The Branchy Bunch
“We love the earth!”
- 15 Challenges Completed
- 2 Challenges not completed
A Green-Powered Canada
Students watched some videos, a powerpoint presentation and we read a few articles on renewable and non-renewable resources. We completed a cut and paste activity differentiating between the types of resources. As a class, we chose a few different resources and completed the worksheets together. Students chose solar, wind, and water as their renewable resources and grouped fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) together for their non-renewable resource.
As part of Winter Walk Day, students discussed the different modes of transportation for people. Then our class noted the ways we could travel from A to B in our local community. We then narrowed it down further to how families could travel to school for a healthier body and environment. Students created posters to share their messages of energy saving modes of transportation.
On March 11, our class participated in the Great Big Crunch to make noise to call for a healthy and universal school food program for Canada. We crunched into locally grown greenhouse cucumbers and carrots and participated in a variety of activities about reducing the carbon footprint of foods leading up to the Great Big Crunch event. We joined the virtual event, hosted by chef and activist Joshna Maharaj for a simultaneous crunch to highlight the importance of healthy food at school.
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Do You Really Need It?
We first discussed different forms of energy. Students brainstormed items in their lives that require energy. Students completed the worksheet with what they use at school and home while identifying whether they use it a lot, sometimes or a little. We then discussed, watched videos and completed a worksheet on the difference between needs and wants. As a class we discussed what we would give up on our day to recognize Earth Hour (Friday, March 26). Besides keeping the lights off, we also stayed off our iPads, used only the whiteboard instead of the document camera, and kept the projector off. We decided we would still get to listen to songs while we engaged in our daily activities and would not make the planning time teachers adhere to our energy-saving choices. Upon reflection at the end of the day, students (and their teacher) admitted it was hard. During the pandemic we have been relying more heavily on our class technology since there are many resources we cannot easily use this year. Students said they like using the iPads and how words, pictures and videos shown from the projector or under the document camera are helpful for all the class to see (as well as videos being an enjoyable media form). Admittedly, we had to keep one of our lights on for parts of the day because of the storm in order to see for safety, but since we were giving up so many other things, we could still reflect on the experience. We decided we would still go without indoor lights for a full day when we have a sunny day providing the natural light needed to turn off the lights and still see. They also missed the activities we planned for outdoors as it was raining all day! This year, as is the case every year, students enjoy the times we spend outdoors while avoiding the use of devices and electricity indoors.
How Big Are Your Carbon Feet?
First, we watched a few videos to understand what is meant by their carbon footprints. Then, we used a kid's carbon calculator to determine our carbon footprints and compared our class results with one another as well as with students across the country. Next, we discussed different ways we could reduce our carbon footprints. Finally, we decorated our footprints to share our messages.
Limited Edition: Game Time!
First, we brainstormed a list of ways we waste food. Then, we watched a variety of videos on the topic of food waste. We discussed what "ugly food" is and how the No Name Naturally Imperfect produce line (e.g., apples, carrots, peppers) available at some locations in Ontario is a start to ending "ugly food" waste. We taste-tested some of this produce and determined that it tasted no different compared to the "picture-perfect" produce options often found in grocery stores. We recalled a variety of ways to reduce the amount of food we waste at school and home after watching some videos. Students completed the worksheets. We also reviewed the energy aspects of food waste (e.g., production, processing, packaging) through videos and discussions. We ended this challenge with a rousing game of pictionary.
One Hour No Power
We decided to go without power for as much as we could starting the beginning of March and recorded our progress up until Earth Hour. We agreed on lights-out nutrition breaks (while eating and indoor playing) where we let the natural light shine in our classroom. We also tallied our time spent engaged in other activities with the lights off, such as outdoor activities where we used no power and enjoyed the benefits of the great outdoors during COVID-19. We participated in Earth Hour in our classroom on March 26th and encouraged families to participate on March 27th. When reflecting on how easy/hard it was to do activities that did not need power, students mentioned that the sun gave us enough light to do many activities indoors and outdoors... except when it is a stormy, dark, rainy, grey day (like it was on our final recording day)! They agreed that remembering to turn off lights when leaving rooms at school and home was an easy habit to get into. They said they missed using power to watch videos at nutrition breaks, but that we could just watch them less and not cut them out completely.
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Round and Round it Goes
Students sorted things from their lunchbags that they use only one time (e.g., food items such as fruit, plastic water bottle, food wrappers, plastic spoons, paper towel) and things they use over and over again (e.g., reusable water bottle, food containers, lunchbag itself). We also looked at items in the classroom that were one-time use versus multi-use (e.g., disposable mask/cloth mask, whiteboard/paper, paper towel/cleaning cloth). We discussed the linear path of many one-time use items from production/harvesting to the garbage (or sometimes recycling bin or green bin) and the circular path of multi-use items. We followed the path of an apple (e.g., grow, harvest, transport, buy, eat, compost) and discussed how certain items (like food) cannot be re-used but can be composted instead of thrown in the garbage bin or the seeds re-planted. We discussed the difference between the life cycle of a plastic water bottle versus a reusable water bottle. We talked about the life cycle of paper (for National GOOS paper Day on April 1). We talked about clothes, toys and bikes following a linear versus circular pathway. We watched a few videos and read a few articles. Students drew pictures on the worksheet to show the circular path of their chosen item to demonstrate what they learned.
We watched some videos, read some books and had a discussion about garbage, recycling and composting (local green bin program). We played a game where we sorted the items into the correct bins. The homework task was sent home. A few families completed the at-home activity and returned the page to school. We added up the totals to see how much our participants threw out or kept from the landfill through recycling and the green bin.
The Phantom of the Classroom
First, we brainstormed a list of things that can be plugged in to electrical outlets at school and home. Using a map of our classroom, students searched for all our outlets and pasted on plug symbols to note the locations. Next, students created a legend and noted the items that were plugged in on their maps with coloured dots on top of the plug symbols (e.g., purple for charging cord, orange for pencil sharpener). Then, we watched some videos on what phantom (vampire) power is. We discovered how much phantom (vampire) power the items used using an online phantom load calculator (e.g., laptop charger is more than phone charger). We noted items that leak energy daily. We discussed what we could do to lesson the amount of phantom (vampire) power in our classrooms and at home. We noted that the #1 way to avoid phantom (vampire) power is to UNPLUG things when they are not being used or have finished charging. We also discussed how there are some items that cannot be feasibly unplugged at school or home (e.g., oven, projector on our ceiling) and that looking for the Energy Star symbol on these types of items helps since they are more energy efficient.
Tips and Tricks
We watched some videos and read some books about ways to save energy. We decided it was important to share messages of responsible paper use for our school community for GOOS Paper Day (April 1). Students used GOOS (Good On One Side) paper to create their pictures of geese with their messages. These were then attached to GOOS paper bins (made out of the cardboard lids from the paper boxes in the staff workroom) or posted in each pod for students to view. Teachers and students are always encouraged to place and/or take reusable paper from the GOOS paper bins in the workrooms and/or classrooms to reduce the amount of paper that goes into the recycling bins.
Students decided on the messages they wanted to include in our public service announcement to reduce energy. Then for each idea they decided on a video snippet to demonstrate the idea. We created an iMovie trailer as our video submission. Students took the videos on their iPads, took turns coming up with the words they wanted written in the trailer template and where the video snippets should go. As a class we collaborated on the final product and all gave it the thumbs up approval before submission. We plan on sharing it with our school community for Earth Day.
Students brainstormed a list of ways we use water at school and home. We read a variety of books about water and watched some videos. Our class discussed the importance of water in our lives. We completed the Day 1 side of the worksheet. The following day we discussed strategies to lower the amount of water we use/waste. We completed the Day 2 side of the worksheet for World Water Day (Monday, March 22). We noted where we could save water more easily (e.g., turning off taps when brushing teeth/washing hands, having shorter showers or half full baths). Students felt that we should not include drinking water as that is not wasting water since we need it to be healthy. We also discussed the saying "When it's yellow, let it mellow..." and had a mini debate on whether we could/couldn't try this suggestion to reduce the number of flushes in a day. If only I had recorded the class during this discussion! We also participated in the Great Gulp on World Water Day to raise awareness about drinking tap water while encouraging our families to reduce their use of single-use plastic bottles.
What’s For Lunch?
Students looked in their lunch bags to list the foods that they had to eat for nutrition breaks. We discussed where we thought the foods came from (before parents bought the foods from the grocery store) We watched Finding Stuff Out - SEASON 4 - Where Does Food Come From? from TVOkids and a few videos that showed us where some of our nutrition break foods originated from (e.g., bananas). Using Google Earth, we illustrated the distance some of our most common foods travelled to get to our grocery stores and farmers' markets. We discussed the carbon footprints of our favourite foods. The many benefits of eating locally produced food was discovered through videos, books and discussions.
What’s Old is New Again
We discussed how paper could be used more effectively in schools as the recycling bins get filled up so quickly. Students used the small rectangles from the paper cutter in the staff workroom recycling bins to create their 3-D paper designs (amusement parks) to deliver their messages of reducing/re-using paper before it gets put in the blue recycling bins. These were hung on display in the hallway. Students had a great time creating their paper art. They continued to use the scrap pieces of paper using a variety of paper folding techniques during indoor play at nutrition breaks. A second way students re-used paper is by using doodle books made from GOOS (Good On One Side) paper.