This was a a short week for us, as two of us (Kristina and Melissa) were headed to an environmental education conference near Cranbrook at the St.Eugene Mission, Aq'am community. As we don't have many pictures from Wednesday, I thought I'd share a bit about my experience at the conference. I feel so fortunate that I stumbled into this event, which brought 300+ teachers and community educators together for 3 days to talk (and talk and talk!), attend workshops, hear keynotes and generally feel inspired about the work we're doing in outdoor, place-based learning programs. It's rare to have a national event of this magnitude located right here in the Kootenays! Melissa presented a workshop on her 'Beyond Recycling Program' at CLES.
I learned more about Ktuxana culture, language and the residential school system, which has affected so many generations of indigenous people. Chief Joe Pierre participated the whole conference and I was honoured to speak with him and witness his storytelling and warm, open leadership.
We listened to the Minister of Education speak about the surge of interest in outdoor learning around the province, and what the government is doing to support it. I connected with a teacher from a nature kindergarten program in Williams Lake, as well as teachers from the Maple Ridge Environmental School near Vancouver (if you know me, you know I was in my glory with all these networking opportunities!). I attended a workshop about bioregions and 'mapping your place,' considering your values and special places in nature. Other workshops were about place-based learning, how to teach science through inquiry and curiosity, engaging children activities about water, and on and on! Phew. Grateful for so much new learning and inspiration, and now for a few days of rest before Nature School swings back into action!
Back to Nature School--In this picture (one of my favourite from the year so far), there is great excitement in the air as the kids gathered horse chestnuts to roll down the hill. You can just see the excitement in their expressions! It all happened very fast (I was standing at the bottom of the onslaught of chestnuts) and they just loved watching the clatter. Some attempts were made to create tracks for the nuts, but mostly it was a moment of pure, blissful fun!
We also engaged in a bit of an experiment this week, and learned about elderberry trees in the process. One of our parents shared a video of an interesting craft (you can try this at home!) using a white candle, paper and leaves. By putting the leaf between two sheets of paper, and rubbing the candle flat over the ridges of the leaf, and then painting over top, you come out with a neat affect. We decided to try it with some natural dyes, and so my son and I gathered up elderberries the day before to boil, creating a deep purple juice. At Nature School, we all went over to the tree to look up at the berries (way high up!!). Armed with elderberry juice, beet juice and some paintbrushes, the kids had fun trying out the leaf craft. The experiment part came in here--I'd read that elderberry is very pH sensitive, and that by adding either baking soda, lemon, vinegar or salt, you can change the colour of the elderberry juice. When I'd tried this at home it was a bit more successful--the kids did create a green shade with the dish that we'd added baking soda to. If anyone has experience using natural dyes, we'd love to connect with you for a future activity!
Take care for now : )