Earth Day is coming up on Wednesday, April 22, and while the day itself might be considered a holiday of sorts, for students and teachers at the Knowledge Universe Grove Schools thinking about the Earth and nature is part of their everyday curriculum.
“It’s who we are,” said Lorrie Schelkle, head of school at the Grove School in Cary, North Carolina. “Earth Day ties into everything we do year-round.”
Here are some popular Grove School activities any center can incorporate into their Earth Day celebrations – and continue celebrating all year long.
- Earth Day pledges bulletin board
The Grove School in Plano, Texas, has a bulletin board dedicated to Earth Day pledges from parents and children. The pledges can be anything from “I’ll ride my bike to work” to “I’ll bring reusable bags to the store,” but the point is each family publically shares their commitment. “It allows kids to understand they have a responsibility to the earth,” said Kristen Beasley, head of school. “It gets them involved and shows they can make a difference.”
- Invite local experts to the center
Kristen works with Plano’s environmental education center several times a year. The city sends one of their environmental experts to the Grove School for presentations on such topics as what happens to trash, how recycling reduces waste, and what children can do to be better stewards of the environmental. Kristen encourages center directors to reach out to similar groups in their area and take advantage of local experts.
- Set up classroom recycling bins
The bins are an opportunity to teach children how to make recycling part of their daily regimen. If a center is in a town that lacks municipal recycling services, the bins can still be a resource for the classroom as teachers and students find new ways to resuse cardboard rolls, cups, or plastic bottles.
- Plant a garden
“We all have the opportunity to plant a garden,” said Lorrie. “Start small: a bed, some soil, water, and a packet of seeds.” Grove School students grow seedlings on their classroom windows in paper towel tubes set in recycled plastic containers that once held berries or lettuce. As the seeds grow children chart the growth, learning about the parts of a plant along the way. When the seedlings are big enough, they can be transplanted into an outdoor garden. “Children love the sensory aspect of gardening – exploring and learning outdoors,” Lorrie said. “Allow children to have that experience. Families appreciate it too and they’ll take those lessons home.”
- Spring planting day family event
Both Grove Schools host an annual spring planting day for current and inquiring families. Each classroom decides what they want to grow in their garden bed. Last year this included a salsa garden (cilantro, tomatoes, corn) and a salad garden. Families are invited and everyone gathers on the appointed day to prepare the beds, plant seeds (or student-grown seedlings), and enjoy a potluck lunch. “It’s a great community effort,” said Lorrie. “Families get to know each other and inquiring families get to hear about our center from the best advocates: our parents.”