Archive for the ‘Indoors’ Category

Step 1 – Decide on your venue. Make it at home or close to home so all your guests can walk, scooter, bike or come by bus! The local park is a great choice! We decided to throw our Earth Day party this year at Josie’s preschool.

Step 2 – Send out your invitations! We illustrated our invitations with Earth mosaics; first grab old magazines, pick pages with lots of green and blue on them, tear them into tiny pieces then glue them onto your globe. We then scanned our art and emailed our invites out!

Earth Day party invite.

Invitation to an Earth Day party

Step 3 – Choose presents! When I asked my two what makes a good party they both said straight away–presents! So we asked everyone to bring a present–to pick a toy out of your own collection that you are bored with and don’t play with anymore. You can either swap gifts amongst the children like we did at preschool, or even better, donate the toys to a charity that helps struggling families.

Step 4 – Wrap your presents! Old paintings and art work make great gift wrap! Or else, you can recycle old newspapers and tie with a bright piece of wool – that looks great too!

Splatter painting.

The backs of used flip-charts from work are perfect for splatter painting...


... and the resulting paintings make awesome gift wrap!

Step 5 – Decorate! Newspaper also comes in really handy to make paper chains for decorations, and the wonderful Earth mosaics that we made in step 1 look great on the wall.

Step 6 – Make the party feast! Source local food, organic fruits and veges for party food and make your own baked treats rather than buying lots of sugar-fuelled convenience food. In fact getting everyone to help prepare the food can be part of the party fun – make pizza dough and put out a choice of toppings! Instead of disposable plates and cups, put all your food on big platters for sharing.

Gingerbread kiwi biscuits.

Gingerbread kiwis - homemade and hand-decorated with icing and jelly crystals

Step 7 – Games and fun at an Earth Day party is about doing something nice for the Earth! If you are at the park why not do rubbish scavengers hunt?  If at home make a poster about Earth Day out of recycled materials to put up at school. At our preschool party we plan to take our wrapping paper, make paper porridge and turn it into completely new paper!


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My favourite books.  I love books. I was one of those children that consumed books ferociously. I would read under the cover by torchlight until my mother confiscated the torch, then I would read by the moonlight, my book propped up on the windowsill. Once I started a book, I found it hard to escape from it.

I’m still like that – which is why I hardly ever read anymore or I’d never get anything done! But then I go on holiday and I’m like an addict, trying to cram another chapter into every moment of the day.

Instilling that same love of books into my children is important to me. Even before I had kids I started collecting picture books. I was drawn to those that told wonderful stories with wonderful images, usually with a moral or theme that appealed to the conservationist in me. The Whale’s Song was one of the first in my collection. It was usually the paintings or illustrations that would first draw me in – one wonderful book called Flotsam tells an amazing story entirely with images.

Once the children finally arrived in my life, books that were easy to read out loud became more important, with words that flowed or rhymed well, had great rhythm and beat. Humour and fun came to fore as little people love to laugh and I moved from more serious tomes to ‘Rumble in the Jungle’  or  ‘Monkey Puzzle‘.  My admiration for these authors grew when the children would ask to read the same books over and over, but I would never (well almost never) get bored repeating them.

Good quality children’s books are an important way to install values and ideas in small children. There’s a lot of research that tells us that values and character are fully formed in the first few years of life. Humans are hard wired to narrative apparently. Story-telling features in many cultures as the way knowledge was passed down generation to generation. And there are some amazing books out there. There are also plenty of terrible ones too but we don’t need to talk about those!

March 2012 is NZ Book Month.  New Zealand Book Month is a non-profit initiative promoting books and reading. To start you on your journey as a reader they are giving away $5 book vouchers to go towards your next book purchase from participating bookstores.

To help celebrate, I’m going to introduce you to some of our family’s favourite New Zealand children’s books.  Every blog published this March will also feature one recommended read. Now none of the ones I mention above are kiwi writers. But there’s a wealth of literary treasures out among our home-grown authors. I hope to one day join their ranks but for now, I’ll just share my favourites. Starting tomorrow.

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I have three gifts for you for Valentine’s Day; a poem, a piece of art and a children’s book recommendation.

Papa-tu-a-Nuku (Earth Mother)

By Hone Tuwhare

We are stroking, caressing the spine

of the land.

We are massaging the ricked

back of the land

with our sore but ever-loving feet:

hell, she loves it!

Squirming, the land wiggles

in delight.

We love her.

Hone Tuwhare was New Zealand’s most distinguished Maori poet writing in English. He was born in Kaikohe into the Nga Puhi tribe, and much of his poetry was drawn from this heritage–of waiata tangi (songs) and their strong connections to landscape,seascape and myths.

In 2003 he was named by the Art’s Foundation as one of New Zealand’s ten greatest living artists. Tuwhare passed away in 2008.

Official sources tell me this poem refers to The Awakening – the Maori Land March that began at Te Hapua 14 Sept 1973 and ended at Parliament buildings 17 Oct. But I think many of us would read other meanings in it for ourselves.

Having experienced the earth wriggle many many times over the last year it’s nice to think that maybe it’s a delightful response to our presence here, rather than an attempt by the world to shake us off.

Mural; by Amy Sutton.

"The Taniwha" mural by Amy Sutton.

This mural was created by one of the teachers at my daughter’s preschool – Amy Sutton. It illustrates the story of a wonderful children’s book called The Taniwha, written by Robyn Kahukiwa, who is also a wonderful artist.

The Taniwha by Robyn Kahukiwa. Taniwha tells the poetic, touching story of a young boy who meets a taniwha when visiting his nearby river. It’s a poignant tale of friendship and belief,  and a wonderful expression of the gifts the world provides. It’s one of our family’s favourites and I highly recommend it to read to your family.

I feel so blessed that my daughter is going to a school were her learning is supported by creative, talented people like Amy.  Happy Valentines Day.

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