Town Cleanup Expedition
What to Pack
- Sturdy leather or plastic gloves
- Garbage bags
- Crayons and paper
- Make a date. Call your local Parks Department to find out about scheduled cleanup dates in your town's parks or beaches. (Be sure to ask if preschoolers may attend.)
- Recruit helpers. You'll both enjoy the day more with a buddy and you'll get the job done faster. Plus, it's easier to supervise the kids with two sets of adult eyes.
- Dress for the mess. Wear old clothes that you won't mind getting dirty or covered with paint.
- Pick it up. On the big day, make sure you both wear sturdy gloves. Since there may potentially be sharp or rusty objects, you take charge of the pickup and have your child hold the bag open.
- Sort it out. Follow the leader's guidelines about sorting objects into trash bags and bags for recyclable items, such as soda cans.
- Take a break. Be sure to check your child for signs of fatigue or dehydration. Stop for a snack and frequent water breaks.
- Get painting. Cleanup days may involve painting projects to cover graffiti or spruce up worn steps or benches. Be sure to use drop cloths and have your child help with "broad stroke" projects, such as painting a large cement wall.
- Get planting. Kids can be a big help planting or watering new flowers, bulbs, shrubs or small trees. (Contact your state forestry department for information about free or inexpensive seedlings.)
- Investigate. Ask your child these questions:
- Why do people litter?
- Why is litter bad for our beach or park?
- What is recycling? What things can we recycle?
- What else can we do to make this a more beautiful place?
- Record your findings. Have kids draw before and after sketches of your park or beach.
- Read all about it. Check out Recycle! A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons, Recycle Every Day by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace and What Can You Do With an Old Red Shoe? A Green Activity Book About Reuse by Anna Alter.
Bonus Explorer Activity Encourage your child to take charge of recycling bottles and cans in your house; he can collect the return money and donate it towards a town-beautification event of his choice.
Check out the Dawn Wildlife Champions program for free lesson plans and tools to explore the issue of oil spills, and lots of ways for your kid to get involved in wildlife education!