Over the past week while on walks, we have noticed all of the garbage that just sits on the side of the road. An idea came to mind: let's pick up garbage! While our weather has been nice, we have been taking advantage of walking to the Infant House at least once a week. It's one of the benefits of our schools: having the younger children and school that most of the preschoolers first attended so close by. It's like returning home in many ways and is often a highlight of our week.
The children were very excited about this idea of cleaning up our community while on our way. We often, in the past, had talked about the things we noticed as we walked. There were also times where the children had been highly tempted to collect some of these found objects, so the thought of actually being able to touch them was very attractive.
It also builds on our theme of Identity by talking about our part in creating and helping our community. Children learn not just to respect their environment, but also gain ownership over it. When they use their hands and intention they can be proud of the outcome. This couldn't have been more true for picking up garbage.
After putting on a glove, each pair of children shared a bag for garbage. They began to immediately find things. There were tiny parts, large boxes and bottles, and things that are usually highly off limits to touch. They could have easily taken an hour on our walk, finding every little scrap of paper, plastic or metal.
Once we arrived at the Infant House we showed off our collection and then threw it away.
"Wow! Look at everything we picked up! That is really going to help out our community." I noticed.
"Yeah, I can't wait to do it again!" was the general consensus.
And the next week came talk of: "Remember when we picked up garbage?", "We should pick up garbage again." So one day several preschoolers volunteered excitedly to go pick up garbage again. Because only one teacher was going, the first four volunteers went with a promise to go again with the other longing preschoolers. We spent over an hour walking just around the block, picking up every single piece of garbage spotted. Some of the garbage highlights were cigarettes, a metal lock, large pieces of plastic, candy wrappers, kid's scissors, a nail file, and pointing out all of the pieces of glass for me to pick up along the way.
Being able to pick up garbage and talk about the importance of putting items in the garbage or recycling helps bring awareness to the negative effects that garbage filled streets has on our environment. It also gives the preschoolers a sense of independence, responsibility, and competence as they navigate their way around the neighborhood. Now when we are outside, even in our backyard at the school, the children notice garbage, they want to pick it up, and help keep our school and community safe and clean!