Posts Tagged ‘books’

We have featured books about recycling, composting, and garbage in the past. Today’s book is about another form of waste management – reuse!

The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong is the story of Steve the electrician and the kids who live in his building. Steve goes dumpster diving on a regular basis – he climbs into dumpsters and explores them to find salvageable items. Then, he and the kids fix these unwanted items up in creative ways.

One day, Steve gets hurt while dumpster diving and the kids come up with an idea – they go to every apartment in the building and ask for unwanted items BEFORE they end up in the dumpster.

This book does not glorify dumpster diving. Rather, it is designed to get kids thinking – is the thing I am throwing away really trash? Can it be fixed? Can it be turned into something new?

After reading The Dumpster Diver with students, have that conversation – what can I do with my waste rather than putting it in the trash?

At the end of the conversation, you might want to organize a swap exchange in your clas, where each kid brings in an unwanted book or toy and trades it with a classmate. You could work with the Parent Coordinator to organize a school-wide swap or participate in a Stop N’Swap.

The goal here is to get kids and adults thinking about ways to use their waste to prevent it from becoming trash… after all, one kid’s trash is another kid’s treasure!

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We have already offered suggestions for books about recycling and composting. Here are some ideas for books about garbage as well as other forms of waste disposal:

Smash! Mash! Crash! There Goes the Trash! by Barbara Odanaka is a rhyming book for early childhood. The book follows the men (in this case actually pigs) who pick up the trash and just how much of a mess their job is. This book is an appropriately silly introduction to where trash goes for young children.

For a non-fiction option, try Garbage Trucks by Marlene Targ Brill. The book explains the parts of a garbage truck, what it does, how it works, and gives facts about garbage. It’s a simple book as an introduction for your students.

Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers follows the garbage beyond the truck, looking at the landfill, the incinerator, and the recycling center. The book also covers reducing waste and ocean dumping, a process kids may know little about but are likely to have strong feelings about.

Loreen Leedy’s The Great Trash Bash is set in Beaston, where the animals have a problem – trash everywhere. Mayor Hippo visits the town dump, incinerator, and landfill and learns about the pros and cons of each, before investigating other options like recycling.

For experiments, check out Garbage and Recycling: Environmental Facts and Experiments by Rosie Harlow and Sally Morgan. The book could be read independently by upper elementary students or could be a reference manual for teachers and parents, both for content information about waste and for experiments to do with children.

Do you have any other favorite garbage books?

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Once you’ve watched a video about how recycling works, you may want some recycling books to use in your classroom. There are tons of titles out there – check these out at your local library to help students investigate recycling in more depth.

For the youngest students, try Don’t Throw That Away! by Lara Bergen. This board book shows creative projects where unwanted items are turned into fun new projects. This book is more about reuse than recycling, and it could get some fun ideas for classroom projects going.

Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel is a rhyming story about fictional Michael Recycle, a superhero who turns one town from gross and garbageful to clean and recycling friendly. There are a number of sequels, including Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug and Michael Recycle Saves Christmas. Michael Recycle is also available in Spanish.

For a narrative that follows a product before and after it is recycled, check out The Story of a Plastic Bottle by Alison Inches. This book shows the journey from raw material to plastic bottle to recycling plant to, finally, a fleece jacket. It is a clear story that will help kids understand that recycling isn’t just about what you do with waste; it’s about what the waste can become. Inches is also the author of The Adventures of an Aluminum Can and I Can Save the Earth!

Of course, there’s The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled, for older readers. The book follows Ms. Frizzle’s class as they hold a recycling drive and then go to the recycling center to see recycling in action.

If you want a non-fiction offering, try Reusing and Recycling by Charlotte Guillain. The reading level is high for early elementary readers, but the vivid photographs offset that somewhat.

These are only a fraction of the reuse and recycling books out there, not to mention all the books on composting and trash. Check back for more books about waste and waste management in 2012!

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A few months ago, we did a few posts on birds and mentioned nest cams. Nest cams are video cameras that broadcast live images of birds nests to the web; this spring, you could use those cameras to watch birds in the wild and maybe even watch a baby bird hatch.

Since writing that post, I stumbled onto three books about Pale Male, an avian celebrity here in New York. These books and the related resources could be used to supplement your study of birds, animal families, urban wildlife, and much more!

Some background information, first. Pale Male is a red-tailed hawk who has lived across the street from Central Park at 927 Fifth Avenue since he hatched in 1990 (with some dramatic interruptions). In 2004, the nest he and his then partner, Lola, lived in was taken down by the building owner but ultimately restored. Pale Male had long been a favorite with bird watchers who followed his every move, but the controversy stirred by the nest removal transported Pale Male into the national spotlight.

Soon thereafter, three different children’s book were written about Pale Male. The Tale of Pale Male by Jeanette Winter presents the simple facts about Pale Male and his home. City Hawk: the Story of Pale Male by Meghan McCarthy features whimsical illustrations and a simple story; some proceeds from the sale of this book go to supporting New York City Audubon Society. Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City by Janet Schulman tells the story through beautiful illustrations and has a more sophisticated and humorous tone, but is still kid-friendly. Which will you like most? Click on each image to find links to a local library, and check each one out for yourself!

In addition to the children’s books, Pale Male has attracted quite a media following over the years (try a search for Pale Male on the internet and look at what springs up!). There are at least two movies: a Nature documentary from PBS entitled Pale Male and a 2009 feature documentary, The Legend of Pale Male. The New York Times writes updates about Pale Male once or twice a year and there are lots of other internet sites devoted entirely to this particular red-tailed hawk.

A word to the wise: Pale Male has been through a few mates since he arrived in NYC, with a certain amount of tragedy attached to each female. At the time the books, his mate was Lola. Lola has disappeared (and is presumed dead). Pale Male has a new mate, Lima.

Final notes, if you are looking for photos of Pale Male, check out his very own dedicated website, www.palemale.com, which is regularly updated and goes all the way back to 2002. And there is also an adult book, Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park by Marie Winn, for your own interest.

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Last week, we mentioned the Magic School Bus At the Waterworks and yesterday we featured Rain. Here are some other fantastic water books you may want to read with younger students:

Drip! Drop!: How Water Gets to Your Tap by Barbara Seulig is written for younger readers than the Magic School Bus and covers both the water cycle and a basic introduction to water purification.

Water, Water by Eloise Greenfield is written for PK students. This very simple book takes students through places they may have seen water and helps them identify just how much water can be found around them: wading, fishing, drinking, or watching water.

Water by Frank Asch is another simple and beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of the water around us from obvious examples (like rivers) to the less obvious (like clouds and dew). The book also shows water’s importance in an urban setting – putting out fires and washing cars.

I Get Wet is designed to inspire all kinds of scientific inquiry. Written for early learners, the book asks questions that require experimentation, leading students to be curious and try out the experiments the book suggests.

And that’s all for early childhood water books for today – check back later for water books for older readers. It’s rainy here in Brooklyn today – we hope these books and the Rain yesterday give you some inspirations for water-focused classroom books.

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Last week, we mentioned the Magic School Bus At the Waterworks, which is a fantastic book for talking about how water moves from rain to tap, but it’s really more of an elementary book.

Rain by Robert Kalan is designed for pre-literate students. The color-coded words make the shapes of clouds, sky, and rain helping students see the idea and read it, too.

The book is designed to encourage curiosity and will lead to conversations about where water comes from and what it does in our daily lives.

Tomorrow: more water books to read with your young learners.

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In addition to the physical Watershed Relief Map and the print map produced by the Department of Environmental Protection, here’s a book you can use to teach about the route water takes from rain to your tap and all the steps in between.

I first received a copy of this book in the late 1980s and have been in love with it ever since. Just like every other Ms. Frizzle adventure, the Magic School Bus Goes to the Waterworks by Joanna Cole is a fascinating, in-depth look at the steps from rain to tap. Kids will really appreciate how much work in takes to clean water before we can use it. The book is also available in a Spanish edition, an Italian edition, a Japanese edition, and a Greek edition!

The one caveat is that the story is a generic, every-town story, and New York City’s water system is a little different. A while ago, the Department of Environmental Protection here in New York City commissioned a NYC-specific version of the book. The last time I talked to them, they had run out of a budget for printing more, but you may want to reach out to DEP and see if they have new copies. Alternately, ask around – a colleague, friend, or local library may have a copy!

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In New York, the water cycle is taught in 4th grade, although in practice it often happens earlier than that. Students are taught that due to a series of forces, water cycles through the Earth and never disappears.

Water Cycle - blank

The problem with this explanation of the water cycle is that it doesn’t quite account for water conservation – if water is infinitely recycled throughout the Earth, then what’s the danger of taking a 30 minute shower? I didn’t “waste” the water because it can never go away!

This very valid question requires a more nuanced understanding of the water cycle. Yes, it is the case that water never disappears from the Earth. However, human beings do still “use” water with potentially negative consequences, including the following:

  • The water that evaporates does not necessarily fall down straight where it evaporated. Water moves through the air. If individuals living the desert use up all their groundwater to water artificial lawns, the water that evaporates will rain on a different part of the world and the desert town will be even drier than it was before.
  • When humans interact with water, they run the risk of polluting the water. Whether its poop, fertilizers, soap, or something else, every time we use water to flush our toilets, water our plants, or wash our hands, we add chemicals to the water. Those then have to be filtered out before the water can be safely returned to the rivers, lakes, and oceans around us. This process of treating the water is time consuming and expensive. The less water you use, the less treatment is needed, the more water is available for future use by humans, other animals, or plants.

Like many things we teach children, the water cycle is both simple and complicated. Giving students a more complicated picture of water will help them understand the semi-paradox that no water ever disappears, and yet we can waste water.

Tomorrow, we will return to the water cycle with a great water cycle game for students of all ages.

PS: For a water cycle resource for early childhood, check out Round the Garden, which tells the story of the water cycle through gardening.

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Listen up preschool providers and day care centers: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an amazing curriculum called Grow It, Try It, Like It! designed to teach kids aged 3-5 about gardening, food, and nutrition.

The guide starts with comprehensive background information for the educator. Then, there are 6 sections, each devoted to a different fruit or vegetable: crookneck squash, spinach, sweet potato, cantaloupe, peach, and strawberry. If you did every activity in each booklet, you would have enough material for 120 days of class! Or, you could pick and choose from the booklets to create a month-long focus on fruits and vegetables.

The booklets all start with hand-washing, include book suggestions, ideas for arts and crafts, science activities, snack ideas, and more. Students get color illustrations of each fruit and vegetable and can also color their own to make a garden map. This really is an incredible resource. If you work with early childhood and are looking for a food resource, this is one to start with! Check it out: Grow It, Try It, Like It!

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A series of upcoming posts are going to switch from teaching about gardening to teaching about food (which are, of course, intertwined) and this seemed like a good time to talk about that overlap.

To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure is a great, new addition to any garden, farm, or food study in school or the home. The box is visually engaging and scientifically detailed, yet designed for children ages 4 and up. (When we say “and up” we mean it – this book could easily be used from K to 12 in different ways.)

How does Ms. McClure accomplish this? The book tells the story of a boy and his mom who go to the farmers market. They buy apples, kale, salmon, honey, cheese, blueberry turnovers, and hand-dyed napkins. Each product gets two pages. The first, like the apple page seen here, is very simple. It introduces Michael, who grows the apples.

This page, appropriate for students of all ages, is followed by a much more detailed page that further explains the story of Michael and the apples (click the image to see it in full detail).

This page, of course, is much too detailed for most kindergarteners to read on their own. However, you could use this information in a number of ways in your classroom.

The detailed background information could be used by the teacher for reference. Or you could give this book to an advanced student or a student who is very interested in where food comes from for their own independent study. Or, you could design a great group project with this book:

Start with a class read-aloud where you skip the detailed pages completely. Students will learn the basics of what products the family buys. Then, divide your class into groups of mixed ability (each group should have at least one student with a relatively high reading level). One group will study apples, one group kale, one group salmon, etc. The groups will then be responsible for reading the detailed information, learning the process of making or growing the product, and then tell the story in words or pictures, and then present their work to the rest of the class. Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of how much work it takes for one product to get onto their table and hear the work of the other groups explaining the other products.

What other curricular connections do you see? How might you use To Market, To Market in your classroom?

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