Food & Family Garden Series #1


A P.L.A.Y. Project with a Special Purpose:

Grow Foods

Grow Flowers

Grow a Healthy Family that P.L.A.Y.’s Together



P.L.A.Y. with a Plan – Time to Get Growing!

If you are simply ready to jump in on this P.L.A.Y. Project tune in every Sunday to see the P.L.A.Y. plan unfold.

If you’d like to know more about the motivation behind this P.L.A.Y. project READ ON!



In these unexpectedly challenging times we are all asked to do what we can where we can to make a difference in our own lives and in each others lives.

Growing foods, any kind and any amount, together as a family is certainly one way to have a positive impact on your health, budget, well-being, and has a ripple effect out into your communities.

Growing flowers also has beneficial effects for both attracting pollinators and for human sensory pleasure.



A P.L.A.Y. Short Story – Three Green Thumbs


My husband has a green thumb when it comes to growing foods and although he’d say he has a lot to learn I’ve seen proof arrive in my kitchen that the guy I call “Mr. Science” seems to know a thing or two about starting with a seed and ending up with a meal on our plate.

My daughter has a green thumb too when it comes to growing flowers and has been especially motivated to grow ones that attract butterflies (of which she has become well versed over the years) and she also lends a hand in the food gardens as needed.

My son has been a willing helper in harvesting our garden foods, putting food by in the kitchen freezer, and making our daily green smoothies. He can help keep plants alive both indoors and outdoors and has learned a great deal about wild edibles. I consider him in the green thumb club too.

I on the other hand have always felt I had the brown thumb of the family never being able to keep plants alive in the house or outdoors. I am also hard pressed to be able to identify any plant when it is simply all green without fruit on it or the names of most flowers. Weeds vs. garden plants, forget about it I have no clue. I sneeze and get watery eyes the minute we turn over the dirt in the garden or enter our community greenhouse. A green thumb I am not.

And yet the irony is I am vegan and plants tend to be a key ingredient to my diet as well as my 80% plant based diet family. I am also a nature lover immersing in flower gardens, food gardens, as well as the forest and meadows of where I live bringing along my Capkin for creative P.L.A.Y. moments.

And so over the years I’ve learned  to do what I can both outdoors and in the kitchen without a green thumb: by making green smoothies + juices and recipes using harvested ingredients, seeking local CSA’s for grains and farmer’s markets for extra veggies, berry picking in bulk at local farms, gathering wild berries, and the list goes on.

I have come to value very much that as a family of four we are able to use both our time and talents to cover many of the bases when it comes to gardening and having healthy fresh foods in our meal planning. And by making the conscious choice to live in an intentional farming community over the past five years we continue to learn from our gardening and farming neighbors and fill in many food (and flower) gaps together.

This year my family seems to be kicking it up a notch with a few new goals in the growing department. Seems like a perfect time to take a few photos and share our P.L.A.Y. Plan!


Sneak Peak at the Next few Weeks!

Curious Capkin Sees Seedlings!


Stay tuned for more of this Food & Family Garden series story – including green thumb photos along the way – and all unfolding in real time throughout the spring, summer, and fall!


Next up Post #2 in this weekly Sunday series:

P.L.A.Y. with a Plan – Time to Get Growing!


 

 

Skyscape Simplicity: A Meditative Moment #29


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Look skyward

< Breathe In >

< Breathe Out >

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by . . .

and connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you much peace & prosperity throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


❤ ❤ ❤


peace: inner calm

prosperity: good fortune & well-being

Spring #30 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


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A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“A Swooping Snow Sash in the Sunshine”

Bonus Curious & Colorful Capkins

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My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.

❤ ❤ ❤


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 2 – House Sparrow


Read Chapter 1 <Here>



Chapter 2 – Billy in the Old Orchard 

Peter Rabbit’s eyes twinkled when Jenny Wren said that she must look her old house over to see if it was fit to live in.

“Oh, well, I can tell you that your old house is already occupied,” replied Peter. “Billy the House Sparrow has been living in it for the last two months. In fact, he already has a good size family there.”

“What?” exclaimed Jenny and Mr. Wren together. Then without even saying goodbye to Peter, they flew to see it with their own eyes. Presently he heard them chattering as fast as their tongues could go, and this is very fast indeed.

“They will have to find a new house this year,” said Peter. “Billy the House Sparrow and Mrs. Sparrow won’t budge from their new home. My, my, my, just hear that racket! I think I’ll go over and see what is going on.”

So Peter hopped to a place where he could get a good view of Jenny Wren’s old home and still not be too far from the safety of the old stone wall. Jenny’s old home had been in a hole in one of the old apple trees. Looking over to it, Peter could see Mrs. Sparrow sitting in the little round doorway and quite filling it. She was chattering excitedly. Hopping and flitting from twig to twig close by were Jenny and Mr. Wren, their tails pointing almost straight up to the sky, and chattering as fast as they could make their tongues go. Flying at one and then at the other, and almost drowning their voices with his own harsh cries, was Billy himself. All this noise had brought all the other birds in the Old Orchard to see what was going on.

By ruffling up his feathers and raising his wings slightly as he hopped about, Billy managed to make himself appear much bigger than he really was. He was perhaps one fourth larger than Mr. Wren, although he looked half again as big.

His new spring suit was very dirty, due to his fondness for taking dust baths. His back was more or less of an ashy color with black and chestnut stripes. His wings were brown with a white bar on each. His throat and breast were black, and below that he was of a dirty white. The sides of his throat were white and the back of his neck chestnut.


House Sparrow (bottom left) and Chipping Sparrow (top right) by Lous Agassiz Fuertes


Billy the House Sparrow is also a born challenger. He never is happier than when he is in the midst of a challenge or a fuss of some kind. The fact that his neighbors disagreed with him today didn’t bother Billy in the least.

“Hey -that’s my house, and the sooner you get out of it the better!” yelled Jenny Wren, jerking her tail with every word as she hopped about just out of reach of Billy.

“It may have been your house once and it is mine now!” said Billy. “You didn’t make this house and you deserted it when you went south last fall. It is our turn now.”

Peter Rabbit nodded. “He’s right there,” muttered Peter. “It is true that he has a perfect right to that house. If folks leave things for half a year and fly south they can’t expect to find them just as they left them if or when they come back. My, my, my what a racket you are all making!”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Sparrow sat in the little round doorway. She knew that as long as she sat there it would be impossible for either Jenny or Mr. Wren to get in.

All the time Billy was darting back and forth in agitation. “Mrs. Sparrow and I are in the Old Orchard to stay!” declared Billy. The rest of the birds just watched and talked amongst themselves as Mr. Wren and Jenny Wren sat in frustration discussing the situation.


An apple tree in the Old Orchard beginning to blossom.


How long that squabble in the Old Orchard would have lasted had it not been for something which happened, no one knows. Right in the midst of it someone discovered Black Shadow, the cat who lives in Farmer Brown’s house, stealing up through the Old Orchard, her tail twitching and her yellow eyes glaring eagerly. She had heard that dreadful racket and suspected that in the midst of such excitement she might have a chance to catch one of the feathered folks. You can always trust Black Shadow to be on hand at a time like that.


Black Shadow the cat watching the birds in the Old Orchard.


No sooner was she discovered than everything else was forgotten. With Billy in the lead, and Jenny and Mr. Wren close behind him, all the birds turned their attention to Black Shadow. She was the predator of all, and they straight away forgot their own quarrel. Only Mrs. Sparrow remained where she was, in the little round doorway of her house. She intended to take no chances, and simply added her voice to the general racket. How those birds did shriek and scream! They darted down almost into the face of Black Shadow, and none went nearer than Billy the English Sparrow and Jenny Wren.

Now Black Shadow does not like to be the center of so much attention. She knew that, now that she had been discovered, there wasn’t a chance in the world for her to catch one of those feathered folks in the Old Orchard. So, with tail still twitching angrily, she turned and, with such dignity as she could, left the Old Orchard. Clear to the edge of the orchard the birds followed, shrieking and screaming after her.

When finally she disappeared towards Farmer Brown’s barn, those angry voices changed. It was such a funny change that Peter Rabbit laughed right out. Instead of anger there was triumph in every note as everybody returned to attend to their own affairs. Jenny and Mr. Wren seemed to have forgotten all about Billy and his wife in their old house.

They flew to another part of the Old Orchard to talk it all over and rest and get their breath. Peter Rabbit waited to see if they would come over near enough to him to chat a bit more. They didn’t and finally Peter started for his home in the dear Old Briar-patch to settle in the shade for a bit of rest.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS – linked online to learn more about the House Sparrow (aka English Sparrow)
  • House Sparrow coloring page for your nature journal at Cornell Common Feeder Birds FREE online coloring book (*page W75).
  • See if you can identify a House Sparrow near your home as they live throughout the USA and are very common.
  • Consider constructing a bird house and begin researching the types of birds you’d like to attract to your yard and build an appropriate structure with DIY tips online.
  • Imagine . . . what if . . .  you arrived home from your trip “down south” just like Jenny and Mr. Wren and you found other folks who had moved into the home that you had left empty for 6 months. What would you do? Write about it in your P.L.A.Y. nature journal. Ask your friends and family the same “What if” question and hear their response. Think about how humans and animals handle this differently, or do they?

Stay tuned with Chapter 3 arriving soon and more nature adventure activities on the way!


Note: P.L.A.Y. has updated/annotated this 100+year old classic, Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess,  to be suitable for the 21st century family modeling mindfulness and loving kindness while keeping the same great characters and nature settings and turning it into an activity guide to be enjoyed by ALL! Enjoy!

P.L.A.Y.– Pass it on!

COVID-19 + Homeschooling – Special Edition Part 2

Painting en plein air (aka outdoors)


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan


Still trying to find a rhythm for your days while facing the uncertainty of how long the kiddos will be “schooling at home”?

P.L.A.Y. has a day-to-day plan that is truly flexible and can be done in place while you all stay safely at home indoors as well as right out your back door in your own yard.

Remember learning happens all the time especially when we are engaged, curious, and approach with a sense of P.L.A.Y.

*Sign up on the side bar with your email to receive these P.L.A.Y. posts daily or check back here OFTEN!


Here’s the Weekly Plan:

Monday – Nature Alliteration Adventure + Nature Journaling

Tuesday – Bird BOOK LOOK with a new story chapter and related online resources + activities/projects

Wednesday – Nature Alliteration Adventure + Nature Journaling

Thursday – Bird BOOK LOOK with a new story chapter and related online resources + activities/projects

Friday – Nature Alliteration Adventure + Nature Journaling

Saturday – Potluck P.L.A.Y. Pick (soooooo many options!)

Sunday – P.L.A.Y. with Purpose Project – A Food & Family Garden Series (new + arriving soon)


Nature Journaling is for All Ages

Nature Journal – Spring Flowers


Here are some examples of flexible daily plans while staying in place:

Monday –

  • Morning- Breakfast, Chores (care for pets/make bed/brush teeth/etc.), Reading Anything! (solo, 1:1, together), Music (sing, dance, play instrument), Building Projects (legos, cardboard boxes become forts,etc)
  • Noon- Kitchen Food Prep Helpers, Eat Lunch & clean-up, Story Time (audio book, solo reading), Rest & Regroup Quiet Time, Outdoors w/ Nature Alliteration Adventures, Indoors journaling your nature adventure
  • Night- Kitchen Food Prep Helpers, Supper & clean up together, Bed Time Routines  with more short stories or make up an ongoing story to add to each night!

Tuesday – 

  • Morning- Chores, Breakfast, Workbooks or appropriate online Screen Time work, arts & crafts project
  • Noon – Kitchen Food Prep Helpers, Eat lunch & clean-up, Stroll neighborhood (if allowed) then Rest & Regroup Quiet Time, Bird BOOK LOOK next chapter and related activities and online resources
  • Night- Kitchen Food Prep Helpers, Supper & clean up together, Bed Time Routines with more short stories  or make up an ongoing story to add to each night!

Adapt this to suit your family, especially during this time of transition.

Remember, it is more important to stay connected to one another than to “get it right”.

Tomorrow’s another day with new opportunities to try-try-again! 🙂

Plenty of hugs works wonders!


Please contact Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com with your questions and for parenting support during these challenging times.

You don’t have to do this alone. ❤ ❤ ❤

Sending a smile to help light the way,

Karen 🙂


FYI – Visit the first post in this special series at COVID-19 + Homeschooling – Special Series Part 1


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan


Spring #25 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


❤ ❤ ❤

A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“On the Tip-Top + Oh Snap!”

Bonus Busted Birch Branch

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My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.

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What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 1 – House Wren



Chapter 1 – Jenny Wren Arrives

Lipperty-lipperty-lip scampered Peter Rabbit behind the tumble-down stone wall along one side of the Old Orchard. It was early in the morning, very early in the morning. In fact, jolly, bright Mr. Sun had hardly begun his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky. It was nothing unusual for Peter to see jolly Mr. Sun get up in the morning. It would be more unusual for Peter not to see him, for you know Peter is a great hand to stay out all night and not go back to the dear Old Briar-patch, where his home is, until the hour when most folks are just getting out of bed.

Peter had been out all night this time, however he wasn’t sleepy, not the least teeny, weeny bit. You see, sweet Mistress Spring had arrived, and there was so much happening on every side, and Peter was so afraid he would miss something, that he wouldn’t have slept at all if he could have helped it. Peter had come over to the Old Orchard so early this morning to see if there had been any new arrivals the day before.

“Birds are funny creatures,” said Peter, as he hopped over a low place in the old stone wall and was fairly in the Old Orchard.

“Tut, tut, tut!” said a voice. “Tut, tut, tut! They are not funny creatures at all. They are the most sensible folks in all the wide world.”

Peter cut a long hop short right in the middle, to sit up with shining eyes. “Oh, Jenny Wren, I’m so glad to see you! When did you arrive?” he cried.

“Mr. Wren and I have just arrived, and thank goodness we are here at
last,” replied Jenny Wren, fussing about, as only she can, in a branch above
Peter.


Mr. Sun beginning his climb into the blue, blue sky in the Spring.


“I never was more thankful in my life to see a place than I am right this minute to see the Old Orchard once more. It seems ages and ages since we left it.”

“Well, if you are so fond of it why did you leave?” asked Peter. “It is just as I said before – you birds are funny creatures. So many of you do not stay put. Sammy Jay and DeeDee the Chickadee and Drummer the Woodpecker and a few others do not go off on long journeys. And yet the rest of you do,” declared Peter.

“Tut, tut, tut!” interrupted Jenny Wren. “You don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Well if you are as fond of the Old Orchard as you claim to be, why did you ever leave it?” asked Peter again.

Jenny Wren’s eyes brightened. “Well, why do you eat?” she asked.

“Because I’m hungry,” replied Peter promptly.

“What would you eat if there were nothing to eat?” responded Jenny.

“I don’t know how to answer that question,” said Peter.

“Well we birds can’t live without eating any more than you can,” replied Jenny, “and in winter there is no food at all here for most of us, so we go where there is food. Those who are lucky enough to eat the kinds of food that can be found here in winter stay here. They are lucky. That’s what they are–lucky. Still–” Jenny Wren paused.

“Still what?” prompted Peter.


Jenny Wren by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


“I wonder sometimes if you folks who are at home all the time know just what a blessed place home is,” replied Jenny. “It is only six months since we went south and it seems ages. The best part of going away is coming home. I don’t care if that does sound rather mixed; it is true just the same. It isn’t home down there in the sunny South, even if we do spend as much time there as we do here. This is home, and there’s no place like it! What’s that, Mr. Wren? I haven’t seen all the Great World? Perhaps I haven’t, however I’ve seen enough of it, let me tell you that! Anyone who travels a thousand miles twice a year as we do has a right to express an opinion, especially if they have used their eyes as I have mine. There is no place like home, and my dear, I know you; you are just as tickled to be back here as I am.”

“He sings as if he were,” said Peter, for all the time Mr. Wren was singing with all his might.

Jenny Wren looked over at Mr. Wren fondly. “Isn’t he a dear to sing to me like that? And isn’t it a perfectly beautiful spring song?” said she. Then, without waiting for Peter to reply, she continued on. “I do wish he would be careful. Sometimes I am afraid he will overdo. Just look at him now! He is singing so hard that he is shaking all over” said Jenny. “He always is that way. There is one thing true about us Wrens, and this is that when we do things we do them with all our might. When we work we work with all our might. When Mr. Wren sings he sings with all his might.”

“Did you have a pleasant journey up from the sunny South?” asked Peter.

“Fairly pleasant,” replied Jenny. “We took it rather easily. Some birds hurry right through without stopping, however I should think they would be tired to death when they arrive. We rest whenever we are tired, and just follow along behind Mistress Spring, keeping far enough behind so that if she has to turn back we will not get caught by Jack Frost. It gives us time to get our new suits on the way. How do you like my new suit, Peter?” Jenny bobbed and twisted and turned to show Peter.

“Very much,” replied Peter. “I am very fond of brown. Brown and gray are my favorite colors.” Peter’s own coat is also brown and gray.

“The more I see of bright colors the better I like brown,” said Jenny. “It goes well with almost everything. It is neat and it is useful. If there is need of getting out of sight in a hurry you can do it if you wear brown. However, if you wear bright colors it isn’t so easy. I never envy anybody who happens to have brighter clothes than mine. I’ve seen dreadful things happen all because of wearing bright colors.”

“What things?” asked Peter.

“I’d rather not talk about them,” declared Jenny in a very emphatic way.

“Way down where we spent the winter some of the feathered folks who live there all the year round wear the brightest and most beautiful suits I’ve ever seen. They are simply gorgeous. I’ve also noticed that in times of danger these are the folks dreadful things happen to. You see they simply can’t get out of sight. For my part I would far rather be simply and neatly dressed and feel safe than to wear wonderful clothes and never know a minute’s peace. Why, there are some families I know of which, because of their beautiful suits, have been so hunted by men that hardly any are left. Oh my gracious, Peter Rabbit, I can’t sit here all day talking to you! I must find out who else has arrived in the Old Orchard and must look my old house over to see if it is fit to live in.”


Blossoms in an Old Orchard Apple Tree


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS – online to learn more about the House Wren including bird song and cool facts <HERE>
  • Visit Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS – online to learn more about bird migration <HERE>
  • Try sketching your own version of Jenny Wren, the Old Orchard, or Mr. Sun appearing in the blue, blue sky. Create a nature journal with a collection of your drawings. Write what you think may happen next to Jenny Wren or who Peter Rabbit may encounter next in the story.
  • Research and map the migration flight plan that Jenny Wren may have taken from down south up to New England. Trace it on a globe or in an atlas with your finger or print off a blank USA map and label the states and draw Jenny + Mr. Wren in flight!

Stay tuned with Chapter 2 arriving soon and more nature adventure activities on the way!


Note: P.L.A.Y. has updated/annotated this 100+year old classic, Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess,  to be suitable for the 21st century family modeling mindfulness and loving kindness while keeping the same great characters and nature settings and turning it into an activity guide to be enjoyed by ALL! Enjoy!

P.L.A.Y.– Pass it on!

Spring #22 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


❤ ❤ ❤

A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to . . .

Look in nature for the LetterJ

Bonus – Tall Timberrrrrr

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.

❤ ❤ ❤


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

P.L.A.Y. PROJECT #1 -Spring 2020


Curiosity + Creative Challenge for YOU!


Curiosity

My fellow community member passed me a bunch of bare stalks of forsythia on March 17th and only five days later on March 21st (today) they have sprung forth their sweetness! So cool!

❤ ❤ Your Creative Challenge ❤ ❤

What nature do you have locally, right outside your door, that could be brought (responsibly) into your home or can be seen from your windows to observe the magical changes mother nature provides?

Community Connection

There are so many ways to share your P.L.A.Y. project with friends and family!

Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Take photos daily to capture the subtle changes and compare them
  • Sketch the size + shape + color of your nature object daily
  • Write notes on your observations and record remarks by household members too!
  • Use your sense of humor to name your nature object and write a short comic strip adding a new box daily as you see changes occurring
  • Use your favorite social media platform to share this P.L.A.Y. project
  • Skies the limit and out-of-the-box thinking highly encouraged!

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Send me an email with links ONLY to see your P.L.A.Y. projects on your preferred social media platform (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) to  Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com

*Please NO photos or attachments in your email due to slow internet in our hilltown home!!!

Pass this * P.L.A.Y. PROJECTS * link forward to friends and family. Thanks!!!

❤ ❤ ❤


Spring Has Sprung – INDOORS – just like magic!


March 17, 2020 Bare forsythia stalks gifted by a neighbor.

March 21, 2020 Sweet forsythia in bloom as a Curious Capkin climbs onboard!

Skyscape Simplicity: A Meditative Moment #28


❤ ❤ ❤


Look skyward

< Breathe In >

< Breathe Out >

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by . . .

and connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you much peace & prosperity throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


❤ ❤ ❤


peace: inner calm

prosperity: good fortune & well-being