This is the measurable final product, in addition to some International Plastic Quilt Project squares, of our grant from the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods. Create Plenty’s director, Cheryl Lohrmann and art teacher Suzy Root wondered what it would be like to turn the 6th grade art class into a multi-faceted workshop with environmental education, and innovation on the part of the students to come up with solutions to single-use plastic. These 6th graders were our colleagues in learning. They learned about how plastic is affecting our earth and ourselves, and we learned how to communicate a message to kids who are already very inundated with messages of all kinds every day.
The best way to teach was to activate the students. The best days were those where we were asking the kids to use their hands in creating their Plastic Quilt squares, or, if that wasn’t their thing, to turn a t-shirt into a bag monster costume, or compose a rap, and put it to a beat (we’re still looking for an original one) and make a video to complement it all.
Writing a poem, song or rap is a great way to teach because the students are reflecting back upon what they have learned, either in the classroom or out in life. One student began to write a phrase that emphasizes recycling. I asked him to take it a step further, “can we recycle your snack food bags?”. The answer is no, definitely not curbside. “If it can’t be recycled where does it go?” In the landfill or it becomes litter. “What can be done instead?” We can put our snacks in things we can reuse. “Where do we get those snacks?” We make them or buy them without a package!