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!
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:
- upgraded all our lighting to LED
- upgraded our heating systems from hideously inefficient old heaters to fabulously efficient reverse cycle heaters
- programmed those heaters to switch off at regular intervals 4 times a day, in order to make sure they are not left on accidentally
- installed 6 panels of solar space heating on our roof, and provided personalised tours and information to other groups and individuals about this technology
- with help from LAROS Technologies in Fyshwick, we replaced our drafty old ill-fitting windows with wonderful new triple-glazed windows
- had an ACT Smart audit done and successfully applied for a grant, which we used for some of the audit recommendations
- installed that sticky fluffy stuff around door frames to prevent heat loss
- checked our big appliances for efficiency ratings (and replaced them where necessary)
- teach children in our playschool program about recycling
- we collect food scraps for chickens and composting
- introduced the Terracycle coffee capsule recycling program
- put up signage around the hall to remind staff about turning off lights and heaters
- 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
- 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!)
- we had heavy curtains made to section off areas of our scout hall we don’t need to heat
- 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
- check our electrical appliances each year to make sure they are not faulty and draining more energy than they should
- undertaken a study to see if solar energy would be feasible for us
- we have a 1000 litre rain water tank which is plumbed to our toilets
- we only use instant hot water, rather than trying to maintain large quantities of hot water for long periods of time
- we have recyling bins inside and outside, and educate the children in our programs about how to use these
- we talk to children and parents about reducing waste in packed lunches
- new toilets installed with half-flush
- installed new quarter-turn taps that are easy for young children to turn off fully
- our chldren’s programs use recycled supplies wherever possible for their art and other activities; and we have banned glitter (micro-plastics)
- we shun plastic toys where possible, in favour of wood or nothing (it is okay to not have things!)
- our teachers have all been given reusable coffee cups and a carry bag for them
- we use non-toxic cleaning products whenever possible
- we sorted our library of over 1000 childrens books and gave many away for free into the community (re-use)
- gave away some board games to the Buy Nothing Facebook group members in our local area
- 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 email@example.com
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.
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!
At the GAP, our teachers don’t wait for Outdoor Classroom Day to take our eager students outdoors to learn. We spend time outdoors every day!
Apart from our own playground, we often have picnics and take walks into Haig Park (adjacent to our hall), or further afield to the local playground. Getting there is half the fun, as we encounter cyclists, dog-walkers, pedestrians, and stop to examine sticks, tree nuts, leaves, grasses and insects, along the way. We walk across bridges, learn to walk together as a group, hold hands, keep to the side of the path, and become more aware of our surroundings.
Apart from the obvious benefits for children being outside, it is also great to increase our awareness of our environment and what we can do to care for it.
When we return to the GAP, we get to have a big race for the last 100 meters or so, which always brings a lot of cheers and smiles to our faces.
Our Joeys were delighted to be part of an exciting environmental awareness night. ACT Conservation Volunteer Manager, Tatjana Schmidt, ran an evening of fun and educational activities. The joeys and their Joey Leader, Kerria, are already looking forward to Tatjana’s next evening, coming up later this year!
We collected objects from our natural environment, and learned their German names.
We made a poster about the things we find and must care for in our environment. Alles auf Deutsch, natuerlich!
The scouts and playschoolers all had a chance to ‘think outside the box’… and to think inside the box as well! We had a big delivery of cardboard to play with, and simple instructions: Build what you like! Suddenly, there were forts, castles, draw-bridges, sleds, horses, swords, tunnels, mazes and all sorts being built inside and outside the hall.
Speaking of thinking outside the box, the teachers at the GAP were delighted to see the children thinking creatively about what possible alternate uses we could find for our toys. Among other things, it turns out that play traffic cones can be used to turn yourself into a penguin!
The children at the GAP are always delighted when we head out amongst the beautiful coniferous trees in Haig Park. Sometimes we take a little picnic with us of foods the children have requested; other times we play hide and seek, or have races, or build pretend camp fires.
From 2018, Spielwelt will heed the call of scientists and environmentalists, and delete glitter from our art consumables.
After reading an article in the ABC news about how damaging these micro-plastics are to the environment, the committee decided there was only one way forward for an eco-conscious organisation like Spielwelt: a ban on glitter.
We will move towards more natural products for our arts and crafts, which of course is something that has been happening for years in Germany already.
Sankt Nikolaus has been seen at GAP this week already, and will return on Friday for the Thurs/Fri class. As always, it is charming to have him visit. (The photo above was taken with that same Nikolaus at the GAP in 2008!)
Nikolaus is once again giving out traditional Christmas oranges, together with Christmas stickers and a little chocolate. The kind saint has obviously got a good connection with the German Embassy as their logo is on the little packets of German gummy bears he has been leaving in the children’s shoes!
Why not toys? Why oranges? you might ask. Well, apart from the fact that our children live such wonderfully privileged lives in Canberra and receive what many would consider to be far too many material objects and toys already; and putting aside the fact that many plastic toys eventually just contribute to landfill or end up in the Pacific Garbage Patch …. oranges and Sankt Nikolaus are a long-standing German tradition.
According to the legend, Sankt Nikolaus once heard of a family so poor they were planning to sell one of their children into slavery. Saint Nikolaus visited the family at night, and wanting to leave money anonymously for them, he dropped three golden balls down their chimney. These landed in one of the children’s socks which had been hung near the chimney overnight to dry. And so the tradition started.
In times since, oranges have been used to represent the golden balls given by Sankt Nikolaus. Oranges were rare and precious in those days.
In a more recent example, one of our GAP parents who grew up in East Germany remembers that oranges were still considered a luxury when she was a child, and that to receive one at Christmas was a very special treat.
So the children are not getting “just oranges” – they are sharing a legend, a tradition, and some great German culture. Sankt Nikolaus mentioned to the children today that they were also getting vitamin C from their oranges, and one of the children corrected him: Oranges start with vitamin O!