Lauren and I have started talking trash with our kindergarten children.
This is due to the fact that we are beginning an exploration of our local environment with an eye towards fostering a sense of responsibility in our students. A realization that Mother Earth (Gaia) is a beautiful, wondrous place and we all make choices that maintain her beauty or accelerate her destruction.
Our investigation began by asking the students two leading questions;
"What is trash?"
"Where does trash go?"
Their answers to the first question involved a lot of references to food. The list included banana peels, apple cores, orange peels and old food. The answer to the second question allowed us insight into the environmentally conscious little girl who stated that we didn't need to throw away everything because some things can be made into different stuff. However, most of the children didn't mention recycling but chose to answer the question in a more direct fashion informing us that trash was put in the garbage can "so the man can take it away to the dump".
New York City is a mess at the moment due to the heavy snowfall of late. It does not make for a beautiful landscape but it did provide us with excellent fodder for our trash walk talk.
We spotted a feather boa and coffee cup in the newspaper stand, bottles, gum wrappers, Christmas trees, cigarette butts, a pair of shoes, hubcaps, napkins, brown paper bags, plastic gloves and a couch all strewn about the streets. This in addition to the mounds of large plastic bags of trash.
We also noted the garbage cans and large trash compactors brimming with debris. At one garbage can a woman was pulling clothing out and holding it up as if she were shopping. Sadly, perhaps she was. This is recycling of a different nature.
When we returned to the class all of the students were invited to write and draw about what they saw and share it with one another in a lively discussion.
This is just the beginning of our investigation into trash. It is our hope that by the end of this unit the children will have a more developed sense of what it means to care for our planet and a deeper understanding of what happens to "trash" once it is thrown away.