Children and dirt seem made for each other, and two Martinez Elementary School kindergarten teachers have found a way to take advantage of that combination.
Annie Burgess and Leslie Nordmann have developed an environmental education curriculum project called Helping Our Mother Earth as part of their graduate studies.
The objective of the curriculum is to teach their pupils that the daily choices they make have an effect on the environment.
"We're just taking what kids naturally love and just incorporating that into our daily lessons," Burgess said.
She said the teachers also are integrating the environmental unit with language arts and math lessons.
The children in both classes spent Earth Day using recycled products to make bird feeders by gluing leaves, grass and pine cones to plastic milk jugs.
Nordmann's class also made hummingbird feeders out of plastic water bottles, and Burgess helped her pupils pot an elderberry tree.
The six-week curriculum includes a schoolwide recycling effort, a field trip to a local landfill and a number of other hands-on classroom activities.
"We basically want the children to be aware of their impact on the Earth and how they can be good stewards of the Earth," Nordmann said. "Children by nature are just very curious about nature and are excited by it."
She said the project has brought out the children's nurturing capabilities. For instance, she said, they even took the bugs they brought in with their leaves back outside instead of squashing them.
Gavin White, 6, liked making the bird feeder.
"We're going to have fun. You get to glue," he said.
Bayden Blackwell, 5, was ready to use his feeder.
"You get to get birds to come get food from it," he said. "You get to see some birds eating."
Haley Flett, 6, said she enjoyed studying about nature.
"I get to pick leaves and flowers," she said.
Classmate Chandler Corley, 6, grabbed a handful of grass to add to his bird feeder.
"I like all the birds," he said.
He said bluebirds are his favorite because "they blend into the ocean, and they look so beautiful."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.