Kindergarten Earth Day Makes an Impact


Students in the environmental science courses at Greater Latrobe use pages of a textbook to learn, but a variety of hands-on learning approaches give a lasting educational impact. In its third year, Kindergarten Earth Day took place on Friday, April 27 and Monday, April 30 at Rotary Park in Youngstown.

The event allowed senior high students to teach younger students the importance of the environment. As part of the kindergarten curriculum of studying trees, Ms. Sarah Boice, a Baggaley Kindergarten teacher, helped in starting the event to give her students hands on experience. “We wanted to involve the entire district and create an event in which we worked together,” said Boice. “The event has dual value: kindergarten students experience a hands-on culmination to their science unit on trees and the high school students have the opportunity to participate in service learning.”

“[Kindergarten Earth Day] is a great way of connecting juniors and seniors with kindergarten students,” said Mrs. Carol Wright, Environmental teacher, sharing similar feelings. “The kindergarten students look up to senior high school students so much, so when they see senior high students involved, I believe that really makes the impact.”

Through the assistance of Rotarian Jack Townsend and the Rotary Club of Latrobe, trees acted as a connection to the environment and day for each kindergarten class. In addition to impacting both  kindergarten and senior high students, the trees planted are a critical part for the health and overall quality of the stream that flows through Rotary Park.  “What a better way to [plant trees], then running kindergarten earth day,” said Wright.  “The students are connected and are so proud. The idea is that when kindergarten students become high school students and get up to this level, a long-standing legacy will develop. That’s awesome; I cannot wait for that actually.”

“My hope is to see the Kindergarteners that have experienced this event get the opportunity to “run” it in high school,” said Boice. “It will be absolutely amazing to see it come full circle.”

In addition to Wright and Boice, committees of students began planning in January for a successful event. The creation of various student-led stations helped students to love and enjoy trees. To teach of the importance of recycling, students participated in a race activity, while others interactively read environmental stories. To stress the importance of animal forest habitats, students shared various furs and skins, while others colored and signed certificates they could take home and walk away with. “I hope the students gained knowledge about recycling and taking care of the earth,” said senior Jeff Elam, who worked on the story committee.

Junior Alaina O’Conner worked with others to organize the mural painting and gained much from the kindergarten students. “I really liked when the children first arrived and we all planted the tree,” said O’Conner. “They were all really into it and excited for what the day had in store for them.”

Through the fun hands on activities, the importance of the environment kindergarten students learned from the day will continue. “It was outstanding,” said Wright. “The students that organized did an amazing job and all of the Earth and Environment students were equally great.”

According to Wright, the kindergarten teacher’s comments were 100% positive, many amazed at how well the high school students handled themselves. Students in Mrs. Hunter’s class at LES sent Wright and her students’ thank you cards sharing their favorite part of the day. “I like when they planted the tree. We played a lot of games. I got tired,” said a student, showing the positive impact of the day.

“We feel that this project has only gotten better since its inception,” said Boice. “I am in awe of how committed and enthusiastic the high school students are. They are a great model for our young students.”

With yet another year and event successful, Wright has high hopes for the continuation of the unique event. “I will make Kindergarten Earth Day happen every year I am teaching at greater Latrobe because it is that valuable,” Wright said.