Tag Archives: Kalamazoo Nature Center

Earth Day Activity

Many, many years ago I worked as a volunteer at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.  I had grown up watching this place expand from a little building with some animal bones hanging around in it to a stunning, award winning Nature Center.  I was a long way away from having kids at that point, but I felt a real pull to teach kids about nature.  Fortunately, I was teamed up with Pete Stobie, an amazing naturalist with an incredible talent for connecting with children. 

For the KNC’s Earth Day celebration, I was assigned to the “Down To Earth In Your Backyard” tent.  The activity at my table was Cookie Mining, and I remember thinking “when I have kids, I am TOTALLY going to do this with them“.  I have been dragging around a photocopied activity page since 1997.  Really. 

The sheet makes me giggle, because it notes that the cookies for this project were donated by Gil’s Market.  Anyone familiar with Kalamazoo will know that stepping into Gil’s was a bit of a time machine itself; back when grocery stores were little, slightly dirty and did not include an “International Foods” section unless you count about 24 inches of shelf space donated to Old El Paso products.

So cookie mining is an idea whose time has come.  It’s a perfect Earth Day activity, because all you need are cookies.  There should be one for each participant.

Tell them they will be able to eat the cookie soon, but for now, they have to follow your directions.  Say, “We are going to go cookie mining.  Your job is to remove all the chocolate chips very carefully“.  Give them a few minutes to do this, then when they are done tell them they just have to do one more thing.  “Please put the cookie back together again”.  This is the best part, because they freak out.  They’ll laugh, but you have to stay serious and act like you asked them to do something perfectly reasonable so they’ll try it.

It won’t take long for them to realize they can’t do it.  Here is where you use the activity to illustrate a bigger point; tell them, “This cookie reminds me of the Earth.  You can only remove so many things from it before the whole thing crumbles, or in the Earth’s case, it can’t repair itself.  Whenever we make a change – develop land, or change a habitat, it’s like taking one chocolate chip out.  Take too many, and we can’t fix what we have done”. 

The kids will be very sad, but it’s a profound learning moment.  You can say, “Let’s talk about some ways we can do for the Earth while we eat our cookies”.  You can talk about recycling, or walking or riding bikes instead of driving, or composting – something the kids can participate in. 

My kids have heard about the recent mining accident, and I feel a little opportunistic doing the Cookie Mining project with them right now, but at the same time, it is the truth.  If you have talked with your kids about conserving energy, they will understand the connection between using less energy and requiring less coal.

I LOVE Earth Day, and trying to teach my kids their role in caring for their planet.  Yes.. I know it’s Saturday.. but if for more Things I Love Thursday, go check out the Diaper Diaries.

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Filed under Country Day Homeschool, Things I Love Thursday

Workin’ for the Weekend

There is just a TON of stuff to do this weekend.  I hope it’s nice outside!  It’s only Wednesday – but you might need a few days to develop a plan to fit all of this goodness in.

John Ball Park Zoo is having it’s Party For the Planetevent Saturday from 10-3.  This is fun, and there are lots of different organizations and activites that come out for this.  It’s $3.50 for adults, and $3.00 for children.

Don’t forget that Dairy Discovery is having a Family Fun weekend this Saturday.  It’s $5.00 per person, or $20.00 max per family.

The following events are all free:

The Grand Rapids Public Library is having a ton of stuff for Earth Week that kicks off this weekend:

  • An indoor farmers’ and artisans’ market.
  • Re-shirt (take an old shirt, and make something new from it)
  • Slow food presentation
  • Movies: Who Killed the Electric Car? and Wall-e
  • Musicians
  • Bio-diesel workshop
  • Clothes exchange
  • Rain Garden tour
  • Green Cleaning

The East Grand Rapids Kent District Library is having a Green Fair on Saturday at 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM with some very cool activities planned.

Michaels is having “The Knack” crafting event Saturday rom 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  You can make these ‘spring critters’.

This requires a drive, but admission is free on Saturday to the Kalamazoo Nature Center in honor of Earth Day.  It’s not easy to get free admission here, I think Earth Day is the only free event.  You won’t be disappointed!

This last one is so unique, and I am so excited about it.  Rob Bliss, who brought the Zombie Walk and Giant Pillow Fight to Grand Rapids, 

Bliss plans to hand out 30,000 pieces of sidewalk chalk at Rosa Parks Circle…to see what collective creative energy will bring to the core city. He hopes the Sidewalk Chalk Flood will bring the most age diverse crowd to downtown Grand Rapids of all his prior social experiments that received…national television coverage on CBS News last fall.

 Coming soon on Big Binder:  summer camp info!

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Filed under Things to do Thursday

Something to make.. Chicken Soup?

As you know, I try and bring a fun craft to you each Saturday.  Sadly, my husband came home from work yesterday feeling sick.  He woke up with a full-blown sore throat and fever.  I’m pretty sure it’s strep throat.  He’s pretty sure it’s not, but that whatever it is – it is fatal.  Naturally, he won’t go to the doctor, who may not only disagree with his diagnosis but worse yet – confirm that mine is correct. 

Frankly, I’m a bit relieved.  He has been less than totally pleasant to be around for the past several days and this at least gives him an excuse.  In desperation, I was actually trying to figure out how to crush up a few Midol and sneak them into his Mountain Dew. 

I took my kids to the library this morning where I got some great news.  The summer reading program – and you know I am a huge fan – launches Monday, June 9 and goes through Saturday, August 2.   It’s called “Catch the Reading Bug”.  There are a lot of great events coming to the Grand Rapids Public Library locations (sorry I don’t have any KDL info yet), and I’ll fill in the details as the date gets closer.  One thing I do want to mention is that on Tuesday, July 22 and Wednesday, July 23 there is a program called, “Insects Do The Strangest Things”. 

Professor “Anson Pantz” of the Kalamazoo Nature Center will teach kids about the strange things insects to.  Dr. Pantz’s real name is Pete Stobie and he is an award-winning naturalist.  When I lived in Kalamazoo I volunteered at the Nature Center and was privileged to work with him. He is AMAZING with kids, I am so excited that he will be here as part of this program.  Put this one on your calendar for sure.

I had planned on watching an episode of Reading Rainbow called, “Watch The Stars Come Out”, reading along while we watched, and then making a star-mobile craft I found on the website.  It’s simple, but thematic. My favorite. However, I would be a big fat liar if I told you we made anything but Chicken Noodle Soup today.  We also watched the Reading Rainbow episode, but no craft, no book. At least it’s kind of educational… and the soup is good.


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Filed under Something to Make Saturday