Sunday, April 17, 2011

What does "reduce environmental impact" mean? An ad hoc pre-K Earth Day science lesson

The Bibliophile is fearless when it comes to reading, but I have to watch carefully to see if his comprehension is keeping pace. Last week in Whole Foods, he mumbled through a sign that said that the store works hard to "reduce its environmental impact.". When I asked if there was any part of the sign he didn't understand, he asked me what that phrase meant. I explained it, but not very well. Later that night, I thought of a way to describe the idea better.

The next day, we sat down with a large poster paper together, and I sketched as we talked. At lunchtime we did a few more examples. I quiz him as to which of the following scenarios has a big impact, medium impact or little to no environmental impact.

I don't know how realistic or accurate these scenarios really are, but he is only 3.

Scenario 1: trees (this was my first explanation. We just got another new Whole Foods branch here, so he can relate to this idea)
- Whole Foods decides to build a store where 10 trees currently stand. It just chops those trees down and builds there (big impact)
- Whole Foods chops down only 6 trees, and plants some new ones to make up for it (medium impact).
- Whole Foods builds next to the trees instead (little impact)

Scenario 2: pollution
- Whole Foods dumps all of its garbage into rivers (big impact)
- Whole Foods creates a lot of garbage but throws it away (medium impact)
- Whole Foods doesn't create much garbage at all (small to no impact)

Scenario 3: paper bags
(daddy thought up this one)
- a shopper goes to 4 stores and gets 4 different paper bags (big impact)
- a shopper goes to 4 stores and uses the same paper bag for all 4 stores (little impact)
- a person carries their things without needing any paper bag (no impact)

It's not a fancy craft, but this is how we learn best around here. Child-driven (he asked me what the sign meant) and on the fly. Maybe I'll try to come up with an attractive craft this week, for the fun of it and to reinforce the lesson. Maybe we'll raid my quilt fabric so he can make his own shopping bag.

Looking for earth day books? Here are a few we have reviewed in the past.

I will link this up with Science Sunday.

Comment: What are you doing for Earth Day? Are you impressed that I did this all from my iPhone? Can't figure out how to caption photos this way.

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- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Christy said...

I am impressed because I can't figure out how to blog from my ipad.

I haven't really given any thought to Earth Day yet. We are hosting Easter, so we might just end up reading a few of the books we own. We'll see.

Raising a Happy Child said...

Great explanations for a 3 year old! We read through quite a few books already and want to implement one thing from "10 things to do to help your world" - remembering to turn off the lights. We might also do some crafting with recyclables, and also Anna's school has Earth Day week next week, so hopefully they will do something there as well.

Cristina said...

I'm impressed that you posted that from your iPhone! That's the only way I'll end up blogging if little miss I need to eat every 2 hours doesn't let up! (And yes, I am commenting via iPhone while feeding!)

Joyful Learner said...

I don't know how you do it? I can't manage to type a comment on the iphone without making tons of typo mistakes! The key pad is too small.

Great explanations! We planted a tree for Earth Day this year.

Ticia said...

I like these ideas for explaining.

MaryAnne said...

These are great, child-friendly examples! And I'm very impressed you wrote the entire post on your iphone!