If you know me, I mean really know me, you would realize that litter prevention is big. I’m more of an all-around-environmentalist, but there was a period where I lived and breathed recycling, and way before that I was the “don’t be a litter bug” girl. Much of this comes from my family and my history. Growing up in Vermont (a posterchild for the environmental movement and a darn lovely place to live) and having parents who were environmentally minded were probably the two strongest influences in that arena. Fast forward to now. I’ve got two little ones, it’s April (Earth Month), and we’re homeschooling for the first time. What’s our science topic- Litter Prevention!
What I would discover is that the topic of litter prevention is not so fashionable anymore. I searched the library and the web for good resources specifically on teaching kids not to litter, what litter is, where it comes from and struggled to find age appropriate materials. Much more common are books on Earth Day, animal conservation, recycling, and energy use. Those topics are important for the well-rounded environmentalist, but I wanted to start simple. My kids get litter. They see it on our roads and in our parks and already know it is NOT ok. My first stop was the Keep America Beautiful website. Although it was a great place to start, much of the material was not appropriate for young children (Pre-K and K), but there are a lot of resources for elementary and middle school children. They have the video archive of some of their more known PSA’s (like the crying indian), which I loved but my kids didn’t get because they don’t yet have the context. There was also a you tube series of a superhero “Keep America Beautiful Man”, but that had some adult innuendos and my kids did not get the dry humor. However, in their KAB Kids Zone, there are links to other sites that were helpful.
Here are some of the things I did find:
- Retrieving with EVIE– an on-line game with a dog on picking up litter and placing it in the right container (trash or recycling).
- A show on PBS called “Design Squad Nation” where two designers work with kids to come up with cool uses for problems. We watched the “Trash to Treasure” Episode. This show was a little old for my kids, but I would recommend it to anyone who has kids ages 8-14.
- Going over the KAB Tips for Kids list and talking about where we see litter.
- Reading books. Here are two current ones: “Here Comes the Garbage Barge” by Jonah Winter and “Sullie Saves the Seas” by Goffinet McLaren.
Finally and most importantly, we did a litter pick up day. On Arbor Day, our homeschooling group met the city park superintendent at our community park to pick up litter. For 45 minutes about 15 of us combed the park for trash. Then we traveled to another park to witness the annual Arbor Day celebration with the Mayor, Councilmen, the local beautification committee and other school kids. That experience was probably the most advantageous of all for teaching the kids about litter.