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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