to chemistry to geology and physics.  Teaching science and gardening, and writing about science and gardening, have been ways for me to explore ideas more deeply and share those with children. We learn science through experiencing that joy and wonder of the world, and I would like every child to have a chance to feel the awe of understanding something amazing about our extraordinary ordinary world.

Weeds Find a Way is available at Barnes & Noble.

Weeds Find A Way cover

 

March 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm 2 comments

Chipper Recycle Craft: Plastic Bottle Cap Magnets


Americans represent 5% of the world’s population, but generate 30% of the world’s garbage. Now, more than ever, we need to do our part to reuse, reduce, recycle, reconsider and reimagine before we throw something away. Teaching our children to reduce waste is a crucial element to the future of our planet and species. Of the garbage Americans throw out, half could be recycled, which is enough to fill a football stadium from top to bottom everyday. Let’s work together to lower this number – we can start by being creative!

recycle-image

Recycling Resources for Plastic Bottle Caps

  • Check with your city. Some cities do accept plastic bottle caps, but they may require that you remove the cap from the bottle and put it in the bin separately. The only way to find out is to check with your city. Try Googling something like “[YourCity] Plastic Recycling.” Lots of cities now have websites where that information is easy to access.
  • Whole Foods. Some Whole Foods Markets and other grocery stores accept #5 plastic caps for recycling along with their plastic bag recycling. Next time you’re shopping, check their bins to see if yours does, too!
  • Earth911. A go-to resource for any recycling question. You can search the Earth911 database for “plastic caps” to find facilities near you that will accept them.
  • Caps Can Do. If you can’t find a local place to drop off your plastic caps for recycling, you can ship them to Caps Can Do, a company that specializes in recycling #5 plastic!

Recycling is great, but reusing is better when you consider how inefficient plastic recycling is. TThere are many fun ways to reuse plastic caps, no matter your skill level. The possibilities are endless when you go through your recycling and trash bins with a creative mindset! Recycle crafts in general help kids learn to come up with their own ideas, build their creative confidence and mobile skills, and envision new purposes for common objects.

Bottle-Caps-Body

For example, you can make some adorable magnets from recycled bottle caps or lids. Notorious for their longevity in the landfills (plastic takes over 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill!), plastic lids can be reimagined to make fun recycle crafts, gifts and decorations!

Plastic Bottle Cap Magnets

Plastic Bottle Cap Lid Recycle Craft | Refrigerator Magnets

Image from The Crafty Crow

Materials:

  • Plastic lids and tops
  • Permanent markers
  • Hot glue gun or craft glue
  • Sticky magnet tape to put your creations on the fridge
  • Decorations: Multi-colored plastic (think of using the strip from around milk jugs or bread bag holders), construction paper, or felt…and any thing colorful you have around the house, like buttons, yarn, etc. Recycled magazines are perfect for cutting out letters and numbers to make into magnets.
    • Optional: googly eyes for cute looking faces
  • Cut wine corks if your lid is too deep to magnetize or just flip you lid and use the inside to decorate
    Making magnets

    Photo from Esprit Cabane

Directions:

Simply draw your face or creature on the lid with a permanent marker then use the hot glue gun or craft glue to add flare! From googly eyes, to pipe cleaners, have fun making monster lids, lady bug friends, or keep it simple with various facial expressions:

plastic bottlecap magnets

Photo from Esprit Cabane

Plastic Lid bottle Cap Recycle Craft

Photo from Crafts by Amanda

There are many thing you can do with your recycled plastic bottle caps and lids! Extend the life of your hand soap with a home-made soap dish from EcoKaren:Plastic Bottle Cap Lid Recycle Craft

Make some cute stamps with your lids, styrofoam and some paint from The Long Thread:

cap-stamps1

Or save your bottle caps and lids by color and get crafty! Here are some example of some beautiful art pieces made with recycled plastic:

bottle-caps-artwork

Image from Stark State

Bottle Cap Plastic Lid Recycle Art

Image from Art Grange

Bottle Cap Plastic Lid Recycle Art

Image from How We Montessori

Bottle cap mural

Image from Rolla City

What can you craft with your plastic lids and bottle caps? Share with Chipper!

February 24, 2014 at 6:30 pm 1 comment

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