“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.”
- Maria Montessori
We started off this unit understanding where our trash goes and what is a landfill? Children were troubled to learn that if more and more trash gets created we will have more landfills and we might run out of land for playground. And when they heard about a turtle dying because it had eaten a trashed plastic bag they were horrified.
Their next logical question was, `What could we do about this’ and ‘How could we help?’ This made us look closely into our trash and see what is going into the landfill. When we sorted things in our trash we realized that we could Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to reduce the trash. But there is one more thing we could do to make our world a better place. We could `Upcycle.’
'Upcycling’ is the art and ccience of reusing discarded objects or material in a way as to create a product of a higher quality and value than the original. It is really finding a new purpose for your knickknacks, extra wood, nails in the garage and other unwanted materials around your house and making them into something fun or useful. We put this idea into use in our classroom by making ornaments with paper tissue rolls and making bookmarks with dried pressed leaves.
Upcycling is becoming a fast-growing trend since it is not only far less costly than purchasing toys from the store, depending on the extent of the project, it is also a chance to bring children in as, part of making old materials into something new. It is a great learning experience about using your imagination in putting things together and learning to care for the environment we live in by recycling. By creating something useful from discarded items, you are not only putting items to good use but also using less energy and saving money in doing so. Upcycling is in fact a greener way of recycling, as you are not using energy to collect, sort and process unwanted waste.
Industrialization brought with it productivity and abundance of materials. Since then human appetite for materials has been increasing by an insurmountable amount. So much so that the waste created from this increased usage has also been increasing at a staggering pace. This has resulted in other environmental, social and health problems. In our fast pace lifestyle we are forgetting to live in harmony with our own land. The purpose of this unit study was to help children understand that more isn’t always more beautiful. We all need to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. We all have enough resources and we need to share them wisely with each other and in turn take care of the planet we live in.