Let's Make Every Day Earth Day!

As you know, today marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. Spending time outdoors in nature has always been a cornerstone of a CDS education. In spite of having to celebrate our second Earth Day in a row in lockdown, our Outdoor Ed teachers are pulling out all the stops to continue to inspire their students to become stewards of the Earth, even if it’s from their backyard.
In the Junior School, Outdoor Ed teachers Mr. Johnson and Mr. Bartle took a modified approach by assigning each grade a theme for the week, which they introduced in their Outdoor Ed classes.
 
JKs – Bird awareness, art for birds - Creating window art/markers to prevent birds from flying into home windows.
SKs – Pollinators - Creating bumble bee art and bringing awareness about the protection of bee habitats.
Grades 1 – Food Waste - Task of tracking their families food waste.
Grade 2 – Water Conservation - Task of inspiring family members to be mindful of conserving water.
Grade 3 – Environmental Conservation - What does it mean to them? Individual choice actions to help the environment
Grade 4 – Reducing Waste - Examining how natural resources are used to create products. How can we reduce waste to preserve our natural environment? Reduce, reuse, recycle!
Grade 5 – Focus on Limiting pollution - Identifying sources of pollution, and examine our own behaviours and how we can improve our own actions to reduce pollution.
Grade 6 – Importance of spending time outdoors (Earth Day scavenger hunt) - Looking for examples of nature, litter that can be recycled, renewable resources etc. to bring awareness of potential issues to help them promote sustainable habits.  
 
In the Middle School, students watched a video called "Nature is Speaking" with the powerful message that our planet doesn't need us, but we need the planet, therefore it is important that we all do our part. 

Middle School students and faculty were given a new house challenge to complete by Sunday – to go out and help clean up their community (wearing gloves and a mask, of course). For every bag of garbage collected, 20 points will be award to their house. Photo evidence must be submitted to Ms. Leacock by Sunday. 

Meanwhile in the Senior School, Ms. Wellnhofer pivoted quickly from her plans to jar honey and plant milkweed with her students to discussing the importance of recycling and eliminating food waste. Using some resources generated from last year’s sustainability groups representing Junior, Middle and Senior Schools, she also stressed the importance of spending time in nature.
 
For the past several years, Grade 9 students have read David Strayer’s National Geographic article “This is Your Brain on Nature,” at the start of Green Industries. In this piece, the cognitive psychologist who specializes in attention, shares that being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure. Spending time in forests, hiking in mountains, and just being outside can lead to significant health benefits.
 
Here are a few science-backed reasons to spend more time outdoors:
  • Walking in nature could improve your short-term memory.
  • Being outdoors has a demonstrated de-stressing effect.
  • Enjoying the outdoors helps eliminate fatigue.
  • Outdoor experiences may help fight depression and anxiety.
  • It could improve your ability to focus.
  • You may perform better on creative tasks after being outside.
Ms. Wellnhofer then invited her students to use their Earth Day hour to connect with and celebrate our planet in whatever way is meaningful to them and shared some Earth Day activity ideas to help them do that in their own way. 
 
From examining food waste for backyard composting or cooking with leftover food we typically throwaway with help from IKEA's Waste-Less Cookbook, to getting outside and learning more about biodiversity, growing your own food or watching a documentary or Ted talk on a zero waste life, there were lots of choices to choose from.
 
Students were also encouraged to be creative and do a combination of things. Derya started making a donation box of old toys and puzzles to donate, watched the Ted Talk about zero waste life and did the oceans and plastic pollution quiz. Other students took their dog for a walk in nature and baked Earth Day cookies. 
 
The bottom line … People Need Nature and we are challenged every day, especially on Earth Day, to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our planet and taking action.

Did You Know?
It is estimated that approximately 40% of all the food produced and sold in Canada (approximately two per cent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)) is wasted between the point of production and the point of discard by the consumer. Of this, slightly more than 50% of food wastage occurs in the home. Illustrated in the graphic above.
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13415 Dufferin Street King, Ontario L7B 1K5
(905) 833-1220
communications@cds.on.ca
admissions@cds.on.ca
Founded in 1972, The Country Day School is a co-educational private school offering programs in JK-12 and located on 100 acres north of Toronto in King.