Month: September 2014

Plastic crafts

Each kit we create will have some type of recyclable craft the kids can construct.

Self Watering Plants


A 2 liter terrarium

We can provide them with some sort of seeds/plant to put into the terrarium, the kids job will be to find the 2 liter.


2 liter ornaments:

We can provide string, beads, glitter, accessories to decorate the ornament, the kids job will be to find the 2 liter.


2 liter stick horse:

We can provide eyes, paint, felt, the stick, etc., the kids will need to find the 2 liter.


Plastic bottle bracelets:

We can provide the paint/decorating materials, the kids will need to find the 2 liter.


Paper towel log cabin:

Although this isn’t made out of plastic, its an idea we can think about using other materials.


2 liter bird feeder:

We can provide the bird seed, the kids can find a 2 liter/pop bottle, as well as the stick that goes through the bottle.


2 liter piggy bank:

We can provide the basic materials: paper, eyes, paint etc., the kids will find a 2 liter.


2 liter/milk bottle shark:

We can provide string, the kids will be tasked in find a plastic milk bottle or 2 liter.


26 Ways for kids to help the environment

1) Precycle – attempt to reduce waste before it becomes waste. The concept is explained in more detail here:

2) Recycle with purpose! Not all plastics are created equal and recycling takes some degree of effort. The good thing is that if this awareness is created early and turned into a habit, recycling becomes a breeze!

3) Teach your kids how to Conserve existing resources – water and food for example. Remind them to put food back in the refrigerator and close the door. There are numerous creative ways to conserve water.

4) Use paper on both sides and make use of scrap paper. With the abundance of personal printers, this becomes very important. Young kids love to doodle, show them how to do this more effectively by using paper on both sides.

5) Encourage taking shorter showers. Warm water can be so mesmerizing. A water proof shower clock is a great environmentally conscious investment that helps your kids to stop taking 40 minute showers 🙂

6) Use non-toxic cleaners in your house and explain that these are better for the environment. Kids require a lot of cleaning, do your part to help the environment!

7) Use foams and aerosols based on compressed air rather than other propellants.

8) Help your kids learn to turn things off when not in use. This is especially true of personal computers andelectronics, which can consume a lot of energy! With so many things to do, it’s so easy to forget to turn something off.

9) Teach your kids the importance of car maintenance and miles per galon rating. Ask them to work on the car and show them how you dispose of car liquids.

10) Find a way to carpool at least once a week. It’s fun and environmentally friendly!

11) Encourage your kids to get a bike and ride it responsibly. This is a great exercise and saves you some time, because you don’t have to drop your kids off everywhere.

12) Reduce the use of petroleum based products like plastics.

13) Pick up and properly dispose of trash and recyclables, even if they are not yours. This only takes a second and is a great example of a selfless environmentally friendly act.

14) Spread awareness of environmental issues – your kids will have to face these issues during their lifetime!

15) Conserve hot water and reduce the water heater setting by a few degrees during summer months.

16) Show your children how you care for your home, ask them to inform you of leaky faucets and pipes if they see any.

17) Use biodegradable products – plastic bags, dishes, soaps, etc.

18) Preserve your environment. Volunteer with your kids for tree planting programs or creek cleanups. Seeing first hand how much trash is in our rivers sends a powerful message for recycling.

19) Properly dispose of things including hazardous household waste. Find out if your township has a hazardous waste collection program. Properly recycle of used batteries.

20) If you are not already using energy saving light bulbs, try to put them at least in your kids rooms. These are only marginally more expensive than “old school” ones and practically pay for themselves by saving you money on electric bill!

21) Learn to do more with less. This implies enjoying what you already have more, repairing and reusing existing items! This can also teach kids how to be more creative!

22) Talk to your kids about pesticides and other garden chemicals that you may be using presently. A lot of these end up in the oceans.

23) Start a trial compost project in your backyard and get your kids involved.Composting can be done very inexpensively and keeps a lot of waste out of landfills!

24) Explain the importance of house insulation, especially during winter months. Ask your kids to avoid keeping their windows open during the winter. Teach them how to use the thermostat, and explain that setting temperature above a certain point only wastes energy!

25) Use more energy effective appliances and explain their significance to your children.

26) Avoid bulky packaging and opt out for air bags instead of Styrofoam packing peanuts. Styrofoam is virtually indestructible and poisons our oceans. If you receive a package with Styrofoam peanuts, save them and reuse them. Maybe you are looking to sell something on ebay? Now’s the time!

These steps have a significant impact of reducing household waste and hazardous household waste. Water conservation is a “drop in the bucket” compared to the needs of modern farming and cattle breeding, but it is the mindset that counts. Having people who are aware of their impact on the environment will help enact more environmentally friendly regulations!

Hands on Plastic

Hands of Plastic (HOP) is a kit created by the American Chemistry Association to aid teachers in teaching their children about plastic in school. This seems like a great resource in terms of plastic education, but doesn’t seem to focus as much on the sustainability issues that plastic presents. The kit seems much more chemistry based than anything that we are trying to focus on. It will be helpful to read about the information that this kit will provide us with, particularly with how it follows the Science Standards required for teachers to teach their students.

“HOP science education investigation kits contain everything you need to design and implement a thorough and engaging investigation into the chemistry and the characteristics of plastics. The original HOP science curriculum kit was developed by the National Middle Level Science Teachers Association (NMLSTA), produced by the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and distributed to more than 30,000 teachers nationwide. A nominal charge for the kit materials and shipping can allow the Council to continue providing valued and long-lasting science tool.”

The Problem of Plastic

To narrow down the focus of our activity kit, we have decided we would have a variety of kits that have different themes. Our primary kit will be plastic focused. It can dive into how to re-use plastic products, reduce the use of plastic products, and how to help clean up / recycle the plastic that will no longer be used. We would also focus a lot on big problem of plastic is, but also really show kids that they can make a big big difference by adding little changes to their lives. The other kits may have the focuses of composting, gardening, and water waste.

We have begun doing more research regarding the specific problems that the over-use of plastic presents the environment. Below are links that we will reference throughout the project to make sure that we are including all of the information that will be useful and necessary to really make the kit effectively communicate the issue.

Plastic Not-So-Fantastic: How the Versatile Material Harms the Environment and Human Health

This article is hugely informative on the effect plastic has on the human body, wildlife, habitats, water sources, ground water, and energy waste.

Plastic Water Bottles Causing Flood of Harm to Our Environment

This article focuses on the gigantic waste of plastic water bottles. It talks about the water bottle industry and how silly it is to buy bottled water, because in most cases, it isn’t any cleaner than tap water. In fact, a lot of bottled water is simply tap water with a label on it, and then chemicals are leached from the plastic, making it much more harmful for your body. It also talks about, that while some people do recycle, 80% of the water bottles that we buy still end up in landfills.

Adverse Health Effects of Plastic

This article, once again, talks about how harmful plastic can be to the human body. It also mentions different alternatives people can use instead of plastic.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of litter that spans waters from theWest Coast of North America to Japan. The patch is compromised of the Eastern Garbage Patch, located near Japan, and the Western Garbage Patch, located between the U.S. states of Hawaii and California. This will be an interesting factual piece to include in the kit because of how insane it is that it exists. Hopefully, this fact will really speak to kids and make them want to help make things like this not happen anymore.

The Effect of Recycling Plastic Water Bottles On the Environment

This article speaks of the positive impact that recycling plastic water bottles has. It mentions waste reduction, resource conservation, energy conservation, green house gas emission reduction, and pollution decreases. When we narrow down what our kit will specifically include, we can reference these issues and decide which ones may be most impactful to present to children.

Rise Above Plastics

This article talks about how harmful and permanent plastic is, especially on the ocean. It talks about how we are surrounded by the material and how, with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated, virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form. It also offers “Ten Way to Rise Above Plastic.” These 10 points will be great to incorporate in our kit in some form.

Character exploration

In order for us to begin creating the face of our brand, we wanted to ask some kids who their favorite cartoon characters were and why. Here are the drawings we collected from a 3rd grade class.


Some of their favorite characters/cartoons included:

  • Spongebob
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Ultimate Spiderman
  • Adventure Time
  • Tom & Jerry
  • Wild Krats
  • Frozen
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • PacMan and the ghostly adventures
  • Randy Cunningham 9th grade ninja
  • Arthur

We were able to ask the teacher some questions as well about what they are learning in regards to the environment.

Is sustainability currently a focus at all in your classroom?

“We just had a Duke Energy assembly about natural resources: saving and sustainability.

Are there any inititives in place to promote sustainability? (Such as recycling, turning off lights when leaving the room, no littering rules, etc.)

“We recycle daily. We always turn off the lights when we leave the classroom and talk about ways to be a good citizen. (ie: not littering, recycling, etc.)

Are there any materials that you feel would be beneficial for you to have that would help better educate students on the topic of sustainability?

“Posters, games, assemblies.”

Do you feel like there are particular topics regarding sustainability and general care for the environment that are not being met by the current curriculum?

“I feel like we only touch on it in social studies and science.”

What do your students currently learn in science class?

“Matter, natural resources, animals, seed/plant life cycles, food chain.”

When asked to raise their hands if they learned about the environment and sustainability at home, only one student out of the 22 student classroom raised their hand. I think this backs up our problem statement completely, showing their is a huge lack of communication at home when it comes to taking care of your surroundings. The 3rd grade class seemed to know a bit more about the environment, pollution, littering etc. but still didn’t have the exact knowledge on why they shouldn’t do it and what the effects could be.


EarthShare is National non-profit federation that connects people and workplaces with ways in which they can support crucial environmental causes and charities. They have created a program called EarthShare @ Work, that gives employees opportunities to connect, contribute and volunteer by spreading awareness and taking sustainable action at work and home. EarthShare helps causes having to do with climate change and energy, environmental health, environmental education, greening business, land conservation, parks, and planning, water and wildlife protection.

There is an interesting section on the website that goes into detail on environmental education. Teachers in the Ilsesboro, Maine school district have decided to take a new approach to teaching kids about the environment. Growing up in a tech-savvy world, kids are exposed to technology at a younger age, so teachers have decided to incorporate this into their curriculum. By combining the traditional method of learning of textbooks with the new age technologies that kids are being exposed to, teachers can offer their students a more familiar way of learning while integrating an actual outdoor atmosphere as well.

While exploring the environment around them, the students are given digital cameras and tablets, in order to upload images and actually document their findings on a website. The students receive feedback from real life experts on their findings which allows them to further study and take interest in their findings. Having this website created by kids be available to the public really starts to get the community involved and lets them know that their local schools are creating a positive atmosphere, while getting others to notice a good cause.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.30.19 PM

School of Creative and Performing Arts

Mrs. Suzcek’s first grade class was asked how they help to take care of the earth. The following drawings are their responsive journal entries.

scpa_art-01While at SCPA, we also had our “teacher questionnaire” filled out:

Is sustainability currently a focus in your classroom?

We recycle and will read books about recycling. At the start of the school year, we will be taking a trip to an apple farm where the students will be learning about plants.

Are there any initiatives in place to promote sustainability? 

recycling, lights off when leaving the room, half lights off during the day, saving paper, using scraps. We will be having someone come in from Ohio Soil and Water to talk to the students.

Are there any materials that you feel would be beneficial for you to have in the classroom to help students better understand sustainability? 

interactive games, games that demonstrate the importance

Do you feel that there are particular topics regarding sustainability and the environment that are not being met by the current curriculum? 

Each grade level has different standards and topics to learn about. First grade focuses more on the scientific process. Next will be the environmental unit.

What do your students currently learn in science class?

Scientific process, observation, prediction, etc. Physical change, properties of water

Do your students already seem to have an interest / knowledge of sustainable living?

Many of the students are knowledgeable about recycling because we do it at school. It seems some families recycle.

Designing for Children

We are in the very early phases of developing our brand / packaging for this project, so now is a good time to really start considering the most appropriate ways to design for our audience. We are currently looking at designing for children ages 6-9, but are considering tightening up the gap a little.


Type Choice:

Our age group spans a variety of reading levels, so it is important that we are aware of this fact while we develop our content and decide on the best ways to present it. The following information was found in an article titled “Typography for Children” written by Ilene Strizver:

Most children learn to read going letter-by-letter, learning which sounds go with which shapes until they can blend the sounds together to form words. This is why new readers proceed slowly and sometimes struggle with pronunciation and syllable stress.

When selecting a typeface for a children’s text, look for a warm, friendly design with simple, generous letter shapes. The counters (the enclosed shapes within characters) should be rounded and open, not angular or rectangular. Avoid non-traditional letterforms.

Typefaces with larger x-heights are generally easier to read than those with short x-heights, and this is especially true for children. For very young readers, select designs with one-story ‘a’s and ‘g’s (also called infant characters), since these are the lowercase shapes preschool and school-age children learn to write. Save the two-story versions for more experienced readers.

Either sans or serif designs can be used as long as they avoid any extremes that could impair readability. For example:

• Don’t use condensed or expanded typefaces, which make character recognition more difficult.

• Select a book or medium weight; stay away from hairline or very bold weights.

• If you plan to use italics, make sure they too are easy-to-read, and not overly condensed or stylized.
Making the Text Readable

New readers have to learn to follow words from left to right and “jump” their eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. To make this easier, set the text large (14 to 24 point depending on the typeface and age of the reader) and with very generous leading (4 to 6 points).

Make sure there is ample contrast between the type and the background. This is especially true when setting light type against a dark background, as is common in heavily illustrated children’s books. When setting more than one paragraph on a page, consider using line-spaces instead of indents to separate paragraphs. This gives the text and the reader a visual break.

Headlines and Titles

Headline or title type gives you the opportunity to be more playful in style, color and layout, since there are fewer words to read. Decorated typestyles, lots of color, and curved and jumping baselines can all be used to attract and entertain the young reader. Keeping it light and fun is the key to keeping a young reader interested and turning pages.

Design Considerations:

The following information was provided by Gerry Gaffney and James Hunter

Early Primary Years

  • Use text redundantly with images so that pre-literate users can access your product.
  • Use simple text.
  • Use fonts that approximate how children learn to write. For example, many fonts use “a” and “q” in variants that do not match how some children are taught to write those letters.
  • Do not use dialog boxes.
  • Don’t require explicit “save” operations. Save work automatically.
  • Exclude extraneous content.
  • Provide highly interactive and engaging applications.
  • Avoid visually noisy interfaces – they are distracting.
  • Provide large target areas.
  • Allow children to personalise.
  • If applications will be used on a smartboard, do not use a footer that can be accidentally activated by children leaning against the surface.
  • Avoid errors.
  • Support cooperative use, with two or more children using your product at the same time.
  • Design to support teachers and parents or guardians, who are likely to be assisting or supervising usage.

Later Primary Years

  • Use simple text.
  • Provide content that appears more “grown up” than that for early primary years.
  • Provide time-saving shortcuts.
  • Leverage knowledge children may have from social media and popular games.
  • Avoid appearing to patronise.
  • Apply sensible defaults.