Earth Day Activities at TECS

Amy Weisberg, M.Ed., NBCTBy Amy Weisberg, M.Ed., NBCT      April 30, 2021

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Earth Day Activities at TECS
Metzli drew a picture of her favorite tree.
Earth Day is a celebrated day in Topanga and continues to be celebrated at Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS), even with Covid restrictions. As we return to school in person, the possibilities open for those attending, but all students, including those participating in distance learning, had the opportunity to celebrate Earth Day. We began with a special school-wide Zoom presentation by Topangan Cecilie Stuart of Move the World / Full Circle Compost introducing composting to the students. She discussed climate change and gave a demonstration about creating your own compost. Focusing on easy-to-understand climate solutions including a plant-rich diet, reducing food waste, and composting. Using puppet Mike, the Microbe, she explained how composting works. She gave the children the idea of an Earth Day Challenge. The TECS Student Council, under the leadership of fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Harlow, initiated an Earth Day Challenge during the week of April 19-23.
Metzli likes to high-five her favorite tree.
“Participate in this year’s Earth Day Challenge! Each day we will have a challenge inspired by Earth Day! There will be one random winner who gets an interview on the News Club and gets to write something about the earth or school on Friday Focus!” Pictures of the students completing their challenges were encouraged.

The Challenges included: picking up five pieces of trash, saving energy, saving water, creating art for the earth by creating an art piece symbolizing the earth with a positive message, and caring for nature by taking care of plants, and planting something new.
Sarah said, “This is my mini tree, and I love it. It’s the only tree I have in my yard. My only special tree.”
Sarah said, “This is my mini tree, and I love it. It’s the only tree I have in my yard. My only special tree.”

Most teachers were encouraging Earth Day activities. For example:

Mrs. Weisberg’s TK/K classes were assigned to take a picture of themselves with their favorite tree and write a sentence telling why the tree is so special.

Mrs. Kort’s Kindergarten students made art projects, heard stories, and participated in assigned activities at home. They used the garden stage and the garden for lessons including storytelling.

Mrs. Tapper’s fifth graders participated in a variety of Earth Day activities designed to help her students remember to appreciate the beautiful campus location.
Canyon said, “This is my favorite tree because it gives us sweet, juicy, delicious plums!”
Canyon said, “This is my favorite tree because it gives us sweet, juicy, delicious plums!”

Dr. Amenta-Shin’s fifth-grade students, along with Mrs. Tapper’s students did science projects that were presented for both classes on Zoom beginning April 15. Dr. Shin started wildflower seeds that Alisa Hill gathered from the plants that were transplanted throughout the Topanga area last year. While waiting for these to sprout, she purchased four-inch pots of California Native wildflowers from the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sunland. The students planted them in the Topanga area during Earth week. In addition, she provided the supplies for students to make paper from recycled materials. Through it all, she was figuring out how to manage this activity and keep COVID safety rules in place. Dr. Amenta-Shin would like students to plant the wildflowers on campus or near hiking trails.

Mr. Pook, our Resource Specialist Teacher, had his lower-grade students do an acrostic puzzle, and assigned an acrostic poem for his upper-grade students—for example, Environment Awareness Recycle Trees Healthy Dynamic Amazing Yard Afterwards—then had a discussion about Earth Day, the importance of conservation, and ways to contribute to the preservation of our planet.
Romi: “This is my favorite tree because it has my favorite pink flowers.”
Romi: “This is my favorite tree because it has my favorite pink flowers.”

Raising awareness in our youth about the importance of celebrating the Earth and having them participate in Earth Day projects contributes to their sense of ownership and responsibility for our planet. Mr. Pook thinks having the students plant flowers for the butterflies is a great activity because they participate in cultivating plants and have a tangible impact on their environment when they see all the butterflies flittering around.

Ms. Rit Bessen, our school librarian read books that focused on nature and nature lovers. Whether it’s from the point of view of a tree or a child who learns to love gardening, our reading was centered in an appreciation of planet earth. We also discussed Earthship Homes and looked at some photos of them. An Earthship is a type of passive solar house, made of both natural and upcycled materials (such as earth-packed tires). Earthships can be completely off-grid or partially off-grid.
Zoe said “This is my favorite tree to climb. It is at Temescal Park and it is super fun and low to the ground. I like to climb the long twisted branches.”
Zoe said “This is my favorite tree to climb. It is at Temescal Park and it is super fun and low to the ground. I like to climb the long twisted branches.”

It will be wonderful when the students can return to school and tend to the baby oaks and other native plants that were planted by previous students of TECS. It’s one of the ways the students get to take ownership and pride in caring for the earth and their school campus. This experience carries over to their daily lives and they become stewards for environmental responsibility.

While we look forward to the time when we can return to the Community Club to celebrate Earth Day as a community, it has been great to be able to provide these activities to raise awareness for our students and to encourage them to be part of the solution to a healthier planet.
Amy Weisberg, M.Ed., NBCT

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