Apr 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!!!

Ethan at 2 1/2 years old in tie dye shirt!

Earth Day! Can you believe that we’ve been celebrating Earth Day for 40 years? April 22, 1970 marked the first Earth Day and the birth of the modern environmental movement. Launched by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who planned this first national environmental protest "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda," the first Earth Day saw 20 million Americans join the demonstration in massive coast-to-coast rallies. This was at the end of the ‘60s, and man, we had that demonstrating thing down!

Isn't it great to see how Earth Day projects and programs have helped to raise awareness and unite people around the world? And isn’t amazing to see such a higher degree of consciousness from people and companies? However, there is so much more to do – and it starts with our children!

As I mentioned in a previous blog, one of my happiest parenting moments was when Ethan told me as I was brushing my teeth with the water running, “Mom, you’re hurting the earth! Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth!” I almost danced around the bathroom! (This was as good as hearing Ethan ask, “is this organic?” and “is this healthy?” in the grocery store!) I was soooo happy to see that the “be kind to the planet” message that I try to communicate to him on a regular basis was taking hold.

It also taught me what great little observers our children are, and that the best way to teach is by example. There are a few easy things to do and to teach your children:

1. Turn water off when brushing teeth
2. Turn off lights to conserve electricity
3. Learn to love the leftovers so you don’t waste food
4. Recycle
5. Use both sides of the paper
6. Drink water from the tap
7. Grow something to eat
8. Buy local to eat whenever possible
9. Take short showers
10. Unplug any device that isn’t being used

I love my job! I just love finding great products that are great for kids -- unique products made from unique materials – sustainable wood, organic fabrics, recycled materials – that are made in a way that is kind to the planet. Books and toys that educate our children about diversity, promote community involvement and teach them responsible stewardship of our planet. I love helping children explore their world in a fun, creative, imaginative way – and hope it shows!

Here are a few favorite items from Rosie Hippo that I’ve used them to teach Ethan about being kind to the Earth:


“The Lorax” is my absolute favorite children’s book about how one child can make a difference! Read the Lorax to your child & act it out, build a list of what went wrong & how to be kind to the earth.

“10 Things I Can Do To Help My World” empowers kids to make a difference by showing them what they can do every day to save our resources. Read this book with your child and make recycling bins out of recycled materials. I did this with Ethan’s nursery class last year and they loved it!

“The Greening Book”
is wonderful with lots of ideas and inspiration for children to learn to appreciate the earth's gifts and protect and care for our planet.

“The Down to Earth Guide for Global Warming”
by environmental activist Laurie David is fun and makes this topic understandable to children.

Read "Fairy Houses" and make fairies of recycled materials, then build fairy houses on a nature walk.

Use the “Woods Walk” book to create a nature scavenger hunt. Make a list of things for the children to find in nature --- give each child a list and a pen and a magnifying lens to find the items.

“My Nature Book”
– take the children on a nature hike and have them complete a page of the journal and to create wonderful memories of their outdoor adventures.

Here come the recycling trucks! Made of responsibly harvested maple, our cute little Recycling Scoot will be a daily reminder of the importance of recycling. This toddler sized Recycle Truck is a favorite! On a larger scale, the deluxe hardwood Recycle Truck looks and performs just like the real thing with a tilting bed and recycling cans. My son loves to drive this truck around the house, filling it with paper for recycling!

Other Great Stuff
Huggable Earth Ball
A lovable, huggable fabric ball with more than 600 locations noted so geographical awareness is heightened through play.

Smiling Planet Plates

Totally natural, totally recyclable, totally darling designs to enchant both parents and children. These plates celebrate the world and its diversity with a message that we are all connected.

This unique backpack is made of recycled fabric that allows your budding artist to color in all of their favorite Rosie friends over and over again! Wash it to create a new design.

Place an Order/Plant a Tree
For each order placed through Earth Day (April 22), Rosie Hippo will plant a tree through the United Nations Environment Program's Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign.

Remember to stop and enjoy the planet, on Earth Day and every day!


Apr 17, 2010

Earth Day Inspiration for Teachable Moments

April 22 is Earth Day. I believe (and I'm sure you'll agree) that every day is a good day to teach our children to be kind to our planet. I have been asked a number of times what I do to communicate this on an ongoing basis to my four-year-old son. So, I'd like to share an acronym that I use to help teach Ethan about the EARTH:

E = Experience
A = Appreciate

R = Reuse/Reduce/Recycle
T = Teach
H = Help to Make a Difference

E = Experience nature.
Since Ethan was a baby, I have tried to expose him to nature in a way that resonates with him, because for kids, it's all about the experience! From taking him outside when he was a week old to feel the rain, to crawling on the grass for the first time, to hiking in the woods when he was 2 (and in a carrier or backpack when he was an infant!) and feeling the bark on the trees and the moss on the ground and listening for birds we can identify --- the exposure to colors, textures, sights and sounds and the opportunity to experience the beautiful things about the Earth is important for building an appreciation of them.

Hiking with Ethan as an infant:

Ethan always loved the view from the Kelty Kids backback:

Canoeing in Vermont at 3 years old:
Hiking the Redwoods in CA with Uncle Buddy and Aunt Jen:

A = Appreciate the beauty of our planet

With every experience, I would talk with Ethan about how important it was to appreciate the things around us….to be kind to the creatures on the Earth and to our natural resources in order to build an appreciation for clean water, clean air, and plants and animals. Finding little creatures on our hikes and quietly viewing them has taught Ethan to be aware and gentle in nature.

Exploring a hollowed out tree on a hike in Vermont last week:

The first lizard Ethan held (he's 2 yo here and found it on a gravel driveway and thought it would be happier put back into grass):
A frog we came across on a trail:

R = Reuse/Reduce/Recycle.

Ethan and I talk a lot about R-R-R. Always carry out what you bring in when hiking. Recycle whenever possible. Use both sides of the paper to draw. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. Turn off the lights to save energy. By incorporating these messages into our days, they become “just the way we do things” and are part of our lives and who we are.

Ethan uses his dump truck to clean up toys and his recycle truck to collect scrap papers for the recycling bin:

T = Teach by example
My feeling is that every day and so many moments are teaching opportunities….and I remind myself that the most powerful teaching is by example. And there are many beautiful books and stories that help to illustrate how we all can make a difference. Stories like the Lorax really resonate with children (this is one of Ethan’s favorites!).

Reading the Lorax (Love this book! Check out my Lorax blog.):
H = Help to Make a Difference.
I point out to Ethan how he can help make a difference even as a young child. He picks out clothes to donate to Red Cross, toys to donate to a local thrift shop that supports community health services, coats to send to “keep a child warm” and I take him with me to deliver them. We are “building a well” as part of the “Born in September” program of Charity Water (as Ethan was born in September). He watched the benefit for Haiti with me and is collecting change to send to Haiti.

The bag Ethan labeled to collect money for Haiti:

After a trip to TD Bank to convert the change Ethan has collected to cash to send to Haiti...$6.95:

It has been wonderful to watch Ethan grow and explore nature and the world....and especially to see him develop an appreciation for the creatures in the world and the resources around him! One of my happiest parenting moments was when Ethan told me as I was brushing my teeth with the water running, “Mom, you’re hurting the earth! Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth!” I almost danced around the bathroom! (This was as good as hearing Ethan ask “is this organic?” and “is this healthy?” in the grocery store!) I was soooo happy to see that the “be kind to the planet” message that I try to communicate to him on a regular basis was taking hold.

Earth Day provides us all with a great opportunity for important teachable moments in our childrens' lives. After all, they are the ones who will inherit the Earth...I want them to know that the power to change things for the greater good is in their hands.

Remember...be kind to the Earth...and teach the same to your children!!

Apr 8, 2010

The Power of Imagination and Inspiring Pretend Play: "I am an Olympic Athlete!"

Picture this. I am in the kitchen preparing dinner. 4-year-old Ethan appears to be break-dancing on the floor. Hmmmm… never saw him do this before. Is it something he learned at school? The conversation goes like this… “Ethan, what are you doing? Dancing?” “No Mom, I’m speed skating.” Hmmmm. What am I missing here? Speed skating? How does he know what speed skating is? Oh yeah, the Olympics. We must have watched some speed skating events together. I remembered watching skiing events together but not the speed skating. Hmmmm… Doesn’t look like speed skating to me. Should I say something? Curiosity gets the best of me, so I ask. “Ethan, can you explain this speed skating thing you are doing?” “Mom, I’m turning a corner and my hand is touching the ice.” Ohhhhhhh….. Silly mom. I get it. Pretty funny actually. Really creative in fact. WOW. I get it now. Actually does look like speed skating now that I have the context. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get my camera out fast enough!) However, lots more Olympic pretend play to come.

WOW. The power of imagination and pretend play. I just love to see Ethan’s imagination at play. Whatever he is interested in at the moment comes into his pretend play. He loved watching the Olympics. And speed skating in the kitchen was only the beginning…

More Speed Skating:

Note: Pretend speed skating has become the way that we race to my office/warehouse! First with one arm behind the back…then full out speed skate sprinting with both arms pumping and legs going side to side. Too funny!

The Luge (using a little footstool!):

The Bobsled:

The Skeleton (see the Olympics on TV in the background?):

The bottom line: imagination is a powerful thing. Imagination is key to play and learning. It’s not the toy…it’s the play… kids can imagine and play without anything else in hand. And simple props can be great for extending that imaginative play ---- Poof! a fairy wand and they’re a fairy… Whooo whooo!!! A train whistle and they’re a conductor… A magnifying glass and they're a pirate or an explorer. Simple toys for great imaginative pretend play!