My daughter Emily was actively planning her monkey birthday party. She and her friends decided that a zipline was an important part of it, and that they would make one - that afternoon. They got out rope, found a handle to hang on, made a sketch, and went to work. I helped out with some of the tying, and then helped them try it out. They decided the rope didn't slide down the other rope as well as they hoped, so were more open to my pulley suggestion. By the end of the night, a fun functional zipline was born. And 7am the next morning, there we were outside in the garden. Me planting tomatoes, and Emily enjoying her homemade zipline.
We used natural dyes today in gardening class to make colored eggs from the school eggs. They turned out beautifully. The cracked ones turned the eggs inside an
amazing web-like pattern. We chopped and boiled cabbage for blue, beets
for pink, red onion skins for red, and turmeric (and sour grass
flowers) for yellow. The natural clay bowls were the perfect vessel for the colors.
When the chickens started really producing eggs, we started charting how many eggs we got each day. Only the chart was over in the chicken coop, far away from most people's view. Thus was born the idea of the egg report; hanging right by the yurt on campus, in view of all those walking across campus. We turned the yurt into a woodshop for a day, and with the help of 4th graders, made the signs and some great tool racks for the shed. And now everyone is talking about the egg report. Next up: weather report.
I have dreamed of an outdoor kitchen. I have so loved the one I have used nearly every summer when I join 50 folks or so up in Goodyears Bar, where we have baked dozens of blackberry pies and pancakes, and great foods. And then I found the wonderful outdoor kitchen at Koviashuvik last summer, equally as inspiring. I knew we needed one at Park Day, but the location of such a place was not clear to me. I spoke with many people, and did not find an easy solution; that is until I spoke with my 8 year old daughter. Why not make it a mobile kitchen, Mom? Hmmmmm. Now that actually was a good idea. That way we could use it by the yurt for gardening class, by the pizza oven when we wanted to fire it up, and over in the mini-farm when we wanted to be a little out of the way and close by the veggies growing there. And thus the idea, the solution to my many, many walks down the hallway to the kitchen, and a way to get the kids involved in the cooking and the clean-up was born.
I started sketching a design, and my building/teaching partner Ilya did
some engineering and refining. We started building it with seventh
graders, and got the pieces and joints cuts and started assembling.
Then the fourth graders finished off the bottom shelf. I mastered
plumbing when I successfully installed the faucet and hooked up the
hose. And voila! MOKI, our new mobile outdoor kitchen was born.
I have always wanted to build a nest. Must be all those nesting instincts gone wild. I have seen giant woven nests in books, and one in person, and now many photos on the internet. When the plan to build birdhouses with the third graders as part of their bird studies fell through, I seized the moment and decided we would study and build nests. We learned about cup, cavity, pendulum, spherical, and platform nests. And then we chose locations where the kids thought they would want to "nest".
With lots of pruned grapevine stuffed into my trunk, I headed to campus to start to build the nests. I was lucky to have volunteers from tweethaus to help me, along with some parent volunteers. We drove stakes in a circle, and then the kids gathered various nesting materials and got to work.
We built two nests with groups of 8 students, working collaboratively and very creatively. The nests were unique, and changed character as the different groups worked on them, including several variations of a roof canopy. We used grape vine, fruit tree twigs, native sunflower stems, and other garden clippings for weaving the structure. Many other found materials were also used, from sour grass and pine needles for the floor, to flowers and leaves as embellishments, and a barrel ring as the door. The results were inspiring.
The students love having them on campus and love to gather in them.
I started teaching gardening at Park Day School back in October, and started imagining how the garden shed could be organized sometime in November. Organized so that I can enjoy going in it and putting things away, can easily find things, and most importantly so the kids could do the same. So it was time, finally. And with a little help from my hubby, we put up some shelves, and within a day it had become a lovely place to be.
Then last week on a short vacation to Santa Cruz, I rode a one-speed tandem bike (with my son) up the large hill to UC Santa Cruz campus, so that I could finally visit the LifeLab garden and farm there. It was wonderful and inspiring, and, of course, I found the most perfect solution to the last of my organization challenges. A wonderful tool rack. Now I just need to plot a plan to make such a thing with my students.