Happy Earth Day 2017, everyone! What a lovely day dedicated to the Earth and a time in which we can reflect on our current habits and try to change one thing to become more sustainable or at least less damaging. Cloth shopping bags? Travel mugs? Reusable water bottles? Composting? Rain harvesting barrel? Garden? There are endless things you can do that go beyond plain recycling. I think no change is too small. If you care just a little more this year, it could make all the difference.
It is too fun including students in the Earth Month/Week/Day, whatever you want to call it, process. They have so many ideas at any age about what is not sustainable (even if they don’t know yet what that word means), and how we can better our practices. A great place to practice these changes is at school. That way they can practice almost every day and take their new ideas home.
We decided to have more of an Earth Month, and I suppose we even started on World Water Day when we began talking about water conservation back in March. We could go back even further to October when we participated in Waste Reduction Week and found ways to reduce our daily garbage. Since then our school has implemented Wasteless Wednesdays because our intermediate students strongly believed we shouldn’t just have one day for waste reduction – we should practice this all year long. Students began replacing plastic baggies with reusable containers, using reusable water bottles, etc.
In October we also spent some time sorting through our garbage and tallying up what we produce most of (the biggest culprit was Ziploc bags). We also went more in depth into composting, and what is recyclable.
But back to Earth Week now! The students came up with many ideas of how to help the Earth. Surprisingly, many of them said, “Hug a tree!”, which I have mentioned several times throughout my blog! We decided we should pay tribute to these wonderful beings, and dedicated several painting lessons to just our evergreen trees. In the fall we purchased three saplings locally that we will soon plant on school grounds.
Our classroom is in a really nice, bright spot too, so most of the time when the sun is shining we open the door, blinds, and turn the lights off. Unless students are reading or writing, there are usually few lights on because we do not need them. I find this helps their focus too, and the natural light creates a better sense of calm. It’s awesome!
Many of the students maintain a garden at home (so awesome!), so I thought we had to plant something edible. Tomatoes it is! Many of them have sprouted, some have not, but we will keep waiting. We do not have a garden at our school, but these will become gifts the students will take home instead.
I saw a great idea on Pinterest to make a flower pot out of twigs. We spent a sunny morning collecting similar sized twigs in the forest nearby and are now tying these together slowly to create our pots.
Luckily, Take me Outside Day – spring edition – happened during Earth Week, which is more than fitting! The outdoors can be used for much more than just exercise, and play, so we decided to take Math outside and create a money coin system using nature items like pinecones, rocks, sticks, etc.
At the beginning of Earth Week, we were finding lots of garbage scattered on our school grounds, so my class decided to do something that would help both our school and the environment. We took one big reusable bag and spent a sunny morning walking through the school grounds picking up any pieces of garbage we could find. The students were not only surprised that older students were littering, but they were concerned that birds and other animals might think these items were food. They totally get it. It’s amazing. We picked up a whole lot of garbage and sorted it after into compostables, reyclables, and trash. Unfortunately, most of it was trash.
On Friday we did an entire school clean up of not only our school grounds, but also a park and forest nearby. What we found most of were snack wrappers, like granola bar wrappers, and chip bags, that are of course not recyclable.
What a fun week! What did you get up to during Earth Month/Week/Day?