By Emilee Harvey
Over the week of April 19, students at Glebe Cooperative Nursery School (GCNS) went through an Earth Day immersion. The GCNS teaching team used a variety of experiences and interactive play to teach the children the importance of caring for the earth and how their actions ultimately affect other people, animals and the environment.
Earth Day began in America in 1970 on the heels of Rachel Carson’s best-selling book Silent Spring, which was published in 1962. Earth Day is now one of the largest worldwide events and engages over a billion people in 190 countries, empowering individuals to engage with resources and actions to bring about environmental change.
Throughout the week, GCNS educators found ways to teach students about how they can care for and show respect for the environment. Earth Day ideas and concepts permeated free play, story time and circle time, and they were integrated through play-based, child-led learning. The children guided their own learning out of their own curiosity and interests. In the classroom’s discovery area, children were able to fill pots with soil and sprinkle in grass seed and water vegetables donated by one of the families.
During a typical year, GCNS’s preschool students can often be seen around the neighbourhood on exploration walks. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the amount of time students have been able to spend away from the school, but as part of the Earth Day curriculum, the preschool class enjoyed a neighbourhood walk to look for evidence of a healthy earth.
Students were excited to discover a robin holding straw in its beak – they hypothesized it was working to build a nest. Students excitedly pointed out flowers poking up in gardens, the grass getting greener and buds coming out on the trees.
The students identified how their actions can affect the planet in a positive way. Their ideas included: hanging clothes outside to dry on warm days; sorting compost and recycling so that there is less garbage going to the dump; planting trees, plants and flowers; picking up garbage in the community; riding bikes or walking instead of driving. They also discussed some of the negative consequences of not caring for the earth and talked about reducing, reusing and recycling as a way to help care for the earth.
At the end of the walk, students spent time drawing things they saw and reflecting on their week of Earth Day activities.
If you’re interested in learning more about GCNS or registering for the 2021-22 school year, please visit our website at glebepreschool.com.
Emilee Harvey is vice president of the GCNS Board and a parent of a student in the GCNS preschool program