Category Archives: Keen to be Green

Frogwatch Visitor Hops In

The Thursday/Friday GAP class enjoyed having our German biologist early educator friend Anke Maria hop in to visit, bringing her educational toys from Frogwatch.

We heard from her friend Friedrich der Frosch (a frog puppet) about some of the threats to his environment:  feral cats, bulldozers, people, sunscreen and detergent in the rivers, plastic bags and rubbish; and discussed what we can do to keep the environment frog-friendly.

We heard interesting facts about frogs, and got to explore and play with insect models in order to decide what to feed a big fabric frog.

We lined up other models from eggs to tadpoles (“Kaulquappe” in German), tadpoles with legs, young frogs and adult frogs; and solved puzzles showing frogs’ various stages. Even our teachers learned things.

We even enjoyed singing a couple of German songs about frogs.   As Anke Maria packed up at the end, we all hopped off to morning tea, croaking.

Did you know a German frog doesn’t say ‘ribbet’, but rather, ‘quak’?!

More recycling at Spielwelt

You may have noticed a few extra bins around at the Turner Scout Hall, in the kitchen and the new foyer.  We are making it easier for families to be greener… which is very German, so embrace the programs and enjoy feeling cultural and forward thinking with us!

The GAP children and scouts enjoyed their rubbish sorting lesson too, and most are now experts on it.

In the kitchen we have, starting from the top left on the shelf:

  • we are collecting unwanted oral care products (all brands of toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, dental floss containers) under a Terracycle program (we will get a small amount of money for each 2kg we collect).
  • we continue to collect organic kitchen scraps for chickens

Along the bottom row in the kitchen, we have:

  • the usual mixed recycling (unlike you at home, we don’t get  our recycling bins collected for free at the hall…but we believe it is important, so we pay for a collection service).
  • waste to landfill (getting less each week, which is good, because we pay for that to be collected too!)
  • our new soft plastics recycling through RedCycle, where plastic bags, wrappers, peel-off lids, cling wrap, yogurt squeeze pouches all can be recycled.  We also encourage families to think of ways to reduce their use of soft plastics by wrapping lunches in reusable containers or bees-wax-wraps or similar; and taking their own household’s soft plastic waste to their local Redcycle bin.

Next to the yellow sign-in desk in the foyer, we have:

  • our can and bottle refund scheme collection, through the ACT government’s container deposit scheme.   As you play or walk in your local park, all families (and particularly our scouts) are encouraged to collect any containers they see as litter and bring them in to the hall for our collection.  Eligible containers for the refund are ones that are commonly found in the litter stream, including most cans and bottles; ie glass, PET, HDPE, aluminium, steel or liquid paperboard (cartons) between 150mL and 3L in size.
  • [soon to appear] our e-waste collection box, through ecoActiv / Storage King, taking broken electronic toys, old laptops,  hard drives, keyboards, mice,  cameras, iPods, mobile phones, batteries, chargers and accessories.  You may also take them to Office Works yourself, or bring them to the scout hall if that is easier for you.  Computers and TVs can be collected from your home or office for free by TechCollect.

 

Lantern Walk 2018

Sankt Martin was seen galloping about on his trusty horse on Sunday night in Haig Park, amidst the many children and families with their beautiful lanterns, at this year’s German Lantern Walk.

Many Spielwelt families and their guests rugged up and braved the authentic-German-winter night air, to join the festivities.

There was music throughout the event:  Mike and his wonderful hand-crafted traditional German Drehorgel, an ambient guitar, a peppy brass and wind quintent including one of our talented scouts,  the sweet tones of the Pfadfinder Joey & Cub choir, and of course the many voices of families participating in the walk  who had no doubt been practicing the lantern walk songs at home.

The food was, of course, delicious and warmed our hands, stomachs and souls.  There were scrumptious home-made soups, German Bratwurst (from the Brathaus) served on buns with onions and steaming sauerkraut (and thanks to our cracker-jack team of efficient BBQ volunteers we had very short queues this year),  fresh breads,  traditional Weckmaenner (who held their own lantern parade before coming to ours, judging by the photo below), a mouth-watering array of Nachtisch (desserts) all baked and donated by  our wonderful families, and of course, the ever popular Kinderpunsch and Gluehwein served up by our all-time-favourite Gluehwein team.  (Craving more? Recipes here!)

We are keen to be green, so proper mugs, cups and bowls were all provided instead of disposable ones (thanks to an ACT government multicultural grant) in our continued efforts to reduce waste.

Thus nourished, the crowds gathered to sing some of the songs, guided by the lyrics (projected onto the side of our new shed), before setting off on the walk.

The procession headed out into the park, lanterns bobbing along and brightening our paths, as the sounds of singing voices and accompanying instruments floated out through the darkness.

We stopped part way, to form a large circle so the Spiel und Spass children and friends were able to parade their lanterns inside the safety of the circle, while the sweet voices of the Pfadfinder Joeys & Cubs delivered a fine performance of a beautiful lantern song for us, accompanied by the talented guitarist.
Arriving back at the hall, the procession was greeted with baskets of Weckmaenner to eat and share.  The children gathered with their lanterns on a large tarp to sit and watch a short play about Sankt Martin stopping in his travels to share his cloak with a poor beggar dressed only in rags at the gates of Amiens.  The narration of the interactive play was partly provided by the crowds singing the various verses of a Sankt Martin’s Leid.  Inspired by the kindness of Sankt Martin, our families kindly donated just under $100 to our collection tin for Barnados in Canberra.

Following the play, our “after party” enjoyed a bonfire to warm up, before helping to  tidy up, wash the dishes and head home.

A huge THANK YOU to all those who helped in all ways great and small, to make this year’s walk an indisputable success.  Special kudos goes to Alice who orchestrated the whole event from the planning to the delivery.  Danke!

Sweet Garden Surprise

We had a visit from some secret garden fairies yesterday.   While the children were busy inside, a merry band of volunteers from Bunnings arrived and installed a sweet garden surprise outside for us!

The Bunnings volunteers, under the direction of one of their activity organisers studying to work in early education, have been busy preparing the ground, choosing and digging in hardy plants, and installing a fun colourful fence as a backdrop to showcase our new little garden area.

It was fun seeing the children’s reactions to their new garden.  The children will be responsible to care for the plants, and learn a bit about environmental studies and botany in the fun new setting.

Fun fact #1: The scientists aboard Captain Cook’s voyage to Australia were botanists from Germany, Johann Forster and his son Georg.

Fun fact #2:  One of the initiatives considered by the founders of Spielwelt was a German primary school to be named the Johann Forster School.

 

ACTSmart Sustainability Award Winner

Congratulations to all our families, children, scouts, teachers, coordinators, committee and scout leaders:  We won!

Spielwelt and our Pfadfinder scout group were the proud recipients of the ACT Smart Sustainability Award’s Energy and Water Star award for 2018.   The award was presented by the very supportive ACTSmart team and the ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury.

Just being nominated for the award actually spurred us into more action, and we have since introduced Redcycle’s soft plastics recycling at the hall, and are about to launch two other recycling programs working with Terracycle.   We’ve also signed up to be an ACTSmart organisation and will be ramping up our children’s recycling education program and looking at achieving a further reduction in our waste-to-landfill.  Details to come…

We next aim is to inspire you further!  If your home or business is looking for tips or support about what you can do, start with the ACT Smart website and contact their encouraging and enthusiastic team.

Recipients in other categories of the award are also listed on ACTSmart’s awards page.

You can read about some of the many, many things we have been already done to reduce our footprint and educate our children and families, and what we won the award for, in one of our previous posts…

Gruen, Gruen, Gruen…

Muttertag / Mothers’ Day 2018

The children have been busy at GAP preparing for Mothers’ Day, making beautiful bookmarks using items collected from nature.

In one of our classes, the children started by glueing beautiful autumn leaves onto a big poster.  The colourful group of leaves reminded us how the mums at GAP are also one big wonderful colourful community together, so we stopped to take a group photo with our “community of leaves” poster for you.  Then the poster was cut into smaller pieces to make bookmarks for each mum.

In our other class, the children have also been busy making beautiful bookmarks using pretty leaves and pressed flowers.   It has been delightful to hear the children’s thoughts about their mums, while they chat with each other and work on their crafts.

We wish all our wonderful mums and grandmums a happy Mothers’ Day!  We hope they feel loved by the children and teachers, and are reminded about how all our mums and grandmums are each a special part of our GAP community.

 

 

Thought:  Are leaves on a mothers’ day gift called “maternity leaves”?

 

Botanic Gardens Excursion 2018

The Thursday/Friday GAP class enjoyed an excursion to the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

We savoured our morning tea out in the fresh air under some fragant gum trees, looking around in wonder at all the greenery, spotting birds, insects, plants and ponds.

Our enthusiastic early-childhood-education-trained German-speaking guide soon met up with us and took us over grassy fields, along secret paths, helped us cross over a creek using hopping stones, along part of the children’s trail, and told us about all sorts of plants and native critters along the way.

We came to the newest feature of the botanic gardens: a big tree house for children!  There is a ramp up to the first storey, but after that, one must climb a giant ladder to reach the crow’s nest platform.  There was some discussion amongst the children as to how best to achieve this.

It was fun up at the top!  At last, having conquered our fears, we returned back down the ladder. Phew!

We then walked allllllll the way back to GAP (over a kilometer), while chatting and singing.  We stopped part way to refresh ourselves in a shaded rest spot, with slices of orange and drinks of water.

The teachers all commented that it was a good reminder about how the children can manage more walking than we give them credit for, and we felt we should offer more opportunities to explore our local parks on foot as the children enjoyed stretching themselves like this.

We are grateful to the parents and grandparents who came along to help on the excursion.  Thank you!

Gruen, Gruen, Gruen…

There is a German children’s song about colours that starts, “Gruen, gruen, gruen, sind alle meine Kleider; Gruen, gruen, gruen, ist alles was ich hab.”  (You can enjoy hearing it by clicking here.)

Well at Spielwelt, we love being green too!

This post celebrates and acknowledges what we have done to date to be GREEN, and let’s you know what is next on our agenda.

To date, we have:

  1. upgraded all our lighting to LED
  2. upgraded our heating systems from hideously inefficient old heaters to fabulously efficient reverse cycle heaters
  3. programmed those heaters to switch off at regular intervals 4 times a day, in order to make sure they are not left on accidentally
  4. installed 6 panels of solar space heating on our roof, and provided personalised tours and information to other groups and individuals about this technology
  5. with help from LAROS Technologies in Fyshwick, we replaced our drafty old ill-fitting windows with wonderful new triple-glazed windows
  6. had an ACT Smart audit done and successfully applied for a grant, which we used for some of the audit recommendations
  7. installed that sticky fluffy stuff around door frames to prevent heat loss
  8. checked our big appliances for efficiency ratings (and replaced them where necessary)
  9. teach children in our playschool program about recycling
  10. we collect food scraps for chickens and composting
  11. introduced the Terracycle coffee capsule recycling program
  12. put up signage around the hall to remind staff about turning off lights and heaters
  13. our staff are trained that if they turn the heater or air conditioner on, they are to put the heater remote control with their car keys or bike lock keys, so that when they go home, the person is automatically reminded about turning off the heaters/air conditioning
  14. we encouraged our scouts to use recycled building materials to design and install a way to move warm air down from the ceiling area and onto ground level where our younger children play (that was a really fun project!)
  15. we had heavy curtains made to section off areas of our scout hall we don’t need to heat
  16. we have double doors between our heated areas and our outside doors, to cut down on heat loss in winter or heat ingress in summer
  17. check our electrical appliances each year to make sure they are not faulty and draining more energy than they should
  18. undertaken a study to see if solar energy would be feasible for us
  19. we have a 1000 litre rain water tank which is plumbed to our toilets
  20. we only use instant hot water, rather than trying to maintain large quantities of hot water for long periods of time
  21. we have recyling bins inside and outside, and educate the children in our programs about how to use these
  22. we talk to children and parents about reducing waste in packed lunches
  23. new toilets installed with half-flush
  24. installed new quarter-turn taps that are easy for young children to turn off fully
  25. our chldren’s programs use recycled supplies wherever possible for their art and other activities; and we have banned glitter (micro-plastics)
  26. we shun plastic toys where possible, in favour of wood or nothing (it is okay to not have things!)
  27. our teachers have all been given reusable coffee cups and a carry bag for them
  28. we use non-toxic cleaning products whenever possible
  29. we sorted our library of over 1000 childrens books and gave many away for free into the community (re-use)
  30. gave away some board games to the Buy Nothing Facebook group members in our local area
  31. our default superannuation fund is Australian Ethical Super, who support green technologies

… and finally…

32. we have a whole lot of fun thinking up new ways to stretch ourselves and the children in our programs to be and think cleaner and greener!

 

Next steps?  Soft plastics!   We will be aiming to reduce our use, helping families to reduce their use, and recycling soft plastics through the Redcycle program.

Want to get involved and help us be greener? Get in touch!  Just email  ask.us@spielwelt.org.au

Enjoying our new taps and sinks

Over the summer holidays, Paul from JimFin Gas Fitting & Plumbing was very busy installing all sorts of treats for us.

We are now enjoying a new junior toilet in the girls washroom, and double children’s sinks in both washrooms.

Paul visited us today to put on the finishing touches we requested, by installing another two sets of his most heavenly child-friendly quarter-turn taps.

Being the friendly guy that he is, he also  fixed a leaking tap, gave us a lesson on washers, checked we had safe water temperatures for children, and replaced the covers for our water meter and mains tap which were broken and hazardous.

This all helps us look after our water consumption, and be the clean green community organisation we strive to be.

Federweisser Fest 2018

Saturday’s Federweisser Fest was a big hit with the crowds who came to enjoy the good food, wine, music and company.

From all accounts, the Federweisser (young wine) fermented especially for Spielwelt by Alex McKay of Collector Wines, was absolutely delicious, and a great treat for connoisseurs of such things.

Folk had a huge variety of delicious Zwiebelkuchen to choose from, thanks to the many families who tried their hand at Oma Heidi, Tante Gertrude or Oma Internet’s favourite recipes.   (There was even enough for the event organisers to be able to take some home at the end – what a great way to reward our wonderful event organisers!)

Children enjoyed the playground and running around in the park, as well sampling the grape juice, German sausages and buns.

It was great to see so many families from our playgroups, GAP, Pfadfinder, as well as Deutsche Stammtisch members, and other community supporters.

The event raised $600, which is a terrific result – thank you everyone for your generosity and support.

Special thanks go to Gerda, Gerald, Uli, Chris and their families and team members for all the great organisation and work; and thanks to Richard and Friederike who helped with the BBQ, cleaning and serving on the day.

A few of the many delicious Zwiebelkuchen on offer at Federweisser Fest!