Saturday, April 05, 2014

Science Poetry Pairings - Going Green

How do you celebrate Earth Day in your home or classroom? (I know it's not Earth Day yet, but I'm posting this selection of books well in advance in case you are inspired to use them!) I believe that Earth Day should be every day, so going green at home or in the classroom should be a value that is instilled early and often.

For many kids and families, going green is a new way of thinking about the world, our place in it, and the choices we make. Today's trio of books offers simple suggestions for acting in a way that is Earth friendly.

Poetry Book
The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One Rhyme at a Time, written by Jan Peck and David Davis and illustrated by Carin Berger, presents 30 well-known nursery rhymes and children's songs, rewritten as parodies with an eco-friendly twist. Collectively these poems promote both healthy living and conservation activities. The rhymes deliver positive messages in an inventive and catchy way, though some readers may find a few of the poems didactic. The illustrations support the notion of going green in that they are composed of recycled materials, scraps of paper, and other ephemera. The book opens with this poem.

Green Mother Goose

Together we’ll do it—
We’ll help save the Earth,
Our emerald home,
The place of our birth.
Come now, rhyme with me,
Let’s turn our hearts loose,
And fly ‘round the world
With Green Mother Goose.

The rhymes cover a range of topics, including solar energy, reusable shopping bags, carpooling, organic gardening, replacing incandescent lightbulbs, and much more. Here's one more example.

Three Wise Mice

Three wise mice,
Three wise mice,
See how they save!
See how they save!
They search for clothes at the thrift store shops,
Recycle the treasures at yard sale stops,
Catch water from rain and use all the drop.
Three wise mice!

Poems ©Jan Peck and David Davis. All rights reserved.

Poetry and Informational Book
What Can You Do With An Old Red Shoe?, written and illustrated by Anna Alter, is a green activity book that focuses on reusing household items in creative ways. This title is a wonderful combination of poetry and crafting for kids. Here's how the book begins.
This book is all about the ways in which you can reuse and recycle. Each project introduces an art activity that reuses materials you can find in your home. Some of the activities require the help of an adult.

Reusing is a fun way to reinvent worn items. It's also a great way to help conserve our natural resources (like the trees used to make paper) and create less trash to store in landfills. By finding new ways to use old things instead of throwing them away, we can help to keep the environment clean and healthy. If we share in the responsibility of taking care of our world, we can all enjoy it together!
There are a total of 12 activities for recycling old materials, 8 of which require some form of adult assistance. Materials given new life include a flip-flop, bits of old crayon, a worn blanket, empty tin cans, and more. Each double-page spread begins with a poem. Here's the one from the page that asks "What can you do with bits of old crayon?"
Trina is an artist
who doesn't like to stop.
She's colored the walls in her art room,
the bottom to the top.

The walls are one big canvas
and never look complete.
She's worn out all her crayons—
a great artistic feat.
After this readers will find a list of materials that are needed for the project. In this case Trina gathers:
  • Lots of used crayons
  • An old metal bowl or pot (used only for crafts)
  • An ice cube tray
Next there are illustrated, step-by-step instructions for carrying out the project. The directions are clear, concise and simply written. For this project adult help is needed to heat the oven and to pour the hot, melted crayons into the ice cube trays.

At the end of the book readers will find tips for kids and grown-ups on reuse and recycling. Overall, this book is a terrific choice for simple, creative art projects at home and in this classroom. The materials needed are easily accessible and the steps are not complicated and do not require extraordinary amounts of time to complete. Kids will enjoy giving new life to worn materials and may even dream up their own crafty ideas for old stuff as a result of working through the projects in this book.

Text ©Anna Alter. All rights reserved.

Nonfiction Picture Book
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World: Fun and Easy Eco-Tips, written and illustrated by Melanie Walsh, is not only about being eco-friendly, but serves as an excellent model. There is not one bit of wasted paper or space in this book. There is no front matter to the book, and the copyright information is included on the back cover. As soon as the book is opened the reader is launched into the text.

As soon as you pick up this book you will be struck both by the light bulb cutout on the cover and the recycling symbol and statement indicating that the book is made from 100% recycled material. When the cover is opened the reader finds a page in black except for where it is bathed in light from the bulb and four insects are basking in its glow. The text reads “I remember . . . ” When the page is turned readers find a double-page spread bathed in black with only white text and eyeballs staring out at them. The text on the left page reads “to turn off the light when I leave the room.” On the right page the bulb is outlined in a bit of concrete text that reads “Turning off lights and using more efficient lightbulbs saves valuable energy.” There is quite a bit of this concrete text throughout the book. It comes running out of the faucet and can be found around the edges of trash cans and trees. It’s not poetry, but it is a wonderful bit of design. (To get a feel for what these pages look like, view an inside spread at the Candlewick site.)

The tips in the book include:
  • turning off lights
  • turning off the faucet while brushing teeth
  • throwing away trash
  • feeding birds in winter
  • using both sides of a piece of paper
  • unplugging the television when not in use
  • making toys from objects that are often thrown out
  • walking to school
  • planting seeds
  • sorting materials for recycling

The acrylic illustrations are refreshing and often appear on pages where edges have been cut or shaped for an interesting effect. The final set of pages includes the text “I help . . . ” on the left hand side, accompanied by illustrations of sets of objects such as bottles, cans and food scraps. The right hand page pictures a variety of receptacles with cutout openings. The beauty of this double-page spread becomes apparent when you turn the page, for what appears are labeled receptacles with the appropriate items insides. Readers will find cans, glass, compost, plastic and paper bins filled to the brim along with the text that completes the sentence begun earlier “sort the recycling.”

The final endpaper is a black page covered with stars and a semicircular fold that reads “All because . . . ” When readers fold the flap down they find the earth and the words “I love my world.”

Perfect Together
All three of these books are wonderful resources for elementary classrooms studying recycling and caring for our world. The poems are sure to encourage students to want to know more, while the books by Alter and Walsh will give them concrete ideas for action.

For additional resources, consider these sites.
  • Anna Alter has created a terrific web site to support her book. You can read about how the book was created, download coloring and activity sheets (under free stuff), and find some fabulous teacher resources and activity ideas for using this book in the classroom.
  • is a kids' guide to looking after the planet. Kids can watch The GREENS' cartoon adventures and discover related green games, news, downloads, a blog, action tips, links, and much more.
  • TimeForKids has an Earth Day mini-site with a wealth of information and resources on protecting the environment.
  • Use this journal page to get kids writing about green living.

1 comment:

  1. Tricia, what a fabulous resource that you are sharing! I LOVE to pair poetry with picture books and I value your science pairings! Thank you!