March 25 – Earth Hour Day

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About the Holiday

Earth Hour was organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature as a way to engage people in the discussion on climate change. First enacted in Australia in 2007, the observance has grown to include cities, businesses, corporations, and individuals world wide. For one hour – from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time – participants will turn off all unnecessary lights in a show of solidarity and commitment to protecting our earth. Among the places going dark this year are the Empire State Building, the Space Needle, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Colosseum in Rome, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Sydney Opera House, and the Eiffel Tower.

Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future

By Allan Drummond

 

On May 4, 2007 a devastating tornado hit Greensburg, Kansas, destroying the town in 9 minutes. When the residents of the town climbed from their shelters, they emerged into a world completely changed. There were no more homes, no school, no hospital, no grocery store or other shops. No banks, theater, churches, or water tower. Even the trees had been shredded. Only three buildings remained.

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Image and text copyright Allan Drummond, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

The citizens were urged to move away. Rebuilding would be impossible, some said, and what was the point anyway when the wind could destroy it all again? But others saw opportunity to construct a different kind of town. With the help of volunteers and donations from around the world, Greensburg began the Herculean task of designing and building a new town.

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Image and text copyright Allan Drummond, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

After clearing away 388,000 tons of debris and moving into a community of trailer homes, the people began to envision a unique, green town. Individuals designed sustainable houses of different shapes and materials that would work with the environment. Businesses, too, incorporated sustainability into their offices, retail centers, and hotels as did the hospital and the water tower. A wind farm large enough to provide energy for the entire town was built on the edge of this innovative city.

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Image and text copyright Allan Drummond, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

A new school was central to the town’s survival, and for three years the teachers held class in small trailers. Along with their regular studies, the kids became experts in environmental science. After several years Greenburg became a thriving city—a testament to conservation and sustainability that remains an example for global communities now and in the future.

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Image and text copyright Allan Drummond, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Allan Drummond tells this fascinating story of a community that would not give up in an honest and sensitive way that highlights the courage and pride of a town amid devastating loss. Told from a child’s point of view, the story has extra impact for readers who are growing up amid an era of environmental awareness and activism. The sustainable construction of homes and other buildings is effectively explained and clearly depicted in Drummond’s colorful illustrations.

The images also demonstrate the process of negotiation and cooperation among townspeople that went into designing and building a new Greensburg. The final two-page spread of the town’s layout will interest kids as well as adults who have followed this story in the news.

Ages 5 – 9

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016 | ISBN 978-0374379995

Discover more about Allan Drummond, his illustration work and his books on his website!

Earth Hour Activity

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Flashlight On, Flashlight Off Game

 

It’s fun to play games in the dark! During Earth Hour flip off your lamps and overhead lights and play this game that challenges your memory while you think about our planet! This game can be played with two or more players.

Supplies

  • Flashlight 
  • 6 – 12 small objects (the number of objects can be adjusted depending on the ages of the players)
  • A table or floor area large enough to lay out the objects

Directions

With the Flashlight On:

  1. Lay out the objects on a table or on the floor
  2. Give all the players time to look at the objects and try to memorize them
  3. Choose one player to remove one of the objects

With the Flashlight Off

  1. Turn off the flashlight
  2. While the room is dark, the designated player removes one object from the rest
  3. Turn the flashlight back on

With the Flashlight Back On

  1. The other players try to figure out which object is missing

Variations

  • In addition to removing one object, the other objects can be moved around to different positions
  • Remove more than one object at a time
  • Add an object instead of removing one

Picture Book Review

 

May 29 – Learn about Composting Day

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About the Holiday

Composting is a wonderful way to use organic waste to help the environment. Whether you keep a small composting container in your kitchen, set aside a pile in the corner of your yard, or invest in a compost tumbler, letting non-meat or dairy kitchen scraps, outdoor vegetation cuttings, and even hair or dryer lint decompose into nourishing soil additives will make your garden grow bigger and better!

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth

Written by Mary McKenna Siddals | Illustrated by Ashley Wolff

 

“Environmental chefs, / here’s a recipe for you / to fix from scratch / to mix a batch / of Compost Stew.” This clever alphabet book reveals the ABCs of gathering the perfect ingredients for a compost pile, which creates a nutritious meal for gardens, flower beds, and the environment:

“Apple cores / Bananas, bruised / Coffee grounds with filters, used / Dirt clods, crumbled / Eggshells, crushed / Fruit pulp left behind, all mushed / Grass clippings / Hair snippings / and an Insect or two / Just add to the pot / and let it all rot / into Compost Stew.”

The catchy rhymes and easy-to-follow directions will make kids excited about saving left-overs, raking up fallen leaves, and shredding paper to add to the pile. Readers may also be surprised by some of the other items that will decompose to make rich soil, such as seaweed, laundry lint, and teabags. Three simple steps for cooking up compost stew follow the alphabet, and create a refrain that kids will love to repeat.

Mary McKenna Siddals brings the science of composting and recycling to kids in a fun, interactive way. Children may even like to think of their own ingredients for each letter of the alphabet. The author’s note at the end of the book reveals substitute ingredients as well as items that are not appropriate or safe for composting.

Ashley Wolff’s brilliant, textured collage artwork depicts four multicultural kids (along with their helpful Dalmatian and goose) gathering the ingredients for their compost bag wherever they are—in the yard, in the kitchen, at the hair salon, at the beach, and more.

Kids interested in gardening and environmental issues will love to have Compost Stew on their bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 8

Dragonfly Books, Random House, 2014 | ISBN 978-0385755382

Learn about Composting Day Activity

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Creative Composting Word Search

 

Composting takes individual ingredients and combines them to create nourishing soil. Can you find the words that relate to this environmental science in this printable Creative Composting Word Search? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review