I taught a unit to the third grade class I'm student teaching with about environmentalism, mostly pertaining to the three R's. Because of how the theme relates to my Pledge, I thought I'd post the responses I received to the final journal entries. I've edited the responses as little as possible just to aid in comprehension. Also note that class is a majority ESOL.
Describe four ways to reduce waste.
I went to a restaurant yesterday and I brought my own container so I don't waste styrofoam because that's not good. I can give away my toys [and clothes] if I don't want them because it's too little and so that it doesn't be thrown away. I can bring my own bags if I'm going shopping so I don't waste plastic bags. I can get old clothes instead of new ones and don't waste my money. I can use a dish instead of a paper plate.
Bring your own containers to restaurants. Do not throw away toys. Give them to a friend. When your toy is broken, try to fix it. Go to Goodwill to buy clothes. We give clothes to Goodwill so they do not get thrown away.
Bags because you could reduce the bags. You could reduce the plastic instead of throwing the plastic [away]. Toys because you could give them to your friend. You could give the clothes to your friend or your family instead of throwing it [away].
You should probably make it into something new by say you had a can, you could make it a fan. You had a water bottle, you could put more water in it to reduce it. And you could use a little bit of glue while you're using it. And put food in a plastic container so you could eat it for a different meal.
I do not like my toy so I don't put it in the trash, I give it to my friend. My clothes is too small for me. I don't put in the trash. I can sell it. I am full because I ate too much food. I don't put it in the trash. I put it in a container and save it for tomorrow. My little sister broke my toy. I don't put it in the trash. I try to fix it. If I can't, I tell someone to fix it. I used a paper I was drawing and then I messed up. I don't put it in the trash, I made a rocket out of it.
You can use a little of glue. Instead of using a plastic plate, use a dinner plate. Eat it, don't waste it. Don't throw your food away, you can eat it in the next time. You can reuse a broken toy by fixing it back together. You can reuse a book.
You only use a little glue. Use only a little bit of paper. If you have a drink of glass of water, don't pour it out. Only use a little bit of plate.
Don't throw away your box. You can put stuff in it. Don't throw away your clothes. Give your clothes to someone. Don't throw away your bottle. You can put more water in the bottle. Don't throw away your cups. Use your cups again
I went to dinner last night and brought a container with me to reduce. I used a dinner plate to reduce and use it again. I used a bag instead of a sack so if I come back, I can reduce. If I was getting clothes, I would go to Goodwill to reduce. Do not throw away food because you can use it again.
Use only a little bit of it. Use a dinner plate not a paper plate. Don't waste.
Eat food all of it or save it for tomorrow. Do not throw your toys away if they break, glue them. If your paper is drawn on, don't throw it away. Make something out of it. Don't throw away your cups. Reuse.
You can not waste like a toy. Use a little bit of paper. Use a little bit of boxes. Use a little bit of glue. Use a little bit of food.
Eat it tomorrow. Use a cup or glass. Do not use a styrofoam box. You can take glasses to stores so other people can use [them]. Do not use paper cup.
Do not throw your food away. You can put it in a container. Then you can eat it the next day. You can reduce a book.
What would happen if no one took care of the environment?
The earth will get dirty and it will get unhealthy. We could not breathe because there's too much trash and it could kill the plants and the plants help us breathe. It's not good if you don't care about the environment because the environment helps us be alive. It's not good to litter, the animals could eat it.
We would not have good water. We would have nasty food. Probably no wood. Small mouses. Trash all over the place. Trees would die.
It will be all dirty. The animals would die. A lots of people could die. There will be nasty water. People can not breathe very well.
It will be pretty much a whole waste land. All of the animals would die. People will litter to look cool, is my guess. But they should stop. Our lakes will be fish bait.
The environment can be dirty and the trash can be stinky and the cows can die. Or if the humans do care of environment, the will be clean.
The earth will be all dirty. Everything will be trashed. Some people will be sick. The earth will be all yuck. People could die when the earth is trashed.
Animals will die. It will be a dirty world with trash. Trash will be in everyone's house. Trash will be on the floor. It will be in their garden and the plants will die.
It will be dirty. A little bit of animals. People maybe die. The gas pollution kills the clean air. Don't litter, please. Don't litter, recycle.
The earth will get dirty. The plants will die. The animals will die. The people will die.
The earth will be dirty. Everything will be trash. Everything will be waste. The water will be trash. No one will be able to drive.
The earth will get stinky. The plants will die. There will be no grass. The animals will die. There will be no food.
Pollution will happen. The earth will get sick. Animals will die. People may die. Nature will die.
Certain animals will die and our community will be junky.
The earth will be dirty. Everything will be trashed. The animals will die if nobody help the environment. Nobody will recycle.
The planet will die. And we will die. And the animals will die. And the world will start over. Cave men will replace us.
That last response showed particular insight and creativity in an unexpected way. What a philosopher! I wish I had more time with these students.
Teaching this unit has been a great experience. I'm excited to teach it again with future classes of my own. I'd like to begin at the beginning of the year, of course, and allow more time for student generated content. I do have videos of the projects these students created using recycled materials, PSA posters they made to hang in the hallway, and a couple of extra credit songs they wrote and performed, but unfortunately they'll have to stay on my harddrive.