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Earth Day is an annual celebration, championed by the Earth Day Network, which focuses on promoting environmental protection around the world. The Earth Day Network’s mission is to build a healthy, sustainable environment, address climate change, and protect the Earth for future generations. The theme for Earth Day 2016 is Trees for the Earth, raising awareness around protecting the Earth’s forests.
In Maya’s Blanket/La Manta de Maya, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by David Diaz, Maya takes an old blanket that her abuela sewed for her and turns it into many different things. Her blanket turns into a dress, then a skirt, then a rebozo, a scarf, a headband and even a bookmark! Maya teaches us that something old can be turned into a new and beautiful something else.
In this season of crazed holiday shopping, sometimes it can seem like nothing’s worth having unless it is brand new. But creating DIY projects–either for yourself or as gifts–can often be more meaningful, and it is also much more Earth-friendly!
DIY means “do it yourself.” This means you’re making, building, or repairing something without professional help. People who DIY are known as “DIYers.”
Here are some great DIY projects you can do with items from around your house:
Out this September from the Children’s Book Press imprint of LEE & LOW, Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Mayaputs a child-focused Latino spin on the traditional Yiddish folk song “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (“I Had a Little Coat”) about a piece of fabric that is made into smaller and smaller items. We interviewed author Monica Brown about how she’s been inspired by the book.
1.What inspired you to write a children’s book based on the Yiddish folk song “Hob Ikh Mira Mantl”?
I’ve always loved the idea song, which is as much about creativity as it is about recycling and creating something from nothing. The song has inspired several books, in fact, and still inspires me. I often draw on my cultural heritage for inspiration, and Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya is no exception, paying homage to different aspects of my Jewish and Latina identity. It celebrates the two languages I speak, side by side on the page, along with a history of multigenerational storytelling passed down from both sides of my family.
I love the message of the song–that an object can be transformed again and again, and ultimately into something intangible and lasting through effort, creativity, and imagination. I like the idea that we can extend the life of things we love—with our own two hands or our imagination.
2.Did you have a favorite lullaby that your parents sang to you growing up? What about a lullaby that you sang to your daughters?
My mom sang me wonderful songs in Spanish. As a child I loved in particular Tengo una muñeca vestida de azul, which translates into I have a doll dressed in blue. When her granddaughter and namesake Isabella was born, my mother, Isabel Maria, made up a special song for her. It started with this line “Isabelita, Chiquita bonita de mi Corazon” and ended with “Corazon de melon!” It was a silly sweet line, but I’ve forgotten the lines in between, and now my mother is gone.
As a child, my only babysitters I knew were my tías and my Nana, my paternal grandmother, who taught me to embroider and sew. I stayed overnight at my Nana’s often and when I did, “the sandman” would visit us at night. For those who don’t know, the Sandman myth, which originates in Europe, is of a character who sprinkles sand on children’s eyes, bringing them happy dreams. My Scottish and Italian Nana would be sure the sandman visited each night. If I behaved just okay during the day the sandman would sprinkle regular sand on my forehead to help me fall asleep. If I was good, I would get silver sand, and if I was very, very good, I would get gold sand sprinkled on my forehead. I could feel the different types of sand as my Nana’s hands smoothed across my forehead, hair, and closed eyes.
3. Do you have an object today that’s your “Maya’s blanket,” i.e. that you are continually finding new uses for and don’t want to part with?
As an adult I have more of a subject than an object, and it is the subject of childhood memory. I think I became a children’s writer so I can go back and be in that moment of childhood innocence to remember what it feels like to be comforted by a beloved grandmother or my mother, to remember those minutes and hours, forever gone, of days spend with my Nana, who patiently taught me to embroider, and to sew and stitch or my mother, who shared story after story of her childhood in Northern Peru, and her dreams and her art.
I’ve never used an electric sewing machine, but thanks to my Nana I’ve still managed to stitch and mend and sew my daughter’s things—even a Halloween costume or two with those basic stitches my grandmother taught. I have my Nana’s sewing basket still, just as I am surrounded by my mother’s paintings each time I pick up a pen or open up my computer to write.
5. MAYA’S BLANKET provides an important message about recycling! Do you have any tips on how people can be more eco-friendly?
As a teacher, I always think the place to begin with is education and The Environmental Protection Agency has a website with lots of resources for children, parents, and especially teachers: http://www2.epa.gov/students. I also love that the Sierra Club has a student coalition for high school and college students that trains and connects young environmental activists: http://www.sierraclub.org/youth. Finally, well, I want to give a shout out to my fellow writers by highlighting Authors for Earth Day: http://www.authorsforearthday.org, a group that supports conservation through literacy.
It is my hope that children and the adults in their lives can become more aware and conscious of the challenges using our natural resources responsibly, and looking to for more creative solutions to persistent problems.
About the Book:
Maya’s Blanket/ La Manta de Maya
by Monica Brown, illustrated by David Diaz
Out September 2015
Ages 5-9 ~ 32 pp. ~ bilingual
Learn more about the book here.
Hey folks! I didn’t mean to be gone for so long. End-of-year activities completely knocked me off course in the last weeks.
Meanwhile, my five-year-old came up with this project. He designed the whole thing, directing me to cut the box into specific shapes and getting me to help him put it back together with duct tape. It’s a rocket for his Lego guys.
He often has cardboard construction projects going on, but this is by far his best yet. Next up, the two kids are working together on a shadow puppet theater. Hopefully I can share that soon.
As busy as we’ve been, I’ve found a few minutes here and there to finish up a few of my own projects that were alllllmost done, so I hope to show those to you, too.
Sadly, I did not finish my novel revision on time (my personal deadline was the end of preschool). But, I’m stealing all the minutes I can to keep working. Having a deadline definitely helps, even if it’s already passed me by.
What about you? Have you made any summer plans of things to do with the kids, or for yourself? We started making a list of fun things to do together. What’s on yours?
I’m not exactly sure where it started (maybe with the rocket? maybe with this book?), but over the course of the summer, our dining room became piled high with cardboard creations.
I thought I’d share a few, in case they might inspire you or your kids. The center photo is the first guitar my son made. The others, clockwise from the top: a rocket, guitar #2 and drum, shadow puppets, tube puppets, shadow puppet theater, and sword.
Summer’s over, and the factory had to be cleaned up, but we make sure to have a small cardboard stash at all times for building material. For more kid’s crafts, click here.
Sorry for being away so long! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was nice and low-key, and featured some gluten-free apple pie. There was a big to-do about who got the last pieces, and not just among the GF folks. It’s that good.
The hubs and I also took a trip just before Thanksgiving, which I’ll have to tell you more about in another post.
Here I wanted to show you a little holiday craft we did. Last year I made gift cloths with Christmas fabric and existing Christmas linens, but this year I decided to add to the collection by decorating and sewing up scraps of fabric I already had in my stash.
The red and green stripe in the back left corner was made with watercolor-type fabric paints by Deka. I’ve had that paint forEVER. I tried to find a link to a place you can buy it, but it’s looking like it’s not sold in the US anymore. Bummer. It’s good stuff.
We decorated the fabric for the center red-ribboned present with Target brand “slick” fabric paints (you squeeze the bottles to draw with them). My least favorite fabric paint ever. Really poor quality, but we made the best of it.
The blue-ribboned gift cloth is pale pink, and we drew on it with Tee Juice markers, which are great for quick and easy projects, especially with kids. They are totally permanent, though, so, as with all of these supplies, dress accordingly.
Lastly, on the red-spotted cloth with the dark green ribbon, we used stamps with cheap acrylic paints from Michaels mixed with textile medium. This is one of my favorite ways to paint on fabric, because mixing it yourself gives you a wide range of choices. And in the end you aren’t left with a bunch of fabric paint you may never use again.
Below are some pre-decorated and hemmed gift cloths: a thrifted plaid tablecloth and two tea towels from Target marked down to 88¢!
The kids loved trying to guess what all these fake presents were, the favorite by far being the pink one below that’s wrapped like candy. It’s a sack of corn meal.
Loving this free printable nativity the kids can color themselves at Made by Joel.
Hope to be back soon with some details of our trip.
the everyday stuff you would normally throw away. This year, the clothing store H&M is joining in to make a difference by giving your old clothes a new life. You can bring unwanted clothes of any brand and in any condition to H&M stores, and they will recycle them.
According to the H&M website, “Every year tons of textiles are thrown out and end up in landfills. As much as 95% of these clothes could be used again — re-worn, reused, or recycled depending on the state of the garment.”
The clothes will be separated in three groups:
Re-wear – clothing that can be worn again is sold as second-hand goods worldwide.
Reuse – textiles that are no longer suitable to wear are converted into other products, such as cleaning cloths.
Recycle – textiles that can’t be reused can be turned into textile fibers or used to manufacture products such as insulating materials for the auto industry.
How can you help? Go through your clothes and pick out the ones that don’t fit you anymore, or have huge stains or holes in the knees, and ask your parent if you can bring them to your local H&M store. You’ll see a big drop-off box like this one. Pop your old clothes in and be very proud of yourself for helping to save the planet!
In Australia we’re in the midst of Summer, although here in Melbourne we’ve already had all four seasons in one, sometimes even in one day! A great way to familiarise children with all that the season encompasses is through engaging language experiences. That means providing children opportunities to see, do, touch, listen, read and think […]
What is Earth, really?
It is something sweet,
Some parts you can eat
Earth is full of life
Some life is furry,
Some hop, others scurry
None are boring or lame
We should all be treated the same
(Dogs and cats can’t
get all the attention)
I mean, what if me and you
owned a baby kangaroo?
(I’d name mine Darryl)
But now the Earth is in peril
The ice is melting,
More animals dieing
So, down with global warming
And up with recycling
For the Earth is something sweet
And something worth saving.
Want to try dyeing things but don’t know where to start?
A reader wrote me recently asking for help.
Where to start, what to read?
The easiest kind of dyeing to start with is food dye on animal fibers. I love this because you can do it in the kitchen with grocery-store items, the results are super-satisfying, and the kids can join in.
What are animal fibers? Wool, silk, cashmere, you get the idea
Wool and Cashmere:
You can do some beautiful things with Kool-Aid and wool, and IT WILL NEVER WASH OUT.
Kool-Aid (or Easter egg dye) and wool yarn is a perfect starter project, especially if you knit. You can dye it with a rainbow of colors, using your microwave. Check out this article for details. Lion Brand makes an undyed 100% wool yarn called Fisherman’s Yarn that is very reasonably priced. I used to buy it at Hobby Lobby, but it may also be available at Michael’s and other craft stores. Knitpicks also sells undyed yarn, in a wider variety of weights and variations. Their prices are very reasonable also, but you do have to order it. Also try dharmatrading.
You can dye pieces of old wool or cashmere sweaters in a similar way, but it’s a little tricky—-you should be prepared for uneven results. Here’s a project of mine with Easter egg dye on cashmere. I would recommend starting with a light-colored sweater and dyeing smaller pieces (an arm or less) at a time, as a sweater acts like a sponge to the dye, absorbing the color before it gets the chance to circulate around the fabric.
The process is similar to the yarn-dyeing project, but use a larger amount of dye and a larger container, on the stove instead of the microwave. I used my big soup pot. The same process should work for wool and cashmere wovens, though I’ve never tried it.
Kool-Aid, Easter egg dye, or food coloring also works well on silk. I’ve used it to make playsilks, with the directions here. I’ve also dip-dyed silk scarves, which you can see here. After heat-setting, these dyes are not quite as colorfast as in wool and cashmere, so I would recommend hand-washing, but the bleeding is very little. Also, dry out of direct sunlight.
With any dyeing project, there’s a certain amount of risk involved. You never know exactly what your finished project is going to look like, and for me, that’s part of the thrill. Be prepared for that uncertainty, because even if your project turns out beautifully, chances are it won’t be exactly as you envisioned.
Maybe it’s all the cameos in spaghetti sauce commercials and movies (was it Superman II where he straightens it?) but Pisa’s famous tower struck me as surreal, like we’d stepped into a fantasy world. The white stone buildings of the piazza, which we’re guessing had been cleaned recently, really glowed on the day we visited.
The kids called it the “Bendy Tower,” which is actually pretty accurate, since during its construction, the builders tried to correct for the leaning (already apparent) by centering the higher layers on top of the original foundation. Sounds like something I would do with one of my craft projects. So it really does bend. I kept thinking of Miss Havisham’s wedding cake.
No kids under 8 are allowed to go inside the staircase, which disappointed the kids but was fine by me. I often enjoy the outsides of buildings more than the insides anyway.
It’s a little surprising there’s a rule—-most sights in Europe have no restrictions about children, leaving you to make up your own mind. I understand this and appreciate it, but coming from the super-litigious culture of the U.S., I’ve gotten used to someone else making those decisions for me. At times we’ve been a little confused as to what was really appropriate for the kids.
While the tower was mesmerizing, my favorite thing in Pisa was the exterior of the cathedral next door. The tower is the bell tower for this cathedral. The stones that make up the cathedral are all different sizes and materials, which I found kind of crazy and awesome. Some of them are recycled from other buildings. You can see writing and designs that are now upside down and cut off:
From my reading, I understand the upside-down stuff to be recycled Roman stonework.
Here’s some other writing that must’ve been added after construction, but its placement seems kind of random:
And then there’s the graffiti (another word in my oh-so-extensive Italian vocabulary) scattered around. I guess in the olden days if you wanted to be a graffiti artist, you had to carry around a knife or a chisel or something. If you really wanted to have a lasting impact:
It seemed like these were little hidden messages waiting to be discovered. For someone interested in recycling, patchwork, writing, and printing, it was really cool.
I haven’t had a chance to do much research on the writing and recycled stone, so if you know of articles about it, let me know.
I don't usually do reviews, but this new picture book by Kathy Stemke spoke to the GREEN in me.
As parents, we teach our kids about many things. Yet our "actions" will speak louder than all the nagging words we throw at them. This new picture book of Kathy's has kids and parents working together for a greener and more reusable and recyclable world.
HOW COOL IS THAT!
Trouble on Earth Day - Picture Book – soft cover
Author - Kathy Stemke
Publisher – Wild Plains Press
Illustrations –Kurt Wilcken
Earth Day projects modeled by: Eamon Monaghan and Summer Dodd
6 Comments on REVIEW - Trouble on Earth Day, last added: 10/13/2011
Portland is recycling food waste curb side now, which means with all the other recycling (plus plastic grocery bags are now banned) we hardly throw anything away.
And we feel oddly guilty when we do. Like Teen had a scrap of cloth and asked it there was some way we could recycle it. Which reminded her of this video from Portlandia (a really funny show that is actually fairly accurate in how it skewers Portland):
Portland is very popular these days, what with Portlandia, Grim, and Leverage, which has long been filmed in Portland (doubling for Boston, for some reason) is now openly going to take place here.
Charles Dickens was born 200 years ago this week, but he is very much alive in our culture, having become associated with two ways of seeing the world: “Dickensian” is now shorthand for filthy urban misery, but it is also linked to domestic bliss, the cozy armchair with the rubicund host, the plump goose and the fragrant, steaming punch. The man whose attack on the workhouses has resonated for two centuries is the same man who popularized the modern Christmas.
Interestingly, these two modes are linked by their obsession with (of all things) garbage. The dirt of Victorian London needs no introduction. In Bleak House, the homeless illiterate Jo is a street sweeper, spending his days trying to push back a tide of pestilent mud, horse droppings, ashes, decayed cats. Our Mutual Friend famously centers on three giant mounds of dust. But how was rubbish enshrined in the domestic home?
The answer is that one of the most important values in Victorian domestic organization was the recycling of detritus, and Dickens recognized that. In Our Mutual Friend, the villains steal waste products — they ransack corpses, they try to take the Mounds — but the good characters turn those products into delightful artifacts. Jenny Wren is a dolls’ dressmaker, buying shreds of waste cloth, ribbon ends, and damaged beads, and snipping them into costumes. Mr. Venus articulates skeletons, wiring dusty bones and stray teeth together to make his art.
Jenny and Mr. Venus are professionals, but their first readers loved them because they are participating in one of the most popular amateur pursuits in the nineteenth century. Victorian domestic handicrafters were urged to glue plum pits to mirrors, to melt leftover candle ends to cover plaster statuettes, to varnish scraps of leather to resemble wood. They exulted in turning household waste into decorative spectacles to prove their managerial skill. In this way, Victorian women could emulate industrial production, making it very different from modern crafts, which embrace an ethos of handmade uniqueness. Just as factories took in raw materials like dead horses or coal, turning out other products, so too did craftswomen process the debris of the home. They had no interest in learning age-old artisanal traditions; rather, they wanted to prove themselves participants in modernity.
For instance, one popular craft involved turning fish scales into homemade sequins: soaking the scales, snipping them with special tiny shears, and piercing them with a needle, before sewing them onto silk. The pleasure in the fish-scale craft came from the creative recycling of trash, and the sense that one could make something as well as a machine did. To churn out identical, swift copies of objects, using premade kits and instructions from mass-circulation magazines and pamphlets, was to reach this ideal.
Handicraft fulfilled other goals, some of them contradictory. Handicraft, for instance, was usually temporary; made of homemade paste and bits of paper, it was designed to fall apart so the maker would have an excuse to bring in something new. For craft was seen as a fashion, to be updated frequently, not as a timeless piece of art.
0 Comments on Charles Dickens and garbage as of 1/1/1900
Here's another image, a full spread this time from Michelle Lord's Nature Recycles, published by Sylvan Dell Publishing. What do sea urchins, hermit crabs, carolina wrens, elf owls, veined octopus, woodpecker finch, dung beetles, termites, caddisfly larva, poison dart frogs, asian elephants, and people all have in common? Yes, you got it, recycling!
September's theme is "Character" but I've been working on a couple of picture books where there's no central character. So that's a huge challenge I don't have to deal with although there's other concerns to make sure there's continuity throughout the book. This is one spread from Nature Recycles, written by Michelle Lord and published by Sylvan Dell Publishing. This spread is about how the decorator sea urchin recycles. Other examples of recycling in nature are the elf owl, hermit crab, veined octopus, dung beetle, poison dart frog, you and I, etc. Look for it spring 2013.
Except instead of wax and feathers, I'm patched together with glitter glue, writing morsels and cups of hot tea. Struck by a blaze of new story lightning, I'm going down.
That's a good thing, right? ...Right?
Muttering at walls, scribbling "Words are my wings!" on sticky notes, covered in ink smudges, I'm delightedly doomed. But not too doomed to help with peg dolls. Indeed! And Ancient Greek peggies at that. Athena, patron of wisdom, and arts and crafts!
She's an owl lady. Aphrodite, patron of love.
Posiedon. Sea guy. And that's his trident.
Hera, wife of Zeus, patron of marriage. Peacock lady. Also compared to a cow in some circles. Now you know. Parthenon? Ruler. Cardboard. Scissors. Tape. White glue.
And now for the drum-roll, please... we'd like to announce a winner! A hearty thanks to all of you who entered Margaret Bloom's Making Peg Dolls giveaway, and thank you to Margaret for the fantastic blog tour. Our winner is... Barb Davis-Pyles. Congratulations, Barb!
I hope you will all go out and find this beautiful book. You are going to LOVE it. And did you know SACRED DIRT has a facebook page? "Like it" to get posts on the beautiful mess of artsy writing, daily dirt, and parenting sent directly to your facebook feed.
Ancient Greece on the page:
Greek Myths For Young Children, by Heather Amery, ill. Linda Edwards Explore Ancient Greece! Greek Myths - Ann Turnbull, ill. by Sarah Young A Gift From Zeus - Jeanne Steig, ill. by William Steig The Adventures of Odysseus, by Hugh Lupton, Daniel Morden, ill. by Christina Balit Aesop's Fables - Lisbeth Zwerger
The best piece of writing advice I ever got came from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It had to do with accepting the idea of “shitty first drafts.” The second best piece of advice came from a professor whose teaching assistant I had been in English graduate school in the 1960s. He had struck me, when we first met, as incredibly brash, an effect that he was deliberately seeking to achieve. He’d barge into the classroom, send the blinds crashing up or down, and lie on the desk with a cigar between his teeth. “I’m Smith,” he’d say to a wide-eyed class. He went on to become a rock star of literary criticism, publishing countless books, writing regularly for the New York Times, becoming an internationally famous intellectual. He even appeared as a character in a well known novel.
His advice? “Always recycle.”
“First,” he said, “I write a talk. Then I give it in several times. I turn the talk into an essay and publish it. Maybe it becomes part of an anthology edited by someone else. Then I use it as a chapter of a book or include it in a collection of my essays.” I remember him chewing on a cigar when he told me this. But I may be making up the cigar.
I feel comfortable with Lamott’s advice. I am perfectly capable of producing “a shitty first draft” and of feeling, as she does, that I’d just as soon not die while it is lying on my desk, lest someone read it and assume my death was suicide. But following the guidance of my brash professor was another matter. Who me? I thought. I’m allergic to cigars. But, in the end, I tried his system. As an academic I wrote talks, wrote them into essays that I published, saw them anthologized, and gathered them into a book. I did not become an academic rock star or take up smoking, but the method served me well. I published, and at each stage became a better writer.
When I retired and began taking classes in creative writing, I fell into the system out of habit. I wrote pieces for my writing classes. I turned the pieces into blogs. I posted them on a collective site. Then I posted them on my own. Eventually, I did guest posts with the same materials. After four years, several posts have been anthologized and most of them are chapters in my memoir. Others are beginning to look a lot like a collection of essays on food and place. Good job, I told myself, thinking this would be the end, but then I hired a publicist who told me “No.” Now I had to link my book to larger issues. So, in preparation for the memoir’s launch, I began to write some essays that made those links. One is to be published but, even better, I have begun to see more clearly what the book is all about, and I have a new set of ideas to explore. So recycling? I’m a fan and I’m passing on my famous professor’s advice to you. Because once you’re past the stage of “shitty first draft,” it’s not just about recycling. It’s about revisioning and writing better as well.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
What Can you Do with an Old Red Shoe: a green activity book about reuse by Anna Alter, Henry Holt, 2009
The stereotype about folks who lived through the Great Depression is that they never throw anything away; they reuse foil and twine. They patch and mend clothes instead of throwing them away and harvest fabric from old clothing for quilt patches.
This book suggests many ways to reuse and recycle including ways to use old wrapping paper, t-shirts, crayons, shower curtains, and flip flops in craft projects. It suggests where to share toys that have been out grown and participation in recycling efforts in the community.
Even if you do not turn an old shoe into a planter, the book should cause the reader to pause and reflect on our disposable, throw-away society.
The Great Depression is never far from my own thoughts as the economy continues to sink below the surface. These projects may come in very handy indeed in the not so distant future.
In fact, I think I will go wash and smooth some foil and maybe start a rubber band ball now.
Miranda Ritts shares her review of Watch Out World – Rosy Cole Is Going Green!The book is written by Sheila Greenwald. This book has a great storyline. It really shows how anyone big or small can do their part to go green. I really enjoyed how the book gives great ideas on how to do things for the world such as recycling and using worms for composting things. These are only two of the ideas in this book that anyone could do. The cover on this book is great. It was a good way to get my attention with the bright colors and large print.
Diane’s notes: View this creative video Make Like a Tree and Leave we made for a workshop on Videos and Podcasting. We decided to pretend we were students and based a tree-planting activity upon the Watch Out World – Rosy Cole is Going Green book.
If you could see the white letters around the cover, you’d read “Rosy Cole’s bright, though not exactly popular, ideas about garbage, worms, dirt, and other gifts of nature. ”
When I read the inside cover of this book, I thought it would focus on planting trees and taking steps to be more earth-friendly like using the energy-saving lightbulbs. Instead, Rosy Cole’s new adventure has her learning about nature while respecting insects. I particularly enjoyed her research into Blattella Germanica and red wiggler worms.
My favorite Rosy Cole quote from the book:
“Because the museum is where I found out going green is about respecting and protecting the earth and all its creatures. Even the ones that aren’t as pretty as butterflies or as cute as ladybugs can teach us important lessons.”
Can you believe that we have been reading the adventures of Rosy Cole for 26 years? I remember my first Rosy Cole book – Write On, Rosy! (A Young Author in Crisis). This newest edition to Sheila Greenwald’s early chapter books will be a popular choice for science units and Earth Day studies.
*Picture book for preschoolers through third graders, realistic fiction (based on a true story)
*A nice tugboat driver and the garbage barge as main characters
*Rating: Here Comes the Garbage Barge! is a great book to share with students during any recycling lesson–they’ll laugh but get the point!
Short, short summary:
Jonah Winter has written a picture book based on a true story about the Garbage Barge (1987) that traveled up and down the east coast–trying to find a place to land and dump almost 3200 tons of garbage. Basically, Long Island’s landfills were full and polluting the groundwater. So, some businessmen decided that they should ship the garbage to farmers in the south and pay them to bury it on their land. Burning garbage was expensive, so a city called Islip (near New York City) decided to take the businessmen up on their offer and put their trash on the barge to ship south. In the picture book, with wonderful illustrations by Red Nose Studio, a little tugboat named Break of Dawn driven by Cap’m Duffy St. Pierre, set out to pull the garbage barge from Islip to North Carolina. But when the captain and his smelly barge got to North Carolina, he was turned away–the same thing happened in New Orleans, Mexico, Belize, Florida, Texas, and so on. Finally, with a REALLY smelly barge behind him, Cap’m St. Pierre had to take the garbage back to Long Island. The courts got involved, and finally, the garbage was taken off his hands. But as the author points out, the moral of the story is: “Don’t make so much garbage.” He also tells us that Islip now has a recycling program.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. Many teachers and parents will read Here Comes the Garbage Barge! in connection with Earth Day or even at the beginning of the school year to talk about the importance of recycling and being good to the environment. This book can also be used with a science lesson on “green” living. It has a lot of practical applications to today’s science curriculum and could start a great class or home school discussion as well as classroom or home recycling program.
2. This is a great book to discuss problem solving! Poor Cap’m St. Pierre has a huge problem–how to get rid of the garbage. Long Island and Islip have a huge problem, too–too much garbage. Ask students to use their problem solving and brainstorming skills to come up with solutions to the problem BEFORE you read them the end of the story. When looking at students’ solutions, evaluate each one to see if it is a good solution or not through class discussion. Even though this happened in 1987, students today might have a better idea of what SHOULD have happened to all that garbage.
3. You could use this book to help you teach the six plus one traits of writing. It is a great book for organization–the beginning grabs the readers’ attention with all the garbage and then it is organized by the barge’s trip down the river–trying to stop at different states–before the story and the barge circle back to the beginning–to right where they started–garbage in Long Island. The circle format is one form of organization that many authors and essayists use.
I hadn’t planned to share from this work-in-progress until it was done, but then I was inspired by this post, which challenges bloggers (quilting bloggers in particular) to share more of their process, not just finished projects.
So, here I am, showing you a strip from a large patchwork I’m working on. When I do patchwork, I’m not usually interested in following a traditional pattern or in measuring. Some people call this “liberated quilting.” For me it’s about being able to enjoy the process (I hate measuring) and also something we used to talk about it in art class called “showing the artist’s hand.” In painting this often means that the artist has let the brushstrokes show. I enjoy having my patchwork look handmade at first glance. If you’re familiar with the Gee’s Bend quilts, it’s that kind of aesthetic I’m going for.
I also prefer to work with mostly used or scrap fabrics in my patchwork (I keep saying patchwork rather than quilting because this piece is not actually going to be quilted). I think it’s because historically that’s what quilts were made from, and that thriftiness and ingenuity is part of what attracts me to patchwork in the first place. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a beautiful quilt made from new fabrics—-this is just a rule I give myself (and sometimes break, of course). The history of the fabric creates a story behind the project, and it also provides an extra challenge, kind of like painting a still life using only four tubes of paint.
This patchwork is for my son’s duvet cover, and it’s made from his crib sheets, most of which I hand-dyed, and also from the fabric I used in a failed attempt at making a shopping cart cover. You can see one of his crib sheets in this blog post. There’s also a bit of fabric left from making the curtains in his room.
When I was pregnant with my son, I went snorkeling for the first time and was inspired to create a nursery mural of a very simple school of white fish on a grayish-teal backdrop—blogged here. Now that he’s in a big-boy bed, I wanted to make him a new bedcover with a similar theme. I didn’t want to make literal fish but wanted to keep the feeling of simple white shapes moving over the space. Here’s my sketch for the piece—although I didn’t color it all in so you really can’t tell at this point which parts are going to be white. That part’s in my head. I may or may not follow the sketch entirely.
In addition to the Gee’s Bend quilters, another influence is the work of Malka Dubrawksy, a fiber artist, quilting blogger, and author I admire. Check out her gorgeous work made with fabrics she batiks and dyes herself.
Can’t wait to get some more done so I can show you my progress. Hopefully I’ll finish this before the little man goes to college. And if he doesn’t like it, I’ll hang it on the wall!