Little environmentalists tout ways to protect Earth

Photo by Michele Murphy

Aarnav Jain, a kindergarten student at Westlake's Montessori Children's School, proudly shows the projects he created from recycled products and a drawing of a blue heron in a healthy environment. His work, and that of his classmates, will be displayed Saturday, April 6, at the 8th Annual Rain and Garden Show at Market Square.

WESTLAKE — "Earth won't like it," 6-year old Aarnav Jain said as he explained why recycling and composting are far better options than loading up landfills with garbage and refuse.

The kindergarten student at Montessori Children's School on Bassett Road in Westlake and his classmates have spent recent weeks repurposing recyclable materials into worm homes, bird houses and even red and white hats in celebration of Dr. Seuss' "Cat in the Hat," all in the name of protecting the earth.

Their creations will be displayed Saturday at Westlake’s Rain and Garden Show and could even win a prize. However, two students who discussed their creations did not even mention an award, instead focusing on why ensuring clean water and healthy woods, streams and birds is a job for kids and adults.

Aarnav was excited to explain how he fashioned egg cartons and strips from yogurt cups into pretty pink and white flowers that he placed in a container filled with corks to represent dirt.

He moved on to describe colorful elements he added to a drawing of a blue heron, using oil crayon and colored pencils for a sunrise, swampland, a tree and sprouting seedlings. He seemed especially pleased about adding an unhatched egg between the heron's feet.

Aarnav says he began his quest at age 2. He explained how he and family members scrape leftovers from meals — particularly fruits and vegetables — onto a pile of leaves, twigs and other yard waste. He explained the mix is turned repeatedly. Once it becomes soil, he extends his arms in a slow-motion throw to demonstrate how he spreads soil around the yard.

Next he sticks his finger into his worm house creation to show the five layers of old newspaper shreds, leaves and vegetables — cucumber, red onion and cilantro leaves — that he hopes will attract worms once the weather warms a bit more. Until then, he will store the house in a safe place on the back deck. The kindergartener then plunges enthusiastically into a description of his next project — reusing plastic bottles as seed incubators.

Meanwhile, 8-year-old Tessa Knevel revealed she plans to start a garden this summer. She wants sunflowers in the back row, but is undecided about what will go in front. She is considering roses or purple tulips. Her interest literally grew from participating last year in the school's after school Garden Club, where she learned how to germinate vegetables and flowers from seed.

Her contributions to the Rain and Garden Show contests include an original drawing of a healthy blue stream surrounded by green grass and purple flowers.

A block of wood became a work of art after Tessa painted it bright blue, added a red heart, bedazzled it with glitter and painted a white shimmer mark on it. Tessa said the heart represents her — "lovable and cuddleable." The wood was donated to the school by a neighbor who thought the children could use it for a recycling project.

Director Barbara Kincaid said the school looks forward to having children create items that invoke their creativity and knowledge of environmental issues and solutions despite their very young ages from 5 to 8.

Their work will be on display from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Market Square at Crocker Park.

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