Upland Heights first grade students in Rebecca Reckner’s class read the book Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds. The book is about a girl named Marisol who loves to paint and is tasked with painting a mural for her school library. When Marisol realizes she doesn’t have blue paint to paint the sky, she has to find the natural beauty of the sky to paint it with other colors.
Reckner said the book inspired her students to paint a mural of the Earth by finding its natural beauty.
“In social studies we had students specifically study Earth Day,” Reckner said. “They learned about reducing, reusing, and recycling to conserve our planet, and then students worked together to create a class Earth Day mural.”
Reckner said her students used crayons, markers, watercolors, and construction paper to create the mural.
“It is important for students to do projects like this because it allows them to embrace their creativity,” Reckner said. “It also encourages them to work collaboratively and share their ideas with each other to create something.”
Students in Gabrielle Colon’s Spanish classes at the FHS Ninth Grade Center read “El Violin de Ada,” a story base in Paraguay about a man from the slums that creates instruments from recycled materials. The man, like many others living in the slums, relied on sorting garbage for recycling as a means of income.
Colon said she began collecting recyclable materials, bottles, bottle caps, lids to jars, and after her classes read the story, she had students use those materials to create instruments.
“When I taught first grade, we read the book Ada's Violin" for Earth Day, but the English version, and very humbly we built a little guitar with an empty tissue box and some rubber bands so I could quickly demonstrate to the students how to take ‘trash’ and make something out of it,” Colon said. “The story is based in Paraguay, a country in South America, so because I teach Spanish now at the NGC and FHS, I thought I could truly expand on this project for Earth Day.”
Colon said this project helped the students relate the things they are learning in her Spanish class to everyday life.
“I encouraged my students to think before throwing away trash at home,” Colon said. “I want them to think of what could be made with that coke can or the lid to the pasta sauce jar. This builds awareness to what is being tossed.”
Colon said she believes projects like this are crucial for well-rounded learning.
“This community took the trash of others and gave back music to the world,” Colon said. “A quote from the director of the Landfill Harmonic or the "Recycled Orchestra" Favio Chavez is one that I believe is very powerful. ‘People realize that we shouldn't throw away trash carelessly... well, we shouldn't throw away people either.’”