Sunday, March 21, 2010

A "Litter" Challenge

Last week I told you about the wonderful birthday party for Dr. Seuss at the library on March 6th. If you recall, I ended the column speaking about how the Cat in the Hat always cleans up the messes he makes. Today I’d like to tell you what I did after the party and end with a ‘litter’ challenge.

When I speak to parent groups about children’s behavior, I almost certainly hear a question about cleaning up messes. How can we teach young children to clean up the messes they make? We understand that a baby crawls around and dumps toys. It would not be appropriate to ask a one-year-old to clean up. It would just add to any stress or frustration a parent might be feeling. We can, however, teach a very young child by modeling and self-talk. In this scenario, the parent does not say, “Clean-up your toys,” but works at putting toys away, saying, “I’m putting all the blocks in the big block container. I’m putting all the little cars in the garage.” Modeling the correct behavior and self-talk are two great strategies.

Another question I hear is “How can I prevent my child from just throwing trash on the ground?” We have all seen someone, big or little, unwrap a piece of candy or gum and let the paper fall to the ground. As we take walks this spring along country or city roads, we see the litter of cigarette butts on the ground. For people who do this, I believe it is automatic. One little piece of trash dropped on the ground does not seem important, but collectively it trashes the environment.

After the party on Saturday, after we all pitched in and cleaned up our messes, my husband and I took a walk along a beautiful country road—but it wasn’t beautiful. Along the side of the road, in the melting snow, there appeared beer cans and pop cans and water bottles and cigarette packs and fast food wrappers and paper cups and many, many cigarette butts. I don’t know who threw them there, but we cleaned them up and now this stretch of road is beautiful.

So, here is the ‘litter’ challenge. When the weather is nice, and you go outside for a walk with your children, take your camera. Take a bag or two for the trash you will see. With your children’s help, pick up all the trash along your favorite city or country road and make it a beautiful place. Tell your kids how great it looks and take a picture of them cleaning up the trash. Bring the picture with your name and telephone number on the picture to the Ladysmith News office. Sally will give you a wooden musical toad, a toad croaking lesson, and the words of an environmental song written especially for the musical toad. Mother’s day will mark the end of our ‘litter’ challenge. We will have a drawing for the picture book, TOADS. All those who submitted pictures will be in the drawing for the book.

I wanted to say that if you win, I would call you to come to the news office to pick up your book—and of course, I will call you. But then I realized that if you participate, we all win.

Toad’s Environmental Song
(One stanza)
If you see some paper trash
Pick it up! (Croak-croak)
If you see some plastic trash
Pick it up! (Croak-croak)
You will help the little toads
By putting garbage where it goes
Please help the little toads
Pick it up! (Croak-croak)

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print

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