Monday, May 31, 2010


"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life, and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived"  ~  Henry David Thoreau
I read a little bit of Thoreau one summer in college when I was trying to pursue my own inner simplicity & transcendentalism.  I wanted to go out and live at Walden Pond.  It's been a recurring theme throughout the years.  So it's no surprise that we're back here.

There's a slowing down that happens when you go camping, which is exactly what my family did over this 3-day Memorial Day weekend in Central Maryland. Under the tent, on the blow-up mattress, in the sleeping bag, by the fire, we camped with our 7 other compatriots (who were fascinating, seasoned outdoors men & women--with camping resumes "to die for!" & with fireside tales that can't be beat--perhaps both fact AND fiction!!).  In this, there comes a slowness. No need to tidy, to laundry, to tend the lawn nor the dishes.  Add in the cooking (given we were trekking with two rather talented fireside chefs!--Oh my, no pork, beans, nor dogs for us!!), we needn't worry!!  Not to mention the absence of TV or phone distractions......Yes, a slowing down, a decompressing,  a "being one with life."

On top of the camping, let's add in multiple days of hiking and such, where my pedometer topped 10K every day....Yes, a slowing down and yet a simultaneous "move forwards" activity.  A 2.5 mile hike in Cunningham Falls, Maryland one day.... a 1 mile hike through the Appalachian Trail another day....more "walk-a-bouts" than perhaps the aborigine do in a day down in Australia!  Being a girl who spends way too much time grading papers, and even far more time stationary at the computer...the movement felt GOOD.  My body ate it up!  I needed those jaunts, and it felt oh-so good to sweat--even when there was a sharp uphill grade involved!  I relished the activity, and the inactivity (of slowing down) simultaneously!!  

Did the report cards I brought to work on get addressed (given it's my last week of school, here ahead)?  No way, José!!  But you know, here in the aftermath of rest and relaxation, that just might be okay!  One could argue I'd be restored and refreshed....and those report cards will go twice as fast here later on!!

Picture of our camp base and borrowed tent, à la my very laid back and relaxed weekend camera.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bird Watching

Last week of school.  Yet the education still continues.

Picture the scene:  birdhouse, with occupants, outside our class window.

Impromptu education comes during read-aloud time when we noticed a bird making frequent jaunts to our window.  Bird Watching 101 takes place, window-side.  

What'd we see?  A mama wren, perhaps, teaching 3 newbies how to fly.  She'd make a several yard pass from her house, to table, to window...and her 3 darlings would hop/be inch-airborn for a good foot or so.  They all congregated right by our door too, where papa bear bird must have seen us and was quite vocal for us to not even THINK about messing with his young'uns!  Later we showed a couple pre-K'ers our little feathered finds, and they crouched down to look at the birds, as I think only pre-k children can!  Such fascination!!
It's good when time can stand still for, it was kind of like "dinner and a show."  We had a great spectator sport while I was able to finish the current chapter of our latest class favorite, Dan Gutman's "Million Dollar Kick" where the main character, Whisper Nelson is a pretty opinionated environmentalist.  (Come to think of it, so is Dan Gutman--as is evident from his compilation book "Recycle this Book" where he has gathered 100 children's book authors to give their eco-thoughts in 3-4 page essays.  Definitely a read you should read!) 

Ahh, serendipity....which pairs quite nicely with bird watching! 

--To learn more about Eagle Cove School, click on the title above, or go to

--To learn more about Dan Gutman, go to sure to click on the top link "Nothing to Do with Dan" to learn more about his thoughts on the environment!

--Picture from

Sunday, May 23, 2010

International Day of Biodiversity ~ May 22nd, 2010

Yesterday (May 22nd) was the International Day of Biodiversity.  Given it's drawing near to the end of my school year (and all the hectic-ness that's associated with this), this environmental day came and went without being highly on my radar.  So, I decided to check into it this morning, after the fact.

I was struck by the map above, which was prominent on the website.  Looking at the participating "red pinpoint" countries on the map, no wonder I had little knowledge of it.  "We the People" of the United States look pretty darned absent here.  That's a tad bothersome. 

Of course, we've had a lot of "Days" latelyWorld Water Day, Earth Hour, Earth Day, International Migratory Bird Day, Nat'l Composting Week, National Bike Week, World Environment Day coming up June could argue perhaps there's too many "days." One could argue that it leans toward "environmental daze." But perhaps, it's just like the concept of biodiversity:  everything relies on everything else.  A rich, healthy environment or habitat (whether a field, a river, or a planet) has a wealth of plants and animals, creating that complex web of life that's so much more interconnected than a mere food chain. 

Perhaps to become a richer, healthier planet, we need this web of days and environmental awareness to start waking up and taking care of this planet!  One links to another. A maze of days.  Given that, and a year's worth string-of-days ahead, perhaps we'll be on the map next year.  That, most certainly, would be a noteworthy step in the right direction. 

To learn more about International Biodiversity Day, click the link above, or go to or go to their resource link to download a great 32 page conceptual guideline detailing both their mission and things you can do to take part.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nat'l Bike Month * Bike to Work Week * Bike to Work Day

May is National Bike Safety it makes sense that it'd be Nat'l Bike Month.  Closer to the here and now, this week is Bike to Work Week, with Friday being the big official Bike to Work Day.  Now, given that I take a laptop, 3 children, and multiple bags of "stuff" (whether it's papers to grade, a bin of a hundred or so Capri Suns I've washed, or my compost and the occasional lacrosse stick), I'm not a real stellar example of practicing what I preach.  But, on days of glorious weather, our science teacher and our art teacher have been seen en route to school on their bikes!  It's a great way to not only soak in the beauty that surrounds you, but also get good exercise and lower your carbon footprint.  See what you can do this Bike Month!

To learn more about Bike Month and Bike to Work, click the link above or go to (where you'll also find the logo'ed-image above).  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom right hand orange "Education" corner to the link labeled "Watch our Education Videos."

For a listing on bike safety for kids, go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) site:

You can also appreciate the whole "bike" theme in a stationary position by checking out the list of " bike" books at The BOOKS Program ("Books Open Opportunities for Kids to Succeed), a partnership program with Senator Libous and the Morrisville State College in New York  at

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Looking To Be Inspired?

Looking to be inspired as to ways to get involved in the upcoming June 5th World Environment Day?  Go to the United Nations Environment Programme's site to find a list of activities around the world by clicking the title above or going to .  While you are there, you can also register your activity--whether it be a community-wide one or something you plan to commit to do to take action in your own home! 

While you're on the UNEP site, be sure to click around and check out the wealth on there, in particular the WED Heroes, individuals UNEP is celebrating for their personal determination in taking on high-profile expeditions.  It's no surprise to me that David de Rothschild and the Plastiki Expedition made the list with their trek across the Pacific Ocean (and subsequently the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) in their boat made of 12,500 plastic bottles!  Other WED Heroes include: 
  • Charles and Sho Scott, a father-son duo who rode 4,700 km across Japan on connected bikes in order to bring attention to climate change and the importance of taking action.
  • Project Kaisei, who is studying how to capture the plastic waste from the ocean to create a way to turn it back into usable, diesel fuel ;
  • Luo Hong, an environmental photographer who who has raised money through many photography exhibitions for environmental causes, including UNEP's Painting Competition by Children in China.
  • Roz Savage who rowed across the Pacific Ocean solo in 2009, then walked 600 miles from London to Copenhagen for the December 2009 UN Climate Conference.  She has a foundation called Pull Together to inspire to walk more/drive less.
“Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.” ~UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
Picture from

UN Secretary's quote from

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Small Actions DO Make a Monumental Difference

We are so blessed in so many ways at Eagle Cove School.  One such way is that we can have our school-wide morning meetings outside on nice days at the picnic tables.  Likewise, we can eat lunch out there as a school community during pleasant weather.  

At this morning's meeting, I brought out a thin little translucent plastic strip that was instantly recognized by our students--it was the plastic straw wrapper that's attached to the Capri Sun Juice Pouches.  Our students know them well because (for the last 2 years) our school has recycled and turned the pouches into Terracycle (a New Jersey company that upcycles the pouches, turning them into other products like backpacks and more).  

Along with my "show and tell,"I also brought up the fact that our librarian, Mrs. Frank, picked up 40+ of those nearly-invisible flying films after lunch last Friday when we ate outside.   After a round of applause to Mrs. Frank, I posed the question: "What's wrong with these floating pieces of plastic blowing across our yard and into our neighbor, the Magothy River?"

Being outside, of course all the kids looked to the nearby river, and hands went up to answer the question.  A first grade friend said instantly, "It's pollution."  A PreK-er commented on the "double trouble" of it:  "The Magothy River has creatures in it, and that pollution would hurt."  Dead on...and out of the mouth of a 4 1/2 year old!!

I went on to show them the 4 straws I'd already picked up this morning in that same area where we stood/sat.  Just as the Lorax who speaks for the truffula trees, I became "Eco-Girl" who speaks for the recycling:  "We need to be sure to pay just as much attention to recycling the straws and the plastic covers as we do when we recycle the Capri Suns."  Lucky for us, Anne Arundel County Maryland has what I think is the best recycling out there....they recycle just about everything!!  (Seriously, everything!!  Straws, plastic straw film, and more, more more.  Plus, add in the fact that we compost at school, our trash level is nil!)  Given the recycling bin was right there--near the tables where we were--I could make a point of ceremoniously dropping this little insidious piece of plastic right into the recycling and in its proper place.

At the end of the meeting as the kids all lined up to go to their separate classes to start their day, a handful of kindergartners and fifth graders (and every grade in between), made a point of coming up to me.  I was still standing near the recycling bin, and the message from each child was the same.  They each were coming to report they had found some trash nearby, and they were doing their part to pick it up & put it in the proper place.  Might I add, they were pleased as punch with themselves!  

Watching our Eagle Cove students and their enthusiasm, it made me think of the concept of "Pay it Forward" or "Random Acts of Kindness."  In all cases, it's a matter of doing good deeds.  Not for any reason in particular other than to feel good for doing what is right.  To the kids at my school this morning, picking up that plastic piece of trash saved an animal today.  They made a difference in their world!  That's what it's all about.  That's what World Education Day, June 5th,  is all about.  It might not solve all the problems in the world, but it helped one creature.  Small actions DO make a monumental difference.

To learn more about upcycling Capri Sun (or other foiled  juice pouches), go to  

To see the multitude of  what Anne Arundel County Maryland recycles, go to .  There you will find a wealth of information from not to mention to print out cool stickers, recyclable games to play, recycling reminders, & more.

Picture from Eagle Cove's Bay Week, April 2010, courtesy of my camera.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Regroup & Multiply

Multiplication.  A classic 3rd grade concept.  First, the kids master the basic facts, relating it to repeated addition and division's flip-side.  Once the kids have that under their belts, you merge in the concept of place value.  It's here that the idea of "regrouping" enters (which some of us old-schoolers may remember as "carrying").

So you start digging your feet in.  Acquisition of skills.  With problems like "543 x 6", you start with the ones. The babies.  You regroup. Then you move on to the tens...the hundreds...and you keep regrouping, getting bigger as you go.  Before you know it, multiplying massive numbers becomes nearly second-nature.

Habits are like that too.  You analyze yours...regroup...master them...& they multiply.

Environmentally, that's what we all need to do:  regroup.  The calendar helps us do that.  Earth Day: April 22ndWorld Environment Day: June 5th.  In 1972, the United Nations General Assembly was very clever, creating this global regrouping opportunity just 2 years after the 1970 inaugural, American Earth Day.  Both days are dedicated to positive environmental action.  The beauty?  You can follow-up your Earth Day "take action" invitation. Seven weeks later, World Environment Day reminds us to regroup, take responsibility, & remember that little things add up and DO make a difference. 

Two weeks ago, I was at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage for the U.S. Green Building Council and Green Speaks Youth Award ceremony.   I saw eleven amazing 13-24 year-olds speak on sustainability.  The five USGBC recipients all mirrored the message of World Environment Day:  individual actions (whether great or small) can multiply to make a global difference & a huge impact.  Melissa Senard, Riley Hoffer, Matthew Evans, Jordan Howard, and Gordon Schweitzer each saw a unique need.  They each did something--whether it was starting a football stadium recycling program (Melissa), creating an educational website/outreach program for kids (Riley), designing an organization to invite teens to come together to improve their community (Matthew), becoming a public speaker who spreads the "green" message (Jordan), or participating in college environmental issues and becoming a green building engineer who consults on 20 projects (Gordon).  By starting with a personal, meaningful cause--then uniting with others--each created something substantial.  The world is different now because of five individual acts.  This IS the message of World Environment Day.
As Jordan Howard said that night:  "I invite you to rewrite your story, whatever it will be.  When you are walking down the street and see the trash on the floor--throw it in the trash.  Refuse that plastic bottle, that plastic straw in restaurants. Refuse plastic bags at grocery stores--refuse it.  Do anything.  Anything."
Do something. Then, mark your calendar for June 5th.  Make a plan to take action.  Click the title above or go to to learn more about World Environment Day.  Here, you'll find a wealth of ideas (from videos to downloads) on how your 1 action can multiply to make a difference for our planet.  The resources are's time for you to research, regroup, & make your actions part of the multiplication solution!

The above photo was taken May 7th, 2010.  WED2010 = World Environment Day 2010.  The 6.05 = June 5th. The 6,819,456,722 = World Population on May 7th according to difference to make = All of ours!  The picture below is the United Nations Environment Programme World Education Day 2010's logo, as found at

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Haunting Tones of "Plastic Tomb"

Emmy-award-winning artist Peter Buffett is the voice of the wasteland of plastic trash that is dumped world wide in his song "Plastic Tomb."  An activist on many social issues, Peter's song will most certainly speak to you. To see Peter Buffet's eye opening, riveting, amazing, disturbing, must-see video, click the title above or go to

If you just can't get enough of Peter Buffett's music, go to

And if it's still not enough because you want more, more, more....go to the following site to read more about Peter Buffett...go to

Picture from Peter Buffett's website of his CD "Plastic Tomb" from his website.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

#16 May Green Team Gazette

Just in time for Saturday's International Migratory Bird...Check out this month's Green Team Gazette by clicking the title above, or go to

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oil & Water Don't Mix


Plastiki, our favorite boat constructed of 12,500 water bottles is outside the Line Islands in the Pacific Ocean. We're looking at 46 days of travel from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, trekking past the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Twice the size of Texas, this patch is a swirling mix of plastic trash, in various stages of pollution and disintegration, harming the wild life that lives there.  Wild life--marine creatures--that may one day be on your dinner plate.
Yet, here were are, May 4th, 2010, with a different garbage patch of another making, in another body of water.  The Gulf of Mexico is reaping the damage of a different man-made situation just 2 weeks old.  Of course the April 20th off-shore drilling rig explosion was unintended on BP's part...most environmental tragedies are quite certainly unintended.  Yet, here we unfortunate occurrence just 2 days before Earth Day...but still, 2 weeks later,  thousands of gallons of oils continue to leak out. 
The irony?

Just how do you make this polluting plastic that's floating around en masse in the Pacific Ocean that Plastiki is sailing (not to mention every other ocean)?  Our throw-away society makes more and more plastic out of their desire to make more and more disposable items.  Bottles, baggies, and everything in between.  And from where dp we get this pleothora of plastic??  Oil.  Petroleum.  Petrochemicals. Our desire for our own oil, close to our own soil (to make us less reliant on middle eastern oil), has brought a danger to our own home.  

Are our Ziplocs and one-use bottles worth where we are now?  I'll guarantee the Gulf shrimpers are not thinking so.  
As Alyssa Langworthy said last week at the USGBC & Green Speaks Award Ceremony at the Kennedy Center:  "Katrina deserves to be an only child."

Alyssa's comment wasn't in relation to this situation, yet, here we are, back in the Gulf of Mexico just as we were with Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, a mess upon messes, leaving people along the coastline and people who rely on the coast for their livelihood in a hard environmental predicament. 

It's looking like the unfortunate truth is that Katrina might not be an only child after all.

To get up to the date information (and to see alarming, heart-wrenching pictures) on the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, click the link above, or go to

For another great article, visit Treehugger's website to see "Will The BP Oil Spill Be Our Collective Zen Slap Into Eco-Realization? Let's Hope So" go to

Photos from (in order);;%20 and

Making the Most of Compost!!

Who knew!  There's actually an International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW).  It's celebrated the first full week of be aware--Compost Awareness Week is here and now:  May 2nd to May 8th, 2010.

According to the EPA, approximately 1/4 of our garbage can waste is organic--food trash.  Compostable.  Think of your nearby landfill, then cut that in half by a fourth.  That's food trash, and at that size, it's huge.  

For nearly two years, we've made that composting commitment here in our house.  It stemmed from living a year as a teacher at Eagle Cove School, where lunch, snack, and even bathroom paper towel trash was collected and taken to our school composting heap.  After a year of instructing 8-year-olds what to do with their food waste, you think twice when you are making a salad at your home.  There's a lot of waste involved with celery ends, pepper innards, and the vines of vine-ripened tomatoes.  You start to see the volume.  You get to where you can't throw it away.  You start composting.

And you notice that it turns the 5th graders "compost eco-policemen" at Eagle Cove School into garbageologists who analyze what exactly it is you are throwing away, and exactly how much it weighs.  You smile at the extent of real life math experiences there are each week!

If you're still on the fence about composting, maybe these two articles are just enough to push you to the decomposable side.  You can click on the title above to go to the Composting Council website: Plus there's also lots of good stuff at Earth 911's article "Compost Awareness Week: No More Excuses, Start Your Pile"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Eco-Songs: Terrapins, Terrapins

At Eagle Cove School, each class has a wild life project.  There are eels in the 2nd grade room, 3rd graders tend the oyster spat, and 1st graders raise 2 terrapins, to release in the spring on Poplar Island.  With that ats motivation, first graders wrote this song with musical extraordinaire, Linda Richards, who spent 2 days on campus creating songs such as this during our Bay Week.
Terrapins, Terrapins
(sung to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”)

Terrapins, Terrapins
Set them free and they can swim
Watch them swimming in the tide
Diamondbacks far and wide
Terrapins, Terrapins
Set them free and they can swim

Terrapins, Terrapins
Eating minnows and grass shrimp
Populations not so limp
Not so big and not so small
Take a rest on a rockwall
Terrapins, Terrapins
Set the free and they can swim

Song written by the first graders under the guidance and musical talents of Linda Richards.  To learn more about Linda, click the blog-title above or go to

Eco-Songs: We've Been Workin' on the River

Got Music?

Here is the song that Linda Richards sang & wrote during Eagle Cove's Bay Week finale performance last Friday with the fourth graders (If you've been here before and been paying attention, you know that Linda Richards, of NY & environmental assembly fame, made her way to Pasadena, MD for two days to work some musical, ecological magic with the Eagle Cove students. Our grand finale was a great outdoor concert. Now all that's left to do is to write an Ode to Linda Richards!!

We've Been Workin' on the River 
(sung to the tune of "I've Been Workin' on the River")

We've been workin' on the River
Right next to the seas
We've been workin' on the River,
Planting S-A-V's
The grasses help to hid the creatures
Like crabs, minnows, eels and shrimp
The Bay has lots of ocean features
And Pollution's like an imp!

Sediment won’t you go-
Global warming won’t you go
Chemicals won’t you go away

Someone’s helping wetlands get healthy
Someone’s helping wetlands I know
Someone’s helping wetlands get healthy
Mr. Decker and his kids will show---
By singing
Working on the river will help!

FYI:   "S-A-Vs" = Submerged Aquatic Vegetation
Mr. Decker = Our Science teacher
Song, creation of Linda Richards & the 2009-2010 Eagle Cove School 4th graders.  To learn more about Linda, go to 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Eco-Songs: Oysters Do

5th graders, being at the top of the elementary school food chain, have a savvy-ness and sophistication all of their own. Ours decided to write their Bay Week 2010 Song with Linda Richards around the song they had been singing in Spanish class called "Eres Tu."

Oysters Rule
(sung to the tune of “Eres Tu”)

They have 2 big muscles,
Oysters do, Oysters do
That keep their shells closed for protection.
They start off as spat
Not like you, not like you.
They clamp onto one thing or another.

Oysters Rule
And they filter out the bay.
Oysters Rule
They’re at the bottom of the food chain!

Oysters taste good fried
Yes they do, Oysters do.
Three inches or more determines gender.
50 gallons of water’s
What one cleans, What one cleans.
We have to remember oysters rule.


Oysters Rule
And they filter out the bay.
Oysters Rule
They’re at the bottom of the food chain! 

Song written by Linda Richards with the Eagle Cove 5th grade graduating class of 2010.