I recently had a conversation with my mom about the amount of litter that seems to line major highways and busy streets across the greater Cincinnati area. She had noticed this while driving to help me with my son while I was away. I had to agree that during my travels for work, I am often saddened by the amount of trash that I see. We both have been inspired to get our voices out there about keeping Cincinnati beautiful for our children. One way I want to try and make a difference is to encourage teachers of all age groups to consider recyclable materials that are often just thrown away as resources for the classroom.
One of the things that I loved about being a teacher was finding ways to be creative. Incorporating reusable items in the classroom was an outlet that I found very useful. Whenever my teaching team and I could, we would use empty containers to make nesting cups, lightweight blocks, lacing games and more.
Dramatic play was an area of the room that we saw a tremendous amount of learning using different types of saved containers such as food boxes, plastic jars and tubs. Our teaching team would come up with wish lists of items that we were looking to add to the dramatic play area and share them with families. The children were able to recognize the containers as being specific food items that were used in their home. This recognition made teacher-child interactions rich with conversation, which has been proven through research to be an important teaching and learning tool.
The beauty of reusable materials is that there is always a multitude of materials available. If a box gets crushed or a container cracked, you are able to replace it without any expense (of course recycling the no longer usable reusable material).
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, the Infant/Toddler Network (April 24 at 1 pm) will look at how to incorporate reusable materials in the classroom. We will talk about different ways materials can be used and the learning that can be seen as children play. There will be plenty of examples of teacher-made materials and you will be able to begin a project for your classroom!
In the mean time, remember to take care of our precious planet. Every day can be Earth Day!