Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Orchard Garden Saturday Workshop #8: Scented Self Care

For our last day in the Orchard Garden CFE, we held a workshop entitled: Scented Self Care.

This is a topic that we chose because as Teacher Candidates in this intensive program, we have realized that self care is not something to dismiss. We focused on both mental and physical self care for this workshop.

Part 1: Mindfulness

Our first station for our workshop was focused around mindfulness. We wanted participants to slow down their lives to just take a moment to look at the world around them, especially the nature. Using one of the prompts from Margarets Eco-poetry workshop, we had the participants go into a spot in nature that called out to them and had them describe their senses through touch, smell, sight, and sound. This helped to set the tone for the workshop for us to consider how we are connected to our food, and to think about what kinds of connections we would want. This station focused on the mind in connection to nature.

Part 2: The Harvest

Being part of the Orchard Garden CFE, we saw that we had an amazing opportunity to use locally grown produce in the workshop. This was a good way to both show participants what it would be like to have a garden of their own, but also to taste and see what plants grow locally. Below are some of the plants that we harvested for our meal and for our tea workshop.

Lemon Balm
As we toured the Garden, each person in our group shared some medicinal properties of the plants. We could see that not many people had thought about plants used medically as opposed to for consumption. As well we taught proper harvesting processes as each plant grew differently and as we did not want to harm any of the existing plants in the Garden by over harvesting.

Part 3: Meal Preparation

For our menu, we created a kale salad with a homemade vinaigrette, basil & arugula pesto pasta salad, and mint mojitos.

 In particular, we focused on our menu around herbs and how to use them in different ways to show their diversity as more than just a garnish. Here we have the beginnings of our basil and arugula pesto. It contained mint, arugula, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper for taste. It was used in a pasta salad though it would be a great addition to any kind of appetizer or meat dish.

Our mint mojitos were a refreshing addition to our workshop. Using only limes, mint, club soda and raw sugar, it was a simple yet fantastic drink to have after being in the hot sun. We wanted to show that with a little work, you could make delicious foods that we also see in the grocery store without the additives and preservatives. We focused on the body for this portion in terms of nutrition and just being conscious of what your body needs and how to fuel it properly.
The lunch spread
 The vinaigrette was made with rosemary, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. We used a mortar and pestle to grind our rosemary to bring out its flavours. A teaching connection is that this action of grinding is similar to flour production in the past, image having to do that for an entire bag of flour!

Part 4: Tea Making

For our final portion of our workshop, we wanted to show how simple it is to make our own tea out of lemon balm and mint. We had gone to the garden earlier in the week to harvest our own herbs for drying before our event. The beauty of this drying process was that you would only have to wash the plants and let the environment do the rest of the work!

We made our own tea bags using coffee filters. We could see how this would be a process with much more labour than simply buying tea at the grocery store. But at the same time, it felt more rewarding to make our own tea and drink it. As well, knowing what ingredients were in our teas helped us consider the ingredients in the foods that we buy and that we should be mindful of how nutritious or healthy they are.

We saw that there is not a lot of knowledge on "production of goods". Though our workshop we showed that we are capable of producing our own food, processing it, and packaging and preserving it for later. If we all put effort into caring for ourselves with more natural ingredients and by being in nature, we are also helping create a more sustainable lifestyle. Both people and the environment benefit from adopting these kids of practices. We did not use a lot of packaging for this event, our teas were put into reusable sachets that could be used later to make bath tea for skin care or to hold other things in the future. This is somewhat of a small change but can be broadened and incorporated much more deeply to create a stronger impact.

From a Teacher Candidate perspective, we have seen that there is a dire need for sustainable education. Using food as our focus, it helps us gather people together to work towards a collective cause. Like the mighty bannock line made during our Aboriginal day visits, building community with food and good company breathes life into any space. Food and culture are so accessible for sharing especially in our classrooms, it would bring very engaging cross curricular opportunities like todays workshop!

Kirstie and Natalie

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Summer Solstice

Today for our community field experience we had to host our event. Our event was the Summer Solstice at the Orchard Garden. Therefore, our team had to arrive bright and early at the garden to begin set up. We arrived at 8 am to start off our beautiful morning. The sun was shining and it was wonderful! We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Soon after we began to set up the tents and tables at which we each had an activity. Our activities for the event were as followed; one station we had paint chips and the children or adults were to find in the garden matching colours. The second stations were making newspaper pots and planting out own seed. The following station was sketching some vegetables from the garden while the last station was making your own herbal bouquet to take home.

Once the stations were set up the next step was setting up the food. This was our biggest task for the day. We wanted to celebrate the garden, so we harvested some fresh vegetables to make a salad for the guests as well as herbs to flavour our water. The rest of the food was homemade goods and dips to go along with the wonderful bread we were lucky to have donated to us!

Soon after the set up was completed our guests began to arrive, one of the first ones being the UBC Osprey daycare centre. They arrived with six eager children who we rotated around to tour our stations. In the time they had we were able to have them make their own herbal bouquets and make newspaper pots. We also had an opportunity to give them a tour of our garden and read them a story in the shed for a while deserved break from the sun.

We had many other wonderful guests who were able to join our celebration. Our guests included members of the community, as well as students and faculty me,bets of UBC. Although our event took place on the 23rd, we were still celebrating the Summer Solstice/ longest day of the year. Our event included posters, informational material and education talks surrounding the significance of the solstice as well as the value that the Orchard Gardens has to the UBC community. As future educators, we learnt the value of hosting an event, and providing education on a subject that is so strongly tied to place and the Earth. We hope that all of our guests left with new knowledge and perspective that they did not have before! 

One of the highlights of our event was the opening speeches and the wonderful Solstice celebration dance that engaged all guests and Teacher Candidates. The event was informative, unique and fun! For our future career in teaching, we have also gained valuable knowledge on how to integrate the community into our teaching and learning. I believe that we will all take away the importance of being part of a community and place, and how these connections can help teach children!

The event was a success and we are grateful for everyone who came!

Meg and Laurence

Friday, 23 June 2017

Further reflections on National Aboriginal Day

From Laurence (and Erin): I went [to National Aboriginal Day] with Erin and we were walking around as the march came through and for me what was most impressive was the pride and the spirt you felt in the crowd as the march came through. It was breath taking! 

From Hoda (and Sara): Sara.T and I spent the day at Trout Lake. It was amazing! Lots of stations with beautiful Aboriginal art and merchandise (paintings, jewelry, etc.) . We ran into an artist who showed us some of his work on his phone (lots of paintings on canvas), and explained some of the artwork displayed for sale at the event. He also shared with us legends attached to the art work (one about bears and another about wolves). We learned that if a piece of artwork has a legend attached to it, it would be worth much more. He also told us some interesting facts about carving( such as carving against the wood grain). We got to witness a friendship parade, where different Aboriginal groups walked together, and some traditional dancing. Everything we saw was inspiring and beautiful. Different schools were there to celebrate this wonderful day and children of different backgrounds were engaging in some of the games at the park. It was really heartwarming to see how people of different cultures came out to celebrate and support the Aboriginal community of Vancouver. We learned a lot from everyone there and we are thankful they took the time to show us around. Overall, it was a wonderful and fun day!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

CFE Day 13 National Aboriginal Day June 21st 2017

Happy National Aboriginal Day! Today we celebrated Canada's Indigenous Peoples at Trout Lake. It was a beautiful event on the lake that hosted many Indigenous vendors, artists, and musicians. The intricate artwork and jewelry the vendors were selling were amazing to see up close - such detail and care! One of my favourite artworks that I saw that day were some beautiful button blankets made by a wonderful Haida Elder. Before I started teaching in my practicum, my class was learning about salmon and the importance of them in Haida culture. As an activity, they created their own button blankets with a salmon design on them. They turned out amazing and the students were really proud of them. It was quite special to see an authentic button blanket in real life after doing this activity in my class. They are so beautiful and I can appreciate the care and time it takes to create them.

It was an incredible experience to see Indigenous peoples being celebrated, honoured, and supported in our community. I was trying to describe my experience to a friend later that day and I had a difficult time putting into words the vibes and the feelings that radiated from the park that day. It was a powerful feeling of  community - people greeting one another, embracing each other, meeting new people, being proud of who they are and what they created. It was a sincere honour to be a part of it. I couldn't help but think about how happy everyone looked, how this is what their everyday lives may have looked like if settlers had not come, and what a tragedy it is that this event only occurs once a year. I left with mixed emotions - National Aboriginal Day is a step towards reconciliation but it is not enough. I am eager to participate, learn, and above all, listen, to ways in which we can move forward on our path to reconciliation. 


I went to participate in National Aboriginal Day in Musqueam on Unceded and Traditional Territory of the Musqueam people. The pride my community demonstrated is quite an honor being part of a strongly connected community. The morning started out with a Honoring our Elders Ceremony, for elders born in the 1940's. The guests in attendance are witnesses to the ceremony, and Musqueam's recognition is part of teaching traditional cultural protocols about respect for elders to all people.

Learning about the cultural events that take place in the community are extremely important learning opportunities for our Musqueam youth. Children of all ages are constantly reminded of who we are as Musqueam people through culturally significant events. Community gatherings provide the ability of Musqueam people to show the collective cohesiveness, and how we all come together to teach, instill, share and make meamingful relationships. A fresh seafood lunch, music, games, and information tables allowed for many opportunities to engage in various activities throughout National Aboriginal days events in Musqueam. We learn everyday and we continue to learn constantly throughout our lives.  

Sara. L

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

CFE Day 12

Today was primarily a planning day for both the Summer Solstice and the Gardening Workshop events that will occur this upcoming Friday June 23rd and Saturday June 24th. We started off the morning with Susan reviewing final details in order to make the appropriate adjustments prior to the events. As we are a part of the Solstice group, our blog post will focus primarily on how our day went and our planning progress.

Our group members decided we would able to cover more material if we distributed our work evenly amongst ourselves. Two members of the group went to the Orchard Garden to do inventory and insure that everything we need for the event is there. The rest of us stayed behind at Scarfe creating posters containing facts and a poem about the solstice. This planning process parallels unit and lesson planning because there are plenty of little details/ factors to consider. For example, food, advertisement, music, materials necessary for our stations, etc. Very much like unit and lesson planning, organizing these events involves a lot of team work and collaboration amongst team members. After today, as a team, we feel prepared and are excited for our event on Friday.


Hoda and Sara.T

Monday, 19 June 2017

CFE - Day 11

Our Monday morning started with a lesson on rope making and braiding from Susan. We took long, dry leaves, soaked them in water, then - using the reverse wrap method - we braided them into rope which can then be used as bracelets. It was interesting to see how material that would otherwise be discarded or used as compost can be fashioned into something useful or decorative. I also thought that this would be a great activity for fidgeters such as myself.

We also watched a video which pointed out how rope is perhaps one of humankind's earliest inventions, apparently dating back around 20,000 years ago. During the Middle Ages, rope making machines were developed. Even now, I would imagine the process of making rope is not much different from how it was done back then.

After creating several lengths of rope, we did a dance somewhat like what is done around a maypole. As we danced, we held a length of ribbon tied around a stick, which resulted in a braid. Depending on what dance was performed, different types of braids were formed. When we danced in a circle, we formed a round braid, while dancing in a line formed a flat braid.

Several aspects of these activities can be incorporated into our classrooms. For one thing, it was satisfying to create something practical and interesting by hand using natural materials. For another, the dance activity teaches physical education, rhythm, and braiding techniques which can be transferred to ribbons or hair. Since rope is an ancient technology, history and science can also be taught.

In the afternoon, Margaret McKeon spoke to us about how outdoor education can be cross curricular and how we might create a cross curricular project that brings in outdoor education. Speaking from her own experience, she discussed how community, the environment, and the classroom can come together to create a project that is cross curricular, experiential, action oriented, place-based, sensory, empowering, and student led.

In our own groups, we discussed how we might create a project that covered 1-2 main subjects in the curriculum (as well as including pieces from other subjects) in a way that would be place-based, community oriented, and student led. Thinking back to my practicum, our final science project for my grade 3 class was to do research and present the findings on a sea creature that could be found in the Vancouver Aquarium. We visited the aquarium during a field trip and used it as an opportunity to do further research before the presentations.  This project tapped into some of the ideas we discussed today, and I have come away with some other ideas of how this could incorporate more outdoor activities, be more place-based, and involve the community.  For example, having the class focus on animals native to our area would have been one way to make it more place-based and likely that the community played a role or had knowledge about the environment and the animals that lived there.

Margaret encouraged us to not be afraid to get outside, to work at making as many community connections and partnerships as you can (but to realize it takes time), and to think about ways that the project can be action-oriented and have a real purpose. It was an inspiring and useful talk and I look forward to taking this knowledge into my future projects and practices.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Day 10- Eco-poetry

Today we met Margaret in the garden to explore the concept of eco-poetry in the outdoors. After a brief introduction to the topic, Margaret led us to different sports in the garden to inspire our writing.

Using Descriptive Words to Describe a Tree
The first stop was the Birch tree forest, and we were encouraged to use our senses to brainstorm adjectives about the trees based on Smell, Feel, Sound, and Sight.  We all thought this was a great exercise to practice coming up with adjectives for something tangible. Some textural words we used were:hard, solid, rough, flakey. We also tried to characterize the trees with short phrases, showing what our own connections to the trees were.

What words could you use to describe this tree?
For when the majority of us finished, Margaret would play her flute in the distance to signal that it would be time to transition into our next activity.  We all really loved this idea as a call for students to gather as it was so much more relaxing than a bell or clap as well, it provided time to finish work and have a peaceful end of each creative process.

In the next station, we wrote short verses with alliteration in them, using the grass as inspiration. It was nice to spread out and sit quietly in the sun with our thoughts to ourselves. We noted that grass is something that is very common in the city, but we rarely seem to take time to notice its characteristics and details. Taking the time to sit and focus on such a small, menial plant, put into perspective how we should slow down to appreciate the intricacies of nature. Using alliteration, you can notice that the rhythm and flow of the words themselves mimicked the sound in nature, there is rarely a sound that only happens once when we listen.

Beautiful Buttercups Basking in the Bright Sun
Next, our exported adventure took us back into the Birch forest, where we used the trees, leaves, sun, branches, twigs and ground around us as inspiration to write haikus. As Elementary School Teachers we were quite familiar with haikus and as a result many of us wrote more than one.

We found that it was interesting to see how a Japanese poetic form has been translated and used so frequently in schools. As we have seen in last week's visit to Nitobe Memorial Garden,  there is an apparent respect for nature, its state of being and the balance that comes forth from simply observing and noticing natures subtleties.

Story Response
Margaret lead us to the grassy field and shared with us two stories of Eagles. We were told to respond through drawings. We found it fascinating how a verbal story could provoke so many different images. Many of us just spread out and just stared and each movement in the trees, sky, and the ground. We were immersed in the process of creating rather than focusing on the product that was to be created which brought a sense of peace which made everything much more natural.

Free Verse
As we followed the " Path to Verse" going through each station, we were invited to create a free verse poem using the different words, alliterations, and phrases that we had previous created. Given that there were no rules, it was nice to be able to play with words, moments, and moods. We could see how this was a closing piece to the journey that we had taken today, many of us adopted the practice of spreading out into our own spaces in the garden to complete this activity. As a cultural connection, teachers could look at other works of poetry based on nature to form connections based on content or style.

At the end of our eco-poetry session. We debriefed an shared some of our poems with each other and also what we liked about the activity. We all agreed that it was really helpful to have a general focus on what to write on and to be in the space helped us create our poems. We also all liked the level of loose structure that the activity had, in that we knew what the boundaries were, what sound to listen for when to come back, and a general idea of what should inspire our writing. However, the activity was not overly structured as we were allowed to wander and find our own independent peace to write in. This would definitely be a fun way to incorporate outdoor learning into a poetry unit and to build on the core competencies.

We briefly talked about how to organize and create a safe space for learning opportunities like these to occur. Keeping in mind: boundaries, accountability, safety hazards, permissions, and preparations. In light of this conversation, we saw that it required a process to set these experiences up, but when established, they would be easy to maintain.

- Kirstie and Natalie