Fonwood Early Childhood Center was abuzz with music and activity on Friday, April 22. This year, the school’s Spring Carnival coincided with Earth Day, and teachers and staff decided to combine the annual event with a fun and memorable recycling and conservation learning activity for pre-K students.
The Spring Carnival was held in the school’s gymnasium and featured music, games, carnival snacks, and a bounce house. It was a festive backdrop for the upcycled costume contest, which Fonwood technologist Marianne Keating came up with after seeing high schoolers online making prom outfits out of recycled materials.
The carnival saw a parade of 3- and 4-year-olds dressed in newspaper gowns, water bottle skirts, cardboard robot chassis, and a replica recycling bin. The seven students with the most creative upcycled costumes were awarded trophies made from upcycled plastic bottles stuffed with colorful paper and topped with spinning plastic globes. The top two received gift cards in addition to their trophies.
For past Earth Days, Fonwood students raised monarch butterflies from caterpillars—a project that helped them to contextualize conservation and why it is important to recycle and take care of the planet. “We had a field trip a couple of years ago to waste management,” Keating said. “The kids loved that. It helps for them to see the process. We only have the kids for a year or two, so we hope that what they learn here is carried over to elementary school.”
Between turns manning the concession booth and facilitating various games around the gym, Principal Shanedra Burkhalter said, “We’re aiming for the unity of parents and students working together on a project so that it’s not only the students learning what it takes to take care of the environment, but their parents learning at the same time.”
Under the direction of Keating, the students were tasked with working together with their parents to create costumes fashioned from recyclable materials.
“Usually, teachers take the lead in the classroom in presenting activities, but this year we wanted to see how we could get our parents more involved,” Burkhalter said. “With the assistance of Ms. Keating, we thought that this would be a great way to get our kids interested in learning how to take care of the world that we all live in. Even though they’re in pre-K, we want them to start thinking about it and we need to do that in a fun, engaging way.”