We have set a challenge for our adventure in Nepal…


The kids and I, through researching the problems that rubbish is causing in the Himalayas, alongside our necessity to be able to drink safe water, have had to rethink our habits.

When we first booked our flights for our adventure, we immediately got to work on a digital and wall family/team emblem to encompass everything this adventure means to us.

Our ‘footprints’ around the mountain represented each one of us, training together and supporting each other as a team, then walking amongst the majestic mountains! But they also represented our intentions to leave only ‘footprints’.

The kids made the above picture to depict how tricky it has been balancing this triad: the rubbish problem, safe drinking water, and our commitment of ‘leaving only footprints’.   

The ‘mountains’ of rubbish that have been left behind by hikers and climbers in the Himalayas is quite shameful.  Even the removal to mountain dumps to burn is causing all kinds of toxic pollution.

As we have researched the rubbish problem in the Himalayas and learned of the subsequent problems, we have also come across lots of local and international individuals, groups and organisations who are creating amazing awareness, programs and initiatives to help. 

Like this one:

And this one, solving plastic bottle and poop problem in one! (Video is long but non-Nepali speakers can just fast forward through to see the stages and end product :-))

But what can WE do as a family?

We never leave any trace behind when we hike in Australia’s National Parks, so why would we in Nepal? We wouldn’t.  But there is a problem we have contributed to in the past….

On our last overseas hike in China’s Tiger Leaping Gorge, we bought bottled water from the guest houses along the way.  We had to, as bottled water isn’t a choice in China like in Australia, it’s a necessity.  Although we didn’t litter the empty bottles along the trails, we did leave them in the guest house ‘bins’.  But where did they go after that?

We watched this TED ED video as a reminder that there is no throwing ‘away’ of a plastic bottle…

The third bottle in the video helps save the planet a little by being recycled…but often in mountain areas there are no official ‘recycle’ programs. 

The water being unsafe to drink in countries like China and Nepal has left hikers with no other option but to buy bottled water…which means several plastic bottles per day per hiker…with 100s of thousands of hikers …it’s not hard to do the math!  The ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ slogan isn’t helping in a place like the Himalayas…

…So we decided to add another ‘R’…


The challenge for us on our adventure in Nepal is


So how do we do this when the water is not safe to drink?

A bonus is that as we already have experience hiking in the wilderness, so we already know a little about the different ways, and their pros and cons of treating water.  Kids and I have also been reading about what other trekkers in Nepal are doing.  

There are a variety of ways to treat water, such as boiling, iodine tablets, pump filters, straw filter bottles, UV light etc., each one has its pros and cons.  Here is what we plan to do on our hike in the Himalayas:

We are fortunate in that we invested in a SteriPEN a few years ago when we started taking the kids on extended hikes.  

Here’s Aurora using our SteriPEN to treat creek water on our Hinchinbrook Island hike.

The UV light of the SteriPEN kills bacteria, parasites and viruses, and doesn’t change the taste like iodine tablets do. The downsides are that the pen requires batteries, spare batteries can be heavy while hiking on long hikes (obviously still having to carry out used ones). The pen kills stuff, but doesn’t filter…so the floaty bits and sediments will still be in the water.  It could fail/break, in that case you need a back up!

SteriPENs work best when treating 1 litre of water at a time. So we have a sturdy 1 litre bottle that we fill up with creek or tap water to treat, pop our Steripen in for 90 seconds, and voila…treated water.  We usually then fill our backpack bladders with this, repeating each time till full.  But in Nepal we plan to have a water bottle each that has an inbuilt filter.  We can then pour our treated water into our individual water bottles, this way our filters will then separate those sediments of the already treated water that the SteriPEN cannot do. We will also take Iodine tablets as a backup for if the SteriPen breaks.

The time to repeat the treating process every few hours on a hike, and the extra weight to carry the Pen, spare batteries, and iodine tablets, adds a little inconvenience to a trek.  But we feel worth it to do our little bit to reduce the plastic pollution in this area of the world.  Many other hikers are doing this too…if every hiker did this imagine the reduction in rubbish on the mountains….

Do you think we can do the ZERO BOTTLED WATER CHALLENGE?????


Links to Curriculum Outcomes:

These are just a few HASS Outcomes – but we explored Science (plastic composition and water bacteria/viruses etc), Math – Data Management of Waste, and Health outcomes too 🙂 Remember we don’t really work to the curriculum, just a few here to show other families how Adventure Based Learning ticks off those outcomes 🙂


  • considering the water cycle in terms of changes of state of water
  • investigating factors that influence the water cycle in nature
  • exploring how human management of water impacts the water cycle


  • considering how human activity in the community can have positive and negative effects on the sustainability of eco systems
  • considering the issues relating to the use and management of water within a community

Learning spoken Nepali

None of the online Nepali courses or YouTube channels are working for us!  We were trying to find a ready made, kid friendly course…but all we could find were random phrase memorisation style programs, or isolated grammar videos.

There was one free course, developed by the Nepali Peace Corp that does seem to scaffold Nepali in a way that helps you build on sentences…and explains the grammar so that you can learn how to put a sentence together and substitute words to say what you actually want to say!!!  But it is so old it looks like the pdf download was actually scanned from a document typed by a typewriter!!!!  It is not a kid friendly course at all.  I originally dismissed it for this reason….But it may be all we have to work with to help us build our Nepali!

SOOOOO…….I have spent the last week following the course myself, learning the aspects of Nepali grammar and memorising the sentences, and starting to get a feel for Nepali word order, and how the pronouns and verbs work in different sentences.  I’m a language teacher!!! So I am learning 1 step ahead of the kids, and creating our own resources to learn together in a more kid friendly way! 

I am creating our own documents as we go through the course, colour coding grammar aspects so that we can clearly see which word in the sentence is the pronoun, noun, verb, question word, adjective etc., so that we can start to substitute words in the sentence patterns as we learn them.  We have colour coded flash cards for games.  Kids are writing the conversations in the same colours, and memorising them.  We are learning vocab through kinesthetic gesture, props and music, what we call a WAM session, (words, action, music).  Most of the gestures in the above video are taken from Auslan Sign Language.  We use these to teach Chinese too, so we are already familiar.  Gestures help link meaning and aid in recall.  The music provides a rhythm and focus, plus the kids get to listen to their fave songs while learning Nepali 🙂

We are finding our way together, and relying on poor quality sound files for pronunciation.  So our plan is to learn as many conversations as we can each week, then hope to practice what we have learned via Facetime with a Nepali speaker 🙂

Below are the sentence patterns we are learning first, and the tables below that contain the vocab for those first sentence builders.  We have colour coded these on our files as Verbs-Red, Nouns-Blue, Adjectives-Green, Question words-Orange, Pronouns-Purple, Conjunctions and Other words-Black.  Sorry I cannot upload tables in colour on this blog 🙁 But you can see from the piks above how we have coloured our own learning materials 🙂

Conversation 1 

  1. namaste.
  2. namaste.
  3. tapaaiko naam ke ho?
  4. mero naam Aurora ho.
  5. wahaako naam ke ho?
  6. wahaako naam Lucas ho.
  7. tapaaiko ghar kahaa ho?
  8. mero ghar astreliya ho.
  9. wahaako ghar kahaa ho?
  10. wahaako ghar nepaal ho.  

Conversation 2  

  1. yo ke ho?
  2. yo kalam ho.
  3. yo kasko kalam ho?
  4. yo mero kalam ho.
  5. tyo ke ho?
  6. tyo kitaab ho.
  7. tyo kasko kitaab ho?
  8. tyo wahaako kitaab ho.
  9. yo ni?
  10. tyo tapaaiko kitaab ho.  

Conversation 3  

  1. tyo ke ho?
  2. yo kitaab ho.
  3. tyo kasko kitaab ho?
  4. yo mero kitaab ho.
  5. kitaab kholnus. tapaaile ke gareko?
  6. maile kitaab kholeko.
  7. wahaale ke gareko?
  8. wahaale kitaab kholeko.  

Conversation 4  

  1. Lucas!
  2. hajur.
  3. tyo kalam ho?
  4. hoina.
  5. tyo ke ho ta?
  6. yo kaapi ho.
  7. tyo kasko kaapi ho?
  8. yo mero kaapi ho. 

Conversation 5  

  1. tyo ke ho?
  2. yo kalam ho.
  3. tyo kasko kalam ho?
  4. yo mero kalam ho.
  5. tapaaiko kalam kasto chha?
  6. mero kalam kaalo chha.
  7. kalam dinos. tapaaile ke gareko?
  8. maile kalam dieko.  

Conversation 6 

  1. tyo ke ho?
  2. yo jholaa ho.
  3. tyo kasko jholaa ho?
  4. yo wahaako jholaa ho.
  5. tyo jholaa kasto chha?
  6. yo jholaa seto chha.
  7. tyo jholaa dinos. tapaaile ke gareko?
  8. maile jholaa dieko. 

Conversation 7 

  1. Aurora!
  2. hajur.
  3. tyo kasko kitaab ho?
  4. yo mero kitaab ho.
  5. paDhnos. tapaaile ke gareko?
  6. maile paDheko.
  7. tapaaile kasko kitaab paDheko?
  8. maile mero kitaab paDheko.
Verbs Nouns


Is (to be )

(to locate things and people) eg. the pen is on the table, He is at home

Also quality of something or somebody




home, house





To give




shoulder bag





To do




note book





To open









To read







Is (to be)  (define something or somebody) eg. This is my house

Kathmandu is the capital








Is not

(negative of ho)







Is not

(negative of chha)






Questions Pronouns








my, mine























What colour, How? (Qualitative)









your, yours


Adjectives Conjunctions /other








Yes (polite)









then /so









and how about…?


Getting fit- Thilba Thalba 1 night hike

Santa brought the kids their very own hiking tents. So we thought we would test them out with a short but steep 6km 1 night hike up Gheerulla Bluff to Thilba Thalba remote bush camp, which forms part of the Sunshine Coast Great Walk 

Kids have been on quite a few extended hikes now carrying packs, including Hinchinbrook Island earlier this year.  But while they have been little people, we have had a really light 4 man hiking tent to enable the 4 of us to do these hiking trips, and distributed the weight of all our gear and food so that the kids only had to carry about 5kgs each, gradually increasing it as they got older.  This is the first time that they have had their very own tent to carry, so they were pretty keen this time to carry all their own gear, clothes, food and water!

They packed their own packs, didn’t weigh each item (like we did for a maths activity when we packed for Hinchinbrook), just used their common sense and spatial awareness learned from previous hiking adventures. Their packs ended up being about 8kg each.

Kids also pitched their tents, and pulled them down to pack into their packs themselves.

The Walk is a grueling climb, but awesome views at the top, and a nice lookout at the camp area to have cuppas 🙂

Great little, but still challenging hike for the kids’ next level of hiking 🙂

They won’t need to carry their tents on our Himalayan Trek, but all the little training adventures add another layer of experience and fitness  🙂


Traveling on a budget….shopping challenge part 2

So now Lucas’s turn…$100 cash for 5 days worth of meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the whole family 🙂 Click on the link for full details of the challenge.

His menu plan nice and healthy and tasty, and costs calculated from Woolworths website

His list for stuff he has to buy, and stuff already in our cupboard he needs to pay proportionately for.

Just like his sister, he made a video of his shopping trip. He’s made lots of animation videos before, but this was his first time chopping and editing video footage in iMovie.

He’s only 11, but I totally stepped back giving no help in his menu planning, budget calculations or shopping list.  I thought that he would make a few mistakes, to learn from of course, but he walked me through his plans and calculations and they were meticulous.  He spent $80.50 at the checkout, owed me $8.40 for items that we already had in the fridge/cupboard, and was reimbursed $10 for proportions of food that he did not need in his shop.  He’s planned a pumpkin soup that will do 2 dinners, making a new Persian dish but substituting the lamb for cheaper chicken, making his own chicken stock for his chicken and corn soup, and made changes during his shop to take advantage of the specials.  He ended up with $21.10 change that he gets to keep…as long as we don’t need anymore food for the 5 days.  I am really impressed and looking forward to his dinners….I already know he is a good cook and will deliver on his plan…

Will post a review on both of their challenges at the end of the week 🙂

Traveling on a budget…our shopping challenge

Preparing for our Annapurna adventure and recording all our learning from it is helping the kids learn how they can achieve their own goals.

Undoubtedly ‘money’ is a necessity if your goals are adventures like going to Nepal to hike around a mountain!

Kids have been working hard to save money for the gear we need to hike safely in Nepal, and have already saved over $500!

But we will also have to think about a daily budget for meals and accommodation while we are on our trek….to make this trip affordable for us we must set a daily limit.

Kids have both really enjoyed watching the ABC series ‘Teenage Boss‘ with Eddie Wu, where kids get to manage the family’s budget for a month.  So they set their own little challenge:

Planning and managing our meals/snacks for the whole family from a Monday to Friday, with $100 budget.

Aurora’s challenge:  Mon 10th Dec to Fri 14th Dec
Lucas’s challenge:    Mon 17th Dec to Fri 21st Dec.

Challenge guidelines :

  • Plan breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for 5 days (Mon -Fri), with $100 budget.
  • Shop for the food for the 5 days’ meals.
  • Manage the food allocation to all family members, including cooking dinners, allocating lunches etc for the 5 days.
  • If food that we already had in the fridge/cupboard was used, the cost of the item will need to be added to the expenditure.
  • If spices/condiments used, then a proportion of the cost added eg. spoonful of curry powder might be 20 cents…as it is impossible to buy new condiments for all meals within the weekly budget.
  • Kids get to keep any money left over!

Here is Aurora’s menu plan, she figured even on a budget she could make the food desirable and healthy, catering for everyone’s diet needs,  lots of veg, and a little treat of an After Eight Dinner mint each at the end of the day:

Here is her shopping list, she looked on the Woolworth’s website for the cost of each item, so that she could estimate the cost and ensure that she didn’t go over budget:

Aurora was given $100 cash, and off she went to the shops (with Lucas helping her).  Her shopping bill was $61.80.  She calculated that she was going to use $16 worth of food we already had in the cupboard.  So she came well under budget…and has $22.20 as a buffer over the week in case she underestimated the amount of food we need 🙂 …or gets to keep it if we don’t need anymore food!

She also edited this little video of the shop trip, ‘Teenage Boss’ style:

Awesome job up to now, but how will she go over the week with the food that she has bought???? Will we starve? We will have to wait till Friday to find out….

In the meantime, Aurora came home from a track session at 6.30pm Mon evening and got straight into making our dinner, then prepared Dad’s lunch for him to take to work…I think she has this better than Mum 🙂







Getting fit – Gherulla Falls

We are ramping up our training for Nepal, this weekend pulling up a little sore after a 22 km walk in Mapleton National Park.

We decided to do a 22 km circuit that forms part of the Great Walk, and part of the Blackall 50/100 trail run. Here is the National Parks’ map for this section of the Great Walk.

And here is a map Lucas mapped for us with google maps to map the section that we would be tackling this weekend.

We parked our car at the end of Sam Kelly Road, so that we got to conquer the daunting ‘Gherulla Bluff’ right at the start with fresh legs, shade and morning temperatures.  Last time I ascented this Bluff was during the Blackall 50, after already running 20kms and in 11am heat…it took me 2hrs to reach the top!

This time it took us 1 hour to reach the top, and 6.5 hrs to complete the whole circuit, including a couple of refreshment stops, and potato salad to give us some much needed energy!

The track is unforgiving, hilly and hard on the feet in many sections.  It’s uneven and rocky, needing a mental alertness each step to place feet in the best position, the impact giving your whole body a physical workout.

Creek crossings were a bit dry, but enough water to dip our hats in to cool down 🙂 After rain, crossings require good rock hopping balancing skills, or just wading through.

But still enough water in the water holes for a swim at the end to cool down 🙂

A great circuit to do every now and then to test endurance and resilience 🙂

Australian Curriculum Links

Too tired to map them this time 🙂 but you can imagine the geography, maths, health outcomes, and those core values we learned through experience together 🙂

Well Being for goals – in a Mandarin Rap

Our goal of trekking around the Annapurna is our ‘Everest’.  We have been reading biographies of Alyssa Azar (youngest Australian to climb Everest) and Jordan Romero (youngest worldwide to climb Everest at 13!!!!!), sharing their journey of achieving their goal, and inspiring kids to go for their own ‘Everest’ whatever their dream might be.  We learn so much from their stories, from their experience travelling new cultures, planning, failing, hard work, training, safety etc., and especially BALANCE.

We have also just read Solli Raphael’s new book ‘Limelight’.  He hasn’t climbed Everest :-), but at 13 has written a book inspiring kids to follow their dreams too, this time through slam poetry! At 12 he won the Australian Slam Poetry Competition, beating Adults! Here he is performing his winning slam:

His poetry is awesome, he’s not just good at poetry though, he has a passion to rally all of his generation to help change the world for the better.  He gives good advice, not just about metaphors and similes 🙂 But also about the importance of well being, balance, and BREATHING…did you hear in the above poem…Breath In, Breath Out :-). His saxophone playing, his long distance running training, his tennis playing, are not just other interests, they contribute to to his mental and physical health, a balance that makes the ideas, the words, the creativity, the nerves of  ‘slamming’ all possible for him.  It is this BALANCE that we are focusing on as we read Solli’s poetry.

We’re not all great poets or Everest climbers…but just as we can achieve our own personal physical goals, playing with and being mindful with words can help us to transform those goals from the words of a ‘training plan’ to discovering our goals on a more personal and emotional level, from within.

We are going to try and write our own poems about our journeys, but first we are exploring the genre of SLAM.  Slam is like the RAP of poetry.  So to get us warmed up, we thought we would learn a RAP.  But, as we need to maintain our Mandarin while we learn Nepali, we thought we would learn a RAP in Mandarin 🙂  Our goal to trek around the Annapurna is about having a goal that will keep BALANCE in focus, a goal that we can integrate all our learning areas with a focus on our inner, local and global ‘Well being’.  So we are learning a RAP in Mandarin about having a ‘Balanced Lifestyle’.  Memorising this rap, and making a video to go with it, will help us to talk about the topic of having a balanced lifestyle while we achieve our goals, with friends in China. And of course it integrates LOTE, English, Health, Music, Arts and Technology.  It will help us to share bilingually what we think is important to achieve our goals.

We found the site Mandarin Rap Podcast for learning how to talk about some deeper topics in Chinese through learning Rap! It’s a great site, check it out!  We found a rap about Lifestyle Balance on the site.

Here is the video of Aurora and Lucas singing the Rap.  They added images to help with meaning, as well as subtitles in Mandarin and English. Lyrics in Chinese characters, pinyin and English translation below.

很多大人 都希望

āiyā wǒhěnlèi
méiyǒu shíjiān xiūxi méi shíjiān xiūxi
pínghéng shēnghuó shì zhòngyàode
xuéshengde yālì tèbié dà
zuòyè fùxí duīchéngshān
měitiān mángdé tuántuánzhuàn
shēnghuó jiézòu bìng búmàn
hěnduō dàrén dōu xīwàng
shōudào jiǎngjīn yě jìnshēng
yītiān dàowǎn dōu gōngzuò
háishi méifǎ yǎnghuó jiārén
kòngxián xiūxián zǒngshì shǎo
dànshì pínghéng shēnghuó hěn
ràng wǒmen dàjiā xíngdòng qǐlái
tiáozhěng gǎibiàn dōu bìyào
shuǐguǒ shūcài měitiān chī
duō hēshuǐ shǎohē kāfēi
cóngbù zǒujìn màidāngláo
jièyān xiànjiǔ zhè hěnduì
shìliàng yùndòng bú wàngjì
jiānchí ránshāo kǎlùlǐ
tiāntiān duànliàn duì shēntǐ hǎo
zǎoshuì zǎoqǐ búhuì lǎo

Aiya! I’m really tired. No time to rest, no time to rest…
A balanced life is important
Students’ have such a lot of stress
Homework and revision are piling up.
So busy every day that we’re going round in circles.
The pace of life is really fast!
Lots of adults all hope
To get bonuses and promotions
All day, working from dawn till dusk
They have no way to look after their families.
Free time and leisure are always rare
But a balanced life is so important
Let everyone take action
We all need to adjust and make changes
Vegetables, fruit – eat them every day.
Drink more water; drink less coffee
Never set foot in McDonalds
Give up smoking and limit drinking – that’s the way.
Don’t forget to do enough sports
Keep on burning calories
Exercising every day is good for your health
Early to bed, early to rise: you won’t grow old!

Aust Curriculum Links

Media Arts

Yr 7 – Plan, structure and design media artworks that engage audiences – selecting footage, editing the footage into a sequence and applying a soundtrack that matches the edited sequence’s pace, rhythm and style


Yr 7 Use interaction skills when discussing and presenting ideas and information, selecting body languagevoice qualities and other elements, (for example music and sound) to add interest and meaning

Analyse and explain the ways text structures and language features shape meaning and vary according to audience and purpose

Use a range of software, including word processing programs, to create, edit and publish texts imaginatively

LOTE Chinese

Yr 5/6 Create short bilingual texts on topics of personal interest and on key content from other learning areas and provide subtitles or commentary to assist meaning

Yr 7/8 Analyse, compare and present perspectives on topics of interest, identifying the different ways emotions, intentions and ideas are expressed


Yr7/8 reflecting on the physical, social, emotional and spiritual benefits to health and wellbeing of being outdoors and of being active in a natural setting

Nepal National Anthem

At the Nepal Festival Brisbane this weekend, we heard the Nepal National Anthem for the very first time 🙂

So we thought we would find out what they are singing about 🙂 Below are a few videos that will explain, and we have copied the script, transliteration, translation etc below from Wikipedia

Here is a video that has the transliterated lyrics and English translation:

Here is the Nani and Babu, (this channel is cool for learning Nepali) video version :

Nepali lyrics Transliteration Phonetic transcription (IPA)
सयौं थुँगा फूलका हामी, एउटै माला नेपाली
सार्वभौम भै फैलिएका, मेची-महाकाली।(2)
प्रकृतिका कोटी-कोटी सम्पदाको आंचल
वीरहरूका रगतले, स्वतन्त्र र अटल।
ज्ञानभूमि, शान्तिभूमि तराई, पहाड, हिमाल
अखण्ड यो प्यारो हाम्रो मातृभूमि नेपाल।
बहुल जाति, भाषा, धर्म, संस्कृति छन् विशाल
अग्रगामी राष्ट्र हाम्रो, जय जय नेपाल।
Sayaũ thũgā phūlkā hāmī, euṭai mālā nepālī
Sārvabhaum bhai phailiekā, Mecī-Mahākālī
Prakṛtikā koṭī-koṭī sampadāko ā̃cala,
Vīrharūkā ragatale, svatantra ra aṭala
Jñānabhūmi, śāntibhūmi Tarai, Pahāḍ, Himāla
Akhaṇḍa yo pyāro hāmro mātṛbhūmi Nepāla
Bahul jāti, bhāṣā, dharma, sãskṛti chan viśāla
Agragāmī rāṣṭra hāmro, jaya jaya Nepāla!
[sʌjʌũ tʰũɡa pʰulka ɦami, euʈʌi mala nepali]
[saɾvʌbʱʌum bʱʌi pʰʌilieka, metsi-mʌɦakali]
[pɾʌkr̥itika koʈi-koʈi sʌmpʌdako ãtsʌlʌ]
[viɾɦʌɾuka ɾʌɡʌtʌle svʌtʌntɾʌ ɾʌ ʌʈʌlʌ]
[dzɲanʌbʱumi, ʃantibʱumi tʌɾai, pʌɦaɖ, ɦimalʌ]
[ʌkʰʌɳɖʌ jo pʲaɾo ɦamɾo matr̥ibʱumi nepalʌ]
[bʌɦul dzati, bʱaʃa, dʱʌɾmʌ, sãskɾiti tsʰʌn viʃalʌ]
[ʌɡɾʌɡami ɾaʃʈɾʌ ɦamɾo, dzʌjʌ dzʌjʌ nepalʌ]
English translation Singable English translation[6]
Woven from hundreds of flowers, we are one garland that’s Nepali
Spread sovereign from Mechi to Mahakali.
A shawl of nature’s wealth unending
From the blood of the braves, a nation free and non-moving.
A land of knowledge, of peace, the plains, hills and mountains tall
Indivisible, this beloved land of ours, our motherland Nepal.
Of many races, languages, religions, and cultures of incredible sprawl
This progressive nation of ours, all hail Nepal!
Woven from hundred flowers, we are garland Nepali
Sovereignly extended from Mechi to Mahakali.
Millions of natural beauties, history like a shawl
Bloods of the braves make it free and immotile.
Land of peace, knowledge in the plains, hills and mountains
One-piece beloved country, motherland Nepal.
Races, languages, religions, cultures in-credible
Progressive nation, I salute Nepal-aa!



Nepali script

We have been learning some Nepali words and phrases over the last few weeks, and are now starting to learn the Devanagari script and Nepali Alphabet 🙂 So kids have been making prayer flags, they thought it would be a nice way to paint the symbols on and hang in our classroom for daily practice 🙂

This activity is not just about the Nepali Alphabet though, ‘how to do’ the activity and the freedom to get things wrong are what make the activity meaningful.  In a school environment, a teacher may only have 50 mins class time to run such an activity. So the teacher has to have all logistics worked out, everything measured, cut, prepared in piles, resources ready etc.  The kids are given instructions and they just follow.  Stepping back and letting the kids work out the logistics takes time, some may say is a waste of ‘learning’ time, but it’s where all the learning takes place 🙂

We first had to think of a way to make prayer flags. After searching many odd bits of material around the house and estimating cost of buying blank prayer flags, we found an old whitish sheet in the cupboard. Then came a Math problem.  What size should our prayer flags be to ensure we had around 100, enough for Nepali alphabet and some spares for fun wishes.  They measured length and width of sheet, 138 and 110 cm.  Lucas remembered on his maths online he had done something by adding all the lengths and widths together, and maybe that would help him figure out our problem.  He went onto his maths online program and found that would give him the perimeter.  He then looked some more, and recapped the lesson he’d done multiplying length and width, remembering that would give him the area.  He calculated 15,180cm square.   We needed 100 squares, how would we work out the area of each square, though? Lucas shouted ‘divide the area by 100!’ I was impressed 🙂  So they worked out each square needed a rounded down area of 150square cm to ensure we got 100 flags. But how long should each flag be???

They figured they could just guess a length, multiply it and see if it was close to 150.  16 x16? too much. Tried 8×8, too little. 14, too much, and so on.  They decided to make them 12cm long and wide.  When they measured and cut them, they found they had over half the sheet left…hmmm, calculations must have been wrong.  So they made an extra set of flags at 15cm each, as they thought the others were too small anyway!  Where did they go wrong? All their calculations had been correct, but the initial measuring of the sheet with the tape measure might have been wrong.  Fortunately this mistake left them with surplus flags!  But my controlling this activity for them would have prevented them from making a mistake, one that didn’t really matter in the big scheme of things, but it’s because the mistake isn’t really going to hurt them in any way that it is such an important aspect in the process of ‘learning’.
The neighbours joined in making prayer flags with us 🙂
 Next was to work out how to dye the flags.  They noticed that our prayer flags we have hanging on our deck, are white, blue, red, yellow and green.  We looked at material dyes online, average price $10 each, we would need 4, too dear for our little project.  Aurora researched into natural dyes, we bake using ‘foods’ for natural colours, so she found videos of using natural ways to dye materials. But we worked out once we had bought the foods for all the colours, would be too expensive and time consuming…red cabbage so expensive, then boiling for 2 hours…didn’t sound practical.  Then Aurora suggested food colouring, which we never buy but figured the cheapest solution for the small quantity of material we needed to dye..we got each colour for $1.14 each 🙂 This took a couple hours of research and chatting to get to this decision…but lots of reading and reasoning to get there.
Once dried we could paint the Nepali Alphabet on them.  Here’s Lucas using a video he found for painting the vowel symbols.  The lady had made the video for teaching the Nepali Alphabet to kids, so we could learn the sounds as we painted.

Here is the full video we used :

As well as using the ‘concept’ of the prayer flag as a beautiful way to decorate our classroom and learn the Nepali alphabet, we also thought we would paint some with our personal hopes and wishes for our world, to blow into the wind.  Aurora painted symbols to spread her wishes of love, balance, strength, nature and peace.

Australian Curriculum Links

Yr 5/6 Visual Art : Explain how visual arts conventions communicate meaning by comparing artworks from different social, cultural and historical contexts – analysing how symbolic meaning or metaphor is constructed in students’ own artworks and artworks of others.


yr 5 Calculate perimeter and area of rectangles using familiar metric units

Use estimation and rounding to check the reasonableness of answers to calculations

Solve problems involving multiplication of large numbers by one- or two-digit numbers using efficient mental, written strategies and appropriate digital technologies

Use efficient mental and written strategies and apply appropriate digital technologies to solve problem

yr 5/6 Design Technology

Investigate characteristics and properties of a range of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment and evaluate the impact of their use

Critique needs or opportunities for designing, and investigate materials, components, tools, equipment and processes to achieve intended designed solutions

Select appropriate materials, components, tools, equipment and techniques and apply safe procedures to make designed solutions

LOTE (Hindi as no Nepali in Aust Curr) : Convey information about aspects of language and culture in formats to suit different audiences and contexts / Creating and comparing their own examples of particular text genres, such as horoscopes, prayers or weather forecasts explaining their choice of particular language or text organisation  

HASS YR 7 describing how harmonious relationships with the natural world were reflected in Indian belief systems (for example, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism) (this is very limiting as all outcomes are…but you can work out the connection :-))