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Global Kids Gift Guide: 50 Ideas for Wee to Teen World Citizens

TSGlobalKidsGiftGuide2012

Whatever you celebrate this season, give the children in your life gifts that grow their love of their world! These global gifts are sure to please the kids in your life, as well as their parents. The list is organized in five groups by age, which are rough suggestions. Many kids will enjoy gifts from the other age groups.

The Global Kids Gift Guide draws from items my family has loved, some finds similar to items we once had and loved, and those recommended by friends & fellow bloggers. I tried to capture a range of prices and include options that are sure to appeal to boys, girls, builders, artists, readers, athletes – everyone! Where possible, gifts are eco-friendly and/or fair trade.

I included a lot of links to Amazon for folks outside the US who would like to order these items. But if you live in the US and prefer to shop with smaller businesses, please do a quick search. The product descriptions, including prices, are not guarantees. The summaries are often mine, but quotes represent product descriptions or words of others, as noted.

This is a completely voluntary list, with no paid sponsors, unless you include our business: Tender Sapling. Hope you find some great gifts here! Continue reading


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When Cross-Cultural Exploration Bombs: A Wampanoag Thanksgiving

Ok. I never thought I’d start a post with this title. Not me. A lover of all things global. A world citizen junkie. Someone who spent fifteen years working in various forms of international education on three different continents. Nah.

But this is real life, and I want this blog to be authentic, capturing both the highs and the lows, so I’m sharing our recent cross-cultural experience that fell flat. First, let me qualify that what I’m about to share is not just another story of American kids who think that Africa is a country and can’t find the United States on a map. My kids so love diving into other cultures that all three of them (ages 9, 5, and 2) recently begged every time we got in the car to listen to the biography of the Ghanaian King Peggy until we had completed all 11 cds! Now, some background:

We’d just wrapped up learning about the first European settlements along the Atlantic coast of North America. After studying about Roanoke Island, Jamestown, and the French expeditions and settlements in Eastern Canada (we’d already covered Greenland’s early history last year), we dove into the Pilgrims.

Our two oldest sons soak up everything Powhatan while at Jamestown.

The library was a treasure trove. We dragged heavy bags of books home and read a lot about the Pilgrims, their journey across the Atlantic, the founding and survival challenges of Plymouth Colony, the original inhabitants of Southern Massachusetts – the Wampanoags, Squanto and how his farming knowledge aided the Pilgrims, the First Thanksgiving, and more. Since Thanksgiving was approaching, when questions of menu for the big American holiday came up, a light went off in my head. Continue reading


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Tender Sapling Hearts Renee and Jeremy (+ Giveaway)

In this post, Scott shares his discovery of Renee & Jeremy’s sweet sounds, how our paths crossed with theirs, an overview of their work, a link to a free download for all to enjoy, and a chance to win one of their magical cd’s + a Love All the World bodysuit or tee from Tender Sapling. Have Fun!

I first learned of Renee & Jeremy five years ago in 2008, shortly after they released their first album, It’s a Big World, the year before. That was a magical time in our family. Our second son was still in his first year and his big brother had just turned four. I enjoy making a mixed CD for Emily’s birthday every year, and that fall I was seeking mellow yet upbeat, sweet and pure. I wanted a mix we could play at home, in the car, most anytime, that would be as attractive to the kids as it was to their parents.

I struck gold with Renee & Jeremy. Continue reading


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You Are What You Wear: Wisdom from an African King

Can an inspiring, uplifting shirt help shape a child’s character? We think so. Call it our You Are What You Wear philosophy. Here is some wisdom from across the globe and ages that supports this idea. Plus a fun story that shows it in action and links to shirts that sport spiritual strength.

The Spiritual Strength of Kente

Our family recently discovered a fascinating biography of a Ghanaian-born American woman who became an African King in 2008. As we listened to the fantastic audio recording by J. Karen Thomas of King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village, a whole new culture – and its take on clothing – unfurled before our inner eyes.

We traveled to another world on the wings of vivid descriptions of Ghanaian culture that enriched the dramatic story in which Peggy was selected to serve as the King of her ancestral home and undertook this daunting responsibility against many odds. We learned that in her role as King, Peggy would be expected to wear traditional kente cloth for various ceremonies. Kente designs date back to the 17th century and the cloths are finely crafted and quite expensive. Continue reading


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Sandy’s Gift: A Chance to Explore Sustainability, Soul-growin’ and Fun with Your Kids

If you are reading this before Hurricane Sandy has cleared your path and you have power and a safe, dry roof over your head, let me wish you smooth sailing through the storm and its aftermath. If you are not so lucky, please know that millions of people across the world are praying for your safety. Regardless of whether you live in the affected area or have power, this post is for you.

However you slice this storm’s prediction, it’s serious. Sunday evening’s news not only included announcements for local schools closings, but the incredibly rare pre-storm cancellation of classes at the University of Virginia (my husband’s employer and the site of our first meeting some twenty years ago). I went to bed thinking how severe the storm’s punch would be if the National Weather Service’s 11 p.m. statement warned anyone not all ready for a prolonged power outage to haul your tushy out to the store to complete any last storm prep a.s.a.p. And all this in an area predicted to get only 1-3 inches of rain (update: now 2-6, and possibly snow too) – a ton less than the 8-10 inches expected in the storm center’s path. (Of course, the wind factor here is supposed to be close to the highest speeds for this storm.)

The last thing I thought I’d do this morning is write a blog post. But I woke before the kids and heard the swirl of questions rise up from the still of my subconscious. Do we have enough water and batteries? Is this storm really the largest in a quarter century to hit the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States? How long might we all be without power?

My personal questions shifted into the multitude of anticipated questions from my little ones’ young minds. Why can’t we play with the flashlight in our fort? Why can’t I go biking right now? Why can I see my breath inside? Why can’t I feel my toes? Why does this dinner look like canned dog food?

Storm-time fun, kid-style: Biking in the a foot of snow! (Jan 2010)

And that’s when I realized what a huge opportunity Sandy is for teaching a range of life lessons to our little ones (and ourselves, right?). While no one knows for sure the impact that Sandy will have on an estimated 50-60 million human lives – people from all corners of the earth in America’s great melting pot of the I-95 corridor and hundreds of miles around, by all accounts it’s going to be historically significant. Continue reading


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Green Fest: Fun for Kids

We were nervous about our weekend plan to spend two days trapped inside an enormous box of a building (DC Convention Center) at Green Fest DC 2012. Not because we suffer from claustrophobia, but because we would have three kids in tow. Boys. All boys. Inside for hours on end. Not outside. Inside. With strangers, polite folk.

Like any wizened, torture-avoiding mama, I planned to take the kids solo to other DC sites, so Scott could attend the work-sponsored event. Scott insisted I take the first spin around the exhibit hall before taking over with the kids. They shadowed me, but I relished the time to take in the vast array of exhibitors without counting kids every minute. Before I had covered even a fifth of the gigantic hall, the boys were in love. They patiently took turns grinding wheat berries at a Waldorf booth before finding the green-wheels exhibitors. Zooming around on three-wheeled trikes and balance bikes, our three boys were in heaven.

    

The hours flew, while we visited hundreds of exhibitors, educated ourselves on green initiatives, listened to speakers share green successes, discovered old and new green products, and explored the kids’ section.

Highlights for kiddos (and mama) included: Continue reading


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Make Everyday a Peace Day

Did you join in or initiate a International Day of Peace celebration with your family, school, or community last week? Did you know that September 21 is the International Day of Peace? If it was missed in the hustle of life, no worries. You can celebrate and encourage peace everyday.

We started marking “Peace Day” in our family a few years ago, when we cut up an old sheet and the kids painted Peace Flags to hang in our yard. One still adorns our play structure. This year, we found ourselves exploring the Jamestown Settlement and reflecting on how the Powhatan Indian, English, and African cultures of early 17th century Virginia lived in times of peace, as well as during conflict.

While it was a stretch to say we marked Peace Day in a significant way this year, we made up for it a few days later at home when we had some friends over for some learning fun focused on one of the prerequisites for peace (inner peace, family peace, world peace – any kind of peace!) – we had a celebration of a child’s pure heart. We like to imagine a child’s heart as a mirror. If free of dust and dirt, it can reflect the light of the sun. When pure and free from unpleasant thoughts and behavior, a child’s heart is a heart at peace. Happy. Contented. Kind. Loving. What a beautiful condition and source of joy to the child and all those around her.

To help us explore the idea of and encourage having a pure heart, we shared songs and stories. Then we painted heart-shaped boxes that each child could take home and fill with anything to help them remember and cultivate their pure heart – whether a small mirror, a flower, a prayer, or poem. But the hit of the day was probably the heart-shaped watermelon slices that the kids nibbled on.

Heart-shaped Watermelon Slices

To make these fun treats, just Continue reading


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The blog is born!

What a fabulous day for Tender Sapling’s blog to be born! Beautiful spring weather on a summer day, Scott enjoying a break from Tender Sapling design work to swing our two youngest sons in the hammock, the oldest son’s nose happily planted in a book, a toad we found in our garden keeping me company on the patio, gumbo bubbling on the stove, plans for an evening hike, and a lovely new blog design template just 5 days off the press thanks to the folks at WordPress. What do you think?

If you are new to the Tender Sapling blog, visit About for a brief introduction, including our hopes for this blog. Simply put, we want to share:

* ideas and musings related to helping the next generation have fun growing noble by cultivating their virtues, world citizenship, and environmental stewardship;

* glimpses of the inspiration behind our products; and

* opportunities to support and learn from you on the path to parenting our precious children.

Thanks for visiting!

Introducing our littlest tender sapling to a visiting toad.