Tuesday, April 21, 2009

EARTH DAY 2009 with Class 4 EARTHinkers

I have had the pleasure of working with some of the students at my own childrens' school in an afterschool club. We formed a small ecology club called Class 4 EARTHinkers and we have been concentrating on learning about easy things we can do to better understand the problems facing the planet and where kids fit in to make change. It's casual and fun and there is a lot of hands-on stuff too!

For the Monday Assembly at school, in honor of Earth Day, the children performed a small play called THE ABC's of Helping the Planet. The children developed their own props and variations, and all played their parts beautifully with great enthusiasm...and the audience told us that they learned a lot! Here is the play, edited a bit, in case anyone else wants to get inspired by our EARTHinkers group too.

A play performed by Class 4 EARTHinkers for Earth Day 2009

I think you all know that our good friend, Mother Earth, is in trouble.

We share the Earth with many people and other living creatures, including plants and insects. The Earth gives us many special gifts in which to live: trees for books, sand for building, water for drinking and bathing, scenery for feeling peace and harmony -- you name it, it ALL comes from our Mother Earth. With the population increasing we need to think about how we can protect the planet, and not strip her of her glorious gifts for future generations.

At school we can learn more about this incredible planet we live on and also learn ways in which to live in harmony. For this celebration of Teacher's Day, we will introduce a few ideas and suggestions for what kids can do to start making a difference in protecting the environment. This list is just the beginning, surely we can all come up with plenty more ideas of our own. It's time to become very best friends of the Earth!

A is for ANIMALS
Animals have feelings, just as you and I do. Just like us, they feel heat and cold, sun and rain. Just like us, they enjoy a comfortable place to live, good food, and loving attention. They miss you when you are away, and they remember things that have happened to them. With house pets, it is easy to provide these things but just because wild animals are not your pets doesn’t mean you cannot do nice things for them. You can help wild animals by enjoying them where they belong – outdoors, wild and free. Animals taken from the wild may not survive in an unnatural setting. You can plant colorful flowers to attract butterflies, be careful about using paper to protect forests where so many animals make their homes. Feed the birds. There are many ways. Let’s not let any one of the animal species become extinct due to human activity. The Earth belongs to everyone – animals too!

B is for BRUSH
Toothbrush that is! We all brush our teeth, right? Well, next time you are standing there brushing – check yourself! Are you letting precious water just pass down the drain or do you always remember to turn off the tap while brushing? It's another one of those very simple ways we can all help to save resources!

It is such an easy thing to do and makes a big difference! What is it? Carry your own bags when you go to the market. Plastic bags are DANGEROUS – they clog drains, are harmful to animals when consumed, and pollute the soil and air with chemicals as they never decompose. Of course we cannot get rid of plastic bags completely but we can use them more wisely and not overuse them. Why not say, “No!” to plastic bags and decorate a bag yourself. You’ll be the most fashionable shopper around!

D is for DUSTBIN
Putting all our snack wrappers and other trash items into the dustbin shows we care, and want to keep our own environment green. PUTTING TRASH IN ITS PLACE is an easy first step to taking responsibility for the earth. Please do not litter. Especially, do not throw items off your veranda or out windows or onto the roads. This simple change – that begins with you – will help make Kolkata beautiful and clean! Put it in the bin…and grin with pride!

E is for EARTH DAY
Earth Day happens on April 22. The first one was held in 1970, thanks to a US Senator who decided to do something about the polluted highways, rivers, and air around him. That year, millions of people organized parades, rallies, nature walks, and community gatherings. People collected trash, planted trees, shared ideas, and rode on bicycles instead of cars. New laws were passed to protect the water, air, soil and wildlife. Now many kinds of celebrations are held around the world to show how much people care about Mother Earth and want to learn how to protect her...but why not make EVERY day an Earth Day??!!

F is for FIND OUT
If you are concerned about environmental problems, start to find out more by reading the newspaper and books, checking out the Internet, or contacting organizations around you who are working to make changes. You will be surprised how much there is out there – and how much fun it is to start being environmentally informed!

G is for GARDEN
You don't have to have a lot of land to experience the joy of watching a seed sprout and nurturing the plants. Make a veranda garden or find a small space outside where you can put in a few plants and tend them. It is great fun to grow something you can eat with a friend!! Helping to green our surroundings means cleaner air and more peaceful surroundings for everyone!

H is for HEALTH
Take care of yourself! If you really want to help save the earth, start by helping yourself first. Eat healthy foods (not too much junk food or sweets), sleep well and enough, and avoid too much stress. Schoolwork is important but it is not the end of the world if you aren't first every time. Try to find organic vegetables. Last but not least, LAUGH! We may not be able to solve all our problems with laughter, but we can make the world a more pleasant place to live in for ourselves and for others!

I is for IDEAS
If you are concerned about the planet, share your IDEAS with your friends, family and teachers, or write something to the newspaper. Young people have a big stake in how environmental problems are dealt with and your IDEAS and creativity could be an important voice. What’s YOUR idea?

J is for JUNGLE
The word ‘jungle’ has a romantic image (remember Jungle Book?). Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer jungles left today. If you live in Kolkata, you could take a trip down to the Sunderbans or try one of several national parks in Orissa (Simplipal) or Bihar (Hazaribagh). Maybe you will catch a glimpse of our friend, the Bengal Tiger! Exploring Nature is a great way to understand our place in the ecosystem.

Even though some problems seem very big or too difficult to tackle alone, one should never give up hope. Find people who think like you. Work together when tackling a difficult problem. Sometimes it takes a long time before you can see any results, but don’t give up. Keep trying to do at least one nice thing for our planet every day. We all need to start somewhere and if we all work together we will have a healthier world with protected wildlife and cleaner land, water and air…What on Earth could be better than that?!

L is for LEAK
If you notice a leak in your tap, quickly put a bucket under it to collect and reuse that water. Repair it as soon as possible – water is precious. Remember: Always try to minimize the amount of water you use for washing clothes, dishes, and yourself, and don't throw oil or poisons down the drains. It all comes back to us, and threatens animals and plant life in the water!

M is for MAKE
Instead of buying greeting cards and gifts, why not make your own from recycled materials you collect? A hand-made presentation always means much more to the receiving party! Collect cardboard, papers, and wrappers that might add a sparkle to what you make -- that's recycling at its best!!

N is for NATURE
You don't have to go far…Nature is all around you -- even if you live in the city. Don't forget to stop and smell a flower, note its name, watch an insect or bird move, notice the shape of a leaf, etc. There is a lot of interesting activity around you that you can learn from – so don't miss it!

O is for OLD
In these modern times everyone is telling us that NEW is best but OLD things contain memories, family history, and love that can never be found in new items that don't last. Use the things you have until they become old, instead of always replacing them with new things…and you may find that they tell a unique story in the end! After all, OLD IS GOLD!

P is for POWER
How about SOLAR? India has something very plentiful…and that's the SUN! The sun is definitely one of the energy sources of the future! Solar panels may look like futuristic, expensive equipment but new designs are proving all the time that it pays to install them. Even in cloudy conditions, they take energy from the sun, a free, renewable source that is available to everyone and causes less damage to the environment.

Ask Questions! To get to know your local environment you will need to ask some simple questions. For example, Where does the water you drink come from? Where does the garbage you produce go? Where are the vegetables you eat grown? Getting the answers to these will start you on your way to understanding your surroundings and will make you curious about things you can change.

R is for RECYCLE
Recycling is when things that have been used once are processed and turned into new things. Paper, plastic and aluminum are easily recycled at factories but we can do important recycling in our everyday lives too. Use both sides of every paper, keep receipts for memo paper, separate items that can be recycled by someone else and be sure you give them to a collector. Other good R's? Let your kitchen wastes Rot in a special place called a compost heap; Reduce how much you use; Repair things instead of buying new, Reuse an item in a new way; and Rethink how you do certain things related to waste.

S is for SHARING
Sharing things is a friendly way to help conserve resources. For example, instead of buying every book you want, become a member of a library. Or share your books, games, toys, art supplies, etc. among your friends instead of everyone having to buy their own. Adults and children can share a ride with a friend on the way to work or school – save some fuel. Just slowing down our fast-paced city lifestyle to SHARE some time with an elderly person, and hear the stories of yesteryear can save the planet in an extra special way.

In rural societies human activities did not demand moving around since most people worked close to home. Urbanization (people living in cities, not villages) has changed this and we all routinely travel far from our houses for our daily business. Unfortunately this means production of noxious gases from buses, taxis, and private cars. Did you know you can do without this pollution? Simply choose mass transportation: ride a tram, bus, train – going by bicycle or just on foot is best. How can you reduce your carbon footprint on Mother Earth?

U is for USING
This one is about "using" energy – wisely. Electricity is a bright idea, a hot idea, and a cool idea! It gives us light, heat, air conditioning, and other great things. We need to be careful how much electricity we use because most electricity comes from burning coal or oil – and causes air pollution. So turn off lights, TVs, battery chargers, computers when you are done using them. Then you won't be an energy "loser" -- you will be a winner! And so will the Earth.

V is for VISION
The word vision has a simple meaning – to see. When one can SEE far ahead in time, it has a very different meaning. What we do today and what we plan to do tomorrow always has its effect on how our day will go next week. In other words, we can plan our future by doing the right thing today. If we use up all the oil and coal reserves in the next ten years, we will end up with no fuel and a polluted atmosphere ten years from now. A person with vision will reduce the use of fossil fuel and plan to produce machines that use alternate sources of energy. Let us all create an inner vision time that looks ahead for future generations.

W is for WATER
When it comes to water, "what goes around comes around" is an important saying. Water keeps all of Earth's creatures alive so we really need to take care of it. That means two things: keeping water clean and making sure we don't waste it. The Earth will always have the same amount of water but the number of people sharing it continues to grow.

X is for “DON'T” SMOKE
There is more and more advertising directed at young people to get them to take up the smoking habit but whatever you see, remember that smoking is not cool, and it is very unhealthy for the smoker and the people around them. If someone you love smokes, ask them to find a healthier way to relax and get rid of tensions – so you can relax too!

Y is for YOUTH
And don't forget YOU! The youth of today are the "citizens" of tomorrow. If we all make an honest effort to study environmental problems and work on solutions to them, we will be doing a great service to the next generation. It really IS up to us!!

Z is for ZOO
We all love a trip to the zoo but nowadays we can learn all about animals and wildlife by reading books and watching TV. Is it really necessary to keep our friends the animals, who are happiest left in the wild, in small cages in the city? You can learn more about animals by viewing them in their natural setting anyhow. Let's think about this important issue all together!

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