Bonsai "Project" - Help required

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Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  bonsai monkey on Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:22 am

How d do d everyone. Sorry I’ve not been around much, too much re-potting and arguing with the wife!!! I was looking for some help or advice for a little problem that I have created for myself.

One evening whilst taking my daughter Wednesday to Brownies at the local school, I notice a small bushy shrub growing between the fence and the pavement. Upon closer inspection I notice a nice little Cotoneaster (I know not more Cotoneasters!!) which had been cut back over the years by the school caretaker which left a small stocky plant. As many IBC members have been “banging on doors” I thought that it was worth an ask. I emailed the head teacher with my requested and was granted permission but at a cost. I don’t think that I over egged the pudding in my email but she said that she read my request “with interest” and asked if I would “consider” conducting an assembly for the children about my hobby affraid

I’m not one for public speaking but have had pressure from some “mum friends” of mine to do it but what can I talk to children in the age groups 5-10 year olds about bonsai? After a few chats I could tie in “Bonsai Master” & Jedi Master” to help make it fun but I’m really stuck. Any help, after picking yourself up of the floor after all your laughing at the predicament that I’ve got myself in, would be greatly appreciated and I’ll keep you posted of my progress and I’ll take a pic of the tree this weekend when I dig it up.

Happy but twisted,
Simon

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Kev Bailey on Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:06 pm

Aww that's a nice predicament to be put in. I know it seems hard, if you aren't used to speaking to groups but there's a trick that makes it much easier. Take a series of visual aids along with you and hang your talk on them. I did it for a talk to the Royal Geographic Society and it worked!

Open by explaining to them that you love trees and that you grow them to look like the big ones they see outside (have pictures if there are no mature ones outside), but in pots to keep them small. Show how you can grow them starting from seed (anything like an Oak that you have started?)

Keep your language simple and ask if they understand often. Explain how they could grow trees from seed. Perhaps one of their teachers will agree to have a go at it. Now is the right time, if some seed can be found. Small successes with plants early in life can inspire them for the rest of their lives and most kids are naturally interested in their environment.

Explain that they could plant the trees in school grounds to fatten up for bonsai or they could let them grow into full size trees. Ofsted (the schools inspectorate) like the school environment enriched by the kids efforts! Mention this to the headmistress Very Happy

Ask if they know the cotoneaster that you are after, between the path and the fence. They may not, so have a photo of it ready. Explain what you are going to do and then show them a potted collected tree or a photo of one. Then show them some photo's of Cotoneaster bonsai. You can get plenty by Googling - Creative Commons bonsai cotoneaster and then click the image tab. It is perfectly legitimate to use Creative Commons photo's as the copyright clearance has been granted for this kind of use. If you can't print them off the school should be able to do it for you.

You will probably only have to fill 5 or 10 minutes, at the most, so this is probably more than enough, if you allow a bit of time for them to ask questions at the end.

There are almost endless areas that this could be developed into by the head for assemblies or class teachers for a project- the importance of trees breathing out oxygen, soil conservation, fuel provision, paper, building materials, deforestation, species extinction, Co2 capture and holding back global warming for a start.

Any more doubts, just ask away. We have a couple of teachers on here, myself included.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  bonsai monkey on Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:19 pm

Thanx for the advice Kev.
I'll let you know how I get on. Anyone else??

bonsai monkey
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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  JimLewis on Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:28 pm

Bring as many examples with you as you can lug.

How many kids will there be? If not too many, you might let them try wiring a junk plant or two.

Is there a teacher there you could get interested in starting an after-school activity in bonsai?

Don't be upset if some of the kids aren't interested. There will be a few that are. Aim your talk at them.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  bonsai monkey on Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:33 pm

Hi Jim,
I only live in spitting distance from the school so lugging ain't a problem. As far as I know it's the complete Primary and Junior schools. There should be teachers there but I plan to have a meeting with the head teacher first to help sort out exactly what she would like me to put across to the children.

After school Bonsai club, now there's a thought affraid

Love, Peace & Bananas,
Simon

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Joe Hatfield on Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:04 pm

Maybe you can get a hold of some saplings and cheap peat-pots. give the kids something to take home.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  fiona on Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:13 pm

Si. Your only mistake can be to give them too much talk and not enough do. I always find they're more motivated by something practical, so as well as a brief section of show and tell, I'd get them active and doing something with wee trees. Why not speak to Lil Pete and either get some of his seedlings to use with the kids or get him to order you up some along with some small cheapo pots. It gives them something to work on and then take home to cherish. (btw - ask the school about some funding. Dont know how it works down your way, but up here this is the sort of thing the Parents' Association/Council like to support. Often they have cash where the education authority does not)

Will PM you at some point soon to see if I can help more.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Fuzzy on Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:20 pm

What a wonderful predicament!………….EXCITING! Wish you good luck with your talk and who knows a future bonsai master may emerge. Smile

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  John Quinn on Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:52 am

Bring some simple soil ingredients and let them mix them together for a potting mix...

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  flor1 on Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:15 am

Make it a field trip and let them dig up the tree and help you pot and style it.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  JimLewis on Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:29 pm

flor1 wrote:Make it a field trip and let them dig up the tree and help you pot and style it.

I bet the school's insurance company won't allow that.

But something hands on is necessary.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Paul B (Scotland) on Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:52 pm

Hi Simon,

I can sympathise with you. I've been 'volunteered' to show the all the kids at the nursery my son and daughter go to, to plant up summer planters / hanging baskets.

I'd agree with others about hands on stuff. Let them get their hands dirty mixing up soil, pass round a couple of small empty pots, then a couple with trees in them. Let them touch the trees and if you've got anything that you can let them wire and bend, I'm sure It'll go down a treat.

Keep an eye on your toolbox through, my son (3½) has a fascination with concave cutters. I think the age group you'll be talking to would appreciate you explaining what the various tools are for, but you'll need to check whether its OK to pass them round.

Have fun and please let us know the line about Bonsai Master and Jedi Master.

May the force be with you.

Paul

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Joe Hatfield on Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:57 pm

In regard to hinged cutters: Use Tie Wraps or tape to keep them closed so the kids can not use them if you pass them around. Smile

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Kev Bailey on Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:25 pm

Jeez, the tape would be off in a trice, along with a finger or two. These are primary kids. Show them a pair of cutters and perhaps demonstrate their use, but explain they are too sharp and can only be used by adults. They will understand.

That reminds me of something I meant to ask you before. If the headmistress is "on the ball", she will probably need you to be CRB checked, if this develops into more than a one off talk. This is something that the school has to initiate and will take a couple of months.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  JimLewis on Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:12 pm

CRB?

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  John Quinn on Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:22 pm

Prolly a criminal background check...

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Joe Hatfield on Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:00 pm

I think thats a criminal history report. When I was student teaching I had to get mine. That can take some time here in the states.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Kev Bailey on Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:21 pm

Yep, in the UK it's a Criminal Records Bureau check. It does take a couple of months.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  fiona on Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:16 pm

They're primitive down south. Up in Scotland the process is handled by Disclosure Scotland and only takes 8 -10 days.

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Re: Bonsai "Project" - Help required

Post  Klaudia & Martin on Thu Mar 25, 2010 1:07 am

Hello Simon

Does it have to be bonsai only?
What about to start with seeds....right now you/they can start with oaks or acers.
I'm sure you can find some just "starting" seeds where the kids can see how it all begins.
This might be more interesting for them than bonsai. And you have got something to handle to them.
And they have got something to start on their own.

So possibly you can talk 2/3 of the time about seeds, earth, growing, leaves.....so on.
And you will have a nice introduction to bonsai....."look that is what I do with trees"......

Kind regards
Martin

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