SWS 2nd Graders Celebrate Earth Month with a Trash-Free Picnic & Bike Ride - by Margi Fineran
The SWS second graders kicked off Earth Day celebrations in great style with a bike ride to Lincoln park and a trash-free picnic!
The Lincoln park excursion -- the culminating bike trip as part of the DCPS Cornerstone program that aims to teach all second graders to ride a bike – was a perfect opportunity to collaborate with their monthly FoodPrints session. We used the preparation for the picnic – and the picnic itself – as a way to teach students about reducing trash, how to prepare and store items with reused containers and less packaging, and what “trash-free” could look like.
During the time I was planning this outing, the cherry blossoms were just blooming in Stanton park and I was astonished at the amount of trash left in the park by people who came to picnic and enjoy the trees. I want our children to understand that going on a picnic doesn’t have to mean take-out foods with lots of plastic bags and throw-away containers. With a little time and planning, we can make a trash free picnic with many of the recyclable containers we all have in our cabinets at home.
Some of the recipes used for our lunch are from the children’s cooking magazine and website ChopChop (Lemony Hummus, a recipe by Cris Comerford, White House Executive Chef), and others were created by turning our yummy salad recipes (including ABC Salad) into sandwich filling to make them easier to eat. Ms. Scofield’s class had fun making the fillings, and Mr. Leavitt’s class was in charge of making the sandwiches and packing it all up for the ride.
To take our trash free picnic one step further, the students helped me recycle an old tablecloth into cloth napkins that we used for the picnic. They decorated the napkins with their ideas of how to help the earth and the importance of living “green.” These ideas can feel overwhelming at times, but if we all just start with something like beginning to use less plastic bags and re-use our, we can truly make a difference in the world we leave our children and their grandchildren. We will wash the tablecloths and napkins and use them in the SWS FoodPrints kitchen for future lessons.
The accompanying bike trip was also a success! It was a feat for some students that were just barely able to ride or hadn’t ridden at all before the unit started. DCPS loaned SWS some bikes for students who didn’t have them, but most second graders brought their bikes every Thursday for a few months and received instruction from Mr. Chapman, the SWS physical education teacher, on riding technique and safety.
Many parents came along to ride and help. John Cochran, dad to Liam, had a great time: “It was a fun trip, with lots of grownups on hand to help the kids and a delicious lunch prepared by the kids in FoodPrints.”
The trash-free picnic is an example of how FoodPrints collaborated with our school’s activities to provide a fun and practical environmental literacy lesson, supported by funding from The Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s Environmental Literacy grant funding. I’m beginning to think we ought to celebrate the earth for the entire month of April, not just one day, which is what I’m planning to do with students at SWS in FRESHFARM’s FoodPrints program this month.
- written by Margi Fineran