Passing Notes

Notes from a Parent/Teacher to Parents and Teachers

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Ms Whitworth’s Top 5 Activities for Earth Day:

(Our guest blogger has taken over the Earth again!  Read on to find out her Top 5 ideas to celebrate Earth Day.)

 
On Sunday April 22nd 2012 we celebrate Earth Day and it’s the perfect opportunity to show the Earth how you care about it. Its goal is to recognize the non renewable qualities of our Earth and to help promote awareness that we, as a society, need to take better care of what we DO have, while also teaching the next generation that there is fun to be had WITHOUT a lot of materiality needed. Below you’ll find some activities to promote a healthy Earth, healthy child, and healthy society for many future generations. Check them out and try them out for Earth Day and then you can continue teaching your child about how to lessen his/her carbon footprint all the way through the year!   Check out these activities and try them out to show Earth why it’s special to you!

Top 5 Activities for Earth Day:

1. The Foot Patrol


Make starting to walk to school with your kids a good opportunity to discuss ideas surrounding the environment and nature. Take a look at flowers starting to grow in gardens. Use this walk as an opportunity to discuss the carbon cycle (in simplified form of course) regarding what trees and plants do for the environment. If you live close to the grocery store, school, or work start walking on short trips. This not only provides a good exercise routine, it also helps to reduce needless pollution by vehicle emissions.
2. Hyacinths, Daffodils, Tulips, and ferns...
This weekend take a trip to the local flower shop and grab a few bulbs to plant. Make a spot in your garden or have your child take care of a small plant in your home. Talk with your child about how often to water it, why plants need water, how plants get energy, and share with them the responsibility of looking after something. Having a plant in your home gives you the added benefit of better health. Having your child take care of something living, something small like a plant, also relates to the grade 3 Science and Technology curriculum where they learn about the plant cycle in the Growth and Changes in Plants unit. Planting a garden or enjoying simple plants also helps relieve adult stress and has been proven to be therapeutic as well as another great form of exercise.
3.  Shower Power:

It takes all of five minutes to install, but can save you a ton of money! Buying a showerhead where it either reduces the amount of water coming out or has a shut off valve so you can turn off the water when you’re lathering up is a great way to help the environment! It is simple, cost effective, and helps reduce use of such a precious non renewable source that is getting more depleted every day.

4. Fans of the Fan

Buying a simple fan will help circulate air, it can help with cooling in the summer and moving heat around in the winter. It will likely reduce energy costs for parents, but also the installation can be used as an opportunity to discuss the workings of the fan’s motor. This can provide real life connections to the pulleys and gears unit in grade 4 Science and Technology. Talk with your child about how the motor works and what you need to do make a machine work. Saving money, making connections, and spending time with your children -what better way to spend the day?
5. The 3 R’s: Recycle, Repurpose and Revamp


If you are into arts and crafts, take any old materials you may have that are about to get the kick to the garbage and turn them into fun ideas for your child to make and use. You can take old newspapers and decorate a journal to your personal tastes, use cardboard or CD’s to make a bill organizer, melt some old crayons to make candles(with adult supervision of course), or take clean non-BPA-lined cans and decorate them to hold your child’s school supplies. The old saying, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” really does apply in this sense. You can have fun making cool designs while using materials that normally would have been sent to the landfill. It’s also a great way to have some fun and relieve some stress. Help to teach your child that just because it has one use that has been fulfilled does not always mean that its shelf life is over.

5. Neighbourhood Clean-up

Help make your neighbourhood a better, cleaner, greener place. Together with your child, plan a neighbourhood party! Ask your friends and neighbours to help pick up any trash that is floating around. Provide them with garbage bags, gloves, and a central location to meet when all the area is covered. Get your child to help with the planning, purchasing any supplies, and following through with ways to keep your neighbourhood cleaner. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about the money needed to buy the things, how to buy environmentally friendly supplies that will decompose, and the effort and organization it takes to gather a bunch of people. Take a park in your area, the block, or any type of area you want and help to make it a little bit cleaner and make Toronto (or where ever you live) a more beautiful place you’re proud to call home!

Other ideas to reduce your energy use and carbon footprint all through the year

 

  • turn the water off when brushing your teeth
  • get a shower head/nozzle where you can turn off the water during your shower when you aren’t using it (such as when you’re shampooing up your hair!)
  •  turn off your lights, or get timers to set the lights when you want them o
  • wash clothes in cold water and hang them out to dry instead of using a dryer
  • invest in a programmable thermostat to reduce your heat consumption when no one’s home
  • try AutoShare, buy a greener car or take transit when you need to travel longer distances
  • use the washing machine or dishwasher during low usage hours to save money and reduce the demand for water
  • get your paper bill statements transferred to e-bills so you don’t have to waste useless paper

 

Try to think of more ideas on your own. Have a little competition with your child to see who can be the ‘greenest’ during the month of April , May, June, …

 

Signed,

Your Friendly Neighboorhood Teacher, Miss Whitworth

 

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Environmental action + family fun = Earth Hour

“Mom, where’s the remote control? Whoa! Why’s it so dark?!”

In this day and age when we are all so “plugged into” technology all the time, it is of vital importance that we teach our children to respect the Earth and our natural environment. The Earth’s resources are being depleted through overuse by both industry and individuals. And, as a result, we need to impress upon our children about the marvelous environment they live in and how important it is to preserve it so it is there for many generations to come. Read on to find more suggestions on how we each can do help a little bit to make our world beautiful forevermore.
On Saturday March 31st 2012, there is a well-known event called Earth Hour. Its goal is to recognize the non renewable qualities of our Earth and to help promote awareness that we, as a society, need to take better care of what we do have, while also teaching the next generation that there is fun to be had WITHOUT a lot of technology. Below you’ll find some activities to promote a healthy Earth, healthy child, and healthy society for many future generations.   These are some simple ways for kids to begin to lessen his/her carbon footprint all the way into April! Sunday April 22nd, 2012 is Earth Day, the perfect opportunity to show the Earth how you care about it. Check out these activities and try them out to show Earth why it’s special to you!


My top 5 Activities for Earth Hour:

1.  Park-in-the-dark: A night walk

Take a walk with the family around your neighbourhood, through your local park, or around your favourite part of the city. Explore the city in the dark, take a flashlight with you and pretend it’s an ancient ruin that you’re walking through. This could be especially appropriate if your child (ren) is (are) studying ancient civilizations in the grade 5 curriculum. Pretend you are archaeologists trying to figure out what kind of life the people had when the city was full of life, where they lived, what their occupations were, and what they did in their spare time. How would the future scientists look at our society? What would they see?

2.  Is that the Milky Way??

In our usually light-filled city, Earth Hour provides the perfect time to have a star-gazing contest! Most of the lights in Toronto will be out on March 31st (except for emergency lights) so it’s the perfect time to stop by your local park, look out your balcony or backyard and try to find the North Star/ Polaris?,The Big Dipper, the little dipper, Orion’s belt, or a shooting star. Can you find them? See if you can find those constellations you used to be able to see when you looked up at the sky as a kid? Use this perfect occasion to teach your child some of the exciting things about our sky. This also makes a great connection to the grade 6 Earth Science unit where your child learns about our solar system.
3.  Candlelit Celebrations: Food, Drinks, and Games, Oh My!
This coming Saturday is the perfect time to invite a few friends over and encourage a camp-like potluck dinner. Bring a few dishes that do not require heating (such as salads, pasta salad, or cheese plates) and enjoy some good laughs with friends this Saturday evening! Light some candles, play a few board games or cards, and catch up on old memories while making new ones. If you have children, this celebratory dinner is a great time to talk about healthy food choices and why eating the correct serving sizes, getting enough physical activity, and generally living a healthy lifestyle is important (which connects to the grade four curriculum in Ontario on Healthy Living).
4.  Extra, Extra, Read all about it!
Discuss all the ways you and your family can reduce your carbon footprint on the Earth. If you have a literary-minded child who likes to write, turn it into a great opportunity to do some writing outside of school. In order to facilitate discussing the benefits of Earth Hour and how to help our environment sustain itself in the long run, create a family newsletter that you can distribute to family and friends via email before Earth Hour. Sending it by email will eliminate your need for paper waste, while also allowing you to send it to more people. You can include things like: activities to do during Earth Hour, a list of ways everyone can reduce their individual carbon footprint, ways to stay healthy while helping the environment such as riding your bike instead of driving to work or school. Get as creative as you can and have fun while doing some literacy! This is a great opportunity to work on descriptive or persuasive writing.
You can do some reading of your own. Dr. Seuss’s book “The Lorax” (recently made into a movie) is a great starting point for discussing ways to help the environment with your child and help them learn in a way that they may not even think they are ‘learning’ something! Check out your shelves in the days leading up to Earth Hour and you may just find a book or two that you can read during Earth Hour by candlelight!

5. “Oh Earth Ow-Er! Our home is dy-ing!” A modification of our national anthem!
Promote musical awareness and have a song writing contest. Discuss with your child(ren) how music has healing properties such as calming rhythms or strong social justice messages. Take some time to write a song about why you like the Earth, what your favourite outdoor activity is to do, what your favourite memory was as a little kid in the winter, or anything else earth-related. Be sure to practise using as much description as possible to get your message across! This will also provide a perfect opportunity to talk to your child about poetry, and the fact that songs are in fact poems. Shocking I know!

 

Ideas to reduce your energy use and carbon footprint all through the year:

- turn the water off when brushing your teeth
- get a shower head/nozzle where you can turn off the water during your shower when you aren’t using it (such as when you’re shampooing up your hair!)
- turn off your lights, or get timers to set the lights when you want them on
- walk or bike to school or work
- walk to the local grocery or convenience store when you need to pick up just a few items
- go for a walk or take the dog to a dog park
- wash clothes in cold water and hang them out to dry instead of using a dryer

For more ideas, refer to the Living Planet Community at http://www.community.wwf.ca (where much of this information came from). You can also pledge to participate in Earth Hour for more activities, bonus rewards, and ideas!

Do your part to help the Earth live a healthy life and turn out your lights this Saturday!

Ms Whitworth

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When is a leaf, Art? When it’s Goldsworthy-inspired!

 

Well, we all know that a leaf in and of itself is not art.

A leaf can be transformed when we’re talking about environmental outdoor art.  No, not the 3Rs kind.  The Andy Goldsworthy kind.  Now we’re talking.  He’s famous for an art medium that’s just about as close as you get to being in touch with nature as possible.  It’s three dimensional, interactive, usually temporary and involves how you interact with what is around you:  flora, fauna, climate, –  in a mish mash of beauty.  You’ll want to check out his work here for inspiration!  His philosophy and works are listed and are worth more than a quick glance.

Children of all ages can experiment with different textures (bark, leaves, needles, rocks, and so on).  They can go at it alone, with you, siblings or friends.  They can explore the harmony created by repeating shapes, colours or textures.  You can encourage them to use the sunlight to their advantage:  at a given time, shadows will be cast on their objects and children can try to create a specific shadow by moving around some of their pieces.

Here’s a video of a group-made piece, done right in a playground.

 

Some suggestions for doing this type of art with toddlers, teens and everyone in between:

  • Enjoy being at one with the world around you. Before starting your work, use all your senses to set a mood.  Is it windy? Humid?  How will you interpret what you sense?
  • Work with nature, not against it.  If you have a pre-conceived notion that you’ll find say, feathers on a beach and then don’t, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.  Instead, bring an open-mind to the art space.  That way you’ll be able to “see” more opportunities in everyday found things.
  • Though a beach, rocky land or forest certainly make it more interesting, your destination needn’t be “exotic”.  A play ground or backyard will do.
  • Respect the environment.  You leave with what you came, including the chocolate bar wrapper and please, oh please, make sure your children know that they cannot disturb nature, so while it’s okay to pick up a fallen branch it’s not okay to break one off a living tree.
  • Pack a camera. Goldsworthy documents all of his work through photography. Remember your art stays where you made it.  It is temporary.  Someone may come across it and add to it.
If you have any photos of your outdoor art, send it in so I can upload it onto my blog for all to admire.

Daniela

Photo Credits:

http://www.morning-earth.org/artistnaturalists/an_goldsworthy.html

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6u4_6DVnEUs/TnV3x6f-HrI/AAAAAAAAANQ/G_QKPMxnZkY/s1600/DSC09573.JPG

http://www.deepspacesparkle.com/2010/06/06/andy-goldsworthy-inspired-elementary/