Carbon Footprint Pledge

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To go with our Farmer’s Flatbread and focus more keenly on why families might choose to eat food from a local farmers’ market, the paired lesson from Raddish Kids was about carbon footprints. I’ve long wanted to explore the idea of global warming with my kindergartner and this lesson plan made it so approachable for him.

First, I set out four items for Travis to gather, simply telling him they were needed for a “project”. But here was the catch: as he walked between each item and picked it up, he had to mark his trail with dried beans.

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Well he just loved this!

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Between the final two items, he exclaimed, “Oh no, Mom, some spilled!” What a teachable moment this was, akin to an “oil spill.” “That’s a really interesting accident,” I told him, and promised to explain why later. Even better, he decided he could use the beans from his spill, spread them out, and reach the final item. He cleaned up his own oil spill before I’d even imparted the lesson!

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He carried the four items over and I broke the secret. We weren’t really making anything (with yarn, glue, straws, and newspaper); we were noticing the impact and trail we’d left behind. I explained how it represented the way that everything we use leaves an impact, or a carbon footprint.

Next up we watched a video clip of a Magic Bus and the Climate Challenge read-aloud. This video was 14 minutes long, but Travis was captivated… and full of questions. Would our home be under water some day? (I answered honestly – quite possibly, but while we have the ability to move, many people in the world didn’t have that choice). Did being vegan lower our carbon footprint? For this one, I could happily report yes!

After what I worried might seem a scary concept, the key to the lesson plan was to have kids walk away empowered, so it was time to talk about what we could do.

We checked out the Rainforest Alliance and their list of 10 things kids can do to help the rainforest. This led to coloring in a picture of rainforest animals, which Travis took so seriously, and reading a few online profiles of children who live near the rainforest.

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He made me promise to buy only ethically sourced coffee beans and bananas, which luckily we already do!

Of all the suggested activities from Raddish for extension, the easiest for kindergartners is to make a pledge and spread the word to friends and family. Travis immediately wanted our poster to be about not leaving the fridge open and turning the a/c up one degree. The poster required stamps and glitter (of course!).

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It was his project, and other than writing the words, I loved watching him decide what the poster needed.

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There’s a lot more here for bigger kids: writing to congress members; planting trees; and a fantastic booklet of activities from PBS Kids that I want to explore when Travis is older. I’m thankful to Raddish for giving me the words to begin this important conversation with my son. Hopefully it’s the big beginning of our family making a small footprint.

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Nose Day

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As a quick follow-up to other body part days Veronika and I have explored, today we had a nose day.

First, we sang about noses. Need ideas? Don’t forget ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’ features it near the end!

Then we walked around the house to find family photos with noses.

And of course, talk about what your nose does best – smell! I lined up spice jars and held each in front of Veronika’s nose.

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Some earned a smile and some received a very confused look.

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The point is, you can have a day like this for just about any given body part. What will you choose next? Knees? Belly buttons? Please share in the comments!

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Wooden Block Towers

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Veronika has played with foam blocks in the past; she loves their texture and shape, and I love that I don’t have to worry about injuries with such a soft toy. But a 7-month-old baby can play with wooden blocks, too; you just need to use a little more caution and care.

Because of their sharp edges, I don’t recommend letting your baby have unsupervised play with wooden blocks at this age. Instead, pick a time for this activity and make sure you are sitting right next to baby the whole time.

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Veronika received a beautiful set of painted blocks as a gift at birth, and this was the first time I presented them to her.

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First she simply enjoyed reaching for them in the box.

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Next, I set them out for her. The blocks immediately felt good in her hands.

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And make excellent teethers.

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Then came the real fun: knocking down towers!

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As with soft block towers, Veronika can’t resist knocking them over as soon as she sees them. The difference is that I kept the height lower and made sure they were angled away from her so no sharp edges came tumbling her way.

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She loves it every time they go boom – and even started a motion that I think might count as her first clap! Block towers are such a simple but effective way to teach a baby about cause-and-effect, and it was a delight to watch her play.

When we were done, I packed the wooden blocks away until next time.

Straws and Yarn

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This project is fantastic for keeping motor skills sharp in the summer break between preschool and kindergarten… and the final product easily becomes a gift for someone special, whether a graduation or a birthday!

Tie a piece of yarn to a drinking straw with a tight knot; set aside. Help your child snip straws into pieces of varying size. We used wide pastel-colored milkshake straws, and discovered that the smaller we snipped them, the more they were ilke “beads” for our necklace.

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The straws could be a bit tough to snip, and Travis loved when pieces went flying!

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Have your child begin threading them on to the yarn.

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Travis tried a few tactics, including pushing a straw “bead” onto the yarn, or pulling the yarn up through.

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I loved his patience and concentration as he worked!

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Once long enough for a necklace, tie the two ends of the yarn into a secure knot.

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Travis enjoyed the project so much that he insisted we make two; he didn’t want either grandmother to feel left out, so we’ll be gifting two of these!

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