What does a green community mean to you? That is a complicated concept for preschoolers, so at the Children’s Centre we have started with the more basic question: What is nature? When I first posed the question, some of the answers were, “Camping,” “Trees,” “Leaves.” As I got more specific with my questions, I found that their ideas were limited. Distinguishing between items that are man-made and items that come from our Earth has been interesting. To them, oranges come from a grocery store, not a tree. Try asking your children about some of the things around them to find out what their understanding of nature is.
The Children’s Centre submission to the Paint Your Town Green gallery is a diorama of a clean Earth with models of many living things. We started by dying an old sheet with natural dyes, to represent the Earth. Since the berries and greenery in the yard are still buried by snow, some children walked to the grocery store, to look for produce items that might make some nice dyes. They were interested to find out that blueberries made great dye, but carrots did not. The children also used items from nature to create their models. Rocks, sticks, mosses, branches, clay and beans, have been used to represent animals and plants.
Preschoolers are like intellectual sponges. They soak up information so readily. After a few short days of nature talk, they are already talking about how a clean (green) Earth is one that is safe for all living things, and how it is never okay to put garbage on our Earth. What a prime time to instill these important values!