Friday, January 18, 2008

Earth Child: Starlight, Star bright

Earth Child 2000: Earth Science for Young Children Games, Stories, Activities, and Experiments, Kathryn Sheehan and Mary Waidner.

Earth Child 2000 is filled with activities intended to develop environmental awareness in young children, with a focus on developing that awareness by creating personal connections between children and nature. Activities are divided into sections with titles like "Circle of Day and Night" and "Trees Are Terrific!" and "Let There Be Peace on Earth," with activities that correspond to the theme of each chapter. The activities range from nature walks and observations to imaginative and cooperative games to ways to advocate for the environment.

The subtitle of the original edition included this phrase: "and Other Ideas About Living Lightly on Planet Earth." Isn't that lovely? "Living lightly on Planet Earth." I think that idea, the philosophy of the book, is what drew me to this book in the first place. "I don't need another nature study book," I'd tell myself every time I visited the bookstore. It was always still there on the shelf. I checked every time, and each time I pulled it off the shelf I'd read an activity that sounded like something we'd love to do. Finally I just bought it. My instinct was right, this book absolutely belongs on the Poohsticks bookshelves. It sat on the shelf for a few months because I just wasn't quite sure what to do with it, so I wrote "Earth Child" on the weekly school schedule, chose a few activities, and wrote down a plan. With that, Earth Child has been the perfect addition to our nature studies, the kinds of activities I might not think of on my own, educational and nature-connected so that it suits our family and school philosophy.

Earth Child inspired our lovely star-wishing activity. The original activity called for me to teach the fine young gents the "Starlight, star bright" rhyme then take them outside to choose their own special star. While we didn't follow the activity suggestion exactly (it was daytime, for one), it provided us a perfect jumping-off spot for one of the most peaceful and creative activities we've done for some time. The fine young gents weren't sure what to wish for at first.

"More Legos!" piped one young man. "I want more Hot Wheels!" shouted another.

"We've already got Legos and Hot Wheels," I responded. Truth be told, I was a little disconcerted by my materialistic concrete thinkers, especially since the point was to start creating more of an Earth focus. "We'll be making our wishes on special stars, so let's think of the most fun and fantastic wishes we can."

And they got it. One gent's wishes would inspire the other to make a new wish, and back and forth they went, choosing for me to write down their most special wishes. At bedtime, in their pajamas, they bundled up and we went into the back yard to tell our wishes to the stars.

Tomorrow we'll be visiting the planetarium, another Earth Child suggestion. Loving husband is planning to take the ladies and gents outside with the telescope on the next clear night. We'll be delving into the "Wonders in a Garden" and "Wet and Wonderful" sections in the spring. We'll learn more about living lightly on Planet Earth.

Life is good.

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