This Parkday was originally posted for November, but was postponed. Click on photos to go to that page.
Parkday starts @ Noon. Activities start at 1:00 and fun goes until 4pm or later. All supplies for activities and crafts will be provided. Bring $5 for Parkday family dues. $10 if you forgot to pay for participating in November. Thank you.
One of the crafts we will make this week.
Due to the Holidays there will be No Parkday on 11/28
I would like to take this moment to offer my love and gratitude for you, my community. I am so thankful to share our form of village -lifestyle with each of you. With out being surrounded by like-minded families on fieldtrips, at my weekly parkdays or in this cyber-community, I would not have such a fulfilling life. Thank you. May each of you relish in the connections of your family and friends during this week of Thanks.
Other Fall Celebrations:To keep the emphasis away from the commercial aspects of the upcoming holidays, my family has been spending time discussing the history and purpose of Harvest Festivals from other cultures: Yam Festival-Nigeria & Ghana, Pongal Rice Festival- India, Sukkot-Hebrew, Moon Festival- China. I chose these above links for their kid-friendly explanations of these festivals of thanks. There are both recipes and crafts in the book We Gather Together as well as a great explanation to how our orbit around the sun affects our (growing) seasons.
Focus on Thanks On their own, in preparation for spending Thanksgiving with friends, my daughters have borrowed an idea from Valentines day for a new tradition. They have created an envelope for each person to be seated at the table and personalized them with photos and drawings. Through out our day together, each person will be invited to write on a heart shaped paper what they like about that person or are just grateful for and place it in someone’s envelope. The envelopes will get fuller and fuller until we reconvene for dessert. Ideally, everyone will take turns reading a few outloud. I can not wait!! A list of craft ideas for Thanksgiving.
Hanukkah starts this week too. Even though we are not Jewish, during Hanukkah, we reflect upon the story of Antiochus IV, in 167 BCE, razing the temple in Jerusalem and the miracle one day’s worth of oil lasting eight days. In a craft and storybook of Hanukkah we got from our library, we learned that a gift of a Samsa (hand-shaped) candle is given to children in Syria during Hanukkah to honor the fortitude and luck of the Jewish in relocating to countries like Syria and Morocco after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 by the Alhambra Decree.
To protect your cake pan, be sure to cover it with foil or parchment paper before pouring out the wax.
….I believe that the best time to share historical and cultural connections is while leisurely making theme-related crafts. While we make our Samsa candle, we will most probably be discussing why people can’t all get along and how that is different from why kings and presidents make people leave their lands. How would we have solved the problems of Antiochus or Isabella & Ferdinand? What is something positive about moving to a different land. What else was going on in Europe in 1492?
Museum Member Appreciation Days Nov 29, 30 & Dec 1 - Looking for a healthier alternative to Black Friday? If you have a membership to any of 16 area museums (Skirball, Kidspace, MOCA etc), you can take your family to any others for free. Plus save a bonus 20% off anything in their giftshops. Since LA is our classroom, part of our school budget goes to memberships to museums like Skirball and Natural History Museum. Reciprocal benefits like this add to the value.
Mark your Calendar for Dec 14,15, 20, 21, & 22. Just a note that, “Back to Bethlehem” in Chatsworth has returned, but to a new location. This is my family’s favorite living history event, because it takes place at nighttime. Come experience a living history with the birth of Jesus, Roman Centurions and the villagers of Bethlehem circa 0 AD, BC, CE or BCE. I’m hoping that St. Stephens Church that inherited this tradition will pull off as a phenomenal of an experience as the Church at Rocky Peak created. We’ve been going since 2006. We look forward to the homemade baked cookies and hot chocolate on the way out; Jane, the sweetest camel you will ever be near; the goat cheese on crackers and pomegranate seeds; the weaving crafts, apprenticing with word and brick workers; asking Mary if she like nursing the baby (Esme’s classic question 3 years ago) and the sighting of angels on the hill on each half hour.
There is a new Location 20121 Devonshire St, Chatsworth, CA. Also new, is the suggested donation of $2/person over 5 years of age (and a max of $10/family). It used to be free, but I have no problem supporting this experience. I will also say, we have never felt any pressure of any religious nature in the past. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if it felt “too preachy.” 7pm-9pm Sat & Sun December 14th and 15th and Fri, Sat & Sun December 20-22. We usually arrive about 6:30, 6:45 to get through the line sooner than later.
This week our homeschooling foray took us to nearby Santa Clarita, for a wonderful private tour of the largest conservation center for Gibbons in the western hemisphere. Gibbons are a delightful animal that my family knew very little about. But now, due in part to the dynamic tour guide Alma at the Gibbon Conservation Center (GCC), we feel like novice-experts. I believe, that is indeed the seed that every conservationists wishes to impart. “The more you know,… the more you will care.” This couldn’t have been more evident, than in the middle of our tour, when our kids shared their desire to save the most endangered species of Gibbon in the wild, that are down to the last twenty in number. The children also discussed options on how to preserve habitats and still allow businesses to thrive that were presently devastating the homes of gibbons and other animals that live in jungles and forests. As a parent, I feel both pride and sadness over the responsibility that our children are taking to care for our planet. Points go to our tour guide for following the kid’s lead and dialoguing honestly and compassionately on this subject.
We can’t recommend this experience enough. Everyone in our group, age 1 year to 45 was engaged. Walking about the enclosures on such a lovely day, felt as if we were on National Geographic, observing beguiling primates swing and fly about in play as well as walk erect on the ground (looking more like humans than chimpanzees and great apes). And at the end of our tour, we experienced a crazy campus-wide concert of howling and crooning by most of the Gibbons, that I doubt any of us will ever forget. If you act quick enough, you can get tickets or private tours from Groupon at half price that will not expire until spring. Even though the center is open to the public on the weekends, it was well worth it to have the entire complex to yourself by purchasing the midweek private tour Groupon .
Look at the Baby!
In addition to serving as a sanctuary since 1976 (when Gibbon specialist, Alan Mootnick founded it), the GCC presently works with governments and conservationists in Southeast Asia to aid in restoring the Gibbon populations. Extra care is taken to allow the Gibbon’s to exist as close to their natural state as possible in order to effectively reintroduce their offspring to their natural habitats. This means there is no man-handling beyond medical-required attention. The true habits and characteristics of the Gibbons are honored. For example, the enclosures do not have artificial grass, faux rocks or fake foliage (which appeals to humans). Instead they are structurally sound and interlaced with tree trunks, ropes and swings to best allow the Gibbons to fly, jump, spin and yank as hard as they would on trees and vines in the jungles and canopies of their indigenous habitats. And boy are their acrobatics a delight to behold.
In the wild, Gibbons do not travel in large numbers. A pair of parents rearing their children is the traditional “band” of Gibbons. Their young are nursed from 2- 3 years and live with their parents in a family unit similarly to us. The youngest baby at GCC is seen in the lap of the orange Gibbon pictured above. He clung adorably to his mother as we watched her swing from her perch to pick up some greenbeans and place one each in her feet and free hand, before using the other hand to swing and maneuver herself back to her original perch to snack upon her green goodies. Around 18 years of age, the offspring are pushed out of the family unit to ideally start their own family and stake out their own territory. At GCC, each enclosure that houses a nuclear family is covered with tarps, not only to offer shade in the hot seasons, but to create visual camouflage allowing each Gibbon families a sense of separation like from foliage and canopies in the wild.
The life expectancy of a Gibbon is between 30 and 40 years, and yet the oldest Gibbon is now 40 and still alert and active. Once the youngest at the center, he is now the oldest. (Pictured sitting on the log while a younger descendent plays flies about). Unlike Zoos, that typically feed their animals twice a day, Gibbons at the center are fed TEN times a day, similar to their feeding and grazing styles in the wild. Their varied diet is continuously modified by the workers and volunteers, once receiving two bananas a day it has been cut down to one, where as yams have been increased and they are considering increasing their protein in the form of nuts. They spend over 2 thousand dollars a month on feeding these spectacular animals.
At the center, they have experimented with forms of entertainment and enrichment in the enclosures like swings, hammocks, and toys as well as some lovely drums on the grounds that our kids played upon. Interestingly enough, as I looked around to see the reaction, the drumming didn’t do a thing for the Gibbons, but made us visitors dance a bit.
Each volunteer and employee at the center are keen on observing habits, health and interests of these fascinating creatures in order to improve the life of Gibbons at GCC, as well as in sharing with the international consortium of sanctuaries, zoos and conservation areas to ensure that the 17 species of Gibbons have the best possible outcomes. Get your Groupon now, or just make a donation to the Gibbon Conservation Center that works so hard to protect these animals, build awareness around the globe and is ensuring these species will NOT go extinct. If you have never purchased a Groupon before, you can use this link and give me a referral bonus.