Planting the seeds for the future: kindergarteners learn about saving the planet

The Goddard School students celebrated Earth Day with the seventh annual Root for Earth initiative

The Goddard School kindergarten student Ryan DeGrave, 6, plants vegetables in a recycled container to celebrate Earth Day.

As kindergartener Maria Atchison covers a paper towel roll with peanut butter to create a bird feeder for her backyard, she talks about why she wants to save the planet.

“The earth gives us oxygen and we need to help it,” Maria said.

Maria then added bird food to her feeder and threaded a string through the middle for the birds to use for nesting. This is all part of The Goddard School’s seventh annual Root for Earth initiative, a week-long lesson dedicated to celebrating Earth Day.

“We want to encourage our students to be ambassadors of the earth and to start young with that,” kindergarten teacher Theresa Nissen said. “If they learn it now and if they get excited about it now, it’s something that they can carry with them even into adulthood.”

Andrew Langman, 5, and Lauren Eickhoff, 5, make bird feeders.

While the 5- and 6-year-olds of the school plant vegetables and make recycled bracelets, younger students will take nature walks and engage in Earth Day-related crafts.

Such lessons are part of the curriculum throughout the year, but Root for Earth allows for a full week of earth-based projects and lessons. The initiative was created to plant seeds of change in students, their families and the community to create a happier and healthier earth.

“Every day, [the students] run into the classroom and the first thing they do is check on their plants,” Nissen said. “You hear them talking about it. It’s been fantastic to hear this interaction.”

On Friday, the school participated in a “Lights Out!” challenge, turning off all non-essential lighting for one hour. Seven years ago, the “Lights Out!” challenge got Root for Earth started.

“We would shut the lights down for the hour and explain what we were doing and why we were doing it,” Goddard School co-owner Jerry Peluso said.

The kindergarten students also learned about endangered animals, and asked to make posters with animals on them to take home and share with their families.

“The Goddard School’s yearly Root for Earth campaign cultivates environmental stewardship in children and provides them with the tools needed to become advocates for our planet,” said Dr. Craig Bach, vice president of education at Goddard Systems, Inc., the franchisor of The Goddard School. “The activities not only instill a sense of environmental responsibility in the students, but also help to build an understanding of how our planet works and how to care for it properly.”

Maxwell Peter, 5, checks on the vegetables the class planted to celebrate Earth Day.

The Goddard School students have learned about littering, protecting ponds, planting and upcycling and have been encouraged to share their knowledge with their family, friends and community.

Many of the projects were inspired by STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — and were designed to foster creativity and imagination while giving students the opportunity to learn about going green and preserving the world around them.

“We want to make it fun for them and we want to make it exciting for them so it becomes an interest,” Nissen said. “It’s been a week full of earth friendly and eco-friendly activities.”