Monday, February 7, 2011

Trash Talk

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".

Following our discussion we all bundled up to take a walk around our block to see where some of the trash really goes.

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.


Barbara said...

This sort of education never begins too early. My children are consumate environmentalists. They recycle and compost, things I'm not always so good about doing. Dealing with trash is the least we can do for this wonderful planet we all call home.

Gary said...

Barbara - In addition to focusing on recycling we are starting a partnership with Farm Boxes in a few weeks. The kids will be composting and growing vegetables for our school cafeteria with two harvests (one before school is out and another in the fall). I am really looking forward to it.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a great awareness activity!

don't forget oscar's song I love trash

starting to plan my trip, hey any field trips planned for february 14-16th?? if so let me know! regardless of class trip, i look forward to seeing you!


Gary said...

Kimy - I clicked your Oscar trash link and had to chuckle at one of the comments relating to trash and an ex girlfriend. Trash has so many meanings. Anyway, we do not have any trips planned but next week is a busy one with Valentine's Day and the 100th day of school. Perhaps we can plan a trip to the dump? I will shoot you an email to set up our date. :)xx

Pauline said...

Our second graders are beginning a study on how much food is wasted in our cafeteria. They will weigh the food collection bins each day and calculate the amount of wasted food. The vegetable scraps will soon have a separate container and will be added to the compost bin for use on the school garden. We're combining math, writing (there will be a weekly report in the school newsletter), consciousness raising (we're hoping the kitchen staff will pay more attention to serving size when they see how much food is really waster) and sustainable gardening. The woman who runs the gardening program is coming to speak with the kids about composting. It should be an enlightening experience all around.

ilduce said...

Wow! How great that you're teaching them composting & gardening as well!

Gary said...

Pauline - That is amazing! Wouldn't it be amazing if the work the 2nd grade kids are doing made an impact on the way food is served in the cafeteria? What a great way to create little socially conscious, aware individuals. I love it. This is a project I am very interested in starting.

ilduce - I love that our school partners with so many incredible organization. Like the kids, I am constantly learning from them.

WAT said...

Yeah man, the kids need to be aware of our planet and how important it is to take care of it! GOOD JOB HANDSOME! We're fast approaching 7 billion people! MY GOD! THAT IS LOT OF TRASH!


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