Category Archives: Keen to be Green

Our young people get active in democracy

The Spielwelt committee recently supported some of our children and young people to have their voices heard in Parliament.

Children as young as four and up to 19 years old from GAP and Pfadfinder contributed to a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications.

The senate committee is considering the Climate Change Bill 2022, and we wanted the children’s voices to be heard.

Here’s the text of Spielwelt’s submission:

Spielwelt welcomes the opportunity to contribute the voices of our children to the Senate Environment and Committee’s inquiry into the Climate Change Bill 2022.  We are heartened by the new government’s willingness to look properly at addressing climate change. 

As parents, teachers and leaders, we are deeply troubled by the latest IPCC report and news reports about the devastating global climate crisis. In particular, we hold grave concerns for our children’s future. 

The children are also rightfully anxious. Some are frustrated, desperate, depressed or angry. Some want to help but feel helpless. Here follows some comments made by children aged between 4 and 19 years enrolled in our programs, for your kind consideration.

“We are too young to vote so we are relying on you with our lives to do the right thing. We urge you to please take the boldest possible action on climate change that you can. Our very lives depend on your decision. Literally.

“I want to grow up in a nice world. I don’t want to fight for water or food, fight fires or droughts, lose my friends in heat waves, eat poisoned fish or be choked in smoke. Please aim for the absolute best possible standards that you can and make laws and get an environment police to enforce them.”

Please listen hard to the scientists and do your best to just do what they say. Please don’t let climate action be confused for a political issue or a money issue.“

“I want my Australia to be a leader, not bludging off other countries’ efforts.  Please take responsibility and do the right thing.”

“I think people should stop being allowed to mine and use fossil fuels. Australia should behave properly and not pollute by mining and using fossil fuels.”

“I would like to see more renewable energy everywhere with solar on every rooftop and solar farms.”

“Please move Australia from the bottom to the top in research for renewable energy. I would like to work in a world leading industry (renewable energy) in Australia when I grow up.” 

“I would like to get a great ATAR and study at university. My mind churns on whether it is worthwhile studying if my home is going to burn down and my water supply will dry up. My school time is sometimes taken up attending school strike climate rallies. Please help us by being strong. Set strong bold targets and police them so we have a chance to survive.”

“Remember that with every passing minute, natural environments like the Great Barrier Reef and bushland are deteriorating, causing endangerment to our beautiful Australian wildlife. Please protect our unique ecosystems by ensuring net ZERO carbon emissions as soon as possible.” 

“Please don’t forget that there can not be climate justice without justice for the First Nations people of Australia. Please ask them to help us make decisions that are right for their land and our people.”

“Invest in more sustainability research. Invest in making and doing green and clever science and technology that will help slow and stop climate change.”

“Everyone is being impacted by climate change and you are the only people with enough power to actually do anything serious about it, so what are you waiting for?” 

Finally, our youngest contributor is four years old. He asks, “Are you going to save the environment for us?”  After a pause, he adds thoughtfully, “Can I help you?

We support the Schools Strike 4 Climate’s priorities, wanting:

  1. Net zero by 2030 which means no new coal, oil or gas projects including the Adani mine
  2. 100% renewable energy generations and exports by 2030
  3. Fund a just transition and job creation for all fossil-fuel workers and their communities

We urge the government to stick closely to the IPCC recommendations, remembering this is far more than economic or political: this is existential. Nothing is more important. Nothing. 

Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.

Two later contributions from Venturer scouts missed our cut-off time but are worth transcribing here:

“I feel the government [policymakers] would care more if they would actually be alive when heat waves, bush fires, storms, floods, droughts and food shortages make living the Australian dream impossible. They worry if things like the economy, their power and personal gain are actually under threat, while we [young people] worry whether we should have our own children knowing what the future will be like.”

“While passing this environmental bill is a guarantee of some action on climate change, the focus should be on actual investments in sustainable infrastructure and a reduction in consumption and production of unsustainable products.”

We are proud of our young people for standing up and contributing to this democratic process on such an important issue. You can see all the other submissions to the senate committee here (Spielwelt’s is #164).

Used Clothing Drive

Keen to be green?

Give your used textiles another life

Textile waste is a massive problem in Australia. On average, we each send around 23kg of textiles into landfill each year!

As our next ‘Keen to be Green’ activity, the Spielwelt committee are organising a bulk collection of used clothes and other textiles to send to Upparel for re-using, repurposing and recycling.

If you have old clothes, shoes or other textiles that aren’t suitable for donating to charities, this is your chance to free up some space in your cupboard and make a little contribution to a more sustainable future 😊

Just bring your old textiles to the hall on or before Federweisser Fest on 19 March 2022 and the committee will do the packing and shipping.

To cover the small collection fee charged by Upparel, we’re asking for donations of $2.50 for each kg of textiles you bring (it doesn’t have to be exact, but this gives you a rough idea of what we’ll need to cover costs).

For each kg we send to Upparel, we’ll prevent 3–4 kg of greenhouse gases from polluting our atmosphere!

One lucky contributor will win a $25 credit to purchase some awesome socks made of recycled materials.

What you can bring:

Clothing items (jeans, shirts, coats, etc)
Hats
Wireless Bras
Swimwear
Socks and stockings
Shoes
Linen (bedding, towels, tea towels, etc)
Fabric mattress protectors (not waterproof/plastic)
Fabric off-cuts and sewing scraps
Fabric couch covers and curtains
Bathers & Swimwear
Wetsuits

What you can’t bring:

Unwashed tems
Underwear
Carpet
Duvets/Doonas
Pillows/Cushions
Bags (handbags, duffel bags, etc)
Soft Toys
Wired Bras

Please make sure that everything you bring is washed! (Shoes should be brushed clean).

If you have empty boxes to donate (ideal size 46 x 42 x 41cm), that would also be much appreciated.

If you have kids clothes that are still in good shape, save them up for our next clothing swap.

Any questions? Contact Emily on keen.to.be.green.coordinator@spielwelt.org.au

A-Z of Spielwelt in 2021

Here is an A-Z for Spielwelt in 2021, created by our fabulous President Tobias!

A is for ACT Health, who used our hall three times as a vaccination pop-up clinic. The staff even left behind a lovely note in German for us!

B is for Bilingual Education Alliance seminars: our Präsident, Tobias, spoke at two ACTBEA seminars this year on “Raising Children in More than One Language” and “A Celebration of Languages“.

C is for the Committee. Thank you so much to our wonderful 2021 Spielwelt Committee: Christiane N, Emily K, Janne L, Julia B, Lisa St, Minh-Tam N, Salim M and Tobias B! They make sure that this fabulous organisation remains the best it can be, by providing their time, wisdom and perspectives on all things governance.

is for Deft Financial Management. Spielwelt made only a slight operating loss this year, due to covid. This is about 2% of our annual budget, and is pretty incredibly given the pandemic circumstances. In addition, we spent around $35,000 on capital works to improve our hall and playground. Special thanks to Margie, our amazing Finance Admin person, who keeps everything running smoothly.

E is for Environmentally Friendly, which is a very important element of Spielwelt’s ethos. As part of our continuous pursuit of being Keen to Be Green, we banned non-biodegradable craft items and small plastic toys, ran two clothing swaps, decommissioned the second fridge, and looked into more sustainable cleaning products.

F is for Friederike, who is moving to the coast after 10 wonderful years with GAP. She has such a beautiful energy with the children and her colleagues, and she will be very sorely missed by all.

G is for GAP (ist meine Schule), which celebrated its 15th year in 2021! GAP continues to delight children and parents alike, from the very first day of Schultüte, to Karneval, German Easter traditions, picnics, a lantern walk, nature park play days, music lessons, special guests, concerts, excursions, all the way through the year to the ceremonial ribbon archway at graduation. Special thanks to teachers Gerda, Friederike, Lisa3, and Birgit, and relief assistant Amelia, in 2021.

is for Harmonie Connect. Committee Member Christiane spoke on behalf of Spielwelt at an event hosted at the Harmonie Club in January. The event allowed people to hear all about the amazing German, Austrian, Swiss and German language organisations from across the ACT, including us!

I is for “Ich geh mit meiner Lanterne”, which could be heard again through the crisp night air of Haig Park at our Lantern Walk in June. An estimated 200-250 parents and children joined in the festivities and shone light into the dark winter!

J is for Juice from Grapes, Fermented Quickly aka Federweisser! In March, we were able to celebrate our first combined event since 2019, with a glass of delicious Federweisser, a slice of Zwiebelkuchen and the warmth of the fire barrels.

is for Konzerte: It was such a joy to be able to celebrate the end of the year with our GAP Konzerte. The children enjoyed singing a sample of their repertoire on the new deck in the playground. After our encore, the final act was having parents and children dancing and singing along to the highly popular Tschu-Tschu-Wa!

L is for Lockdown: we made it through another one, we hope we won’t have to go through any more, and think that this Aranda School sign put it best…

M is for Mäuse, die schlau sind: our Schlaumäuse program again provided wonderful play-based German lessons for children in Kindergarten and Year 1. Special thanks to Stephanie for her amazing work that she does for this program.

N is for Nikolaus, who was able to visit GAP, Pfadfinder and Spiel und Spaß again this year. All of the children left their shoes out in the hope of receiving Zuckerstangen, and also were able to show Nikolaus how they can jump, sing, dance, run and read poems. Nikolaus returned the favour to some children by showing how he can (almost) fly! Special thanks to Tim and Tobias for helping guide the good saint our way this year.

is for the Online Resources that kept us all a little bit saner during lockdown. There are so many ideas in the Spielwelt Remote Learning pages to keep up your children’s exposure to German over the holidays. Plus don’t forget to check out our online German language children’s media list and the Spiel und Spass Spotify playlist!

P is for Pfadfinder, who have been busy this year learning about German traditions, culture and history through fun games, as well as going on hikes, canoeing, orienteering, helping others, baking to raise funds for charity, learning to service their cars (our L- and P-Platers), making amazing nature art, floating home-made boats, treasure hunts and LOTS more. Special thanks to our leaders: Jens, Wolfgang, Stephanie, Struppi, Melanie, Alice and Lisa, and all of the Adult Helpers who make this such a great program.

Q is for Quality Children’s Services, with the successful renewal of our Children’s Services Licence for another three years. Special thanks to Lisa for the mammoth effort that goes into this process.

R is for Raises for Staff: The committee is aiming to increase staff wages in recognition of the important, and often under-valued, work that childhood educators do every day in caring for and educating our little people, and the big responsibility they take on.

is for Spielgruppen: Spiel und Spaß, and Spiel und Sport. We have had such fun growing and playing together this year, whether in person or on Zoom. Next year, we will launch Spiel und Spannung, in addition to continuing Spiel und Spaß. Particular thanks to Seyhan, Doris and Meike for all of their wonderful work in organising the groups and fantastic activities, whether online or in person.

T is for Teachers: we all know that we’ve got the best teachers at GAP, and they’ve won yet another award to prove it! We also welcomed the fun-loving Toby to our GAP staff in 2021. In the words of one of our little people: “I like Toby, he is richtig gut.”

is for Upgrades to the Hall, which included the Black Forest Retreat in the north-east corner and the amazing murals around the hall. We’re also looking forward to seeing the new fans in the hall and our new sandpit, both to be installed in early 2022.

V is for Volunteers – without them Spielwelt wouldn’t exist! A huge thank you to all of our volunteers in 2021, whether you helped lead one of our programs, kept the hall in top shape, helped out at one of our fabulous events, or did the little, often-unnoticed but super important things to make sure everything we do runs smoothly.

W is for Wolfgang (der Wolf), who took over leading the Joey Scouts from the wonderful Alice this year, has been on the leadership training course, and brought such joy to our Joeys.

is for X-mal, for the countless times that you checked in, washed your hands, wore a mask, kept socially distanced and stayed home when you were even just a little bit sick to make sure that we all remained safe. Thank you!

Y is for Yummy Mangoes: despite smaller trays due to a lower harvest, we still raised funds for Spielwelt and filled big and little tummies alike!

is for Zweitausendzweiundzwanzig! We can’t wait to see you all again for more fun next year, whatever comes our way!

Lesson on Solar Panels

The Thursday/Friday GAP class got to learn about solar panels today.

Local electrician, solar installer and GAP dad, Matthew Upshall, came to tell us a bit about his work. He brought some interesting things to show us too.

We got to see a solar panel, hear about how they work and why people have them.

He told us about how people could make energy by digging up coal out of the ground then burning it. That’s not very nice for the environment though, especially for the people and animals and birds who live near the coal mines or power plants, he said.

He told us that nowadays, people can get energy from the sun by using solar panels. He said if we collected up all the energy the sun gives us over one hour, it would give us enough power for every person in the world for a whole year. [1] Solar energy is nicer for our environment, people, animals and birds.

We talked a bit about how we have to pay for our electricity but that energy from the sun can be free. Matthew said if our solar panels make more energy than we need then we can share it with our neighbours or sell it back to the energy companies. (Then he muttered something about how capitalism will ruin all that… and the grown-ups had a little laugh on the side. Hmmm….)

We talked about ladder safety and the children knew a lot about that already, but it was good to review it. We were fascinated to hear about Matthew’s safety harness and ropes though, and agreed a safety harness was a Very Good Idea.

The children had some good ideas about how to get on top of extremely tall buildings — by using a scissor lift, a crane, the fire department, or a long long long lo-o-o-ong ladder. (Again, we heard Matthew muttering and begging us not to make him work that high up. There was, again, general agreement from the grown-ups.)

Safety first!

We got to see a selection of electrician’s tools Matthew had in his tool belt: a multimeter with positive and negative probes, ein Schraubenzieher (screwdriver), eine Zange (pliers) and ein Markierstift (marker) for writing your name.

We all watched as he showed us how to carry a solar panel up a ladder.

Would you trust yourself to go up that ladder carrying a solar panel? Single-handedly? No? Selbst verständlich! Me neither.

We went to look at the solar panels we already have installed, and Matthew climbed up on the roof and helped us to count them (in German, of course).

Matthew on our roof, helping us count our solar panels. Eins, zwei, drei…

After we took a photo of him on the roof, he took a photo of us down below!

Thurs/Fri GAP class as seen from our roof.

A big “Danke schön” goes to Matthew for coming to tell us about his exciting work.

A quick farewell photo with our guest speaker.

We love it when parents visit us to share interesting things: let us know if you would like to come in too!

If you want to get solar panels at your house, here are some great places to start:

  • Solar Quotes (serious unbiased advice and quotes (and we really liked their page on German panels)
  • Solar Hub (they work with ActewAGL)
  • Captain Kilowatt (installed the panels at the Turner Scout Hall)
  • ActSmart an ACT government intiative (for amazing free impartial advice, calculators and subsidy info)

Birgit’s Nature Mandalas

Wenn ihr spazieren geht und in der Natur seid koennt ihr doch mal versuchen Mandalas zu machen. Es gibt viele Dinge mit denen man kreativ sein kann. Zum Beispiel: Blumen, Baumrinde, Blaetter, kleine Aeste.

When you go for a walk out in nature (or as our indigenous friends say, when you are “on country”), it is fun to be creative by making natural mandalas. You can try using flowers, bark, leaves, grasses, small sticks or anything you find.

To be even more keen-to-be-green, try to use objects that have already fallen to the ground rather than picking fresh flowers and living leaves .

It can also be fun to use these natural objects to make ladybird playgrounds with slides and mazes, or tiny decorated fairy tents.

Here are some of Birgit’s beautiful nature mandalas

Getting Greener

The IPCC report has been published for 2021 and it is clear that humans have not been doing enough to halt climate change. We have made many “green” changes at Spielwelt, won environmental awards, and implemented our Keen-to-be-Green initiative.

As a parents association responsible for our children’s future, we applaud the ACT government’s efforts, and although we are just one of many organisations in Canberra, we feel we must ramp up our efforts further. We all should. And can.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

The place we can make the biggest difference is in education (our specialty!) and leading by example.

Starting straight away, we will:

  1. Decommission the children’s fridge, and have children store their food in their insulated lunch bags (like in schools).
  2. Encourage meat-free days.
  3. Offer more vegetarian options at our special events.
  4. No longer use plastic googly-eyes, craft pompoms, foam stickers and plastic stickers in craft, as they are non-biodegradable.
  5. Encourage families to walk or ride to school where possible.
  6. Ban little plastic toys (like the little collectible toys used in supermarket or restaurant promotions) and educate children about why we don’t want them. (If children bring them to school, they will need to leave the toys in their bags.)
  7. Run two toy swaps per year.
  8. Run two clothing swaps per year.
  9. Ensure Nikolaus gifts, Mothers- and Fathers- Day gifts are “green”.
  10. Educate and encourage children to use the backs of paper as well as the front; and using recycled paper.
  11. Replace wet-wipes with reusable cloth wipes.
  12. Replace sponges with reusable cleaning cloths.
  13. Gradually replace as many of our plastic sand toys with metal or wooden pots or implements from the GreenShed.
  14. Replace our many plastic playdough implements with a few simple wooden ones.
  15. Replace our double-plastic-wrapped rice crackers (that we give to children who are still hungry even after eating all their lunch) with similar products in more friendly packaging.

We are further committing to:

  1. Install ceiling fans to make our heating and cooling more efficient.
  2. Provide a reusable yogurt container to each family and strongly discourage single-use yogurt pouches and plastic tubs. (We already provide a bees wax wrap to each child, in their Schultüte, and discourage cling-film.)
  3. Examine how we can reduce any excess use (or waste) of soap, by changing soap formats and educating children on proper use.
  4. Explore options for environmentally friendlier cleaning products.
  5. Teach our scouts about the mountains of waste caused by toothpaste packaging, and ask our scouts if they would like to try making Zero Waste Toothpaste.

Igelchen and Echidna Lesson

The little echidna pictured at the top of this blog lives in Canberra. I took a little video for the children, showing the echidna walking along. She has short bent legs, and it reminded me of a German children’s song about a hedgehog (ein Igel). Hedgehogs and echidnas look quite similar.

Here is my very silly Igelchen action song video (5 min) which includes a little chat, an action song, a silly story and a very simple craft.  

There’s also an Igelchen colouring sheet for you to download and print.

 If you want to sing along to the song, here are the lyrics:

Igelchen, Igelchen, schau in dein Spiegelchen,
Deine Beine sind krumm!
Igelchen, Igelchen, schau in dein Spiegelchen,
Deine Beine sind kurz!

Sind meine Beine auch krumm,
Dreh’ ich mich trotzdem herum!
Sind meine Beine auch kurz,
ist mir das piepe und schnurz!

Bohnenblumen: Bean Flowers

Spring is in the air and flowers are starting to appear! Maybe you can make flowers appear inside your house too…

Join GAP Teacher Gerda in making some beautiful flowers and hearts using beans and lentils! Click on the link to download / watch the video.

As you know, we love art and craft using natural and recycled items!

The educational value here is developing fine motor skills, art and creativity, counting, colours, and the concept of symmetry, if you like.

You can download Gerda’s Bohnenblumen instructions (in German and English) to augment your educational experience by reading aloud and following instructions in German, and be inspired by some of her example pieces.

Please supervise and/or discuss safety with children, as we have heard stories of children putting beans up their noses… and nobody wants that to happen!

Natural objects like beans and lentils make great things to glue to your art work!
Glue on your stem and leaf, and then clutter (ähm! I mean decorate) your house with your beautiful creation!

Once you have made your flower, try some of the variations below.

Variation 1: You could also decorate other shapes (see our activity about learning geometric shapes).

Variation 2: Hunt around the house and garden for other little objects to glue on: grass, pine needles, tiny flowers, wool, cereal, pasta shapes…

Try different shapes!

Nudelkette – Pasta Necklace

This wearable craft activity has it all — fine motor skills, threading, patterns, colours, counting and shapes.

You can make a cool Nudelkette (pasta chain for a necklace, bracelet or anklet) at home with pasta and string or wool. If you like, you can even colour your pasta with coloured markers/textas. You can download Gerda’s Nudelkette instructions in German (with English translations) here.

If you don’t have noodles at home, you can substitute cereal like Cheerios (or order suitable pasta for your next click-and-collect / home delivery of groceries!)

Tip: To make threading less frustrating, wrap some tape around the threading end of your wool to make it stiffer and easier to poke through a noodle. Tape up a little bit more wool than your longest noodle (about 5cm, say).

We especially like that the craft items are all biodegradable and reusable (except for the sticky tape, sorry).

Looking forward to seeing your crafty creations on a future online meeting, perhaps!

Nature Arm Bands

Here’s a fun activity to do on your one-hour walk or in your backyard, brought to you by our lovely GAP teacher, Birgit. It is another opportunity to appreciate nature. (Try to limit your collection to items that have already fallen to the ground though, rather than taking leaves from trees or plucking flowers that nature is still using.)

Natur Armband

Einfach ein breites Stueck Abdeckband (masking tape) um deine Hand oder den Fuss geben. Die klebrige Seite sollte aussen sein. Wenn ihr dann spazieren geht koennt ihr es mit Blumen, Blaettern, Baumrinde, usw. verzieren.

Nature Arm Band

Take a piece of masking tape (as wide as you can) and wrap it around your wrist or ankle, with the sticky side out. When you go on your walk, you can decorate your arm band with little flowers, leaves, bark, etc., that you find on the way.