After all the shopping and eating over Thanksgiving weekend, the energy shifts from Black Friday and Cyber Monday to Giving Tuesday. I’m not a big shopper (unless it’s a bookstore!) so we usually avoid most of the hubbub. But I love Giving Tuesday! This year my kiddo is old enough I’m incorporating our chosen charity into our homeschool topics for the month, covering citizenship, botany, geography, ecology and language arts and arts & crafts. For those of us that love nature, and/or homeschool guided by Charlotte Mason, nature studies are a part of our homeschool day. This is a new venue with which to embrace that love of nature!
For the first time I chose a Kickstarter campaign–by For The Wild. It’s a proposed nursery to preserve the redwood forests of the west coast. I get nothing from this group for highlighting their cause here. I’m just awestruck by these amazing forests and think this is a great way to help protect them. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1284964860/1-million-redwoods-project?ref=emailhttp://forthewild.world/
Why did I choose them? 1. I love trees! LOVE them. In our nature walks and nature studies, for me, everything revolves around trees. 2. Redwoods are massive, amazing (and in danger). What better to capture a child’s imagination than the awe-inspiring heights of redwood forests? 3. To raise awareness that plants are in danger as much as animals, but animals often get more attention when it comes to threats of extinction. 4. I already give to two other charities focused on planting trees and reforestation. This one is closer to home.
I began to be interested in redwoods by reading the book The Man Who Planted Trees: A Story of Lost Groves, the Science of Trees, and a Plan to Save the Planet. Written by Jim Robbins, it is a title that promises a lot. It is, in the end, an inspiring story of one man who thinks he can make a difference. He works, overcomes hardships, and ends up indeed making a difference. I’m currently reading The Wild Trees : A Story of Passion and Daring about amateurs and botanists who started climbing redwoods to discover, 35 stories above the ground, that the “deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes.”
Here are a few ways I’m going to work in this topic to our homeschool adventures, and some important points (for me).
- Botany–redwoods are the OLDEST living things in existence. (let that sink in for a minute…whoa.)
- You can grow one from seed–my sister grew one from a bonsai kit–but after a certain age it will either fail to thrive in your climate or get too big to handle unless you really make a plan. I bought an appropriate evergreen for our area instead.
- They are the tallest trees on the planet. Hyperion, the location-kept-secret tallest redwood alive, is six stories taller than the Statue of Liberty. (Again…whoa.)
- Botanical names–introducing or expanding on this–Sequoiadendron giganteum and Sequoia sempervirens See below: the Missouri Botanical Garden website has an audio feature where you can hear the botanical name pronounced.
- Geography — a subfamily of coniferous trees within the family Cupressaceae, they call coastal California and the Pacific Northwest home. Remember that book I mentioned, The Man Who Plants Trees? Well, he and others are now helping these massive trees by cloning the biggest and strongest, and moving them north so that they survive climate change.
- Ecology and Science — How is a changing climate affecting them? How do they grow roots deep enough to stay upright? How do they rely on fire to grow? How do they help the hydrologic or water cycle? So many topics!
- Citizenship–these trees can live for thousands of years, with an average of hundreds of years, much longer than humans. How does it feel to help plant something that will live so long? This one’s challenging to discuss with younger kids, but setting the example young is important.
- Language Arts / Reading — I’ve ordered two books for us to read: Operation Redwoods by S Terrell French and Redwoods by Jason Chin. Both are the K-3 age group. I also found an intriguing book called A Voice for the Redwoods by Loretta Halter, but haven’t gotten a copy yet.
- A favorite of mine is http://thekidshouldseethis.com/tagged/redwood-trees
Multiple videos and topics all about redwoods.
- Visitredwoods.com: advertising to visit Humboldt County, California but I like the colorful maps, photos and information. Great if you’re planning a trip to visit!
- Live Science: livescience.com/39461-sequoias-redwood-trees.html
- National Geographic has a YouTube video called “Experience the Magic of Redwoods National Park”. At under four minutes, with brilliant cinematography, it’s a good one for all ages.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c236
Check out the audio feature to hear the botanical name pronounced.
- Magic School Bus–my son loves these, and the series includes books on the Water Cycle, Plants Seeds, In the Rainforest (sort of related), Wild Leaf Ride (to explore evergreen v. deciduous trees.) While some Charlotte Masoners categorize these as twaddle, my son loves them and will often quote and reference these later. And, who hasn’t wanted one of those Miss Frizzle outfits?
- In Defense of Plants — I love this podcast, and they have videos and a blog as well. Here’s their blog on albino redwoods (yep, that exists. I had no clue ‘til I read this!) http://www.indefenseofplants.com/blog/2016/8/7/albino-redwoods
- I have to mention them a second time — In Defense of Plants blog on the Dawn Redwood, a living fossil. http://www.indefenseofplants.com/blog/2016/1/13/the-dawn-redwood
I’d love to hear what you do for Giving Tuesday! What charities do you and your kids like? In what other ways does your family involve giving during the holidays?
Last, here’s the blurb that I hope inspires you and your nature-loving kiddos some info about the Redwood-focused charity: For The Wild is an environmentally-beneficial organization dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of temperate rainforests of Cascadia, from Northern California to Southern Alaska. With the launch of the 1 Million Redwoods Project and native species nursery, For The Wild is wielding the intelligence of nature to push back against climate change and extinction.