Friday, April 30, 2010

Eco-Songs: Gibson Eagle Sat in a Tree

Is this the perfect song for International Composting Week (May 2nd--8th), or what?  Once again, Linda Richards to the rescue!  We have loved all of our eco-songs you wrote with us during our Bay Week (in honor of our eagle mascot "Gibson")!!

Gibson Eagle Sat in a Tree
(sung to the tune of "Humpty Dumpty")

Gibson Eagle sat in a tree
Gibson Eagle needs to begreen
All nature's crab and
All nature's osprey
Helped him clean up garbage, garbage, garbage...
Help him clean up garbage
All nature's crabs and all nature's osprey
Helped him clean up garbage!

Gibson Eagle sat in a tree
Gibson Eagle needs to be green
All of the students and all of the teachers
Showed him how to compost, compost, compost
Showed him how to compost
All of the students and all of the teachers
Showed him how to compost!

Song written by Linda Richards and our 2nd grade Eagle Cove Class!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bay Week Revisited

During Bay Week (our Eagle Cove "Earth Day" week-of-study-and celebration), on top of all our activities/speakers/song writing/and more, part of our 3rd grade tradition is a study of bridges. We investigate the 3 main types (beam, arch, and suspension), and famous bridges--including both the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel crossing the Bay further south to our neighboring state, Virginia. We read about bridges, see pictures, check it out online, and then students apply what they've learned by creating their own bridges. The supplies are limited so "invention" becomes the word du jour: a corrugated cardboard 2-foot span, drinking straws, and pins. Next week we'll put weights on the creations and see how they hold up--literally!! 

Along with all of this, another traditional part of this study is a trip with our art teacher to Sandy Point State Park. Outside of Annapolis, Maryland, the park is the perfect setting for an amazing view of both the Bay and the Chesapeake Bay suspension bridge. In the art classes prior to this trip, the students learn different water color pencil techniques: spatter, knife (where they scrape the color onto wet paper), both wet paper & dry paper application, painting over salt or sand, and using tape/whiting liquid. The mission: to paint the bridge (on paper, of course), using at least 4 techniques.

 It's the most serene field trip ever--especially if, like this year, the weather cooperates & is beautiful! The kids share their newly-acquired social studies/bridge terminology with the art teacher, then capture these bridge elements using their newly-acquired techniques. Again, it confirmed to me the philosophy of "No Child Left Indoors." They were completely enmeshed & in tune with what they were doing on their super-sized painting clipboards. This went for everyone--whether they loved art or not; whether they had decided to sit at the picnic table, or lay in the sand near the water's edge. Seagulls and sparrows visited each group of painters, the wind was refreshing, and the water lapped the shore giving a great background music.
Bringing Bay Week full circle after the masterpieces were completed, we talked about being here at the Bay's edge. We noticed that there was one additional sight that we saw as we looked about on our setting--unfortunately, a soggy, wet plastic bag sat at the edge in the wet sand. We were reminded of all the good and beautiful things we talked about last week that live in the Bay...and how dangerous that bag would be to the wildlife that relied on this water. It didn't take long for these 9-year-olds to decide we could do something about it. A little beach clean up was what we needed. It was a little thing, on our small stretch of the vast beach we visited, but it was a grocery bag full of plastic that now won't wind up swirling in a Great Garbage Patch out at sea. Yes, it was a little thing, but it felt good!

Pictures from my camera

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Kennedy Center Meets the Sustainability Movement, Part Deux

Aside from basic tourist-y visits to the gift shop & to check out the views of the Potomac (given I've lived in and around DC for a handful of years), I've been to the Kennedy Center "for real" 3 times. Oh sure, I've been to the theater other places, but there's something about the Kennedy Center. It's on a level that stands alone.

Once (eons ago), I was at the Kennedy Center to see "Phantom of the Opera." Breathtaking!

Once (in a particularly brave era, many moons ago), I was there to perform on-stage, at Christmas, with a choral group I had joined an a lark from a newspaper ad. A trip to France & several cathedral choral venues later, this choir was invited to take part with many other singing groups to be the background singers for Rosemary Clooney's Christmas Concert at the Kennedy Center. (Yes, that would be George's late aunt.) A once-in-a-lifetime, surreal experience.

Then there was last night.

The Kennedy Center has a nightly, free performance in the foyer outside the Concert Hall in their atrium called the Millennium Stage. It is a wonderful way that the Kennedy Center makes the arts accessible to all. Last night, I battled the Tuesday night rush hour traffic to make it there by 6 pm on special invitation from Danelle & Riley Hoffer, who have been special to me since Riley's visit to Eagle Cove School, October '08 for our FallFest where she donated 100 CGKidz stainless steel water bottles and spoke to our ECS community about the importance of "reducing, reusing, and recycling." Did I mention that she was 11-years old at the time, she had just recently started (out of the desire to do something and help kids take action), and we were her very first of many elementary school visits! Since then, she's gone on to share her message to a number of schools nation-wide.

All of which brings us to the Kennedy Center this past Tuesday night (April 28th), where Riley was 1 of 5 national award recipients (aged 13-24) from the United States Green Building Council. Five amazing young adults took turns on stage [Riley Hoffer--age 13, Matthew Evans--age 16, Jordan Howard--age 18, Gordon Schweitzer--age 23, and Melissa Seanard--age 23], alongside 6 amazing poets [Simone Crew. Alyssa Langworthy, Carvens Lissaint, Zuki Mondunkwu, Brandon Santiago, and Lauren Whitehead] to accept their awards in sustainability.

Of the 3 times I've attended the Kennedy Center, each time was moving in it's own way. However, I've got to say that I don't think I've ever been more touched and inspired as I was this week at this event. Here I saw the future. These 11 amazing impassioned young people are the voices of our future. Like a proud mama, I was in awe in a number of ways by Riley's speech (and so touched when she gave me a personal thank you while on stage), and moved by these other 10 fresh and new-to-me individuals who John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts,have sooo much vision at such a young age. Here at the a quote by JFK rings out:
"One person can make a difference, and everyone should try." ~ John F. Kennedy
To see and be moved (as I was) by these amazing individuals from the "Must See" Kennedy Center Millennium Stage USGBC/Youth Speaks "Brave New Voices Bringing the Noise for the Earth" event from Tuesday, April 28, 2010, click the title above, or go to to view a video of the performance. Congratulations to all 11 of the USGBC/Youth Speaks young leaders. I'm excited to see where you go, and what you do!

Pictures à la my camera from last night's event.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Kennedy Center Meets the Sustainability Movement, Part Uno

Here is the press release from the U.S. Green Building Council (& Youth Speaks Brave New Voices Green Team) as shared with me by Danelle Hoffer of CynerGreen.  This release announces the award ceremony at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage in Washington, DC tonight.  Riley Hoffer of CGKidz was one of the 5 USGBC nation-wide award recipients.  I had the privilege of being there, and it truly was poetry in motion.  I am still absorbing the experience here tonight, so more will follow later.  It was truly amazing, powerful, and memorable!

USGBC to Honor Five Young Leaders Actively Contributing to Sustainability Movement at Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center
Event will feature performance by Youth Speaks
Who:      U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Youth Speaks Brave New Voices Green Team

What:      USGBC Young Leader Awards, a celebration of individuals between the ages of 13 and 25 who have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and effected change in their schools, communities, and beyond.

USGBC Young Leaders and Youth Speaks Brave New Voices Green Team poets will take to the stage with “Bringing the Noise for the Earth,” a powerful performance featuring slam poetry and inspirational stories of change from young leaders across the country.

Where:    The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage
               2700 F Street, NW
               Washington, DC 20566

When:     Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 6 P.M.

Why:    The evening will celebrate the five young leaders who are making an impact on their schools and communities with a poetry, inspirational voices and stories of a vision for a greener tomorrow.

2010 USGBC Young Leader Award winners:

•    Gordon Schweitzer, 23, Dayton, Ohio: Gordon helped pass a sustainability mission statement as President of his university’s Student Government Association and continues to promote green building as a young professional engineer in Ohio.

•    Matthew Evans, 16, Pfugerville, Texas: After attending Greenbuild 2007, Matthew felt challenged to go back to his community and do something.  He effectively promoted a xeriscape community garden in his arid hometown as a part of a water conversation effort he has been spearheading.

•    Melissa Seanard, 23, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: As a student at Louisiana State University, Melissa led a campaign to implement recycling at Tiger Stadium, an impressive feat at a large football school that disposes of 1.5 million PET plastic bottles every season.

•    Jordan Howard, 16, Los Angeles, California:  Jordan saw the importance of a personal commitment to addressing climate change and has been actively educating others in hopes of motivating them to change their behaviors and take action.

•    Riley Hoffer, 13, Cabot, Arkansas: Riley, founder of CG Kidz has led an amazing campaign to increase the number of kids who drink out of reusable bottles. 

About Youth Speaks: Youth Speaks is a non-profit organization committed to shifting the perception of youth by combating illiteracy, alienation and silence and by creating a global movement of young people brave enough to take their voices to the stage. Since 2006, Youth Speaks has teamed up with the Robert Redford Sundance Preserve and USGBC to select a Brave New Voices (BNV) Green Team to speak on issues such as climate change and environmental injustice.

U.S. Green Building Council
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.
With a community comprising 80 local affiliates, more than 18,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 155,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product from 2009-2013. USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students.

Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% of GDP per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity. Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.

Contact: Ashley Katz
Communications Manager, USGBC
Follow us on Twitter at @USGBC

Picture from

Monday, April 26, 2010

Eco-Songs: We Will...We Will...Recycle!

For anyone who has been following along, you'll know that educator, environmentalist, New York musician extraordinaire Linda Richards visited Eagle School last Thursday and Friday for our Bay Week and Earth Day.  On Thursday she visited each classroom for about a 1/2 hour where the kids and she worked magic, creating an eco-song per class to perform during our outdoor concert on Friday afternoon.  This week, the focus du jour will be those songs.

Starting in my home territory, here's the song my 3rd grade boys wrote:

We Will...We Will...Recycle
sung to the tune of “We Will.. We will...Rock You"

We will, we will recycle!
We will, we will reduce!
We will, we will recycle!
We will, we will reuse! 

We are a green school 
And we are real cool,
School on the water – 
Eagle Cove!
We know there’s pollution,
We have a solution,
We raise oysters to clean up the Bay!


We raise other creatures
Whose biggest feature’s
To help increase diversity!
When we release them
We’re eco-policemen,
And sad 'cause we might not see them again! 

Pictures by me, Super-sized printing & Lyrics by Linda Richards, Typing by Mary (the best secretary in the world!).  To learn more about Linda Richards, go to

Eco-Songs: Comin' Round the River

Kindergartners delighted us during our Bay Week concert with puppets & the song they wrote with musical eco-genius, Linda Richards with the song they wrote with her.

Comin' Round the River
(sung to the tune of "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain")

She'll be comin' round the river when she comes,
She'll be comin' round the river when she comes.
She'll be comin' round the river,
She'll be comin' round the river,
She'll be comin' round the river when she comes.

Seeing lots of grass shrimp...
Sometimes we'll see a seahorse...
Our class is raising tadpoles to be frogs...
Dragonflies are zooming in the pond...
Crickets like to hop around the grass...
Crabs are crawling all around the sand...
Octopus swim way down in the deep...
Foxes run around in woods and fields...
Ladybugs are found in grass and rocks...
Goldfish live in water that is fresh...
Mosquitoes bit and buzz around our school...

Song, creation of Linda Richards & the 2009-2010 Eagle Cove School Kindergartners. To learn more about Linda, go to

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Earth Day!! The Eagle Cove Way!! Part Deux

As you may recall...Candus Thomson was part of our 2nd & 3rd graders' Earth Day as she came to Eagle Cove School to talk to them about fishing.  Her talk was followed by Heather Burton Boughey and mom Lois Burton sharing fishing rods & insightful info with the kids.  Well...when you have the Baltimore Sun Outdoors writer come to visit, and then follow it with outdoor activity, you find yourself in the newspaper.  She wrote up the article and included it with a great picture of Heather showing a squid-shaped fishing lure.

To see Candus Thomson's great article in the Baltimore Sun about Eagle Cove's Earth Day experience, click the title above, or go to,0,7965633.column

Snapshots from my camera, and not near as good as the one in the Sun!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bay Weekend

After a week of focusing on the Bay and honoring the environment at school, it seems both fitting and serendipitous to be standing at water's edge, watching the sun rise here on a Saturday morning on Tilghman Island, Maryland.  Birds silhouetting the scene, it most certainly was worth getting up for.

Tilghman Island, the crossroad of the Chesapeake Bay and the Choptank River.  Home of the Knapp narrows Draw Bridge (one of the busiest draw bridges nationwide, opening over 10,000 times each year).  Home, too, of The Water & Woods Ball, a 53-year tradition held at the Harrison House where friends and family of the late environmental writer Bill Burton come together for camaraderie and a day on the Bay.  Standing on the balcony as the sun was peeking up over the horizon, I watched 8-10 charter boats heading out into glorious weather.  With about five dozen anglers aboard, the boats headed out with folks holding the hopes of a good day of fishing.  (Is there truly such a thing as a "bad day of fishing" on a gorgeous day?)

For me, I happily waved from the balcony as the boats sailed away.  Yes, a day on the water would have been amazing.  But I'm looking forward to a solo jaunt into nearby St. Michaels, meandering in and out of the shops, living without regard to the clock or any cares in the world in my own way.  Then tonight, when everyone rejoins, let the relaxation continue, and let the revelry and fish stories begin!

Picture à la my camera & Mother Nature.

Earth Day & Bay Week's Eagle Cove Eco-Concert

Mother Nature knows how to put on a show....and so does Linda Richards.  Perfect for the 2 to be in sync here at the close of Eagle Cove's Bay Week.  You couldn't ask for better weather for our outdoor concert during the last hour or so at the end of the day.

My third grade boys had an hour of science outdoors with our science teacher--and their clothes reflected that.  But, some sacrifices simply must be made...especially when there are oyster cages to shake, things to be moved, and outdoor learning to be had.  The reward for their hard labor was a trip to our campus geodesic dome greenhouse for a nibble of fresh lettuce, spinach, and baby peas.  Later in the morning we finally wrapped up our week-long EarthOpoly game--truly only due to the absence of time and the presence of lunch.  I think the boys could have played on and on!  After lunch, my boys had just enough time before our Bay Week Concert to do their weekly duty of counting Frito-Lay chip bags and Capri Sun juice pouches (both of which we turn into Terracycle, who up-cycles and re-fashions them into other products).

The Bay Week Outdoor Eco-Concert is a time-honored culminating tradition here at Eagle Cove.  Perhaps it's karma to have good weather after spending a week dedicating ourselves to the planet. Whatever it is, we said "thank you" for the blessing as we soaked in the sun, the songs, and the sounds of the birds who tried to join in.  As always, Linda Richards works magic with the kids in the short time she spends per class writing these amazingly creative eco-songs with them one day, then turns them into rock star performers the very next day.  She's so engaging and interactive with both her on-stage performers and the audience, and you most certainly go away from the green-centric songs feeling very "one with nature."  

My plan over the next week or so is to share the clever songs the kids wrote, but for now the chorus of Linda's original (and her final) song "While We're Here" is what is sticking in my mind:
If we could all live simply while we're here
Use a little less--make a smaller mess--
Tone it down so there's more to go around;
If we could all live simply while we're here.
Thank you Linda for wrapping up a wonderful week, by filling our souls with music!
For more about Terracycle, go to
To "ooh" and "ahh" more over Linda, click the above title or go to

Pictures straight from my camera.  Note:  My reference to "my 3rd grade boys" is not a sexist nor eliminating way of diminishing the girls in my class....there are no girls in my class!  It's just my boys and me this year!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day!! The Eagle Cove Way!!

Hip Hip Hooray:  It's Earth Day!!

Am I the luckiest girl or what?!?  This is my Earth Day:
  • Seeing the campus osprey grab fish from the Magothy River and twigs from our campus trees....and knowing that our 13 second graders alone rebuilt our heavy osprey nest post (after winter storms knocked it down) by themselves with the help of only 1 adult--our science teacher, Mr. Decker.
  • Listening in amazement to fish stories galore from guest speaker environmental/outdoor writer Candus Thomson, from the Baltimore Sun, as she talked to 2nd & 3rd graders here at Eagle Cove School.  If these kids don't become budding fisher-folks after hearing her vivacious talk, I don't know who will! 
  • Seeing Heather Boughey (2nd grade Eagle Cove parent & daughter of the late Bill Burton, author/fisherman/outdoorsman extraordinare) and her mom Lois Burton line up the kids to teach them the fine art of casting a fishing line.  The foam fish and foam hooks made for instant fun on our playground!  Even with these pretend fish, the kids quickly learned why it's called "fishing" and not "catching!!"  This mother-daughter dynamic duo then surprised kids with the gift of keeping these rods & reels, a mini tackle box, and a book of the fish in the Chesapeake Bay.  Thank you so much for your generosity, ladies!!
  • Watching poetry in motion while my students wrote an Earth Day song with guest musician Linda Richards.  Linda trekked down from New York to visit each of our seven grades (PreK--5th grade) today. Within a half hour with each class, she'd had a poignant Earth Day chat with the kids, getting them to create an entire song to a familiar tune, giving it an eco-flair.  "We Will..We Will.. Rock You" may forever be implanted in my mind as "We Will...We Will.. Recycle."  Our culminating Bay Week performance will follow tomorrow afternoon, with an outdoor concert beside the Magothy River... with each class sharing their new "green" tune!
  • With our full, full day, we didn't have much time to continue our 3rd grade EarthOpoly game we started yesterday!  Looks like a good reason to come to school tomorrow!
It was a day where the focus was "all for one, one for all" planet, that is!   Plus, even better, at Eagle Cove School, Earth Day doesn't stop here with today.  Given it's Bay Week, we get to continue a lot of this fun stuff tomorrow, especially ending the week with our concert (and yay, it's to be an amazing day weather-wise).  But, given both our Maryland Green School status and our campus-wide commitment to the environment, EVERY DAY truly IS Earth Day!
    To learn more about....

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Earth Day is On Its Way: The Calm Before the Storm!

    Bay Week Day 3:  The lull slips in between guest authors, nature specialists, and field trips....and gives a momentary respite before the guest musician, the environmental news writer, the angler, and the special Bay Week Concert arrive.  So what is a 3rd grade class to do here, the day before Earth Day?  Why, play EarthOpoly, of course!

    If you don't know EarthOpoly....well, you should.  Think Monopoly with a very Green Twist.  Buy locales such as "Concrete Junction," "Carved-out Canyons," "Watery Wetlands," "Awesome Oceans," and the piece de resistance:  "Mother Earth."  Don't be sent to Jail without passing Go...but instead, go to the dreaded landfill (and instead of "Just Visiting" around the outside, you'll be "Just Recycling!")  Fun facts abound on the cards and more, and the pieces themselves are telling.  There's no dog, top hat, wheel barrow, race car, thimble, or even a cannon.  No...instead you've got the real deal--sustainablity-style:  a sliver of bambo, a stone, a lima bean, a crystal, a shell, and a wooden triangle.

    For the seasoned player, once you start buying up the properties, you can start buying up carbon credits and then trade them in for Clean Air.  That's where the big money lies when opponents start landing on your spaces!

    For the 3rd grade level, we might not be so cut throat.  But, all the while, we're working on money and reading skills, and learning some pretty ecologically-sound factoids along the way!!  Tonight, our money and property are set aside, and saved for the "to be continued" that we call tomorrow--Earth Day!! 

    Time to go shopping?  Hit up the title above, or just do a google search of "Earthopoly." 

    Picture à la my camera & my classroom.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Earth Day is On Its Way: ECS All-School Field Trip

    Day 2 of Bay Week:  60 students, 10 or so teachers, 2 buses (and a tight squeeze through the streets of Eastport by the docks), and 26 miles later, the masses of Eagle Cove School descended on The Annapolis Maritime Museum for an all-school field trip. 

    Straight from their website ( you get a sense of the history of The Annapolis Maritime Museum and their future to educate!
    "The Museum campus is the site of the last remaining oyster packing plant in the area, the McNasby's Oyster Packing Company. The McNasby building was severely damaged by Hurricane Isabel in 2003, but has been restored, thanks to community support, as the Bay Experience Center -- an interactive facility like no other."
    Eagle Cove PreK-ers through 5th graders had an action-packed day with an hour trip on the Severn River at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  Miss Charlotte, the Museum's Education Coordinator, was at the helm of our tour, escorting us throughout the activities du jour.  While aboard our boat-portion of our trip, the kids rotated through several docents and 4 stations:  Chart Reading 101; an art center to draw the landscape; a tutorial of live oysters and other creatures that live on an oyster bar; and an investigation of the key structures along the Annapolis shoreline.

    But wait, that's not all.  Once back on land, we split again, this time into two groups.  During one shift, we visited inside the Maritime Museum and learned the history of the oyster industry through their new exhibit "Oysters on the Half Shell" with volunteers who had actually lived the oystering life "back in the day" as a boys right there in Eastport.  During the other shift, we learned about "Oystering Today," seeing life through the eyes of a riverman whose current livelihood is crabbing, oystering, and fishing the Chesapeake Bay.  Seeing the "short" 16-foot oyster hand tongs were a big hit among the kids.  (As for the teachers, our delight was when he emphasized that the kids needed math every day--whether in his job or any like it or not, math was here to stay, so you might as well get used to it--not to mention, get good at it!)

    Being blessed with a gorgeous day, we ate alongside the water--picnic-style--to re-energize for the last portion of our afternoon.  The students "oohed" and "ahh-ed" while handling the 3 baby diamondback terrapins (very similar to the two we have on campus for the first graders to release later this spring at Poplar Island). Then the kids visited the table-top model of the Chesapeake Bay watershed where we could find all the ways humans impact the Bay.  Pollution, fertilizer run-off, and other human impacts were shown by adding inky water to the model and watching how that polluted water impacted the rivers leading to the Chesapeake Bay.  It was a full and fulfilling day!

    To read more about the rich history of McNasby's Oyster Packing Company, go to  or click the title above to learn more about the Annapolis Maritime Museum (

    Then, if you just can't get enough about oysters, you can also check out There you'll meet Olly the Oyster who stars in the book "Olly the Oyster Cleans the Bay" by Elaine Ann Allen and illustrated by Kelli Nash.  At Olly's website, you'll find teacher resources galore full of information, lessons, games and activities for both students and oyster-info-hunters!  You also can get links to sites like and Barnes & Noble where you can order the book.  It's a great way to celebrate the Chesapeake Bay...and Earth Day! 

    Header picture from the Annapolis Maritime Museum's homepage: .  "Olly the Oyster" book cover picture from

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Earth Day is On Its Way: Let Bay Week Begin!

    Bay Week.  An Eagle Cove School Tradition every year that runs the full week that holds Earth Day.  Our dedication to the Bay makes perfect sense given our school touches the Magothy River on two sides and has a view of the Chesapeake Bay across the causeway right off our property. 

    Bay Week... a full week of eco-centric activities based not only around the Chesapeake Bay and its nature/wildlife, but also the ways we can help the environment.  It's a part of who we are as a Maryland Green School.
    To start off Eagle Cove's 2010 Bay Week, today we had two special guest speakers:  Kathleen Woods and Jennifer Keats Curtis.  Their combined focus was akin to a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup:  2 great tastes that taste great together!  Kathleen Woods, one of the 81 certified wildlife rehabilitators in the state of Maryland and the director of the Phoenix Wildlife Center, brought a Great Horned Owl.  The Great Horned Owl is Maryland's largest of its 8 variety of owls.  Kathy came to know this owl through her rehabilitation center after he was injured.  Children in grades PreK to 5 got a small group, first-hand view of this statuesque bird, who has the power to lift 50 pound of prey with his talons.  Students also got an opportunity to see a recovering baby opposum who was only a handful of weeks old. 
     While some classes were taking turns visiting Kathy Woods, others were visiting with author Jennifer Keats Curtis.  Jennifer, a fellow Marylander, is the editor-at-large for Maryland Life Magazine.  In addition to that, she routinely visits elementary schools to give writing workshops with an eco-flair  We've been fortunate enough to have Jennifer a part of our Bay Week for at least the last 3 years.  Jennifer shared all sorts of pictures at the start of her presentation--not only of the children's picture books she's written, but of many of the animals she's met through Kathy Woods.  It is from her experience with Kathy Woods (and Kathy's animal rehabilitations) that Jennifer wrote "Baby Owl Rescue" (2009).  This realistic fiction book shares the experience of a brother and sister who find a baby Great Horned Owl who has fallen from the nest.  Their rehabilitator mom helps show them what she needs to do to reunite the baby with its mama.  Jennifer shared the book with the kids in the second half of her presentation, and quizzed them about how realistic her story details were.  Lots of questions (and the desire to tell many a-story!) followed.  Some of the youngest students nearly climbed in her lap (which she told me was a sure sign of a good presentation), and the older students asked a hearty helping of questions both about her books, owls, and how long Jennifer's been a writer.  Fun facts about owls and activities "For Creative Minds" fill the last four pages of this book.
    Important lessons came out of the day:

    1. Spring unfortunately is a busy time for wildlife rehabbers, due in part to incidents happening to the youngest animals, new to the world.  

    2.  It is against the law to have a wild animal as a pet.  People who do try this ultimately take the "wild" out of the "wildlife."  The animals become habituated to being OUT of the wildlife, and then cannot safely return to the wilderness because they become overly dependent on humans.

    3. Baby animals don't always need our help!  We may think they're abandoned, yet they might be under the watchful eye of their parents (or they may only check in with each other a few times a day).  Best thing you can do is sit back and observe, and if you think an animal is in need of help, then contact someone at a rehabilitation center.
    4.  That apple core you're done with when you're driving along, then toss out the window, might be the very thing that brings an animal into a rehab center.  Even if you have a Major League arm and send it far from the road (because it's biodegradable, right?!), the coast isn't always clear.  The little mouse or chipmunk that goes for it might be at a safe distance from the road, but the birds of prey that go for those little critters might not be so safe while they're swooping in for their meal.  Many of the owls currently at the Phoenix Wildlife Center were victims of being hit by motor vehicles. 
    For more information, check out....
    • Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Referral Directory (to find a rehabber near you) 
    Pictures from today's experience, the Eagle Cove logo, and book covers from Snapshots from my camera!

      Sunday, April 18, 2010

      Earth Day is On Its Way: Pug...I Mean Hug...A Tree

      In Honor of Hankerspank, my brother's pug (and my brother, who got this whole ball rolling)....Thank you too to Earth Day Network & the Daily Puglet!  I love this video!  In order to love it too, click the title above or go to

      Earth Day is On Its Way: Doing the Math

      For Easter, my kids were giddy as can be about their chocolate finds:  filled eggs, bunnies, & baskets.  As for me, I perhaps had the same level of excitement as they did by the gift my father-in-law gave me:  the National Geographic quarterly Special Issue--Water: Our Thirsty World.  Not only was there this amazing fold-out map of the world rivers--which I teach--but on the flip side of it, there was an amazing poster of "Hidden Water."  In super-sized droplets, the poster notes the amounts of gallons of "virtual water" it takes to produce different items from beginning to end, including planting, raising, sometimes feeding, and factory production of an item.

      For example:  1 pound of beef and some potatoes with a glass of wine could set you back 248 gallons of water:  185 gallons (the beef) + 31 gallons (the potatoes) + 32 gallons (the wine).   And, depending on your dining attire, you could be out 3,666 gallons of water just wearing a cotton shirt (766 gal./water) and a pair of jeans (2,900 gallons).  That's a mind-boggling amount of water!  You can do  further H2O investigations at National Geographic's interactive website:

      Do your own math:  discover your own "Water Footprint" by going to  While you're using this Water Calculator, the site gives you helpful hints on how to diminish your water usage.  The H2O Conserve website also has an education and kids section, the latter of which has a cute video featuring "Aqua," an 8-year old gal in search of water info. A cute little video to show your kids or your classroom.  The education section has a 17-page water curriculum complete with student pages and project ideas.  The site also recommends (as do I) a visit to Water: H2O = Life, the online information about the international traveling exhibit from New York's American Museum of Natural History

      While you're calculating, you can't just stop at your Water Footprint calculation.  The next logical & important stop is the Carbon Footprint Calculator.  You can find a kid-friendly calculator at  Input your numbers and the calculator will do the math for you, telling you approximately how many planets worth of energy you are using as compared to others nation-wide.

      Of course, once you do all of these calculations, you'll see that "doing the math" is the easy part.  It's important to decide for yourself...what are you going to do with that information??  What changes can and will you make?

      Saturday, April 17, 2010

      Earth Day Is On Its Way: The Man, The Music

      Here it is, a mellow Saturday night at my house after a very full family day of outings and adventures.  Kicking back, my husband landed on Maryland Public Television, and we found ourselves soaking in the tunes and philosophy of John Denver and his 1995 "The Wildlife Concert."  The concert benefited the Wildlife Conservation Society. Not only does music of my childhood come back to me with the familiar songs of John Denver, but it was inspiring to see one of the original environmentalist of the 1970s and beyond, speaking the same truths as environmental activists today.

      Songs you might remember, that might make good background music for your Earth Day:
      • "Calypso"
      • "Earth Day Every Day" 
      • "Rocky Mountain High"
      • "Fly Away"
      • "Eagle and the Hawk"
      • "Windsong"
      • "Wild Montana Skies"
      • "Eagles and Horses"
      • "It's a Possibility"
      • "You Say the Battle is Over"
      • "Sunshine on My Shoulders"
      • "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
      During the show, there were vignettes by John, and I found this one particularly telling:  
      "I think that I would most like to be remembered for the fact that I stood up for what I believe in.  That I spoke for it, that I sang for it, I worked for the things that I believe in in the world.... The question I'm most often asked about the environment is 'The problems are so big--what can I do?'  And I remind people that you don't have to do it all.  But there is something you can do.  It can be easy.  It doesn't have to be a great sacrifice.  As I say, if it comes out of your own heart and spirit and your own inclinations, it's the thing that is easy to do.  So you do the thing that you can do, that's an expression of who you are and an expression of your sense of relationship to nature, to the environment.  You do the thing that you can do--I'll do the thing that I can do. And we'll try to get these other people to do what they can do.  And we can save ourselves."
      For the words of "The Earth Day Visualization" below, go to the "Living Lightly on the Land" section of Windstar Foundation, an organization co-founded by John Denver and Tom Crum, dedicated to the environment (at There is also a great photo collage remembrance to John Denver on their site at

      Friday, April 16, 2010

      Earth Day is On Its Way: Green Kidz

      Straight from the CGKidz/CynerGreen Press Release:
      Award Winning Teenager and Eco Activist “plants” messages at local schools to celebrate Earth Day, increase awareness

      April 16, 2010 Little Rock, AR - Eco education for kids has never been more important. With nearly 20% of our nation’s landfills comprised of empty plastic water bottles, Arkansas teenager Riley Hoffer is even more inspired to continue her environmental awareness campaigns.

      In 2008, at the age of 11, Riley founded the non-profit CG Kidz. Since then, she’s visited with over 30 groups, donated over 3000 of her specially designed reusable water bottles, and shared a message about sustainability and the importance of taking care of the earth. That message specifically targets kids ages K-8 and teaches them about the responsibility of environmental stewardship. Riley has developed 7 Easy Green Tips for kids that she shares on her website and during her presentations. This year on the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Riley is planting messages and communicating her mission through Earth Week eco-assemblies at local Arkansas schools.

      The week of April 19 through April 23, 2010 Riley will visit the following eco conscious schools:

      • April 19, 2010 The Anthony School, Little Rock (In partnership with Radio Disney) 1:30pm
      • April 21, 2010 Fulbright Elementary, Little Rock 9:00am and 1:00pm
      • April 22, 2010 Academic Center of Excellence, Party with a Purpose Cabot Morning Tree Planting
      • April 23, 2010 Cabot Gifted and Talented Eco Celebration, Cabot 12:30pm
      The week comes to an end for Riley with a trip to Washington DC where she’ll be on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. On April 27, Riley is receiving a prestigious award from the United States Green Building Council for her work in creating environmental awareness. She’s the youngest of five USGBC Youth Leaders to be honored at a special event.

      About CG Kidz
      CG Kidz’ mission is to bring environmental education, and awareness to kids in K-8th grades; empowering them to take action in their communities for a cleaner, greener future. CG Kidz is the non-profit arm of CynerGreen. CynerGreen is a pioneer in creating environmentally conscious programs for cities, schools, hotels/resorts and business to provide hydration solutions, resulting in plastic Bottle Free™ environments.

      CG Kidz mobilizes students in elementary schools, educating them about environmental issues, which in turn, inspires them to take action. A pioneer in linking the power of children’s voices to environmental awareness, it was CG Kidz and CynerGreen who introduced Bottle Free Schools™, launching the idea of eliminating plastic water bottles from schools everywhere, and bringing the concept of reusable water bottles and refill or “hydration stations” to previously unaware districts. CynerGreen and CG Kidz have received recent accolades and awards including Eco Heroes by Arkansas Publishing. Riley was recently named Pottery Barn Teen of the Month and one of “20 to Watch” by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. They have been featured on CBS, Fox News Talk Business, and in Family Circle, Savvy Kids, The Arkansas Green Guide and Little Rock Family.
       For more information, to become involved in our Green Schools program, or to schedule a school visit, contact Danelle Hoffer at or 501.605.0197. CG Kidz is a pending 501(C)3 non-profit organization in the state of Arkansas.

      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      Earth Day is On Its Way: The Mega Resource Center

      As a teacher, I think I'm a perpetual collector...of things, of files, of websites, of all kinds of goodies that might be of great use in the classroom.  Here are ten of my great "green" finds for Earth Day activities galore!!  May you be "a kid in the candy store" in the same way I am with goodies like these:
      For the "Toys 'R Us" of the Earth Day Internet world, Planet Pals is where your quest should begin!  It easily could be your 1 stop shopping center for lesson plans and activities.
      Elmer's Glue Crew has a printable calendar of 40 days of 40 ways to be Earth Friendly.  How many items on that list can you, your family, or your class mark of as "mission completion?"
      The Earth Day specialists!  Tons, tons, and tons of lesson plans grades K-12 on a myriad of environmental topics.  You won't go home hungry!
       It's not "Earth Day" themed per se, yet "Meet the Greens" are focused entirely around living the green life, so any of the mini video clips you find there will definitely color your Earth Day the right shade!
      The EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has 2 websites that have loads of links and activities.  The first is very Earth Day specific, and the latter is the EPA Environmental Kids Club with neat activities for kids.  and
      Seventh Generation, the company that produces many eco-friendly cleaning products, has compiled four lessons perfectly timed to share about the importance of clean air inside your home.  Their lessons are catagorized by grade level, and rich with both teacher & student activities to print.

      At The Teachers' Guide you'll find lesson plans for all of the following:  "The Lorax," Earth Day lesson plans, internet/smartboard resources, printouts, clip art, and crafts.  All sorts of fun stuff.
      Another lesson plan super store is here at A to Z Teacher Stuff.  Crafts, mini units, projects and more are here for you...appropriate grade levels are listed.
      Here you'll find a lesson plan storehouse where you can search any topic.  The Earth Day section is well-organized with lesson plans by theme (rainforest, national parks, garbage and recycling, environmental injustice, general Earth Day ideas, and general environmental awareness issues.  There's also a video section.  Boatloads of links!

      And then, of course, there's my own April 2010 Green Team Gazette, complete with Jeopardy game.

       Okay... just because there's more....Here's #11 from Green Schools Initiatives. The "resources" page is huge!