Location: Uluru, Australia
We started off the day playing a rousing game of Bounce Eye and once we stopped laughing, we went to see the Ancient Once and the Almost as Ancient One for the map test - how much did we learn? How much do we know? Everyone passed with flying colors! We practiced in pairs what we'll say at Edgewood and MWH and realized we really know our stuff.
Crocodile Dundee invited us on the climb to the sacred rock of Uluru to give us our official animal tooth necklace and initiate us all as official bush rangers! We celebrated with giant pieces of real Australian strawberry pavlova.
At Edgewood and the Mark Wentworth Home, we helped the residents make D-I-N-G-0 boards using words and concepts we taught them about Australia and then we played the game! We showed them our dot art, our sacred animals and our boomerangs and left them with the dust of the outback still swirling around the room. It was an adventure to remember!
Location: Great Barrier Reef, Australia
This time we used the boomerangs we made and painted ourselves to do a real throwing practice. Some of us even had success getting it to arc back to us to be caught! By the end, we were so knackered (tired) from all that boomerang business that we decided to sit there with our mates (friends) to yabber (talk) and eat tucker (food!)
This week we learned the shark song to take some of the fear out of the whole great white shark thing. Next week at Edgewood and the Mark Wentworth Home we'll be sharing some of what we know and this week we got to pick the category on which we want to present as an expert: Dangerous creatures? Aboriginals? The Barrier Reef? How to speak Australian? Sacred animals? So much to choose from!
We finished up our sock creatures by adding bills, paws, and facial features and they are cuter than anything the Gund company can come up with, that's for sure!
We finished up the day with a virtual trip to the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef Room was transformed with the sights and sounds of an underwater dive and the CITs helped the kids suit up and jump backwards off the "boat" and into the deep blue. They learned about the blue ringed octopus, the great white and the box jellyfish. Once we surfaced and thought all the excitement was over, the Bunyip appeared! Yikes!
Location: Billabongs, Australia
Here we are up to our necks in black water in the billabongs. It's a good thing we know how to handle ourselves in the wilds of Australia...well, most of the time! We formed relay teams and went through the bush rangers challenge - Stepping lightly on the lily pads like the lotus bird, through Tunnel Creek, the underground river, without letting the fruit bats get us; and on to zigzag away from the chasing saltwater crocodiles. We all made it and cheering madly for each other earned us all extra points!
For snack we ate Billabong barramundi sticks and chips (Australian fries) with vinegar. It was many of the kids first time trying those things and they loved the vinegar and (pssst!) most of them loved the fish! Everything tastes better outdoors next to a swamp! Meanwhile, experts popped out of the portal to teach us about barramundi and the digeridoo and the legendary Bunyip (the boogeyman of Australian legend.)
We chose an animal to be our sidekick (Wombat? Quoll? Platypus? Koala?) and started work on making a sock creature so it could be with us always. Everyone needs someone to snuggle with when the dingoes start howling in the middle of nowhere!
In part two of our scavenger hunt, the Ancient One gave us clues to find a spot where witchety grubs were buried. By bringing one back to her, we were told where to find our own to eat...except ours were gummy grubs in pudding and cookie dirt!
Location: The Outback, Australia
There's nothing like a game of snakebite tag to start the day off right! While still outside, we got a lesson in boomerang throwing using real Australian boomerangs. A guest popped out of the portal - an Australian soldier from WWI who taught us about what Anzac Day means in Australia. Time to celebrate by making our own Anzac biscuits. Dubbed totally delicious by the group, everyone wants the recipe and voted to save some to feed their parents.
In the art rooms, we finished up our dot art with backgrounds and details and started painting our own boomerangs in the brightest colors we could find (better to see them if they veer off course!) The CITs did some fantastic Aboriginal face painting so the kids could blend in with the bush on our scavenger hunt.
Scavenger hunt? Yes! We set off in teams to find the hidden food sources, water sources and dangerous creatures hidden all over the base camp. The Ancient One was on-site to help those who needed a clue (because she knows EVERYTHING) and we even had a special guest appearance by the Super Ancient One in Greenland. Good thing we found the fierce snake before he found us!
Location: The Outback, Australia
We took our snack on the road on this beautiful week and headed to the park to play a rousing game of Dingos, Wombats, and Kangaroos.
Once back at base camp, Little Mick appeared with a note pierced through with a native arrow! Following the instructions, we found The Ancient One outside swishing her quoll tail flyswatter. She taught us about how her people, the Aboriginals, survive in the harsh conditions of the Outback - how they find water, how they find food, what dangerous creatures to watch out for. When she asked if we had a sacred animal to protect us, we knew we were in hot water. We headed inside to choose a sacred animal and represent it in Aboriginal dot art. Whew! Just in time!
Location: Crocodile Dundee's base camp, Australia
We've made it halfway around the world to Australia! Since we have some new people in our band of merry travelers, we started off with the M & M game so we could get to know each other better, "What Australian animal do you know?" "What do you love to put on top of damper?" (translation: bread)
This week we're hosting a barbie for the parents at pickup time so we got busy in the kitchen mixing up our sauces - both Australian recipes but one fruity with blackberry and the other fragrant with tomato and garlic.
Crocodile Dundee made an appearance and saved our lives by grabbing a lurking snake before it had a chance to strike. He is looking to recruit bush rangers and is hoping that at the end of 6 weeks, we'll be ready. In the meantime, we have to learn where Australia is and what it looks like...no bush ranger can lead strangers into the bush if he or she doesn't know where to go!
We used our own bodies in a formations game to get the lay of the land and discovered everything from the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Bight, from Uluru to the billabongs. We're geared up for adventure and ready for next week's challenge!
O.K. This was the best Planet Rangers finale EVER! With a virus at The Edgewood Centre, we needed to go to Plan B for our destination and came up with an impromptu parade in downtown Portsmouth. Allie Sites, a stylist extraordinaire, came over and did all of our hair in up-dos with chopsticks. The CITs added some face paint and we really looked the part! We loaded up the big dragon and all of our little dragons, put in some instruments and our Chinese music, dressed in red, and headed downtown.
It was wonderful, walking along the streets, dragons glittering in the sunshine, watching the smiles we brought to the faces of so many unsuspecting passersby. We walked through Popovers, Cafe Vonsoln, Pink Bamboo and the Gaslight, blessing their businesses with luck and prosperity as we went. On a number of occasions, we drew applause. Wow! That is gorilla theater (and community service) at its best!
The Tuesday group got to go to the Mark Wentworth Home in Portsmouth to host a Chinese New Year celebration for a group of residents. The kids were all decked out to lead a parade and give out fortunes to the residents. One gentleman, who had been given the fortune that read, "You will live long," was thrilled and planned to re-read it every day. The group ended with a rousing rendition of "If I had a Panda!" It was such a hit, the Planet Rangers have been asked to come back again next session by the residents!
We played the best Chinese game ever today! It's called Revenge of the Water Monkey and plays off of the legend of the water monkeys that pull people into the water if they get too close.
In the kitchen we learned to use chopsticks and then practiced on Chinese chicken noodle soup. There were lots of slippery noodles and in the end, we got a little more skilled. No more forks at the Chinese restaurants!
In pairs we practiced presenting the information we learned about China and worked on the finishing touches of our dragons. Wait until you see them! We filled red envelopes with drawings and kind words and made paper fortune cookies to give away next week at Edgewood and the Mark Wentworth Home. Luckily for us, the moon goddess popped out of the portal with her magical rabbit. How lucky can you get?! How do these people find us!?
Our mascot is LIng Ling the very round panda and we discovered something about him this week. If he falls asleep, he is apt to attack the person closest to him. We kept on the watch this week, never letting him doze off for even a minute!
In the kitchen, we learned about Chinese writing and then made characters out of pretzels (with peanut butter glue.) We got to fish for our snack in the koi pond with lots of success! We put some more touches on our magnificent dragons until a messenger came and ordered us to the court of the first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi. What a tough old bird he turned out to be and the stories from his dynasty are eye openers! He showed us the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army and the Forbidden City. Luckily we made it out of there without being recruited to do any dastardly deeds for him!
In China, children love to race each other. We played games using the timer and tried to beat each other at passing Ling Ling back and forth in the shortest time. That sure warmed us up!
In the kitchen, we made longevity noodles and learned the importance of not biting them until they are in our mouths (just to make sure we live a long, long life!)
We now know so much about the geography of China (From the Gobi desert to the Himalayas to the rice fields, the Yangtze, the South China Sea, and the Silk Road) that we've decided to create a giant (WAY bigger than a breadbox!) map and make it 3D.
We got to work on our dragon projects, which are as bright and colorful as Chinese fireworks! We made up a new song, "If I had a Panda" and we promise it's one you'll be humming all the time once you hear it! During the projects, we had three visitors out of the portal (busy place!) Confucius came again with words to live by and a messenger from Empress Wu as well as one of her bodyguards made an appearance. Naturally Wu wanted to see us again! She just likes it when we fan her!
We spent some time boning up on our interview skills in anticipation of meeting the crew at the Pink Bamboo restaurant. As a group, we came up with some great questions!
We took a ride to downtown Portsmouth and after a hearty "Ni Hao!" to Tina and Song (who own and run the place) we took an insider's tour of the kitchen. We spotted the kitchen god watching over the place and noticed how CLEAN everything was! Back in the dining room, Song and Tina helped us make our own dumplings and spring rolls. They whisked them back into the kitchen for cooking and voila - we got to eat what we made. It was great fun and we all decided as good as that food was, we'll be back at the Pink Bamboo again!
We started our journey into China with teambuilding and a rousing game of Magic Dragon Pool. Can you make it across a pool full of screaming eels or one as hot as the Gobi desert?
We met Confucius ( who had many wise things to say,) and made our own wonton soup to later serve to parents. As we ate, Marco Polo popped out of the portal with news of Asia and a red dragon note directing us on a journey to find the famous Empress Wu. She turned out to be quite demanding - always hot and wanting servants to fan her. She told us if we worked hard at learning about China, she might allow us into the esteemed Order of the Dragon and be granted entry into the Forbidden City. We can only hope!
Peru Week 6
Time for a new version of The 12 Days of Christmas, highlighting a dozen days of discovery in Peru. The residents at Edgewood will love a chorus of 5 shrunken heads
Ew! Hungry, we discovered a bubbling pot of Peruvian stew containing a four-legged animal. The kids guessed, Is it
guinea pig? It isnt llama, is it?! Maybe its camel. (Oops, time for a quick review of the animals that are, and arent, found in Peru.) It turned was stew made with goat from the local farmers market with Peruvian vegetables and spices. The kids blanched and were reluctant at first, but in true Planet Rangers style, they tried it, little bits of goat and gravy over rice and corn. When we are willing to move out of our culinary comfort zone, sometimes we hit on a real winner and we feel so worldly knowing the taste and liking it. Psst! We have LOTS of new goat stew fans!
While eating, we talked about the downfall of the Incas, about the Spanish and about disease and about how scary a Spaniard on a horse would appear if youd never seen a horse. As if on cue, out of the portal popped Francisco Pizarro himself, looking just like the mythical god the Peruvians thought he was. We talked about the Spanish looting and ransacking the country but missing perhaps the most sacred place, Machu Picchu. While telling the story of the Inca mummies found there and how the Peruvians used them (new clothes every day, food and drink, honored visitors at Inca ceremonies!?) two actual mummies emerged from the portal and lumbered across the kitchen.
Off we went to Edgewood with faces painted, Jivaro style, to share all we know about Peru with the residents. With the CITs as the barkers for our traveling curiosity show, we sang our Inca Christmas Carol and then each expert had his or her turn at the microphone to educate the parents and residents about food, rainforest animals, the lost city, and Amazonian artifacts. The Planet Rangers circulated around the room, serving Andean potato puffs and Peruvian purple corn pudding. They showed the residents handcrafted artifacts-colorful blowguns, stuffed llamas, salt paintings and wrinkled maps of the jungles, deserts and mountains of this part of South America. At the end, two residents made a presentation of their own, thanking the kids for coming in, for sharing their knowledge, and for transporting them to the land of pan flutes and piranha, alpaca and Amarillo.
Location: Week 5, Peru
After a game and a song, we added a pack blanket and halter to our homemade llamas. Now theyre ready to carry our gear in the search for the lost city! Jenny led a Peruvian trivia game at the snack station while John and Jane helped the kids research their areas of expertise perhaps the most interesting tidbit is the many practical uses for llama dung. As a group we went station to station, from the rainforest to a Peruvian kitchen, with the kids having the chance to practice taking the stage and speaking, with an impressive level of confidence and wisdom, about Peruvian culture. A visitor suddenly appeared in the midst of our travels to inform us the path to the lost city is cold and well need our coats. While suiting up, we discovered a withered old Inca guide who agreed to lead the way. To our surprise and delight, the lost city revealed itself to us in all its splendor once we reached altitude. The kids played a game of showdown and with the depth of their knowledge, easily accumulated the required number of points to taste a favorite of Pachamama the earth goddess and all Peruvians, Inca Cola (think bubble gum flavored beverage!) At the final circle as kids were honoring each other with Planet Rangers awards, this was surely the quote of the day, I think Meg deserves a Planet Ranger award. Even though shes new, she really fits in with our group. I can tell shes a Planet Ranger at heart. Creativity, culture
and community. Dont we all love to travel amongst friends?