Saturday, April 11, 2009

I've Been Crafting! Big Craft Show Coming Up!

In anticipation of warmer weather; here is a preview of the aquatic Loopydolls that I have been busy making. They will be exhibited and for sale for the first time on April 19th at Plant 0 in Richmond Virginia 11am-5pm. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Visit to a Greenhouse: Planting seeds and Transplanting Plants with Children

Last week's visit to the Charlottesville City Parks and Recreation landscaping center went swimmingly thanks to Lori Hall, one of the head landscapers for the city. Lori gave us a tour of the greenhouse where all sorts of seedlings were bursting to life. These plants will foliate Charlottesville's twenty or so public parks. Some of the plants, such as the tomatoes were 'indicator plants' to make sure that the conditions in the greenhouse were just right.

After the tour Lori brought out huge buckets of potting soil and I provided the little shovels. The children got right to filling up there flower pots. Gathering around in a circle with our pots before us, Lori has us put a little hole in the middle of the dirt for our seed to go. She then passed around tomato seeds and marigold seeds. We labeled our plants with wooden tags and permanent marker.  After that the kids got to take turns watering with the big watering can. The next round of activity involved transplanting basil plants, once again labeling and watering. The plants will be kept in the greenhouse for four weeks, after which, the children will visit again and be able to take home their fully grown creations. 

A Walk in the Park: Making a Mobile from Pinecones, Sticks, and Seeds

My Charlottesville Parks and Recreation class, 'Parent and Me Nature Explorers', has begun for the spring season. The classes are off to a great start. In the above photos we are at Pen Park. As the children and parent gathered at the picnic shelter, I had paper lunch bags, markers and alphabet stamps set up for the children to decorate their 'collection bags'. With bags in hand, we took a pleasant fifteen minute walk through a meadow and woods where we collected pinecones, sycamore seeds, leaves, and sticks. Back at the picnic shelter we painted our nature artifacts with washable tempera paint. Children used the toddler scissors to cut lengths of string. Parents helped tie the pinecones and seeds to the sticks. I was very impressed with their creations: beautiful nature mobiles. Pictures of the mobiles will be coming soon!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Class#6 Mangham Manor Wool and Mohair Farm Visit

Last Thursday was the grand finale class of the Adventures with Mimi series. We visited the Mangham Manor Wool and Mohair Farm. It is now prime lambing season, so we got to feed dozens of week old lambs and kids. The hungry little lambs ran to us with wagging tails, they were so delightful. Michele gave us a tour of the massive barn and introduced us to all her favorite ewes; one named Coco, she has had for over 20 years. We even got to watch her shear a angora goat, which was a very intense experience, but at the end the goat lightly sprang away with its new haircut. Mangham Manor is a great place to take children to introduce them to the origins of fibers that we wear and use everyday. The wool makes such an elaborate journey from sheep, to washing, to carding, to spinning, to knitting, to store, to our backs. Michele even showed us her warehouse of yarns and hand knitted and felted goods that you can buy online, at markets, and in stores. She even has mohair socks made from her yarns! Michele was so kind and generous to give the children little samples of the wool and mohair products in different stages of production. What a wonderful experience!

Library Gem- Charlie Needs a Cloak 
After the tour I read to the children a very appropriate book called Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie de Paola. They enjoyed it so much, they had me read it twice! Charlie is a shepherd boy with a tattered red cloak. He shears his sheep and goes through the whole laborious process of washing, carding, spinning, weaving, and sewing in order to make a fresh new cloak. The pictures are very amusing with mischievous sheep on every page, making life just a bit more challenging for poor Charlie. This story is the perfect pairing for any lesson about sheep farming and wool.