What does courage mean to you?
Over the past few summers, Outdoor Adventure's beloved Zoom Tree transformed into a Courage Tree—slowly “blooming” with heartfelt paper tags created and hung by visitors young and old.
Each handwritten message showcased a response to the simple question: What does it mean to be courageous? And children, in real time, displayed their courage as they climbed the low-slung limbs of Zoom Tree to hang thoughts and feelings from its branches.
By season’s end, the tags were tucked away for a future installation in the Museum’s Art Gallery—to someday serve as a reminder of what courage means to our community.
While COVID prevented the 2020 community collaborative, responses from past years are even more inspiring and empowering today. With feelings of uncertainty and anxiety still lingering for many, it’s the perfect time to revisit the meaning of courage in our community, and to perhaps turn over a new leaf.
Here is what our families had to say about courage: "Stand up for what's right even when it's hard. Break the rules when you have to. Use the power you have to make a difference. Stay mad at injustice. Look out for each other."
“Courage means trying your best & pushing through hard times.”
“I was brave when I was riding my bike.”
“Helping people to do what they need to do.”
“Courage is friendship."
"It means love."
“To be kind.”
“Waving hello to my neighbors.”
“To be brave when I climb.”
“To speak & act with an open heart & mind.”
“I was scared on my first day of school, but I still did it.”
“Not afraid to stand up for other people.”
When the time feels right, ask your child:
What does courage mean to you?
What does it look like, feel like, sound like?
Listen to their answers and repeat back what you heard. Take a moment to share your own thoughts. Ask your child to look for similarities that might live inside both of your ideas on courage.
Consider sharing what Museum guests wrote on the Courage Tree.
• Are there any new connections to courage that can be made?
• Does it help hearing what others think about this word?
Find old magazines & newspapers. Together, search for images & words that best describe the meaning of courage.
• Invite your child to cut out their findings and arrange them on a separate piece of paper.
When they are happy with the result, provide glue or tape to afix the images & words in just the right spots.
• Find a prominent place to hang the collage in your home.
• Ask your child if collaging expanded their idea of courage. If yes, how?
Pro-Tip: If you don’t have old magazines or newspapers lying around, check out our ABCs of Loose Parts for other @Home materials to use!
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue consistently. We can’t be true, kind, merciful, generous, or honest.”
NAVIGATING CHALLENGING TIMES
In the words of Fred Rogers, “In times of stress, the best thing we can do for our children (and for each other) is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”
Explore these resources for navigating a variety of challenging conversations @Home.
Difficult News Cycles:
What to Say to Kids When the News is Scary (NPR)
"Encourage kids to process the story through play & art."
Talking with Kids About Difficult News (The Fred Rogers Center)
Responding to Difficult Current Events
How to Help Kids Reframe Anxiety & Reclaim Their Superpowers (NPR)
"Encourage kids to make friends with their worry."
Kaz Fantone / NPR
Attack on the Capitol
Talking to Children About the Capitol Riots (NPR)
Help children makes sense of the news.
An Age by Age Guide: Talking to Kids About the Capitol Riots (TODAY)
Why it's important to explain the news in honest, age-appropriate ways.
Now Is a Good Time to Talk to Kids About Civics (NPR Life Kit)
"Process your own emotions & make home a safe space."
LA Johnson / NPR
Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021:
From MLK to #Black Lives Matter (Teaching Tolerance)
A guide for young students.
King's Radical Social Approach to Justice (Teaching Tolerance)
Encouraging youth to examine the fullness of MLK's life’s work.