Earth Day is a great occasion to get creative while teaching our children to care for our planet, to keep our earth clean and to preserve its natural resources. It’s an opportunity to provide experiences that activate awareness and understanding, to experience empathy and humility at something bigger than ourselves, to stay curious, to wonder and marvel at the connections between all living things on our earth. To be humble, to be kind.
Awe creates a sense of something bigger than ourselves. Humility. Humility leads to wondering, which leads to questions, questions lead to thoughtfulness, thoughtfulness leads to conversation (or action), conversation leads to others, others lead to collaboration, and collaboration leads to relationship, new perspectives, awareness, and often transformation. – Bigger and Better than Ourselves: Humility, Marla Mc Lean, Atelierista at atelier.schoolwithinschool.org, 2016
How can we help the earth? What hurts the earth?
Did you know that a plastic bag can can take at least 10 years to decompose, aluminum cans up to 200 years, and disposable diapers over 500 years? After we learned that our planet’s resources aren’t infinite and won’t last forever, the children brainstormed a few things that hurt the earth:
“Wasting water, throwing trash in the ocean, cutting down the trees, driving everywhere.”
We asked “How can we help the earth?”:
“Be nice to bugs, recycle, don’t leave the lights on, don’t litter, use both sides of your paper, plant trees, walk more, learn to ride a bike, use jars, don’t throw away paint, turn off the water while brushing your teeth, don’t use toilet paper :)!”
To wonder and to ask questions inevitably leads to more thoughtfulness and understanding. There’s been lots of litter on our playground which the children decided to clean up. They suggested to make a trash truck to not only gather all the trash but to show and display what people leave behind on our earth.
This would be the perfect time to take your children on a field trip to the landfill. After at least watching a video about landfills and recycling, we’ve decided to reuse our found trash. The children suggested we’d make signs to remind people not to litter on our playground and we collaged our trash into signs and a playground banner that say: “Don’t be a litterbug!”.
- Matboard from your local framer or cardboard
- School glue
- Sharpies or oil pastels
- Collage materials (feathers, sequins, glitter, foam shapes, pompoms, tissue paper shapes, scrap construction paper, washi tape, pipecleaners, googly eyes etc.)
- Wooden dowels
- Low temp glue gun
Step 1: Collage
Set out trays with the collected trash (candy wrappers, straws, nails, cans etc.), bottles of school glue, some water-resist sharpies and other collage items you might have in your supply closet (tissue paper shapes, googly eyes, pompoms etc.) along with a printout of photos of actual bugs. Invite the children to create their own litterbug. Sit back, observe, help with handling the materials and watch as magic happens!
Step 2: Paint
Once the children are finished assembling their litterbugs, offer them watercolors and see if they want to color their litterbugs. Most children can’t resist a paintbrush and bright watercolors.
Step 3: Attach a hanger
Finish your litterbugs by attaching a hanger to each of your recycled collages. I hot glued a wooden dowel to the mat boards, attached a wire and let the children thread some beads onto it. They also asked me to write the message: “Don’t be a litterbug!” on each of their signs.
What can you and your family do to help preserve the earth? We continue to pick up trash and played trash truck for many weeks after this project :).