At our last two ecology club meetings, Chesnut Changers talked about reducing waste and putting our pledge, “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle” into practice.
We welcomed special guests, Chesnut’s Recycling Team (sponsored by fifth grade teacher Timika Howard), who facilitated our first upcycling project. Their commitment to protecting the environment is serious and they set a tone of organized efficiency as we worked on our project.
First Recycling Drive: Save Those Broken Crayons!
The Recycling Team and Chesnut Changers Ecology Club are partnering to introduce a series of recycling drives at Chesnut, to raise awareness about recyclable items that are normally trashed. Each of the three ecology club age groups decorated receptacles for upcoming crayon, battery and sneaker drives, with messages about recycling and reducing waste.
During the month of January, Chesnut students can deposit crayons in the large crayon receptacle inside the cafeteria, either in the morning before school or after dismissal.
Project 1: Cards to Ornaments
Before the holidays, we used greeting cards, cereal and cracker boxes to create hanging globes for ornaments, decoration or gifts. The kids did an amazing job, some even adding hanging elements inside the globes.
At-Home Action: Paper Globes. See picture #3 and the “Globes How-To” section here to make your own.
You’ll need: scissors, hole punch, string/yarn, brads, any card stock or think cardboard (greeting cards, cereal boxes, etc.).
Project 2: Juice Boxes to Wallets
In yesterday’s ecology club meeting, we learned that “upcycling” is taking something considered garbage, and giving it new life as a different object. Students also examined why juice boxes and other composite cartons (like Tetra Pak) are rarely recyclable: they are made of paper, plastic and aluminum layers that require a special machine to recycle. Because our county doesn’t accept composite cartons, we worked on a way to make them useful rather than throwing them in the trash.
At-Home Action: Tetra Pak Wallets (juice boxes make mini-wallets). See this video tutorial to make your own. Note that the duct tape is optional, but recommended for durability.
You’ll need: scissors, duct tape, stick-on hook/loop, stickers (optional).
Chesnut Garden’s main objectives are to familiarize students with how their food grows and to encourage them to develop a taste for a variety of fruits and vegetables. How does this work? If they grow it and/or harvest it, they will eat it (and ask for seconds)!
Garden Leader Carissa Malone attests to this:
“Ms. Hobgood’s parent helper told me her daughter never touches salad at home but ate her whole bowl today! I’ve seen it time and time again…it truly makes a huge difference when the kids see the food growing, watch it being picked and put onto their plate. They are always so excited to eat it! It also makes a difference when they see their friends around them trying it. Many kids at first said “no” to trying the bell pepper but when they saw their friend next to them happily gobble it up, they changed their minds and wanted a piece.”
In November, Ms. Malone, all four Kindergarten classes (Ms. Austin, Ms. Huitt, Ecology Club Teacher Sponsors Mr. Chicoine and Ms. Hobgood) and special education class (Ms. Merriweather) visited the garden for a salad tasting. Ms. Malone demonstrated how to harvest the lettuce so that it will continue to grow and then the classes found seats on the tree stumps to watch Ms. Hobgood and a parent helper wash, spin and tear lettuce for their salads.
The children topped each bowl of lettuce with store bought carrot, croutons and dressing, and were offered a taste of Chesnut Garden green bell pepper. As they munched, Mr. Chicoine gave a spelling lesson on the parts of the salad, and surveyed the kids on how it tasted.
Many of the students requested seconds and most cleared their bowls. A secondary benefit of this experience is that it surprises parents and teachers to see the enthusiasm of the kids, demonstrating that, with a little motivation, we can expect children to eat their veggies. We see the same effect in the cafeteria on Farm to School lunch days: the children surprise the cafeteria staff by choosing the fresh fruit or vegetable, even coming back through the line to get some if a new batch was being prepared when first they came through, sometimes all for the sake of receiving a hand stamp.