Sunday, April 24, 2016

Earth Day in K: Pre & Post

As usual, school starts too soon in the morning for me (How about a 9:00-3:30 schedule? Research would back me on this...) and I never finished my blog here is a PRE and POST Earth Day rambling because it's just that good.

April 22, 6:30am:
I'm sitting here in my pj's all excited over Earth Day. I love Earth Day!! I bet there is some eye rolling and some realizations occurring right now ("I thought she was a little crazy") but on Earth Day I am happy that I am a teacher of kinders because I can get as goofy as I wanna be and no one will be anything but excited.

This is the day I drag in my personal recycle box with things in it, that are really being recycled, and we sort, and we ponder, and we discuss. Then I get out my "magic," blue, cloth (of course) bag with all the fantasmic things I have found over the years that make my enviromental heart happy--like the first paper straw I encountered (at Sea World, no less), and the first biodegradable plastic bag I got (from M&M world in Las Vegas) and we "oooohhhh" and "aaaahhhh" together. Yes, in many ways I am easy to please. Slap that "compostable" label on something and my heart glows like ET.

See...I am truly a proponent of all forms. Because expressing and modeling the importance of kindness and empathy is what will make our world better.

Kindness comes from within and isn't meant to be only relegated to people. I teach my students that kindness should be to all things: people, animals, and the environment. And I also throw in a clause: real or inanimate, it doesn't matter. To the kiddo who just threw the toy baby down because, "it's not real," I say, "Doesn't matter: We treat all things with kindness." Because what we do in jest can actually desensitize us later in life.

So, Dear Follower on Twitter whose name I have lost, but promised to blog about kindness: kindness comes through every avenue possibly throughout the year (Bucket filling, Christmas, Valentines, Earth Day...) & is achieved through extensive modeling & reinforcing activities.

Today, we will pick up litter and beautiful our school grounds for the joy it brings us. The kinders don't know it will bring them joy. Matter of fact, if I polled parents last night about the last time their kiddo bothered to pick up litter or trash, I'd likely have gotten a bunch of "can't remember" or "never happened"'s. YET, I promise you, after we discuss why it is so important, the impact the litter has on the environment and wildlife around us, those kids will be picking up trash with a gleam in their eye, a proud smile, and ultimate LOVE for the world. The reason: Because I took the time to model it. Because I showed them why it matters.

So, to those teachers who don't bother to notice, or celebrate, Earth Day: You're missing out. You're missing out on authentic learning. You're missing out on creating passion and excitement. You're missing out on connecting kids to nature--even if it's for a brief moment of cleaning and noticing the amount of bugs found (that we will not smash :).

April 23: 10:24pm
Wow...Earth Day in K was GREAT.

We explored that recycle bin & all it's used items. The kids fought, and literally teared up, because, "I didn't get to sort anything... everyone grabbed it all." Yes, that is them complaining over not getting to handle used, potentially germy (albeit rinsed) glass, newspaper, and cardboard.

When I asked who recycles, at home, or at the transfer station, I got a scant reply of maybe 5 hands. Most kiddos had no clue about recycling and were awestruck to find out there is no "AWAY" as in, "Throw it away." That "away" is actually a hole in the ground in somebody's backyard and while not entirely avoidable, we need to do everything we can to keep items out of the hole.

We watched the old version of the Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, eyes glued to the screen, wheels turning as they espouse what is happening to the beautiful valley as the movie progresses. We talk about the link to clear cutting practices in the 70s and how trees were not always replanted. What happened to the wildlife there? What happened to the air there? What happened to the soil?

Why is it that we really don't need a Thneed? What is important in life?

Such serious talk in K, but I would argue so necessary...if they never hear WHY it matters, it won't matter to them.

As I took out a box of rubber gloves and a bag of plastic bags, the room grew quiet. "Everyone will get a glove to handle trash (enter discussion of germs) and a bag to hold it." As I called up each kiddo, they wiggled with excitement. As the door to the classroom opened upon the playground: they broke out with reckless abandon. It was as if it was an Easter egg hunt, and yet the excitement was for trash.

Kids roved in each direction, their excitement unable to be contained, I settled myself with the knowledge that all gates were locked.

The melee continued for 10 minutes. I could barely gather them up for a photo...As a good teacher, I worried that the classrooms with windows open might be distracted by the noise...but then I saw the smiles, the joy in helping, the eagerness to make the world better and I let go of my worry.

For was not about was about the world.

Earth Day 2016!