Monday, September 1, 2014

raising the roof

It was a 21st Century barn raising.  We have been working on creating a maker space at Park Day School (now referred to as the "Innovation Workshop") for several years.  We have crossed hurdles, barriers, and so many obstacles along the way.  And today, we worked together, school staff and parents and students, to raise the roof of our workshop.  What an amazing accomplishment, and how deeply rewarding it was.  I feel lucky and rewarded to have been able to pull together such an incredible group of people, and to have finally succeeded in truly raising the roof.  Next up is the shipping container.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


We are gearing up, literally, for our summer camping trip up to Oregon. Our cat decided he wanted in on the action.

And my daughter was so excited that Playmobil actually makes a camp stove, that she spent some of her hard earned money and got a new camp set.  Lots of fun camping playtime is ensued. 

Can't wait 'til we get to the real outdoor campsite!

Friday, April 11, 2014

early morning ziplining

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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

colored eggs

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.

Friday, April 4, 2014

the egg report

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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

outdoor kitchen

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.

Monday, March 3, 2014


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.