Monday, 26 January 2015

Celebration & Memorial Trees ~ Why you should plant one and how!

I'm not sure if it's just my family that does the whole 'tree-planting-on-special-occasions-thing" or not, but either way I thought I'd share some good tips for the hows and whys of planting memory trees.  Our family plants trees for births, deaths and marriages.... there's nothing like watching a tree through the seasons to be reminded of the fact that life is an ever changing and beautiful thing!

Some of my favourite trees to date have included... 
~Our Wedding Trees~
My mum chose 2 special trees (complete with beautiful glazed terracota planters) that were present at our marriage ceremony.  She chose a ginko for hubby and a weeping cherry for me.  The guests wrote us beautiful little messages on tags and tied them to the trees.  We still have all the tags and enjoy reading back through everyone's marriage advice...
My poor weeping cherry got sun-burnt leaves the week before the wedding, but was still a beautiful part of the day!  Planting them together with my new hubby a month after the wedding was a lovely way to quietly reflect on the big event after all the craziness of the actual day, and continues to be a great daily reminder of what really matters in life.

~Our Baby Shower Tree~
These are the blossoms of the beautiful kowhai tree which was gifted to us at our sons baby shower.  We planted it (together with our newborn) a few months after he was born.  We sprinkled some of the flower petals from the congratulatory bouquets we'd received around the tree (recycling at its best!)

~Dad's Memorial Tree~
This pohutukawa sapling was planted in memory of my Dad.  A year after my Dad passed, my sister got special permission to plant a local species of tree in the area where we scattered his ashes.   When we visited my dad's tree for the first time, we placed a ring of seashells around it that his grandsons had all had a part in decorating.  As my son was only 10 months old when he passed, this has been a lovely family activity for us all to be involved in......and he still likes to talk about "Grandads tree!"  
Lounging in the grass after a bit of weeding and maintenance around Dads Tree.... this location provides the perfect peaceful place to quietly reflect on my Dads life and be alone with my thoughts (until being climbed on by my toddler of course!)

  • Make sure the tree that you're planting is suitable for the area and climate it will be planted in.  When choosing a tree to plant in memory of my Dad, my sister had to get a special seedling that was native to the area it was to be planted in (the area is a special reserve, and as it's a coastal climate it's sensible to choose a hardy plant!)
  • Make sure your tree gets the best start. Always try and dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball to save your tree the stress of trying to break through compacted soil in its first year. Consider adding some compost, fertilizer, mulch or stakes as necessary and don't forget to give it a good water.
  • Your tree doesn't have to be planted straight away - buy a large container to keep your tree in until you've made up your mind where to plant it (although this will require conscientious watering)  
  • Put some thought into the type of tree you'll choose.  By coincidence, my son's 'birth tree' flowers gorgeous golden blooms around MY birthday!  If you're giving a special tree, consider writing a heartfelt note explaining the reasons behind your type of tree and the symbolism involved.
  • It doesn't have to be a tree - if a tree is to big for your current home or you don't have the space, consider choosing a small shrub, a rose or a scented creeping vine.  Wisteria vines hold special meaning to my family. 
  • My Aunty has a whole orchard of delicious fruit trees that were all individually planted with specific people in mind - YUM!  What a great way to be reminded of family.
  • Consider placing something special around your tree if that's appropriate (flowers, shells or other memorial items)
  • If the worst come to the worst, and the tree dies, don't panic!  It's the thought that went into choosing the tree and planting it that counts.  You can find another tree of the same species to replant (just make sure you reflect on the suitability of your tree to the location before replanting in that area)
  • We're recently facing the dilemma of moving house and leaving some of our special wedding trees behind...... but the thought of planting those same 2 species of tree in our new home is the loveliest feeling!  Bitter sweet...

And after all this, I just want to say that you never need an important reason to plant a tree..... just plant one!!

Grubbily yours,

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

This week in Nature - a Hammerhead Shark! (+ a free Nature Table Fact-File)

This week in nature......... STOP-Hammer time! (I don't think I've ever had such a valid reason to quote MC Hammer ha ha)
My wee toddler and I made a fascinating discovery on our local beach a few weeks back—a dead baby hammerhead shark!  It had washed in on the incoming tide and was already being eyed up by hungry seagulls. I don’t know much about sharks, so this obviously required some further investigation.  I was so inspired by our special discovery, that I've whipped up a little template for your kids to use... perfect for recording all the new information they learn while studying their nature find (just in case bringing a hammerhead shark to school for show-and-tell is not an option!!)
You can download a free copy of this Hammerhead fact file here.
Whether your nature treasure is a beautiful leaf or a baby hammerhead, this sheet is great way to support your little explorers as they closely observe and complete basic research.   I've included the facts we've discovered about hammerhead sharks (just click on the fact-file above to download) plus a link to the blank template so your children can fill in their own sheets (below).  I'd suggest keeping some blank copies on your nature table for children to help themselves to as needed (photocopy the sheets back-to-back to save paper) and then after they've shared their special finds with the class, they can slip the completed sheets into a clearfile folder to create a nature table book for your class to enjoy.
Click here to download your free Nature Table Fact-File!
Have fun exploring,
Grubbily yours,

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Kiwi Educators - where are you?! (Bloggers, Businesses & TpT Teacher-Authors)

Haere mai Kiwi bloggers - where are you? 
Come and have a browse through these creative and diverse Kiwi teacher blogs...... if you'd like to be included, please leave me a note with your blog details (or facebook page) in the comment section below!

          Gretchen's Art Blog            Sling Shot Educa8tion               Digital Discovery

            Kiwi Teacher Blog       The Inspired Kiwis Classroom      Digital Learning

              Help Me Learn                    Teacher Talk NZ            @The Click Of A Mouse


Click here to view ALL Kiwi sellers on TpT, or scroll down to view individual stores....

*In alphabetical order:

  1. Beyond imagination
  2. Boydy Mac
  3. Classroom ideas
  4. Cleverchick
  5. Graphics By Lucy
  6. Green Grubs Garden Club
  7. Gretchen Buwalda
  8. Kelsy Fletcher
  9. Kiwi Teacher
  10. Learning to be Awesome 
  11. Little Teapot Education
  12. Magic Mistakes and Mayhem
  13. Miss Downard
  14. Montessori Kiwi
  15. NACM
  16. Olivia Walker
  17. One Teachers Journey
  18. Organisedteacher NZ
  19. Sculpt Designs
  20. Sling Shot Educa8tion
  21. Teachaid English Literature
  22. Teacher Hayley
  23. Teacher MoHo
  24. Teach Starter 
  25. TeacherTalk NZ 
  26. The Almost Their Height Teacher
  27. @ The Click Of A Mouse
  28. The Inspired Kiwis Classroom
  29. Top Teaching Tasks
  30. Waterfall Learning

If you're a Kiwi teacher, you'll know that there are some subtle differences between the way things are done in NZ and the way things are done in the US (spelling, metrics and paper size mostly, not to mention curriculum!) **Please click here for a more extensive post about getting started on TpT for sellers outside of the US!**

Us Kiwi's are a rare bunch on TpT, so just in case you're looking for some Kiwi created resources, I thought I'd take a quick 'Roll Call' of New Zealand teacher-authors selling on Teachers pay Teachers.

Some of the stores in this list target a more American audience; some have a more Kiwi flavour; and some (such as myself) have a mixture of both.  As a seller, I personally try to offer alternate spelling and page size format for those buyers outside of the US (US letter size to A4) and as a buyer, I'd encourage you to leave a query in the 'ask question' section of these sellers stores if you want to learn more about their products.  A few of the sellers on the list are based outside of NZ, but stock Kiwi themed resources.

This list is by no means exhaustive and I'm hoping to keep adding to it - so PLEASE let me know if there are any other Kiwi's roaming loose on TpT that I've missed!

And last (but not least) a selection of hard-to-find New Zealand themed clipart, most of which are commercial licence.  Not all are created by NZ TpT Authors, but they're all gorgeous - please let me know if I've missed any good ones!

I hope you find this useful,
Grubbily yours - Ka kite ano,

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Waitangi Day....Do you love or loathe teaching about it?

February rolls around again (well, it's coming!) and along with it Waitangi Day...

This particular New Zealand event is always one of those tricky subjects that you're never quite sure about HOW to approach with your class.
Click here for your free copy of this mini poster (in black and white and colour) ~ Perfect for enlarging to A3 and adding to your wall display!~

Should you emphasis the grievances surrounding this historic day so that your class will understand all the news footage about protesters, Tino Rangatiratanga flags and debate about the Queen? Or should you gloss over the topic with 'fuzzy talk' about how we're all moving forward together sharing this beautiful country as one people?

After you've finished that internal debate, you then rummage around in your resource room/scour the internet trying to find some new fresh resources that are appropriate for your primary aged class (grumbling under your breath when nothing magically appears) and you then wonder if you should even bother touching on the topic?  After all, the event has often already occurred by the time you're back at school, and there's so much class organisation to be done... new routines to instill... planning and paperwork to get through in first few weeks of the school year....  and you're pretty sure it will get covered by the next teacher the following year right?

In the end, you settle for a fairly neutral and brief class discussion about the topic (probably linked to the signing of your own class treaty/rules, and maybe supported by a story from the school library that the kids already heard last year) and then you move on with the never ending list of things to get through.

Now I have my own child, I find myself wondering about how to explain the day to him in a factual, simple and honest way.  My main fascination with our country's history comes from making connections between it and my family.  My Great, Great Granddad lived in Taranaki, and was (among other things) a Maori translator during the New Zealand Wars.  He'd arrived in NZ as a young man a few years after the Treaty was signed.  His brother was the PM of NZ twice (during the turmoil of the Maori wars) and it's been interesting making connections between our personal family stories and our Nations history.  Letters written between family members at this time make for absolutely harrowing reading, and really showed the intense connection (both positive and negative) between Maori and Pakeha...they've really helped me to view historic events more personally and through the lenses of society at that time.

I find it absolutely appalling that I can only recall one instance in my whole journey through primary and secondary school that was based around the Treaty of Waitangi.  (I'm not saying it wasn't taught, but if it was, I can't recall anything of it - although I always was a bit of a day dreamer in class! ***EDIT - after discussing this with my sister, she recalled an amazing class bus trip all the way up north, stopping off at all historically significant treaty locations along the way - so some teachers were doing a fantastic job!***)  

The one instance I do recall was in my form 1 year.  That year marked the 150th anniversary commemorations of the Treaty being signed in Waitangi, and I was lucky enough to attend to attend the event and watch the celebrations with my family!  My main memories as an 11 year old included:
  • Being sticky, hot and dusty (probably because us kids were climbing around under the tiered seating drinking L&P)
  • Watching with interest as the protest action cranked into high gear when the Queen arrived (culminating with things being thrown at her)
  • Giggling at all the pomp and ceremony of the military drills
  • Watching all the warriors padding their intricate waka up onto the beach (complete with bare buttocks, ta moko and haka)
If this visit emphasised anything to me as a child, it was the incredibly rich, tangible and exciting nature of Waitangi... history should be alive and colourful, not drab, boring and misunderstood!  I certainly put my hand up to do 'News' in class on Monday morning :-)

I've admired with envy my American friends enthusiasm and joy in celebrating their country and their past - they do a great job in learning about themselves!  I don't think we put such an emphasis on learning about ourselves here in NZ.... maybe because we have a 'so called' young country?  Maybe because we're such an outward (rather than inward) looking country? (75% of Kiwis own a passport and international events fill our nightly news stories) Maybe because it's not the Kiwi way to dwell on ourselves or toot our own horn (tall poppies anyone?)  Or maybe because it's a complicated topic that not many people understand enough about.

Anyway, based on all of this, I've finally had time to make the resource I was always looking for but could never find!  It's a mini booklet designed to support your classroom discussions around the Treaty of Waitangi.  Non threatening, and basic factual information with lots of different ways to respond.  Mix and match the 48 pages to best suit the needs of your class...

You can find this 48 page mini booklet here
However you spend your Waitangi Day, make sure you learn a little more about it!

Grubbily yours,

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