ParticipACTION Now

Award of Excellence – ParticipACTION 70’s

ParticipACTION floods me with me with a warm and happy feeling.  The first year I participated it was a mandatory part of PE class in Grade 5 at David Lloyd George Elementary School and received a Gold Patch for my efforts.  Although the ”gold” was pretty decent, it fired a competitive impulse.  I wanted the coveted “Award of Excellence.”  The sit ups and the flexed arm hang were my biggest challenges.  For the next two years, I did get the Award of Excellence.  Not because the standard got easier so it could be achieved by all, but because I learned that I needed to practice.  I would “hang around” at the school playground on the bars.  My claim to fame was my ability to “out hang” any challenger on the bars.  Including the boys.  I did sit ups while listening to my baby blue transistor radio because yes, I was “that cool”.  I got better at swinging up into trees and climbing the ropes during gym class.  These were things that mattered to me.  I was motivated to participate, and I was motivated to achieve.  A competitive impulse in girls was generally frowned upon in the 70’s but this was an exception.  Obviously, the achievement mattered to me because I still have the patch!

The takeaway from my ParticipACTION experience as a kid was that physical challenges required perseverance.  It required putting yourself out there when you aren’t quite sure that you could reach your goal.  Not an easy thing to do.  Trying means you really care.  Failure is an option and a disappointment.  

The Terry Fox Run was my first 10 K Run.  “My First Triathlon” at Cultus Lake speaks for itself.  I was scared to do both.  I wasn’t sure I could do it.  In the midst of both of them, success was redefined.  There were strangers cheering me on.  They didn’t care about the standard I achieved.  They were out there cheering me on for putting myself out there and trying.  And it left me free to focus on my goal rather than losing face.  I was proud of myself for trying.  I was proud of myself for pushing through. 

In the midst of the triathlon named “My First Triathalon” at Cultus Lake, one of the participants was cheering me and said,  “Wow, you’re doing really well for your first triathalon.”

I appreciated the sentiment but knew I had no intention of doing another one.  My goal had been to do one so that I knew that I could.  I wouldn’t let my husband and kids come to cheer me on because I wanted to finish it for myself, not because I didn’t want to disappoint them.  At the end of the race, we were all given a medal to wear around our neck.  En route home, I stopped to take my Grandma’s for lunch because that was what I did when I was close to Abbotsford where she lived.  After lunch she promptly called the family to report I had won a gold medal at a triathlon.  My cousin, Don, who regularly did triathlons, called me from Alberta to congratulate me. 

“Don, it was a mini triathlon for people who had never done one.  Everyone got a medal. For participating,” I explained.  

His response, “Carrie, you finished a triathlon.  The medal that they gave you is gold.  That is all anyone in our family needs to know.  I’m proud of you, cuz.”

What my cousin Don understood was that the medal was far less important than the push to do something really hard.  And both of us had done that.  Point taken.

Participaction is very much about supporting people in becoming more physically fit and pushing themselves to get out there.  There is comradery in the process.  Wild About Vancouver has been fortunate to receive support from ParticipACTION.  We are happy to be part of the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge sponsored by Saputo and the Government of Canada.  

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Description automatically generated with medium confidenceFollow @ParticipACTION and load the ParticipACTION APP to set personal fitness goals and get in shape.From June 1-30, all the activity you track on the ParticipACTION   app could help your community get crowned Canada’s Most Active and win $100,000! Plus, by tracking activity on the app on your own or with your team, you have a chance to win more great prizes:Individual prizes: 25 individuals will each win a $50 Best Buy e-gift card.Team prizes: Three teams will win a $250 Sport Chek e-gift card for each team member.Learn more here and for additional tips and tricks on how to get moving (for example, did you know you have free access to a fitness tracker?), check this out.The challenge is proudly supported by the Government of Canada and Saputo.

Our Wild About Vancouver Team will be logging the time for Tidal WAV 2022 activities.  You are encouraged to keep the momentum going on your personal account to help Vancouver win the recognition and $100,000.00 for being Canada’s MOST active!  Points are calculated according to your postal code so don’t worry, your points will all count for the community where you live. Good luck. 

Remember to tag us @WildAboutVan #getOUTdoors #getINvolved

Wild About Reading Revisited

Friday, June 3, 2022

The Wild About Vancouver Tidal WAV ( pronounced “wave”) Outdoor Festival is set and ready to go next Friday, June 3rd from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm in beautiful Stanley Park at Second Beach / Ceperley Park. I have put in a request for a sunny day but according to the weather forecast, there is a 40% chance of rain. Don’t let it deter you from attending. Be sure to dress for the weather. If you live in Vancouver, the big trick to loving the city is having adequate rain gear. So the time is now if you don’t have a waterproof jacket with a hood and boots. I don’t personally recommend an umbrella. They get in the way, get lost, poke others, and block the view. Come ready to participate what Stanley Park has to offer including nature walks by Forest Rangers, a visit to the Forest Ranger kiosk, a visit to the Heron Rookery, and perhaps a picnic at Lost Lagoon or Second Beach. The Tidal WAV booths and events will be set up around the perimeter of Ceperley Park and in the undercover picnic area on the hill. Soccer with hall of fame, Carrie Serwetnyk, will be on the east side of the field. PowWow dancing with Shyama Priya will be on the west side of the field, close. All TidalWAV events and Park Ranger tours are open to the public and free. No registration is required. Check out the details on the Wild About Vancouver website.

As an educator and lover of books, I am very excited about is the BC Literacy Council booth. The BCLCILA like many volunteer organizations is in the process of coming out of COVID and very much wants to grow the organization to include practising educators wanting to develop their professional learning networks and share in the joy of supporting literacy learning. Due to the generosity of book distributers and publishers, as well as the support of Phyllis Simon and our friends at Kidsbooks, as well as the hard work of the the BCLCILA TidalWAV22 Committee, the BC Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association is able to provide outdoor learning books to thrill children, youth, parents, and educators completing the BCLCILA “GetOUTside scavenger hunt at the TidalWAV22 event on June 3rd.

As a bibliophile or bookworm intoxicated by bibliosmia or booksmell, I have assumed the self appointed task of creating an annotated bibliography of some of the titles that will be given away at the TidalWAV22 June 3rd Outdoor Festival to support outdoor learning. Some of the work was done for me. The distributers, publishers, and Kidsbooks staff can largely be credited with selecting recent titles, local authors, talented illustrators and books that have high sales. We did not get the discards as donations for this event. We got the best of the best. I have not reviewed all of the books but some of the titles that would provide an impetus to #getOUTdoors and pique curiosity and imagination, provide thoughtful, comprehensive answers to inquiries as well as add substantively to projects. I have included many graphic novels because they are hot ticket items. Some books, like The Way of the Hive: A Honey Bee’s Story, were able to provide amazing depth in information, as well as leaving me in love with the main character of the story, who was in fact, a bee. Others like the Jeff Maddox series provide important learning about teamwork, sportsmanship, and sport skills learning. The Bird and Squirrel series inspires bulk reading and laughs. Books like Finding Wild set us out on a journey of discovery. I have also included some of my favourites like We Are The Water Protectors, Cloudwalker, and Listen to Our World, that are great additions to facilitate outdoor learning lessons.

It was a treat to read the following list of books. I’m proud that it includes so many exceptional Canadian authors. We are so grateful to be able to put such amazing books in the hands of children to add to their home libraries. Having done my graduate research on repeated readings of text, I hope these books are well loved and read over and over and over again. Lessons learned through repeated readings become imprinted for a lifetime. The potential for purposeful action by a community of learners that spends time outdoors, values nature, and works to protect it, is exciting.

BC Literacy Council Outdoor Learning Book Recommendations by Carrie Froese, President June 2022

100 Endangered Species (2021) Hudson, RachelOne page per endangered species, filled with concise information that leaves you with lots of questions to pursue answers too.   
100+ Activities for everyday outdoor fun: Nature Activity Book for little ones (2022) Lewis, SamanthaA book of nature activities designed for children 2 – 5 years old.  Puppets, birds, games and fairy homes.  Lots of fun. 
A Great Big Night (2020) Inglis, Kate & Bisaillon, JoseeWhen three travelling frog musicians roll into the forest on their bikes, most of the forest animals are ready to party.  It takes some time and a big storm to convince the grumpty Grouse to appreciate what these travelling musicians bring with them on their travels.  
A Yoga Jungle (2013) Mylod, Brigid; Peyrow, Rameen & Garcia, Roger The illustrations of trees, flowers, animals, birds, bugs and waterfalls provide instruction for children on how to do basic yoga moves.  There is a follow up with instruction in the philosophy of yoga and directions to do seventeen basic postures.   
All Creation Represented:  A Child’s Guide to the Medicine Wheel (2017) Perrault, Joyce & Mar, TerraJoyce Perrault is an Anishaabe educator who has engaged learners in teachings of the Medicine Wheel for many years.  This book looks at balance and harmony in life through a First Nations lens.   
Be Prepared (2018) Brosgol, Vera & Longstreth, A. (colour)Vera had always wanted to go to summer camp like her friends.  Russian Camp was not what Vera expected.  This camp tale combines the author’s move from Russia to the USA when she was 5 years old and some of her actual camping experiences when she was a kid.   
Be Thankful for Trees (2022) Ziefert, Harriet & Fitzgerald, BrianSeven reasons to value trees are presented in this fun books that demonstrates divergent thinking to push the readers’ thinking.  
Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia (2022) Hui, StephenAn autographed copy of this new release.  I love this book.  A variety of hikes for a variety of ages of kids, with a variety of skill levels and complete with fun facts.   
Bird & Squirrel On the Edge (2015) Burks, JamesA book from the Bird and Squirrel series.  The decision to save a baby bear from wolves, leads Bird and Squirrel on a hair raising journey over the mountains to reach home safely   
Bird & Squirrel:  All or Nothing (2020) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  Pressure from Bird’s father taps into Bird’s insecurities.  Squirrel helps Bird to be true to himself and they win the day with perseverance, sportsmanship, and integrity.  
Bird & Squirrel:  All Tangled Up (2019) Burks, James Another book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.   Red leaves Birdie in the care of Bird and Squirrel so she can tend to Grandmole while she’s sick.  Birdie leads them on a quest to track down Bigfoot. 
Bird & Squirrel:  On Fire (2017) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  Squirrel and Bird are delighted to be back in their forest home.  Squirrel wants to clean but Bird wants to party.  Red joins the scene and becomes invaluable in saving the day after beaver’s dam dries out the forest, to disasterous consequences.   
Bird & Squirrel:  On Ice (2014) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.   
Bird & Squirrel:  On The Edge (2015) Burke, James Another book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  
Bird & Squirrel: On The Run! (2012) Burks, James Another Bird & Squirrel adventure book.  A wild and wacky road trip with squirrel, Bird, and Cat in pursuit. 
Bug Scouts Out in the Wild (2022) Lowery, MikeA Bug Scout adventure in five short chapters.  A bug, a worm, a lightning bug, and a spider set out to earn badges while following the Bug Scout oath.   
CAMP (2019) Miller, Kayla Willow and Olive come to Camp Acorn Lake as best friends but will they leave that way.  As they navigate new people and new experiences, they also learn what they value.   
Cici’s Journal (2012) Chamblain, J. & Neyret, A.Originally piublished in French.  Cici’s journal reveals the day to day happenings of her life along with her quest to discover the secrets of those around herwithout compromising her integrity. 
City Streets Are For People (2022) Curtis, Andrea & Fitzgerald, Emma This book focuses the attention of kids on sustainable transportation in their community complete with glossary and resources.   
Cloudwalker (2014) Henry Vickers, Roy & Budd, Robert & Henry Vickers, Roy”The salmon, the animals and the forest are all interconnected and the rivers run through them.”  A beautiful book that speaks to the interconnectedness of nature and our responsibility to preserve it for future generations.   
Deep Roots:  How Trees Sustain Our Planet (2016) Tate, Nikki &  This book uses photographs and text to depict the importance of trees to many facets of our lives.  It also celebrates the joy that trees bring to our lives.   
Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem (2021) Soloy, Lauren”Walking is a wonderful way to contemplate big questions.” A story about how Charles Darwin and his eldest child, Etty, walk their oval, thinking path, called “The Sandwalk,” every day, each grappling with their own big questions.  A wonderful way to explore imaginative thought and the process of logical analysis.  Fiction 
Finding Wild (2016) Wagner Lloyd, Megan & Halpin, AbigailThe author poses the questions, “What is wild.  And where can you find it?”  We follow the main characters, a boy and a girl, in pursuit of it.  Imaginative and engaging. 
Forest (2019) Moss Gamblin, Kate & Patkau, KarenA See to Learn series book that started as part of the authors doctoral research in sustainability learning.  Young learners are taken throughout the four seasons in the forest and encouraged to look closely. 
Forest Magic – A Guidebook for Little Woodland Explorers (2021) Grindler, Sarah & Grindler, SarahAn invitation to explore the magic of the forest.  Intended as a non-fiction guide for young explorers.  Finishes with an invitation to ask more questions and go into the forest to answer those questions.   
Forest Magic:  A Guidebook for Little Woodland Explorers (2021) Grindler, SarahForest Magic is written for young children by an author who grew up surrounded by nature on Salt Spring Island.  It directs attention and asks questions to prompt new discoveries.   
Four Winds (2019) Bowden, Michael & Jules, KelseyThe curious Qelmucw (person) from the Secwepemc Nation must persevere to find balance admidst the forces of the winds coming from four different directions, with the consistent support of Tree.  A story that reflects the importance of The First People’s Principles of learning.  The author is a long time member of the British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association and we are so proud of his contribution.  
G.O.A.T. Soccer Teams (2021) Doeden, MattPart of the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time Teams) Series:  Soccer Teams.  Soccer is the world’s favourite sport.  Epic moments of teams throughout the world. 
Grasshopper (2021) Ukhova, TatianaA wordless picturebook inspired by a childhhood memory of the author.  A story and illustrations that captivate the imagination. 
Hello, Crow (2020) Savage, Candace & O’Byrne, ChelseaSometimes when you go out into your backyard and you are very quiet, a whole new world can open up to you.  A crow begins to bring Frannie little gifts.  Can you be friends with a crow? 
Hideaway Cove (2016) Boreham, Brenda & Timmermans, LauraHidaway Cove on the Pacific Northwest Coast shelters many interconnected species that comprise a healthy marine eco-system.  Gorgeous illustrations intermingled with factual knowledge. 
How To Spot a Sasquatch (2018) Torres, J. & Grand, AurelieNot all Junior Rangers believe in the Sasquatch.  That doesn’t stop Jay in his search.  Both author and illustrator live in Canada.   
In The Red Canoe (2020) Davidson, Leslie A. & Bifano, Laura A story of a grandfather and grandchild and the wonders that canoeing provides.   
Jake Maddox Graphic Novels:  Basketball Camp Champ (2020) Maddox, Jake Ana’s dream of going to summer basketball camp comes true.  Will she learn to ask for help before she loses her confidence?  As with all Jake Maddox a section is devoted to creating a better understanding of graphic novels.  A history of women’s basketball and its legends is also included.   
Jake Maddox Graphic Novels:  Soccer Switch (2017) Maddox, Jake Andre has been looking forward to summer vacation soccer league.  When the coach retires, the replacement throws the team for a loop with his unusual training routines.  There are important lessons to be learned by the team.   
Listen to Our World (2016) Martin Jr., Bill & Sampson, Michael & Sweet, Melissa “Can you hear the sounds of our world?”  A call to pay attention and listen closely to hear the animals.  Beautiful illustrations depict animals from eleven different habitats around the world. 
Little Wolf (2021) Spathelfer, Teoni & Davies, Natassia”Finding nature in the city made Little Wolf feel happy and more at home.” p.6. So this is what this almost 10 year old girls does to cope with her move to the city.  Vancouverites will recognize many familiar places in this picturebook.   
Live Sustainability (2022) Boyle, Angela & McClaine, LesFrom the Maker Comics Series. 
Long Distance (2021) Gardner, WhitneyVegas is faced with all kinds of challenges.  Moving.  Leaving her best friend.  And summer camp that just keeps getting stranger.   
Love Our Earth (2021) Cabrera, Jane A nature counting book with colourful illustrations for preschool and early primary students.  
Love Our Earth (2021) Cabrera, Jane A nature counting book with colourful illustrations for preschool and early primary students.  
Maker Comics:  Grow A Garden (2020) Frederick-Frost, Alexis There is lots for Will, Violet, and Basil to learn at Garden Gnome Academy from the most unpopular teacher in the school  including how to make a compost bin, seed pots, potting mix, a growlight shelf, a cold frame and a container garden.  I’ll be trying out the insecticidal soap on my lemon tree.  I learned tons from Mr. Butternut!  Factual information delivered in fun graphic novel format.  
Maker Comics:  Live Sustainability (2022) Boyle, Angela & McClaine, LesWhat Isaac thinks is punishment actually turns out to be real learning including:  how to make a rain barrel, a composting worm farm, cereal box notebooks, beeswax food wrappers, a bee garden and bee bars, food cantainer flower pots, t-shirt tote bags and cute cutlery packs! 
Maker Comics:  Survive in the Outdoors (2021) Lawrence, Mike A book in the Maker Comics series.  Sophia and Alfonso head off to a fishing trip with their Abuelo.  No cell service.  No cable.  No background knowledge about surviving in the outdoors.  Luckily their grandfather is able to teach them all they need to know about building a buddy burner, making a compass, fishing, building a campfire, basic first aid, purifying water and making a shelter.  Amazing but true!  Complete with straightforward directions.   
Mapmakers and the Lost Magic (2022) Chittock, Cameron & Castillo, AmandaA gripping adventure of how two children are the only ones able to save their community from the evil Night Coats.   
Martin and the River (2022) Lappano, Jon-Erik & Bisaillon, Josee Martin loves his river in the country where he spends countless hours enjoying nature.  His family needs to move to the city for his Mom’s new job where he finds animals in markets and museums.  His joy returns when he discovers a neighbourhood park with a stream to rekindle his imagination and the possibility of new discoveries in nature. 
Meet Your Family Gikenim Giniigi’igoog (2021) Bouchard, David & Cameron, KristyIndigenous ways of knowing are conveyed through Mother Earth, Father Sky, Grandfather Sun, and Grandmother Moon in poetic verse.  The author’s end goal is to broaden our perspective to see the world as our natural family.  An Ojibwe Language Learning Guide is included inside the picturebook.  
My Dog Banana (2021) Brouillard, Roxane & Sagramola, GiuliaIs, Is it a dog or is it a banana?  You be the judge. 
Nuptse & Lhotse Go to the West Coast (2020) Asnong, JoceyTwo cats, a younger sister and older brother, go on an adventure of discovery, to return Salish, a Purple Ochre Starfish, back home.  Bright colourful illustrations and journey that takes them from Granville Island, around Vancouver Island and up to the Haida Gwaii.  
Off The Beaten Track (2021) De Kerangal, Maylis & Haugomat, TomThis book was originally published in France in french.  Ten year old Tom discovers his inner strength on a hiking trip. 
Off the Beaten Track (2021) Dekerangal, Maylis & Haugomat, TomThis book was originally published in France.  Ten year old Paul goes on a mountain hiking expedition that brings out his inner strength.   
Oil (2020) Winter, Jonah & Winter, JeanetteThe true story of the Valdez Oil spill in 1989 and the devastation caused by the oil spill.  Picturebook format but content that can be explored in intermediate and secondary school.   
On My Skis (2016) Winters, Kari-Lynn & Leist, Christina A perfect book for preschool and early primary skiers.  Vancouverites will recognize the setting as Grouse Mountain.  
On The Nature Trail (2018) Yale, Kathleen & Armstrong, JessicaA magnifying glass is included with this book from the Backpack Explorer series.  Nature Patch stickers are included so the reader can place it on a page that has been completed.   
Outside You Notice (2021) Alladin, Erin & Blinick, AndreaChild like observations are followed up with interesting facts.  This book lends itself to discussions of curiosity, imagination, and surprising facts.   
Owly – A Time to Be Brave (2021) Runton, AndyPart of the Owly Series.  First impressions are not always accurate, even in the forest.   
Paws: Gabby Gets It Together (2022) Assarasakorn, Michele & Fairbairn, NathanA story about three girls in Grade 5 / 6 who start a dog walking business.   They need to navigate both the new business and their relationships.  
Protecting the Planet (2020) Spilbury, Louise  & Kai, Hanane “We need to look after our planet, because our planet looks after us.  If we all make small changes to protect the planet, we will see big results.”  p. 27. This book introduces challenges to the environment while maintaining a focus on being proactive.   
Rabbit Chase (2022) LaPensee, Elizabeth & Oster, KCAn adventure story that is reminiscent of Wonderland and requires Aimee to save the land. 
Rebel Girls Champions: 25 Tales of Unstoppable Athletes (2021) Cavallo, F. & Favilli, E. & Ventura, A. & Brittain, K.A book from the Rebel Girls series.  25 true stories of female athletes across the globe who have left their mark on the world with their tenacity and perseverence. 
Rocket says Clean Up (2020) Bryon, Nathan & Adeola, DapoGrampy tells Rocket about the plastic ruining the island and the ocean habitat.  She organizes a clean-up crew and uses the plastic trash to create an artistic bin to remind everyone on the island to keep the beach clean.   Complete with suggestions about how you can help clean up the beaches.  Reduce.  Go organic.  Dispose of trash properly. 
Sammy Squirrel & Rodney Raccoon: Far From Stanley Park (2022) Lawrence, Duane & Clover, Gordon It’s party time in the forest.  A fun personification of forest animals partying. 
Scaredy Squirrel In A Nutshell (2022) Watt, Melanie Part of the Scaredy’s Nutty Adventures.  An atypical squirrel who is always preparing for disaster makes even the most basic task an adventure to be conquered.   
Science COMICS:  Trees:  Kings of the Forest (2018) Hirsch, AndyPart of the Science COMICS series.  “If an organism is aware of a situation and can choose the best action to take, it has intelligence.” p. 18. Read this graphic novel and ask yourself, is a tree smart? 
Show Us Where You Live, Humpback (2021) Young, Beryl & Kikuchi, SakikaThis beautiful picturebook explores the connections between a young boy and the humpback whale.  A Vancouver author who first saw the humpback whales swimming off the west coast of Vancouver Island.   
Show Us Where You Live, Humpback (2021) Young, Beryl & Kikuchi, SakikaA beautiful picturebook that parallels the little boy growing up on land and the humpback whales growing up in the ocean beside him.  Vancouverites will recognize the West Coast setting.  
Sing in the Spring (2022) Fitch, Sheree (verse) & Plestid, DebSheree Fitch’s verse as winter transitions to spring.  Quilting and paint artwork is an amazing accompaniment.   
Sir Ladybug (2022) Tabor, Corey R.Sir Ladybug and friends’ quest includes trying to escape being eaten by a chickadee.  This graphic novel is sure to be popular with the Grade 1- Grade 4 readers.   
So Imagine Me:  Nature Riddles in Poetry (2020) Davies, Lynn & Park-MacNeil, ChrissieA fun guessing game with nature clues.   
So Imagine Me:  Nature Riddles in Poetry (2020) Davies, Lynn & Park-MacNeil, ChrissieWhat Am I?  Each poem provides clues to answer this question about something from nature.   
Soccer Superstar (2020) Terrell, Brandon & San Juan, Mel JoyPart of the Jake Maddox Series.  Javier Moreno strives to learn the balance between being a superstar on the soccer field and being a team player.  A nice addition on the role of forwards, midfielders, defenders and the goalie is included at the end.   
Spotlight Soccer (2015) Sanchez, Ricardo & Waryanto, IanA Sports Illustrated Graphic Novel for Kids.  Franco wants to play professional soccer.  His new school and his new team require a new strategy.  The glossary at the back is to assist comprehension.  The “visual questions” support understanding of the illustrations in graphic novels.   
Stay, Little Seed (2020) Valentini, Cristiana & Giordano, PhilipThe story about why the little seed has to let go of the safety of the tree.  It also serves as an example of why taking a risk allows the adventure to begin.   
Sunny Makes A Splash (2021) Holm, J.L. & Holm, M. & Pien, LarkAnother book in the series about Sunny.  The community pool offers a reprieve from what is looking like a disasterous summer.  As a kid I was quick to discover that public pools were infinitely more interesting than private pools.   
Swim Team:  Small Waves, Big Changes (2022) Christmas, JohnnieExcitement about starting a new middle school is soured by an elective Bree really doesn’t want – Swim 101. 
Taan’s Moon:  A Haida Moon Story (2014) Gear, Alison & van der Heiden, KikiTaan’s Moons tells the Haida legend of the changing seasons through the perspective of a bear using poetry.  Kindergarden students worked with the author and a visual and fibre artist to create raw felt illustrations.  This beautiful book includes Skidegate Haida and Old Masset Haida.   
Taking Care of Mother Earth (2021) Aleck, CelestineCoast Salish Series:  Coast Salish teachings about how to take care of the earth. 
The Aquanut (2021) Heinerth, Jill & Kim, Jaime The author shares her path from little girl with a big imagination to becoming an underwater explorer, care diver, and photographer. 
The Biggest Puddle in the World (2019) Lee, Mark & Dion, NathalieGrandpa and a rainstorm teach Sarah and her younger brother about the water cycle. Gorgeious water inspired illustrations. 
The Book of Selkie (2020) Corr Scott, BrianaThis fantasy story of the “seal folk” or selkies, is from Scotland and comes complete with paper doll and clothes. 
The Bug Girl (2020) Spencer, Sophia w M. McNamara & KerascoetSophia Spencer always loved bugs.  The other kids didn’t really understand or appreciate Sophia’s passion until it became a national news story.  This fourth grader shares her story and connects with entomologists that fuel her interest and learning.  A true story and lots of information about bugs! 
The Busy Beaver (2016) Oldland, NcholasThe Busy Beaver’s carelessness wreaks havok in his life, the lives of his friends, and in the forest.  Discover how the Busy Beaver makes amends.  
The Cedar Tree:  The Heart of Our People (2020) Aleck, Celestine Coast Salish Series:  Beautiful phographs depict the many uses of cedar in Coast Salish culture.   
The Great Blanket of Moss (2020) Aleck, Celestine & Good, JoelCoast Salish Series:  The legend of how moss came to be.  Mother tree must take action to protect her young trees when they offend Snow.   
The Gruffalo and Friends:  Outdoor Activity Book (2021) Donaldson, Julia & Scheffler, AxelA collection of the favourite outdoor activities of “The Little Wild Things” in a West Oxfordshire woodland.  A fun resource for use with young children. 
The Outdoor Scientist:  The Wonder of Observing the Natural World (2021) Grandin, TempleTemple Grandin, scientist, is able to bring the light to what STEAM means in outdoor explorations.  A resource book including 40 projects for kids.   
The Sasquatch, The Fire and the Cedar Baskets (2020) Dandurand, Joseph & James, Simon DanielOnly a Sasquatch and cedar baskets stand in the way of the great fire devastating the forest.  Told in the tradition of the Kwantlen people.   
The Science of Surfing:  A Surfside Girls Guide to the Ocean (2021) Dwinell, KimSam and Jade take the reader through everything ocean including the physics, the biology, strange ocean phenomenon, how to surf and how to be a good stewrad of the ocean.  A wealth of information presented in engaging graphic novel format.   
The Sharing Circle (2016) Larsen-Jonasson, Theresa “Corky” & von Innerebner, JessikaTwo red foxes are best of friends until the big argument.  Buffalo takes a gift of a braid of sweetgrass to the wise and mighty Great Horned owl, called Kokum, to request a sharing circle.  Kokum teaches the animals how this Indigenous tradition can be used to problem solve by creating a place of listening and respect. 
The Way of the Hive (2021) Hosler, JayThis graphic novel is masterful.  Written by a biology professor, it skillfully weaves together the story of Nuki’s (“bee” in Swahili) life as she proceeds to “Go forth to adventure” along with everything you ever wanted to know about bees.  I finished the book and wondered why I didn’t start caring about bees sooner.  Perfect for intermediate aged students or secondary students looking for a way to convey content area material. 
The Wonders That I Find (2022) Ward, Meghan, J. & Odynski, TayGeneva and her teddy bear go off on a hike with her parents.  They are in a hurry to get to the summit.  Geneva has lots to teach them about pausing to notice on the hike.  For a preschool and early primary audience.   
Tokyo Digs A Garden (2021) Lappano, Jon-Erik & Hatanaka, KellenTokyo, a boy who lives in a city, is inspired by the stories of his grandfather and plants a garden.  This book was given the Governor General’s Literary Award.  A perfect way to explore environmentalism and the imagination. 
Trees:  Kings of the Forest (2018) Hirsch, AndyPart of the Science Comics series.  Acorn has a lot to learn about trees.  A fun story that conveys an incredible amount of factual information about trees.  
Trudy’s Healing Stone (2019) Spiller, Trudy & von Innerebner, JessikaA picturebook sharing First Nation knowledge of the Gitxsan Nation in British Columbia for a preschool / early primary audience.  Grandmother shares that a stone can is a gift from Mother Earth to help us process difficult emotions.   
Trudy’s Rock Story (2017) Spiller, Trudy & von Innerebner, JessikaTrudy is from the Gitxsan Nation.  Her grandmother, ts’iits, is a knowledge keeper.  She shares wisdom from ancestors, including how Mother Earth can help you deal with powerful emotions.  This comes in handy when Trudy fights with her brother.   
We Are the Water Protectors (2020) Lindstrom, Carole & Goade, MichaelaA book about water inspired by many Indigenous-led movements across North America to protect water from harm and corruption.  The text and illustrations give voice to the animals, plants, trees, rivers, lakes and oceans that rely on water.   
What’s Sprouting in My Trash?  A Book about Composting Capstone Press (2013) Porter, EstherIntended for preschool to early primary students.  Accompanied by vivid photographs and a clear explanation for the rules and process of composting. 

If you would like the full annotated bibliography of Outdoor Learning books with categories, topics, and publishers included, send the request to bcliteracyila@gmail.com

Wild About Reading

Bill and the Fish was not a particularly inspired book.  Vocabulary was controlled.  The illustrations were mundane.  Yet, the year my younger brother took an interest in fishing, that book became part of our cabin life.  I can still hear my father’s voice.

Books being handed out by BC Literacy Council at Tidal WAV 2022

“Bill land the fish,” he’d roar in an attempt the make the book sound as interesting as the real life event.

Yet, Bill and the Fish was the book my younger brother would want to hear again and again and again.  He would stare at the book with rapt attention as Bill would bait the hook, cast the line, wait patiently, feel the fish nibble, feel the fish bite, reel in the fish, and hold up his prize for everyone to see.  That summer, anyone could be reeling in a fish and someone would holler,

“Bill, land the fish!” with exuberance.  

Then the proud fish would be held up for the camera and all to see.

That book became part of our lives and is etched in my memory along with happy memories of my brother as a preschooler.  Books have a way of becoming reference points for different places and spaces in our lives.   Wombat Stew, Noisy Nora and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie are embedded in what I have learned about emergent readers, writing a thesis, and building community in the classroom.  The Harry Potter books are intermingled with memories of snuggling up with my own children in front of the fire and reading far beyond bedtime.

Educators who join The International Reading Association have a love of books in common. They are also educators who identify reading as a foundational in their own lives and understand that the act is required not only to succeed in school, but to change lives. The British Columbia Council of the International Literacy Association (BCLCILA – yes we know the acronym is way too long), has found COVID a struggle, much like everyone else in the world. Social connections make the work enjoyable, and ZOOM has been limited in maintaining them. However, we are hopeful. Our focus this Spring is on growth.

We are very excited as a council to be participating in Wild About Vancouver’s Tidal WAV (pronounced “wave”) Outdoor Festival on June 3, 2022 at Ceperley Field in Stanley Park.  The modus operandi of WAV is to help people in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver to get outdoors more often for a myriad of purposes.  The purpose for BCLCILA is to make face3face connections with educators, children, and parents and celebrate the power of books to inspire outdoor learning and provide answers to questions that emerge from spending time outdoors.  Of course, we are also hoping to recruit more members interested in networking and working for literacy outside the walls of the classroom.  

The decision to put books in the hands of children at this outdoor festival to inspire outdoors activity and provide information for project based learning has been energizing. This is where the BCLCILA Executive Council members jumped in and created our WAV Working Committee. Linda Klassen, a recently retired principal from Langley, organized promotion of BCLCILA, ordered pens, a banner, and took care of the logistics for the BCLCILA table and tent at the Tidal WAV Outdoor Festival. Larkyn Froese, an aspiring teacher at Simon Fraser University did the site visits and designed several scavenger hunts of different levels to engage participants so they could “earn” their book selection. Garth Brooks took on the huge task of making requests to book distributors and publishers for donations of outdoor learning books to give to children and educators at the Tidal WAV 22 Outdoor Festival.
Gratitude to Larkyn, Linda and Garth.

We have been blown away with the generosity of publishers.  They have sent the best of their outdoor learning books to share at the Tidal WAV 22.  There are books to inspire imagination, to provoke questioning, to provide information, and to focus attention on using all senses to notice what is happening in the garden, in the forest, in the park and in the ocean.  Garth’s condo has become a warehouse for almost $5,000.00 of high-quality books that invite you into stories with poetic language, captivating ideas, artistic illustrations, and fascinating information.  Please see the list below for a full list of publishers who have supported us in this project.  You have our deepest gratitude. 

Larkyn identified the need for graphic novels, sports books, and titles by local authors and artists. My first thought was to call our long-time friend, supporter and owner of Kidsbooks, Phyllis Simon. She has been a big supporter of both LOMCIRA and now the provincial council (BCLCILA). Kidsbooks has become part of the fabric of the Vancouver community and has been able to expand to North Vancouver because staff is knowledgeable about children’s literature and recognizes the importance of matching kids with the right book. I contacted Phyllis with five requests. She responded immediately with “yes” to all of them.

The staff at Kidsbooks will be helping Larkyn in her effort to purchase the books to allow BCLCILA to offer scavenger hunt participants with a full range of titles to choose from.  Kidsbooks has also donated gift certificates from Kidsbooks for draw prizes at the Tidal WAV 22 Outdoor Festival.  I encourage you to also pick up a bookmark from the tent and find your way to one of the Kidsbooks locations to find or order the books that BCLCILA is handing out on June 3rd at the Tidal WAV 22.   I am working on an annotated bibliography that will be posted on both the BCLCILA website and the WAV website.  Amazon’s home delivery during covid served a need, but now it’s time to focus on community building and ensuring the relationships between books and readers remains fluid, informed and filled with joy.  

I can’t wait to see the delighted faces as children, educators, and community members as they make their book selection after finishing the scavenger hunt.  If you plan on participating, please bring a backpack or bag to carry your selection safely home.

Special thanks and appreciation to our very generous publishers and book distributors for their donations.

Thanks also to Phyllis Simon and our friends at:

Your generosity and efforts make the world a better place!

The Power of a Neighbourhood Park

Join Us to celebrate “The Power of the Neighbourhood Park” on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at Tatlow Park from 11 am to 3:00 pm.

Pack a picnic lunch, your fav neighbourhood park activity, and come ready to share your favourite memories of time spent in a park. There will be a prize draw for those people sharing their stories and activities. To date, there will be a basic bike tune up station. A local Book Club Meeting. Justin from The City Garden on the Arbutus Greenway will be setting up a station. I will be setting up a birdwatching station. Information about The Wild About Outdoor Learning Society and the upcoming Take Me Outside day will also be available.

Hope to see you there!

Bring your own mug. A selection of tea will be available in honour of my Nanny Keenan and of course the Queen.

This project is funded by Neighbourhood Small Grants in the West Side Vancouver area.  Follow the link to see how you can get involved! 

Tatlow Park “Monkey Tree” Safe zone during childhood tag games

The idea for this event came from a blog post I wrote about my memories about Tatlow Park. It got me thinking about how many other people have stories about Tatlow Park and their own childhood parks.

What Defines a Neighbourhood Park?  

Many years ago in Buffalo, New York, I had time to kill while waiting for a bus to take me to Youngstown, Ohio to visit my step-grandparents.  I got on a city bus and got off at a local “park” that had ‘lake” in the name.  It turned out to be a relatively small gravel area with an extremely large puddle of muddy water in the middle, some trees on the perimeter, a set of swings, a bench and a surprising absence of birds.  I was shocked that this would be called a park.

Sunday dinners at my maternal grandparents’ house are some of my first memories.  My Mum had one brother, two sisters, and when tallied, there were ten grandchildren.  On Sundays, everyone was invited, in fact expected to come for dinner.  Friends, and neighbours were also welcome.  My grandmother was a good cook and lived by “throwing another potato in the pot” to stretch meals to accommodate anyone who would walk through the door.  Boards or perhaps old doors were put on top of the table, hidden under tablecloths, when there were not enough leaves in the table to accommodate the group.  TV tables were for delighted kids when more space was needed.  In a pinch, you’d just put your plate on your lap.  

The extended table in Tatlow Park house

Summer was the easiest to accommodate our rambunctious crew.  The baseball game of “scrub” was halted, and we’d picnic on blankets outside.  Then we’d be off to play in the massive “yard” that included climbing trees, monkey bars, swings, a stream with a pond surrounded by a rock wall, two wooden bridges over the stream, tennis courts, a path around the perimeter to roller skate or ride bikes and a diverse range of trees with prickles, red ants, and long whip branches.      Sometimes a blanket was set up and my cousins would share their large collection of comics while sucking on homemade popsicles.

Edna and Bill Keenan Tatlow Park Care Takers ( 1965 ish to 1975 or 1976)

My grandparents were not affluent.  Tatlow Park, where they were caretakers, is just one of the many neighbourhood parks open to the public in Vancouver.  “Go play outside” was the refrain of my Nanny, Grandpa, aunts and uncles.  And when we did, we learned all about working together on collaborative projects, solving fights, making new friends, and noticing the animals, plants, and trees around us throughout the different seasons.  We learned that death is part of life and that respect was required to mark the occasion.  We reminded each other to never touch a dead thing with your hands.  Disease existed and you had to take care.  Strangers were potential friends but you always travelled in a pack for safety. We learned what rain smells like and the feeling of sun on your skin when you’re sitting quietly in a hiding spot.

We learned that risks need to be calculated.  Roller skating down the “big hill” at the end of the park took skill.  So did jumping to the rock in the pond or climbing the big trees.  We also learned to watch the direction of the wind carefully if you were going to fly a kite in the park and that a high tangle meant saying goodbye to the kite.   

We didn’t go outside to exercise and take care of our physical and mental health or to develop relationships.  We played tag, hide n’seek, baseball, climbed on monkey bars and trees, roller skated, rode bikes and ran from each other, ran to the monkey tree, and ran to get dinner.  The outdoor activity was fun in the park in the midst of the tumultuousness of all of our lives.  Any physical health, wellness or development of relationship was a fortuitous by-product.  

Tatlow Park has a special place in my heart.  My husband knew it when he proposed to me on the bridge.  As he was on bended knee, my first impulse was to grab the ring.  I’d dropped and lost many things into the stream below that bridge as a kid.  I stared at the ring on my finger and then noticed that we had an audience.  Everyone in the park had gravitated towards us to watch the proposal and share in the excitement.  Because that’s what neighbourhood parks do.  They build community.   

Dandelion Dreams is the section of my blog devoted to myself as a writer. The name is inspired by my favourite piece of art by David Klassen. It was previously known as Sunday’s Child. Too many of us were born on a Sunday.

Venturing Outdoor with Kids

Jericho Beach

All the research points us outdoors for physical health, wellness, learning, and to pause and appreciate nature.  There are some ways to make it easier for adults to venture outdoors with kids in your own family, in classrooms and in day programs.  Some pre-teaching of expectation, routines , and information is involved, as well as lots of positive feedback for remembering the expectations and behaviours when you head “out and about.” 

As the world opens up after the COVID shut down and the blossoms show their faces, people are enthusiastic about outdoor adventures.  Screens are less appealing, and the outdoors beckons.  As I am walking and biking and running, it is easy to spot those who are delighting in the experience.  It is equally apparent who is stressed with the demands of keeping children safe outdoors.  I am going to give your several things guaranteed to make going outside with children more manageable and ensure that everyone is having fun – even the adults in charge of safety and really wanting those in their charge to have engaging outdoor experiences.  

I watched in amazement as my friend Anne-Mari opened the door to accept her the frequent deliveries to her home.  Her son would stand beside her as she signed for the package.  My son, the same age, was not one to stand in one spot when the door opened.  His world would open and he was off to explore if escape was an option.  He would bolt with me in close pursuit.  Daily outdoor adventures required planning and preparation.  I came up a bag of tricks that allowed daily outdoor time to become part of our lives, even once his active little sister joined the mix.   Some procedures came from supervising 90 kids in an out of school care program.  Some came from working with students in my classroom, on fieldtrips, during camp programs, ski/snowboard programs, and even with students at university and teachers in China.

THE FUNDAMENTALS:

Developing respectful relationships is fundamental to working with groups of children or adults. Have many conversations about what respect is, and what respectful relationships look like.  Talk about your expectations.  We expect young children to be egocentric, but they do not emerge from that developmental stage without guidance from the people around them.  Even young children need to be taught that other people have needs and wants too.  Learning to recognize missteps and apologize is part of that learning.  The apology must come from wanting to repair a relationship rather than a power based demand.  

Model expressing your own feelings.  Encourage your child to use words to express their feelings.  It will give you the opportunity to respond to your child or student in a respectful way.  If someone talks to the child or asks her a question, let her answer.   This helps your children to develop relationships apart from you and to develop the confidence to talk to others to keep to keep themselves safe. 

SAFETY FIRST:

My mother was cautious by nature and my father was a neurosurgeon.  I spent many days being warned about things that were not safe and looking at my dad’s slides (I know I’m dating myself) of serious head trauma and hearing stories of injury.  I was taught what I was not allowed to do.  I was not taught that my own safety was more important than being polite.  I find that children’s books are a great way to teach safety rules.  They give you time to engage your child in conversation about safety so they develop a good understanding.  These are some of the key safety rules you want to teach your child.  

  1.  Stranger Danger 

This safety rule is highly overemphasised.  When a stranger says hi, he is most often being friendly rather than a threat.  If a person you don’t know asks you to go anywhere, it is odd.  Don’t go.  If a person makes you feel uncomfortable, then leave immediately.  Children should be empowered by this message not frightened that imminent danger is lurking. 

  • Buddy Rule – Stay Together.  Take care of each other.  

Our job is to take care of each other.  A buddy or a partner may be a sibling or a peer for the program or classroom. 

The extension of this is that there is safety in numbers.  Be aware that a crowded street is only helpful if children know how to ask for help.  Therefore teach children to make their own requests.  It may be asking for help from a police officer in a uniform or the clerk at convenience store.  

  • Traffic Safety 

Kids can be impulsive so adults must be vigilant around streets and parking lots.  For young kids, I turn it into somewhat of a game with this little poem.  We add hand motions and say it together on neighbourhood walks or on fieldtrips.  It is a reminder to pause that I found has worked well over the years.  

Look both ways before you cross the street.

Use your eyes.

Use your ears,

Before you use your feet.

  • Wild animals are not your pets

Educate yourself and your child to the appropriate boundaries required when encountering wild animals.  On a bike ride one day, I watched as a grandmother pulled out a sandwich to give her very young granddaughter to feed the coyote hovering at the edge of the garbage can in a park.  She unknowingly put that child in danger.  Aggressive young coyotes needed to be culled (killed) from Stanley Park in 2021 due to habituating behaviour such as this.  You may have seen the signs, “A fed bear is a dead bear.”  The same goes for coyotes.  Sometimes the safety concerns to both the child and the animal are not as obvious.  The squirrel running up your leg could have fleas or a disease transmitted through bites.  Feeding the ducks or geese bread could result in unhealthy animals that cannot make the flight south in winter.  Feeding raccoons increases the chance of aggressive attacks.  As with any animal, it also changes their natural patterns and ability to take care of themselves.  

  • Not all pets like people

Do not approach an animal unless you have asked the owner.  An animal will bite if it is scared and feels trapped. 

PLANNING YOUR ADVENTURE:

  1.  Involve kids and Children in Planning the Outing 

                        If the kids are excited about the trip and involved in the planning, they 

will be more likely to know what to expect and how to act.  Having them 

consider the weather, choose appropriate clothing, and pack their snack

in their backpack, not only builds excitement but also develops independence.  

  • Set Clear Expectations 

Children need to “know the rules”.   Be clear about what your rules are and communicate them to your child or students.  I was very patient with requests, but my children and my students knew I had no time for whining.  

If a tantrum or rude behaviour works, it will continue to be used as a strategy for the child to get his own way.  Name the behaviour as unacceptable and that you will discuss it at a later time. Public humiliation should be avoided at all costs in that it erodes your relationship with the child, creates even worse behaviour and undermines the child’s self esteem. 

Review logical consequences for not following agreed upon rules.  This is easier with kids than adults Going home early or sending a kid home from camp only needs to happen once to underline that you will follow through with consequences.  

HEADING OUT AND ABOUT: 

  1. Safety Scan                 

When you first arrive, always involve the kids in a safety scan of the area.  You may need to set boundaries around water, traffic, treed areas or animals.  

                        Discuss what safety rules that will be most important today?  Discuss this

with students and give frequent positive reinforcement for targeted 

behaviour.  

  • Prompt Observation, Inquiry and Imagination

Encourage children to use all of their senses to make observations.  Model making connections to the things this place makes you think of.  Encourage children to ask questions and make predications.  Don’t be too quick to provide all of the answers.  Give them time to consider the possibilities.  Starting sentences with I wonder.  Encourage factual answers and imaginative play.  Again children’s books are a wonderful way to support this thinking.  

  • Encourage “calculated risks”

Just like adults, kids feel good about conquering something hard.  For some kids this could be walking across a log without any help.  For others, it could be walking across that same log with someone holding hands with an adult.  It may be going down the big slide.  Help to instill the belief in your child that she can take on great challenges.

On the playground, when you hear,

“Watch me!  Watch me!”.  

You will see a kid who feels very proud of something he has just accomplished.  

Celebrate.

When you here, “Oops.”

Perhaps the puddle was too big.   Or perhaps it was deeper than anticipated. 

Celebrate that your child or student felt there was a freedom to explore without the pressure of perfection.

REFLECTIONS:

One Saturday morning, when my own children were still very young, I walked into the rec room where Larkyn and Tyler were watching television.  The sandcastle competition at Spanish Banks was being featured on local tv.  

“Hey, do you know where that is?” I asked.

Both kids took a better look and responded with amazement.

“Spanish Banks!” the yelled excitedly in chorus.

I asked “You wanna go?”

Both kids sprang into action.

Larkyn:  Tyler, pack your backpack!  I’ll get the beach towels.

Tyler:  I’ll put the sand toys in the car.

Me:  I’ll pack lunch and get the sunscreen.  The blanket is already in the fam van with my chair.

Larkyn:  Okay.  Let’s meet in the fam van in 15 minutes.  No being late!

Now it may have taken us longer than 15 minutes to actually get in the family van, en route to Spanish Banks from the suburbs, but not much longer.  The kids were motivated to go.  They knew what to do.  We all had a great day!  And it was easy!

The stories and adventures that are told over and over again in the midst of gales of laughter are often outdoor adventures that take us outside into the world where anything can happen.  They become the shared experiences that create community and learning that lasts a lifetime.  It is well worth taking the steps required to ensure that when you go out, everyone is able to enjoy and learn in the moment.  Best of luck on the many outdoor adventures to come.

Why Learn Outdoors?  Education

“I have learned that outdoor quests are not about the summit, but rather the journey.”

Hart Banack

Recently I had the opportunity to visit two stellar outdoor learning programs.   Megan Zeni works with her teaching partner, Sarah Regan, providing outdoor learning for all students attending Homma Elementary School in Richmond, British Columbia.  Both teachers are both passionate about their “Outdoor Library” and are skilled teachers.  They have garnered the enthusiasm of students and the support of administration and the Parent Advisory Committee. The outdoor learning space has two sheds for materials, picnic tables for group collaboration, a whiteboard and loose part seating for lessons, garden boxes, a mud kitchen, a bug hotel, and are in the process of building a gazebo.  Evidence of student inquiries are everywhere you turn.  It is a rich and exciting learning environment for student learning.  All teachers in the school get preparation time twice a week.  That means that all of the students in the school have scheduled outdoor learning sessions which lends itself to collaborative sharing across kindergarten to Grade 7.  Curriculum integration can be facilitated, as can physical activity, self-regulation strategies, and a joy of being outdoors.   Megan is offering an online session Outdoor Play and Learning in the Rain on Tuesday, April 19th, 2022.  Register now to learn how to support learning outdoors in a temperate rainforest.

The other program I visited, iGeneration Education, is a private program for pre-schoolers developed by founder and CEO, Lulu Wang.  Sessions for this program are held throughout the city.  I caught up with her group and their instructors at Van Dusen Gardens.  For those of you that have been to Van Dusen Gardens, and certainly everyone should, the learning opportunities are plentiful and the garden landscaped with ponds, a waterfall, a maze, a rock garden and a variety of garden beds is a peaceful and contemplative space.  Trees, flowers, and other plants are diverse and labelled with Latin and common names.  Birds flock to the area and the Bird House for little people is a space to engage students in outdoor play and get started on bird watching essentials.  Our little group was lucky enough to spot a turtle and that took the learning in a new direction with more inquiry possibilities.  There were hints of sun but dark clouds were looming in the sky and the smell of rain was in the air.  More questions.  More learning opportunities.  Ms. Wang hires staff with subject specific knowledge and today they are being trained by a member of a research team member from Capilano College working to integrate Reggio Emilia philosophy into the program.  Next class will take the iGen program to another location offering rich learning opportunity.  Certainly, there is no shortage of amazing outdoor spaces in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver.

Dr. Hart Banack, an assistant professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, has inspired and supported these educators and many more in developing their outdoor learning programs.  His work at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University has trained many pre-service teachers to facilitate meaningful student learning outdoors.  His background in education is rooted in active engagement in sport, backcountry wilderness trips, camp programs, instruction and certification of swimming and canoeing levels.  However, his educational practice incorporates his belief in the power of outdoor learning in developing not only physical health, but also the sense of awe, wonder and curriculum learning that is a byproduct of experiential learning.  

Dr. Banack and I met each other when I was a vice-principal at Tecumseh Elementary School many, many moons ago.  At that time, he assigned his U.B.C. education students to work in collaborative groups to survey several Vancouver Elementary Schools to determine what was available in that specific place , both on the school grounds and in the neighbourhood, to facilitate meaningful outdoor learning.  Then these students were given scaffolded experiences in how to develop student centered collaborative learning communities with trust building activities and outdoor activities to develop physical skills, health, and content area knowledge, skills and appreciation of that specific place.  Students took this information into their practicum experiences and teachers continued the work when they moved on.  

At Tecumseh, I worked with Community School Team members to develop an Outdoor Einstein Program that we ran at Tecumseh Elementary School each term.  The CST Team also implemented the program at other interested schools.  Instructors were equipped with backpacks filled measuring tools, magnifying glasses, binoculars, waterproof notebooks, ropes and tarps.  Students headed out on sensory walks to learn to pay attention, sock walks to collect seeds, adopted a tree or plant on the playground to document changes, tied knots, built shelters, navigated with a compass, and made connections with First Nations teachings and legends.  They observed with and without tools, measured, predicted, hypothesized, asked questions, and designed inquiry studies to find answers.  

As Dr. Banack has aptly noted, “… outdoor quests are not about the summit, but rather the journey.”  In every outdoor quest in education, the common factor in the equation is the person passionate about taking kids on an outdoor journey.  I wonder where this comes from.  Did it come from experiences that were present in childhood?  In school?  At home?  Or did it come from a place where the desired experiences were absent?  These questions will frame my most recent inquiry.  I’m hoping educators doing interesting outdoor things with students and implementing outdoor learning practices will participate.  The goal is create our own “Human Library” of Outdoor Educators to celebrate and share our outdoor learning inspiration and practices.  Thanks to social media for the “Human Library” share and inspiration!  

Please let me know if you’ re being interested in being interviewed about your outdoor learning program and why it looks the way it does.  What motivated you to facilitate an outdoor learning?  What is most important about your program?  Interviews will be published on 

Inquire2Empower.ca 

Wild About Vancouver.com 

YouTube – Carrie Froese

@CarrieFroese @WildAbout Van (Instagram and Twitter)

and hopefully in a book!

Interviews will take place in school gardens, parks, playgrounds, and at Second Beach in Stanley Park during the Wild About Vancouver Tidal WAV event in Stanley Park on Friday, June 3rd, 2022.  You pick the place. Please contact me at inquire2empower@gmail.com  to participate.

Sunday’s Child:  Searching for Meaning – Memoir

 

A Spanish Dove from Sevilla

The beauty of Facebook is that it brings together a diverse range of people who bring a variety of values and ways of being in the world.  I believe it is limiting to only surround ourselves with people who look like carbon copies of ourselves, have the same ideas and agree with everything we say.  It cultivates a myopic approach to life, nurtures a sense that we have it all figured out and stops any further learning.  I had a conversation 45 years ago with a relative struggling to find friends who would not hurt her Christian witness.  It has stuck with me because it reflects what I don’t want to be in the world.  The fact that there are many different religions speaks to the fact that since the beginning of time, people have been trying to find meaning their world.  They have gravitated to a conception of God and built the stories around faith traditions that make sense to them or welcome them into a community of belonging.

We give ourselves lots of credit for being the most highly evolved species on the planet.  As a group we consider ourselves as intelligent.  This does not stop us from looking at the person standing beside us and judging them as “ignorant” or labelling them as “bat shit crazy.”  Or criticizing the way a person looks, or acts, or practices their faith.  I read a Facebook post the other day and read a diatribe dissecting the Christian faith and bemoaning the intelligent people who are ridiculous enough to believe in it.  This is not a perspective unique to this person.  Trash talking someone’s religion in the name of your own intellectual superiority is commonplace.  It just doesn’t have the earmark of the intelligent conversation of a highly evolved species. The more interesting conversation is to why faith traditions exist and why they play out as they do in people’s lives.

I grew up surrounded by Christian faith.  My mother, divorced in a time when the neighbours freely speculated about divorcees, gravitated towards propriety.  For her the shroud of respectability of the church and the promise of better times was survival for her.  My paternal grandmother lost the love of her life during WWII and kept her four little children together in Germany.  For her, Christianity was evidence of miracles and redemption for decisions made in the name of survival.  For some, the promise of second chances after bad choices, created the appeal.  For others it was the promise of better things to come.  For me it was about answers.  I figured the church would provide the answers in a world where the adults in my life could not.

I joined Explorers in Grade 3.  I had missed out on the Brownies uniform with the “twit, twit tawoo” tradition that I coveted when my older sister had been allowed to join.  I really wanted the Girl Guide uniform, complete with the special scarf.  It was not to be.  We had just moved to a new neighbourhood that had brought sunshine back into my life but no nearby Girl Guide pack.  I needed to be able to get there on my own.  Explorers had a uniform of a white blouse that you could sew your badges on.  You could wear a navy-blue skirt but I rode my bike everywhere, so I rarely did.  My competitive little soul gravitated to the badges, in a time when competition in girls was not ladylike.  Explorers was in the local United Church and had a strong thread of Christian education.   I took it to heart.  I read the bible from cover to cover.  I was very proud that I slogged through the boredom of the who begot whom part of the Old Testament.  It concerned my mum to find me reading the bible all the time.  It was not a quick read.  My sister had gone to live with my dad in Los Angeles that year and I had been sad, lonely, and afraid for the six months we spent living in the unfamiliar terrain of East Vancouver.   My mother called in the minister because it was counselling, she could afford.  He came to chat.  We talked about how Jesus communicated in stories and that you had to be a detective to figure out what he was trying to teach us.  I liked that.  The stories of Jesus made far more sense than the stories of the adults in my world.  I liked the idea that there was a plan for me and someone looking down over me.  Protection was good.  My minister reassured my mother that I was fine and perhaps would make a good minister one day.  

The notion of the plan and Jesus protecting good people came into question as I grew up.  My favourite aunt died when I was in Grade 7 and sent everything, I thought I knew about the world into a tailspin.  My mum was traumatized.  My favourite cousin was traumatized.  My sister had left to live in LA permanently at the beginning of the year.  The rest of the family was reeling.  None of it made sense.  My Mum and I went off to find a church where she would fit.  Although my mum lived in fear of what the neighbours would say, she was the toughest judge of all and perhaps her worst enemy.  This was much the same when I went to Los Angeles.  The minister in the white suit and suntan felt like a prop on a Hollywood set rather than a person filled with wisdom.  My father and stepmother wanted his approval.  The most important thing was to not be the one giving the neighbours something to talk about.

Then in Grade 12, my friend, Karen Lysyk had an aneurysm.  The first time I visited her in the hospital, the nurse had to point her out to me.   There was no plan.  There was no miracle.  There was no one to talk to about it.  Off I went to Ryerson United Church to find answers.  I didn’t find all of the answers, but I did find a supportive community.  I taught Sunday School.  I got baptised with an older woman who needed me to pull her up after we kneeled.  Because supporting each other was the point.  We planned.  We did volunteer work.  There were lots of people who fell short of being perfect but were kind-hearted and knew how to laugh.  

Many people gravitate to faith communities in the hope of being better people.  They believe that showing up on Sunday or giving big donations grants them “most favoured” status in the eyes of God.  They believe that somehow this status gives them the right to quote scriptures to others to show them the error of their ways.  To have others bend to their will rather than look inside to see how they themselves need to change.  Once scripture is used as a stick to beat people down, it has become an institution of power and control rather than an opportunity to grow and learn.  The corruption of the original intent of the faith community by the institution is evidence of fallibility of people.  It is not a judgement of the striving of people to search for meaning.

I found Victor Frankel’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, on the bookshelves of my Dad’s cabin many years ago.  I have gone back to reread the book many, many times.  I thought the book had been left there by the previous owner, Lyle Wright.  He was a librarian at the Huntington Library and left his prime choices and many mystery books in the cabin when he sold to my dad.  I just noticed a letter written in German to my dad this past summer in the front of the book.  Apparently his book.  His search for meaning.  The little boy who lived through WWII.  Who experienced hunger.  Who had experiences that all children should be protected from.  Whose father ended up in Russia after the war and started another life without looking back.  My dad too searched for meaning.  I can make judgements about his conclusions and his choices.  I have done so many times over the years.  Or I can just let his journey be his journey.

Christianity has helped inform my search for meaning.  I don’t need for it to be the only way.  I don’t need for it to be the right way.  I don’t need to proselytize why others need to follow my path.  In fact, I’m not sure I would recommend the long circuitous route that continues to meander.  However, the beauty of a democratic system is that it leaves me free to choose.  And the path I choose leaves lots of room to respect the path taken by other people adhering to other faith traditions, other reflective practices, or other ways of being in the world.  Imagine a world where people did not feel judged but respected for their choices.  Where judgement was left to God if he or she felt compelled to do so.  

Sunday’s Child – This is the memoir thread in my blog. Many of my “aha” moments of life emerge from my reflections of the past. This is my place to do just that. And yes, I was born on a Sunday and was inspired by the oft-quoted poem.

Sunday’s Child:  Olive Persists – Memoir

Olive was not family. She wasn’t a family friend. I’m not certain I could pick her out in a line up. I remember her as old with curly hair that was starting to grey. Likely she was younger than I am now. She would tell you that she had “lost her figure” like it was something you had left on a bus and hadn’t been to pick it up at the Metro Transit Lost Property. Yet, Olive has persisted as a constant in my life since my first job.

My cousin came to live with my mom and me after my aunt died.  Although the circumstances were fraught with stress and sadness, she brought a vitality to the house that broke the silence of my sister’s final departure to live in Los Angeles with my other family.  She was filled with ideas of what we would do next and being two years younger, I followed her lead.  Her approach was “Of course, you can do that!”  Life opened to include new possibilities and the excitement of new risk-taking ventures. 

Darlene had looked in the newspaper and found a job that only lasted during tax season and paid higher than minimum wage.  The task was to add up columns of numbers on an adding machine to make sure the tax submissions were accurate.  Finding errors and fixing them appealed to her desire to bring things to closure.  Right here.  Right now.  During the next tax season, she decided that we could both work there.

“What if I can’t do it?” was my first response.  

“Of course, you can do it.  You’re my cousin.  You just have to add up numbers on the adding machine.  It’s easy.”  

I was not convinced.  I went to my mom’s work to practice on the adding machine.  My Mom didn’t really help my confidence when she demonstrated her speed and accuracy.  She was a Private and Confidential Secretary who prided herself in typing 95 words per minute.  I had taken Typing 9 and spent most of the time going to the store during with my friends under the guise of “really needing to go”.  I took no pride in my speed and accuracy and looked at the keys during drills.  I did come to regret this transgression when I was completing my master’s degree and the speed and accuracy would have come in handy.  However, my cousin brushed aside my trepidation and got me the job, even though I hadn’t turned 16 years old yet.

The job was one bus away.  Two possible routes.  In Kitsilano, where my mom’s family grew up and gravitated to whenever possible.  That part was straightforward, as was the actual job.  Darlene was faster on the adding machine and clearly found satisfaction in finding errors.  I would find an error and second guess that it was in fact my error and check again and again.  That would slow me down.  I was most driven by my “completed pile” being bigger than my “to be completed pile”.  I was driven by being able to conquer that adding machine.  At the end of the day, it was the first of many boring jobs to come.

Olive had a family and had worked every tax season for years.  She liked coming to work to get a break from her beloved family and to earn some pocket money that was just hers.  Olive didn’t care about making mistakes.  

“You worry too much.  If you find a mistake, it was because someone else was the dummy.  If you don’t find the mistake, it’s their fault because they shouldn’t have made the mistake to begin with.  Now tell me, how was school today.”Olive taught me that perspective is everything. 

As the weekend approached, the pub across the street would fill up and as the drunk got drunker, they would take notice of the young hottie’s working in the upstairs office across the street.   I was young, naïve, and didn’t know I was a hottie.  Olive would step in.  She would send one of us downstairs to make sure the door was locked.  Then she’d go stand in front of the window, shoulders back, and stare down the loudest and most raucous.  One she’d get his eye, she would wag her finger.  If they persisted or ventured towards our door, she’d pick up the phone and wave it at them.  

“Don’t make me do it.”

And they didn’t.  I wished that she could take the bus home with me.  Although I had some scary times at bus stops, I would never tell my mother because I knew that would be the end of the job.  However, I had internalized the rules.  Don’t look scared.  Shoulders back.  Stare down the person scaring the shit out of you.  Have a back up plan.

Part of the ritual conversation if you worked with Olive always included food.  She would detail what she made for dinner.  What she was thinking of making next.  What she would like to eat right now.  One of my favourite things to do was to go to Bino’s on Broadway and Arbutus for a giant bran muffin.  It was the muffin of all muffins.  I had been trying to replicate those muffins for years.  Well, of course.  Olive had a recipe.   Good thing since Bino’s is long gone.The recipe is handwritten and tucked away in a battered red duotang with my favourite recipes from high school and beyond.

It has been many years since I have worked adding up columns of numbers on an adding machine.  Yet, I think of Olive every time I bake bran muffins.  It makes me smile. I wonder how life turned out for her. It’s a big recipe, so there are enough bran muffins to share widely.

“Uhmmm.  Good muffins.”

“Olive’s recipes.”

“Who’s Olive?”

Sunday’s Child – This is the memoir thread in my blog. Many of my “aha” moments of life emerge from my reflections of the past. This is my place to do just that.

Van Dusen Garden Possibilities – Education

with Lulu Wang
– Founder and CEO of iGeneration Ed and Sparks Ed

On Friday I had a planning meeting about the upcoming Wild About Vancouver Event in Stanley Park on June 3rd to celebrate learning and being outdoors. Lulu Wang, founder and CEO of iGeneration Education Group and Sparks Education, is on the Steering Committee for WAV. We hammered out some ideas and I packed up to set off to my next meeting. I paused. What a great opportunity to observe these little iGeneration Education Outdoor Einsteins in action. I sent a text and pushed ahead my next meeting to allow me to join their class. I could see them just past the main waterfall.

I am a member of Van Dusen Gardens.  They do great work in creating an environment to heighten appreciation and learning about flowers, trees, and eco-systems.  I love the educational programs and the lending library for great source material.  They hire skilled and knowledgeable instructors that have so many interesting learning opportunities that they share with enthusiasm.  Van Dusen Gardens is part of my family ritual at Christmas during the lights extravaganza.  I use to schedule meetings with friends after work to just breathe and debrief after a long, hard day working as a school principal.  Yet, the potential of a garden to engage learners of all ages never ceases to amaze me.  

The iGeneration staff now have marvelous orange jackets so they are easy to spot.  I set off in pursuit of my iGen group of learners.  How hard could it be to catch up with a group of preschoolers?  

Well, apparently, it is quite hard.  En route, I asked passers-by if they had seen orange jackets with pre-schoolers.  

“Yes, not too long ago.  They were heading that way.”

And so off I would go.  I know these paths.  I have longer legs.  Easy, peasy.

I set off.  I found lots of small giggling friends.  Adults taking photos.  Or sitting.  Or writing. Or strolling.

I discovered the kids giggling on the tractor were not the little people I was searching for.

I went to the maze.  

Followed the giggles in the maze.

Found the exit. 

Identified familiar flowers and trees and birds.  

Made observations about the unfamiliar. 

Hypothesized.

Checked out the Fern Dell.

Made many inquires. 

Checked out the rock garden.

Considered the sky and made predictions about the weather. 

Found the waterfall.

Made predictions.

Stopped to take my own pictures.

Made more predictions.

Made observations.

Asked more questions.

Went to the bird playground and info area. Made discoveries along the way. Celebrated nature.

I did not catch up to the last of our little group until the parking lot.  Most students had been picked up by their parents and had headed home to share their adventures. What an opportunity for learning.  For conversation.  For gratitude. By the end of the night, I had over 13,000 steps.  Many at Van Dusen Gardens.   The fact that I was not able to catch up to a group of preschoolers speaks to the rich opportunity and enthusiasm sparked by taking the learning outdoors.  

Education Thread of Inquire2Empower:

A Wild About Vancouver post that celebrates learning and being outdoors.

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