Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I have always been dismayed by the amount of trash that we throw away at our Center.  It’s just a fact that we have to use many cups, napkins, boxes and miles and miles of paper towels.  Just recently we decided to try to make a dent in it, and start recycling our cereal boxes and milk jugs.   I thought this would be a great subject to study with the children, and I’m glad we did.  It was a little difficult to come up with ‘activities’ for them to do, but the conversations we had were very meaningful.  Our story was Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha.  It was good to begin by looking at the litter around the trash cans and discussing how that’s not good for our world.  Then we talked about how if the trash trucks didn’t pick up the trash, our world would be ugly and stinky.  That developed the idea that there’s a place for trash, then we moved on to discovering how everything doesn’t need to go in the trash.   Some things can be used again, and somethings can be made new again.   We spent some time finding all the trash  cans around our school.


We ended the week by making paper out of construction paper scraps.  You just tear some up, throw them in a blender with water, then pour them out over those weird disposable kitchen towels that look like mesh that’s over some kind of screen.  Press out the water, let dry.  (This was learned from Denise Fleming.)



(Note: Names have been changed to protect the author.)

You will learn something valuable from every challenging student you’ll ever have.  It is tough getting through some days, but be open to the learning opportunities.

Bella was honestly the cutest little girl in the world.  Dark-hair, petite, a voice like Minnie Mouse.  She adored horses, and on her good days, she would just sparkle while she told you how she wanted to be a cowgirl.

She was from a divorced home with some issues, and acted OUT.  On her bad days, she would hit, scream, talk back, throw chairs, and swear (the big words). It was so bad, I was at a complete loss to know what do do with her.    I learned two important lessons from Bella:

One: Fair does not mean equal.  In our room, the rule is ‘If you hit, you sit’.  However, my director told me that we were going to have to help Bella change her behaviors, but only one at a time, starting with the big ones.  Obviously, safety was the main concern, so the rule for Bella was: No throwing chairs.  That meant that if she hit, shouted, swore or talked back, there was no consequence, just a reminder that that wasn’t ok to do here.  (That was SO tough for me.)  However, after a couple of weeks the furniture rearranging stopped.  Then we worked on hitting, then swearing, etc.  It was not magically changed in a month, but it DID get better. 

Two: Tough situations call for a tough consequence.  Once after watching Bella throw a chair, my director told her, “She shouldn’t get today’s birthday treat today.”  Oh, how she howled and cried while the rest of us ate a cupcake, but it showed her that No meant No.  (We’ll talk more about that later.)


When I first began teaching preschool, I inherited a giant rabbit named…I can’t remember, it was so long ago. (Beasty! That’s it.) Anyway, it was a bad situation.  It peed all the time and had to have it’s litter changed everyday, and it also turned out to have some pretty bad problems with it’s claws growing out of control.  (We had to find a home for it after a few months.)

I also inherited some birds with temperment problems.  Aside from also having a cage that had to be cleaned daily so it wouldn’t stink, one of them was plucking feathers out of the other one’s back and it was developing ingrown feathers.    I asked the vet about it, and he said they could operate on these tiny birds if I wanted to pay a gargantuan sum.  I told my director about it, and when I came back on Monday, the birds were gone.  I never asked.

On my own, I have killed (unintentionally) two beta fish.

My next venture was to buy a feeder goldfish for 25 cents, with every expectation that it would die in a month.  “Goldie” lived for seven years, and did you know that goldfish grow to fit their environment?  She outgrew a one-gallon, a two-gallon, and a five-gallon tank.   Also, goldfish are very dirty – the tank was always green.  (I tried getting a couple of plecostomus fish to clean it, but they died.  Surprise.)  I took Goldie to a pet store and now have six danio fish.  They are GREAT!  Hardly any mess and they stay little.

Choose your classroom pet wisely.  Are you prepared to explain about death when it dies?  Are you a conscientious person who will keep the area clean? Do you have the money to buy all the incidentals?  Thoughts to ponder.