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Celebrate Malala Day by Supporting Girls Education!

What a great response we’ve had to the launch of our new pink tees and bodysuits and the way we chose to give back with these new products. If you missed it, on the International Day of the Girl (Oct 11), we introduced our pink tees and bodysuits in two styles and announced that 9% of all sales through Malala Day (Nov 10) would go to support girls education via The Malala Fund. Thank you to all who have made pink purchases or shared this special fundraiser via their blogs or social media outlets!

It’s been great to hear the nice feedback about the new pink products  – “gorgeous” from Chelsea at Moments a Day and “adorable” from Homa at Growing Up Global, for example. But even more, we’re grateful for all those who embrace the idea of promoting education for girls as a basic human right. You don’t need to have a girl in your life or to buy pink to support girls education. Direct contributions can always be made directly to The Malala Fund or another organization working to improve opportunities for girls worldwide.

With 65 million girls worldwide unable to attend school due to discrimination, poverty, and violence, this is a huge issue that truly holds back the world. After all, as the African proverb says it best:

Educate a boy, and you’re educating an individual. Educate a girl and you are educating an entire village.

Many people who have heard me talk about Malala this last month aren’t sure who I’m talking about at first. But when I describe the girl who was shot in the face last year by the Taliban for attending school; the young woman who, once recovered, addressed the UN, authored a book, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting the education of girls, pretty much everyone remembers. Most everyone has heard of Malala.

So, in the spirit of celebrating girls and raising funds for girls education, here are a few fun things to share:

As mentioned in our first pink launch blog post, we thought the illumination of world landmarks in pink light on the 2012 International Day of the Girl by Plan International rocked. Here are a couple images from Plan International‘s website of 2013 landmarks glowing pink:

The Empire State Building lit up pink for the International Day of the Girl, 2013 (photo: Plan International)

The Empire State Building lit up pink for the International Day of the Girl, 2013 (photo: Plan International)

Festivities at the fountain in Central Park, Guatemala City - lit up pink for the International Day of the Girl (photo: Plan International)

Festivities at the fountain in Central Park, Guatemala City – lit up pink for the International Day of the Girl (photo: Plan International)

Pretty wonderful, huh?

Here are a few favorite pictures of Malala confidently wearing pink that helped inspire us to design the launch of our first pink products to benefit her foundation. We love that one of the designs on our new pink tops is our “Love All the World” theme which fits a global initiative like this “to a tee.” 🙂

malala with pink backpack

Malala Yousafzai with a pink backpack. Getty Images.

malala addresses UN july 2013

Malala Yousafzai addressing the United Nations, July 2013. photo: Reuters

Malala Yousafzai, in pink, received a Glamour 2013 Women of the Year Award.

Malala Yousafzai, in pink, received a Glamour 2013 Women of the Year Award.

On another note, did you know that in just the last hundred years, pink has gone from being a primarily male-associated color to being the female-associated color we know today? Perhaps in another decade pink will be embraced equally as a male and female color, as everyone looks good in pink, right? 🙂 We are parents of three boys, who have at various stages loved (some still love) wearing pink, as this picture shows:

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MALALA DAY IS THIS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10!

There is less than one week left for 9% of the sales of our new pink tops to benefit The Malala Fund, so if you’ve been meaning to get an order in, please do so by Sunday.

Tender Sapling Pink Launch Benefits Girls Education

And certainly, if you wish to directly support The Malala Fund or any of the many great funds in support of girls education, please do! Here is the link again to The Malala Fund!”

If you have a connection you’d like to help us make in promoting our Pink for Girls Education special, please email us at: theteam@tendersapling.com  We’d love your help to get the word out these last few days of the fundraiser!

Happy Malala Day! May the educational opportunities for girls worldwide be dramatically improved this time next year!

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Support Girls Education with Tender Sapling’s New Pink Line

We’re so excited to launch our new pink line today – the International Day of the Girl – and to announce that 9% of all sales between today and Malala Day (Nov 10) will go to The Malala Fund to benefit girls education projects around the world!

But before going further, a little morning humor. In my excitement this morning, I said to my three boys,

“Do you know what we’re launching today?”

“A rocket?!” said our middle tender sapling. lol! 🙂

Gotta love living life with boys! And as a mother of only boys in this world and someone who has been keenly interested and invested in supporting women’s and girl’s issues over the last couple decades, including via the Tahirih Justice Center and Best for Babes, it’s so wonderful to find a way to help advance the situation of girls with our new pink bodysuits and tees. It’s our rocket to support girls! 🙂 Continue reading


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Japan: Cultural Reading Adventures + Fun Food and Crafts for Kids

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Our oldest son’s oil pastel version of Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa, a woodblock print.

This post is part of the Tender Sapling Travelers Series.

Passports ready? Let’s go to Japan!

Our recent “visit” to Japan via our monthly homeschool studies as part of Culture Club was not our first. We have turned our focus to Japan many times over the years, in part because my husband was born in Japan. Can you believe my mother-in-law even kept a beautiful Japanese outfit from his babyhood which each of our boys has been able to wear too? Sweet and a lovely connection to the place of their father’s birth.

This past year during early modern history, our oldest son became fascinated with the artist and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai and created his own version of the famous Great Wave off Kanagawa with oil pastels, which turned out to be his contribution at Culture Club a few months later. If you are a fan of Hokusai, share this book as an introduction to this colorful man, who was known by some thirty names throughout his life, and his work with your elementary aged children.

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Miniature origami samurai hats. Same folds as the ones the kids used to make life-size ones at our son’s samurai birthday party.

As as result of our family’s independent studies of Japan’s early modern history, our middle tender sapling asked for a samurai-themed party for his sixth birthday. No, not power rangers. Real samurai stuff. That turned out to be a blast, with the birthday boy teaching everyone how to make life-size origami samurai hats and me donning a lovely kumata (like a kimono, but made out of cotton), thanks to our friend who started Culture Club. Thank goodness for helpful hands, as I couldn’t figure out how to get the beautiful cloth to lay right and not look like I was wearing a jumble of sheets. The samurai hat folding fever continued for months, so our son was jazzed to teach dozens of kids at the Japan Culture Club how to make these smaller ones.

As you can see, Japan is one of those countries that is easy to explore. There are resources and experts readily available – museums hold amazing artifacts and works of art and our local Japanese steakhouse offers a memorable meal experience along with a chance to stand next to a life-size replica of samurai armour – not a bad option if the Met’s amazing Hall of Arms and Armour is too far to visit. Everyone can take a quick trip to the local library or an internet search, which yields a wealth of material.

Here is a list of books we loved reading as we re-explored Japan for Culture Club. We recommend these as a portal to Japan for preschool through upper elementary ages:

ChibiChibi: A True Story from Japan by Barbara Brenner and Julia Takaya (authors),  June Otani (illustrator)

If you love Robert McCloskey’s classic Make Way for Ducklings, you will love this true story of a mother duck and her ducklings who take up residence in Tokyo’s Imperial Palace moat and capture the hearts of the people. After a scare when the beloved smallest duckling – Chibi – goes missing after a storm, prompting search parties and media attention, a special duck house is built to keep Chibi and family safe.

The Origami Master by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer (author), Aki Sogabe (illustrator)

This book introduces the reader to the ancient Japanese art of origami or paper folding through an imaginative moral tale of an origami master and a bird who copies his origami. The colorful pictures engaged our youngest. The older two ran off to fold origami birds as soon as the book was finished.

Since we have three boys who always seem hungry, here are three books that deal with food and introduce aspects of Japanese culture or creativity:

Tea with Milk by Allen Say

This is a sweet tale of how the author/illustrator’s own parents met in Japan and crossed cultural divides, both personal and interpersonal. The book starts with the main character’s move from the United States, where she ate spaghetti, to Japan, where she had to wear a kimono. It then follows her on her path of independence, finding a sympathetic soul and her future husband along the way.

How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman (author), Allen Say (illustrator)

This is a another touching story of a young Japanese woman and a young American man who meet in Japan and become friends, bridging their cultural gaps as they eat food from each other’s culture.

Who Made This Cake? by Chihiro Nakagawa (author), Junji Koyose (illustrator)

Our big-machine-lovin’ three year old isn’t the only one who enjoyed this humorous Lilliputian-like story of little people with big machines who make a cake. Everyone in the family got a kick out of it. The Japanese connection? The author/illustrator is Japanese, as is the family celebrating a birthday with the help of the little people and their cake-making efforts.

As with all our Culture Club adventures, we tested out recipes. These are two simple and fun favorites from Japanese cuisine:

  • Our rice balls alongside Japanese dishes brought by other families to our Culture Club potluck lunch.

    Our rice balls alongside Japanese dishes brought by other families to our Culture Club potluck lunch.

    Rice Balls (Onigiri) – super easy, fun and yummy! The kids love getting their hands messy as they mold rice balls in their salted hands. Eating the tasty rice balls is the icing on the cake. The recipe I used is evading me, but it’s similar to this recipe, except we skipped the nori and umeboshi. We simply made sushi rice in the rice cooker and once it was cool enough to handle, the kids got their hands wet and salted and made balls from the scoops of rice I dropped in their hands.

  • Fun-shaped Hard Boiled Eggs. Yes, we shaped hard-boiled eggs into cars & fish using molds such as these. Again, fun, fun, fun! Gotta love modern Japanese whimsy! We pressed fresh hard boiled eggs into these molds and ended up with fun shaped eggs. Processed food? Not really. Fun? Definitely.

At our monthly Culture Club meeting, some of the other families brought these terrific crafts that are worth repeating:

  • Daruma Dolls – Daruma or Dharma Dolls are a good luck symbol with Zen Buddhist roots that the Japanese people tend to make wishes on by coloring in one eye of the doll at the new year. Once the wish comes true, the other eye is filled in. Cindy over at One Part Sunshine brainstormed these creative crafts the kids could take home and make a wish on. Basically, the kids used cut up egg cartons, red tape, masking tape, and sharpie/permanent markers to create these clever dolls.
Daruma doll created by our oldest son at Culture Club - Japan!

Daruma doll created by our oldest son at Culture Club – Japan!

Supplies used to create the above Daruma Doll.

Supplies used to create the above Daruma Doll.

Play Sushi

    – This homemade sushi set may rival a Melissa and Doug set. Our Culture Club founder, Sarah, gathered sushi boxes, chopsticks, and a collection of textile craft supplies for the kids to create their own sushi rolls, wasabi, and more. She then got busy with a glue gun, making their creations more permanent so they could take them home and play sushi chef or restaurant owner.
Creative sushi sets the kids made.

Creative sushi sets the kids made.

What are your favorite books, recipes, or crafts that bring Japan and its rich culture into your child’s life?


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Celebrating Peace Day with Tender Sapling

Origami Peace Crane

Origami Peace Crane

We are so excited to be headed momentarily to the Green Festival in Washington, DC, where we will be hosting a Peace Day Celebration tomorrow! We will also have a booth with a small shop set up all weekend featuring our products already available online, as well as many new offerings. Come visit!

The Green Festival DC blog shared this about tomorrow’s Peace Day Celebration – which we hope all your DC area people can attend:

   “Green Festival attendees are invited to celebrate International Peace Day this Saturday at 12 noon in the Green Kids Zone. Participants will join in a worldwide Peace Wave at the start of this fun program by Tender Sapling that includes a little yoga, a little storytelling, a little origami, and a lot of fun.

   “Kids and the young at heart will engage their minds, hearts, and bodies to practice peace and create a symbol of peace to take with them. Kids will like that the origami craft will be led by a 10-year-old boy who will walk peacemakers through the steps to transform a square sheet of paper into an elegant crane – a Peace Crane. A simpler craft will be available for smaller hands. Messages will then be written on the peace symbols, to send wishes for peace out into the world. Plus, attendees will be offered complimentary “Love all the World” temporary tattoos and stickers, which feature Tender Sapling’s original take on the continents as interconnected hearts.

   “Enthusiastic origamists of all ages are invited to fold and donate additional Peace Cranes throughout the weekend-long Green Festival as a contribution to the Children’s Peace Monument in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, where some 10 million cranes are offered each year by people the world over. Tender Sapling will collect these cranes at their booth (#743) next to the Green Kids Zone.

   “This interactive peace program was designed especially for the 2013 Green Festival DC by Tender Sapling – Charlottesville, Va, creators of fun, inspired, eco-friendly products and resources for kids and the young at heart. The peace program captures Tender Sapling’s motto “Have Fun. Grow Noble.” What does it mean to grow noble?…”

–> Read more here.


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Migrate to Mongolia: A Tender Sapling Travelers Cultural Adventure – Part 3 (Food)

This post is part of the Tender Sapling Travelers Series and Part 3 of a 3-part installment on Mongolia. See Part 1 here (book recommendations and learning about the ger) and Part 2 here (prayer wheels, including a step-by-step craft).

I usually love researching and selecting which native food to prepare for our monthly Culture Club homeschool cooperative potluck. However, Mongolia had me stumped.

The traditional nomadic diet is so opposite to what we eat, it presented a few challenges:

1) Where would I get the ingredients or cooking tools, such as the abdominal cavity of a marmot, inside which I would cook chunks of mutton over heated stones if making “Boodog?”

2) If I could get all the supplies and pull off a traditional dish, which typically involves no seasoning and is usually heavy on the animal fat to help Mongolians survive their cold winters, would my kids or any of the 30 other children at our potluck try more than a bite of it?

3) Given that there are several vegetarians in our coop and that our potluck dishes sit out at room temperature for some time, I prefer to select vegetarian dishes from each month’s country. Mongolian food is so heavily meat-based! It’s summarized by Wikipedia as a diet consisting primarily of “dairy products, meat, and animal fat.”

Then I remembered: Continue reading


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Homemade Yogurt Grows Good Cultures + Character too!

Want a fun food project to enjoy with the kids that’s healthy, green, globally-loved, and cultivates some wonderful qualities of the heart too? Look no further: Yogurt!

How can all these lessons be packed into one food? Here’s a quick run down:

* Healthy: Yogurt is considered a health food. We’re talking ideally homemade, no sugar added, real yogurt. Historically, yogurt is credited with curing at least one king from an incurable case of diarrhea. Yogurt is a great pro-biotic with awesome bacteria for your body, which I recently learned that 90% made up by microbes according to this fascinating article by Michael Pollan. (While our yogurt-making experience is solely with cow’s milk, there are non-dairy options and recipes out there, if you prefer that route.) Continue reading


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Migrate to Mongolia: A Tender Sapling Travelers Cultural Adventure – Part 2 (Prayer Wheels)

This post is part of the Tender Sapling Travelers Series and Part 2 of a 3-part installment on Mongolia. See Part 1 here.

After a wonderful introduction to Mongolia, covered in our Part 1 post, our oldest son was ready to focus on an area of interest to present on at our monthly Culture Club homeschool cooperative. In past years’ learning about Mongolia, his interests veered toward the incredible dinosaur discoveries of Roy Andrew Chapman and team (see book recommendation in the Part 1 post). But this year, he chose to focus on the Mongolian Prayer Wheel.

What’s that? Read on to learn about this fascinating prayer tool, if you will. Plus, use objects around the house to create your own! The step-by-step craft instructions follow the prayer wheel intro:

MONGOLIAN PRAYER WHEEL

Mongolian hand prayer wheel

Our oldest tender sapling found the Mongolian prayer wheel interesting from several perspectives: its design, its spiritual significance, its history, and its recent rebirth as a sign of the revival of Mongolian culture following decades of repression. Here are some of the points he enjoyed learning and sharing with the thirty other children who had each been studying Mongolia on their own: Continue reading