Saturday, June 29, 2024

4th of July 2024

Happy Birthday America!

4th of July, our country's birthday, is definitely one of our biggest national holidays in the US. 

Parades, picnics, barbecues, flags, festivities, and fireworks all are part of this national celebration.  

Were there to be a red, white, and blue birthday cake, we'd be placing 248 candles on the cake for the country that was "born" on July 4, 1776.

Every 4th I like to post a little something about the holiday:

  • ways to celebrate in an eco-friendly way; 
  • ways to add a little environmental green to your red, white, & blue routine;
  • ways to honor our country by getting outdoors, etc. 
To check out my thoughts on all those topics and what I've written in the past, you can easily go back into the archives for 4th of July. May they serve as inspiration to tie together patriotism and environmental stewardship.

In thinking about what to write this year, I started thinking about the symbolism of our nation's colors, thinking about how they can tie in to both environmentalism as well as the meaning of the holiday. It led me to become a bit philosophical and even include a little play on words:

♥️ Red
The color word "red" is a homophone for the past tense of the verb "to read." As Americans, we definitely should be well-read! My challenge for you is that during this week of our nation's independence, make time and take time to read. Read it all: history, biographies, environmental stewardship, social justice issues, the news, non-fiction, and more. With it being an election year, being informed, well-read citizens is the best present we can give our country!

🤍 White
The color white can symbolize a lot of ideas: purity, honesty, innocence, cleanliness, equality. It even is the color of those racing, chasing arrows on our recycle symbol. All good food for thought. The white daisy photo above reminds me of the adage "stop and smell the flowers." Which of course is synonymous to "live in the moment." This is something that holidays often tend to help us with because they are rare and precious, and we tend to NOT take them for granted, not in the same way we often do during our "regular days." Smell the flowers this 4th of July. Appreciate your holiday. Treasure the gifts of your nation, your friends, your family. 

💙 Blue
Being both the color of the sky and of water, blue is the perfect symbol for "being outside." Take time this holiday weekend to soak up some sun, get some Vitamin N (Nature), and romp around outside. Ground yourself in nature. Unplug. Counter your tech time by spending some time in the great outdoors. Breathe in the beauty that surrounds in the world outside our walls! 

May this Independence Day be filled with many remarkable moments
and memories in the making!

Images created at

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Fun With Fonts @ Google Labs GenType

I'm a bit of a font fanatic. I love the ability to jazz things up with the digital creation of some tweaked typography.

Perhaps then it's no wonder why I'm so delighted with the discovery of Google Labs GenType.

Here's a little about it, from its creators:

The font above I created with the following prompt, which showcases the resulting alphabet:

There's so much fun to play with here. You can individually tweak the letters you don't like, then download the files to use in the future. 

I did a little playing with palm fronds too:

Creative juices are flowing! Bulletin boards and digital communication may just have gotten fancier! 

How will you have fun with your fonts and GenType from Google Labs? 

(*Side note: I did notice that I had to use my own google email for login versus my school one as our school administration had that element of Google turned off in our Google For Education applications. So if you are wanting to do this with students, you may need to talk to your IT people.)

Video from, Images screenshot from

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Happy Father's Day: June 16

I always like to pay tribute here at GTG to seasonal holidays--both traditional and environmental ones. Mother's and Father's Day in particular have been important ones to me and frequent past posts.

In fact, here are my 2 favorite Father's Day posts of all-time that I have written:
This year, I'm not going to lie: I was feeling a bit less inspired for creative genius. Maybe it's an end of the school year/brain-fry thing. Very possibly could be. Does it mean I love the Dads in my life any less. Not at all. But my juices weren't working to get it right and to say it with proper meaning.

So I decided to see what ChatGPT had to say by putting in the following prompt, purposely with the eco-twist and assigning a role for the AI generator to adopt.
Assume the role of an avid environmentalist. What are some thoughts or tie ins to Father's Day?
AI did not disappoint. Here is the verbatim response. Normally, I would not use AI in this way--as a direct quote. In fact, I really do not use it often. When I do use it, I use it as a springboard of inspiration. Then I "tweak the heck out of it" adding in my own thoughts and insights... definitely making it sound more like "me" as it has a blocky, formulaic sound to its writing

But I'm going be fully transparent here and simply quote ChatGPT's response & the 9 tenets it generated for my prompt. There are some solid succinct points here, and I'm going to let them stand, quoted directly as AI written. I'm not turning it in for a grade, nor am I turning it in as my own writing. I'm sharing it to present what it can do. 

Additionally, I used the texts per tenant to create AI generated art through Canva's "Magic Tools". 

In doing so, I hope it illustrates how AI can indeed be used for inspiration....and for wishing the Dads out there "Happy Father's Day." May your day be one of family, togetherness, and making memories!

* * *

As an avid environmentalist, Father's Day can be a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the importance of preserving the environment for future generations. 
Here are some thoughts and tie-ins:

1. Legacy of Nature
Father's Day is about celebrating the legacies our fathers and father figures leave behind. One of the greatest legacies we can pass on is a healthy and thriving planet. This day can be a reminder of our responsibility to protect natural resources, biodiversity, and ecosystems for our children and grandchildren.

2. Connecting Generations
Fathers often teach their children about the world around them, including nature. Father's Day can be a perfect time to share outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, birdwatching, or gardening. These activities not only strengthen family bonds but also instill a love and respect for the environment in younger generations.

3. Sustainable Gifts

Choosing eco-friendly and sustainable gifts for Father's Day can promote environmental consciousness. Gifts like reusable water bottles, solar-powered gadgets, organic and locally sourced products, or even planting a tree together, can be meaningful and beneficial for the environment.

4. Educational Opportunities
Father's Day can be an opportunity to educate families about environmental issues. Fathers can share their knowledge about climate change, conservation, and sustainable living with their children, fostering a household culture that prioritizes environmental stewardship.

5. Green Traditions
Starting new family traditions that emphasize sustainability can make Father's Day even more special. Activities such as organizing a neighborhood clean-up, visiting a national park, or committing to reducing household waste are ways to honor fathers while contributing to environmental protection.

6. Advocacy and Action
Encouraging fathers to take an active role in environmental advocacy can amplify efforts to combat climate change and protect natural habitats. This can include participating in environmental campaigns, supporting green policies, or volunteering for conservation projects as a family.

7. Appreciation of Nature’s Beauty
Father's Day can be a day to appreciate the beauty of nature and the role it plays in our lives. Taking time to enjoy and respect the environment can be a powerful reminder of why it's crucial to protect it. Fathers can lead by example, showing their children the value of preserving our planet’s natural wonders.

8. Reflection on Future Generations
Father's Day is a time to think about the future we want for our children. Reflecting on how our current actions impact the environment can inspire us to make more sustainable choices. It’s about ensuring that future generations inherit a planet that is as vibrant and full of life as the one we enjoy today.

9. Encouraging Environmental Responsibility
Fathers have a unique role in teaching responsibility, including environmental responsibility. Using Father's Day as a platform to discuss and implement eco-friendly practices at home can create a lasting impact on children's attitudes towards the environment.

By integrating these thoughts and actions into Father's Day celebrations, we can honor our fathers and father figures while also committing to the protection and preservation of our planet for future generations.

As disclosed above, text from the ChatGPT prompt "Assume the role of an avid environmentalist. What are some thoughts or tie ins to Father's Day?" Images created using Canva's Magic Tools using the text above as prompts to generate the photos.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Graduation Season

School years are wrapping out and both teachers and students are getting out of school. One of my favorite times of the year as it is like sitting on the cusp, with the hopes, dreams, and promises of summer just ahead. It's whatever you want it to be.

Each school year end is like its own min-graduation. Along those lines and thinking of that, I think I'm at my own personal 32nd school year graduation. 

My personal reflection and celebratory photo is above.

But then there are the bigger milestones. Kindergarten celebrations where the littles are decidedly "not-so-little" anymore. The 5th grade promotions to middle school. The 8th grade official moves to high school. The high school graduations into the world of adulthood. The college commencements celebrating additional studying and degrees to further your career.

This year I attended 4 graduation ceremonies. For some people, that would be a level of major overkill. I personally am rather fond of these milestone events. I enjoy these official transitions with their pomp and circumstance. During these events, I heard some really powerful graduations speeches this year, filled with a lot of powerful metaphors. Believe it or not, I was tickled when one speech tied growth the the interconnectedness and communication and biodiversity within forests (aptly named the "Wood Wide Web").

One of my favorites this year was a resurgence in my world by the viral speech from several years ago by Navy Seal Admiral McRaven. His "Make Your Bed" speech was the one he delivered at the 2014 University of Texas Commencement Address. We've probably all seen it a number of times over the past 10 years. It was referenced in some digital decision making curriculum I have for my 4th graders, so I shared this video overlay version with both them. I also shared it with our 5th graders, who were knee deep in writing their own promotion speeches for their moving up ceremony. All classes were riveted and gave it a spontaneous round of applause--for of course in their 10 years, they hadn't seen this 10 year old speech. 

Good words of reminder, and a graduation season is the best time for it! May it inspire your next season ahead, whatever that is for you!

Photos created with my own pictures in the Pic Edu app. Video from

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Watching Wildlife

As the weather is growing nicer in a lot of parts, here's some great advice from the National Park Service for anyone who may be out and about, exploring nature and doing some wildlife watching. 

Never forget--you are out in their natural habitat--THEIR zone... so leave them alone!

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

World Environment Day: June 5th

Annually, June 5th is World Environment Day. Led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), this date is meant to unite people across the globe to heighten awareness for environmental action.

Eons ago, I submitted a blog post about World Environment Day to try to win a trip to Rwanda that UNEP was hosting in honor of World Environment Day. I didn't win. But it also shows how long this day has been a calendar date of awarenessfor GTG & me..

This year's theme is coined #GenerationRestoration, with the focus on land restoration, ending desertification, and working toward drought resilience.  According to UNEP, an estimated 3.2 billion people are hit hard by desertification. Additionally, droughts are anticipated to impact 3/4 of the world population by 2050. Yikes!

Some featured resources on their website include:

Musical playlists for #GenerationRestoration

A guidebook of solutions of things we can do to make a more resilient planet.

"Weird & Wonderful Fun Facts about Terrestrial Ecosystems" and their Key Messages about this year's theme.

Test yourself by taking the UNEP quiz "How Much Do You Know About Degraded Land, Deserts and Droughts?"

A list of UNEP World Environment Day events, including the mention of the 2020 documentary "Kiss the Ground," now currently a movie available on Netflix. Here's a trailer (narrated by Woody Harrelson):

Additionally, for my teacher friends out there, here are some more classroom resources:

video from and, logo from

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Marveling at Monarchs & Their Migration

As the days warm up, I'm definitely outside more. Sitting at my patio table or lounge chair: sipping a cool beverage, reading a book, listening to the sounds of nature, or maybe even typing my latest GTG post for here.

The birds always catch both my eyes and ears, as do the flutter-by butterflies that come this way. For years, we've had a little patch of milkweed that my husband tends--some years more fruitful in their crop of hatching monarchs than others. 

I ran across this video, from Atlas Obscurer, which is amazing... and probably does not do the beauty of the monarch's justice in a way a camera can never compare to real life. The video, from 2019, highlights Phil Torres at the El Rosario Butterfly Sancutuary in Mexico, one of the places where monarch's overwinter.

As a companion piece, there is a video by Joe Hanson for his series, "It's Okay to Be Smart" which goes a bit more into the science of why monarchs do what they do. It's seriously fascinating!

If these 2 videos had you hankering for more and you are feeling the need to read up on morehere's a list of top 10 "must read monarch" books from

Here's hoping our milkweed patch this summer has a good monarch harvest and can be part of this whole migratory cycle!

Video from and, Image created at