Thursday, November 15, 2012
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
When I was a classroom teacher, I had a captive audience each year for Earth Day. Some years we focused on recycling and other times we planted trees. When my son was young, we often went to special events or festivals or planted something new in the yard. In my own yard and in my school yards, I have gardened for butterflies and caterpillars for 15 years. Whether you have young people to share it with or not, Earth Day is a time not only to take action, but to reflect on the actions you take all year. Here are some ideas to think about:
- What item are you not recycling that you could add to your recycling routine?
- Is there a local school that could use some of the plants that you need to separate and thin?
- What local creek or stream needs someone to organize a clean-up day?
- Which kitchen items are you throwing away that can be composted?
- Are there plants in your garden that provide a habitat or food source for caterpillars and butterflies?
Recently my efforts have been focused on reusing and re-purposing. Before I throw something away, I am thinking about how it can be used again. A simple exercise that I used to have my students do was to keep a plastic bag with them throughout the day. If they wanted to throw something away, they had to put it in the bag they were carrying. It's really an eye opener to realize at the end of the day how much one person puts in the trash.
So as I wish you a happy Earth Day, I ask you to think about the Earth everyday. Take care of it. The next generation that will inhabit it are depending on you and me to leave it in good shape.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Getting kids engaged in science outdoors has anchored my career in science education, drawing on the early experiences provided to me by parents who valued the natural environment. From the snakes, turtles, frogs, and lizards that slept in the clothes chest in my bedroom, to the collections of sharks' teeth, feathers, bugs, and rocks, my childhood was filled with treasures from nature. I learned to treasure time outdoors, and all of the creatures I encountered while camping, boating, or walking through the woods.
Partly out of the necessity of being a teacher of meager means, I raised my own son with similar experiences - playing in parks, exploring piles of fall leaves, catching tadpoles in creeks, and collecting feathers and rocks. During his childhood, I revisited favorite memories of walking along a river with my own father and learning to dye Easter eggs with natural materials from my mother.
If you are a teacher or parent, you may or may not be giving the children you have responsibility for outdoor experiences, but I encourage you to try. The first outing can simply be an observation walk. Consider the activities in Outdoor Science: A Practical Guide, that suggest looking for animal artifacts in the school yard or taking a survey of what resources are available to wildlife around your school or home. These are easy enough that any parent or teacher, with any level of outdoor experience, can feel comfortable giving them a try. Just take a walk with kids and ask them to look around, make observations, and reflect on their observations in a class discussion or nature journal. This experience is simple, yet powerful. If you try it, comment on my blog and let me know how it goes.
On my nature walk around my yard this week, I have seen a rabbit hole with two new bunnies, and the first Tiger Swallowtail butterflies of the season. What will you see? What will your child or students see? I can't wait to find out. Go outside today!
(Reference- Outdoor Science, A Practical Guide, www.nsta.org NSTA Press 2010)