When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ~John Muir
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Recycled Materials Creation Station: For this invitation I cut up cardboard boxes into about 5×7-inch rectangles. I put out toilet paper tubes that I had cut into about 1-inch circles, bottle caps, bits of fabric and paper leftover from other collage projects, cut up egg cartons, pieces of ribbon and pictures from magazines. I also set out scissors and glue. As the children arrived, I showed them our “creation station” and talked to them about creating a collage, however they wanted, out of all of these material. Of course, since this is an invitation, whether they create a collage or not, is entirely up to the child.
For circle time this week I read to the Littles these books: I Can Save the Earth: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle byAlison Inches and The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce and Recycle by Nuria Roca and Rosa M Curto.
We also watched some videos about recycling: Peppa Pig Learns About Recycling, Recycle, and Reading Rainbow: How Trash is Recycled with LeVar Burton. And then we discussed what we could do to help the earth. We could reuse, reduce and recycle (that was our new word this week–recycle!). We could plant gardens and trees. We could pick up litter. And, we could feed the birds.
1. Egg Carton Butterflies: I am always collecting recycled materials to use for crafts and since I had a lot of egg cartons I decided that one of the projects that we would do for our Earth Day theme would be with egg cartons! I saw this idea on the Crafty Morning website. The Littles had a ton of fun creating these. You will need a cardboard egg carton. Cut a square of four egg cups. Trim off the excess cardboard. Fold a pipe cleaner around the middle of the four egg cups twisting the two ends to form antennae. Let the littles paint the egg cartons in a variety of colors. I used purple and pink. The finished butterfly can be made with the egg carton cups turned concave or convex. My Little did them both ways and the finished products were darling.
2. Balloon Stamped Earth. Ahead of time, I cut large circles out of white cardstock and I cut heart shapes out of red cardstock. I blew up round balloons, not so that they were full of air, but kind of squishy. On a paper plate for each child, I squirted a puddle of green and a puddle of blue tempera paint. Then I gave each Little a balloon and instructed them to dip their balloon in the paint and stamp it onto the cardstock circles. During circle time we had discussed the meaning of Earth Day and I asked each child, what they could do to help the earth. I wrote their answers on the cardstock hearts. The children glued their heart onto their earth.
3. Green Monster. I knew that I wanted to make Green Monsters because of the book, I Can Save the Earth: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle that I planned to read the Littles during circle time. I came across the idea of reusing plastic milk jugs to make monsters on the blog, Danielle’s Place. To make our Green Monsters, I removed the labels from rinsed-out milk jugs by peeling them off and then spraying the sticky residue with De-Solv-It spray. I let the spray sit for a bit and then washed it off with a scrubby sponge under hot water. I drew a large mouth shape in the jug on the opposite side from the handle with a Sharpie marker. I cut out the mouth-shaped hole by piercing the plastic with a sharp knife and then cutting the rest of the shape out with scissors. After I had cut out the hole, I made sure that the milk jug was completely clean and dry. Then I took the jugs outside and spray painted them green. Now they were ready for the Littles to turn them into monsters.
Ahead of time, I cut out three-leaf shapes from green paper and glued those onto pipe cleaners. I also had cut up a green feather boa into about 6-inch pieces. I bought large googly eyes and large pompoms. I cut out funky arm and feet shapes out of purple and orange craft foam. I started off using Aileen’s Craft glue for the Littles to glue on the different bits of their monsters. Although I have had great success using this product, in this case, it just did not stick well to the milk jugs. However, I have low heat glue that the Littles can use. They are wonderful. If you don’t have those, buy them for your Littles They open up a whole new world of creativity! I showed the Littles how to glue the leaves onto the milk jugs on the handle side by the cap. They glued the boa bit around the cap. The eyes and pompom noses were glued on over the mouth. And finally arms were glued onto the sides and the feet onto the bottom. They were darling!
4. Styrofoam Tray Printing. I collected meat trays. You can rinse these off and then run them through your dishwasher to sterilize them. I cut the edges off of the trays so that I was left with a flat rectangular piece of styrofoam. I gave each of the child a pointed candy apple skewers. They used those to carve a picture in the styrofoam. On a plastic plate, I squirted some Speedball Block Printing Ink. You can use thick tempera paint however the block printing ink really does make a cleaner print. Then I had the Littles thoroughly coat a hard rubber breyer with ink. They rolled the ink onto their styrofoam drawings and then pressed the inked styrofoam onto a piece of drawing paper. Rub and press the styrofoam to make sure that the ink transfers and then lift up to reveal the print. The Littles loved making prints and each child made at least two!
On one of our outdoor play times, we went on an Earth Day scavenger hunt. The concept is quite simple–what belongs in the natural world and what does not? I printed up pictures of things that the children could easily find outdoors–a leaf, a red berry, a blade of grass, a stick, a pinecone, a rock, a worm (we had some very rainy days!) etc. Then I also printed up pictures of things that may be outdoors, but should not be–a plastic bottle, an empty drink cup, paper scraps, etc. I gave each child a little tin bucket to collect their natural treasures and I took a plastic bag to collect the trash. And then we were off on our scavenger hunt to look for these items.