Today is Earth Day.  At Grace Preschool we take pride in teaching our students to be stewards of the environment.  We compost our snack waste.  We bring refillable water bottles.  We ask the parents to be conscious of reducing single use plastic when providing snacks.  Normally on Earth Day we have a big celebration at Grace Preschool.  

We are located on the campus of Grace Presbyterian Church and Earth Day is a day of community for both preschoolers and church members.  Throughout the year, Grace Church supports Grace Preschool.  For many years our preschool families have enjoyed a weekend Family Camping trip at Westminster Woods in Occidental, CA.  Grace Church believes in the importance of getting children and families together in nature.  Through The Elena Lass Fund, Grace Church has generously provided us with funds towards the trip.  The Grace churchgoers are also some of our very best customers at our annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser!  Most importantly, the Grace Church community offers smiles and friendly faces and helping hands throughout the year.

We commemorate Earth Day as our special day to say thank you.  In anticipation of Earth Day, we practice some well known songs with our students.  We think of them as Grace Preschool’s Greatest Hits!  We talk about the difference between singing out and screaming.  We talk about how special it will be to share songs with our friends at Grace Church.  Then, on Earth Day our preschoolers start arriving in play clothes and fancy dresses and t shirts with a clip on tie- all the “special” outfits they select as only preschoolers can!  When Ms. Lavenia plays “The Ants Go Marching” our children march into Grace Church and stand up tall in front of the congregation.  Church members and friends who are smiling so hard their cheeks hurt are joined by preschool parents standing in the back with enough camera equipment to qualify as paparazzi!  Ms. Marlene sits in front in front to lead the children.  She tells them, “Don’t be nervous, just look at me.”  Ms. Meg and Ms. Joy artfully arrange the children on the steps so everyone is visible then they duck down.  From their kneeling spots behind the singers they provide backup vocals and remind them to “Sing out!”  Ms. Sarah is our octopus!  She encircles the little ones who are thinking of making a break for it.  She comforts our two year olds who get worn out part way through the first song.  She sits on the steps with the preschoolers and they are happier because she is with them.  Our “concert playlist” consists of two or three staples- “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, “Everybody’s Got to Grow” and “Skidda-ma-rink.”  We all march out to applause and smiles and waves and it is beautiful!  It is weeks of anticipation, 5-10 minutes of actual singing, and months or years of fond memories!

The children then head to the play yard and explore a variety of Earth Day activities.  We’ve enjoyed visits from Jungle James, showed off our silkworms, made seed balls, and sprayed coffee filter butterflies with liquid paint.  We talk about what to recycle and where to recycle it.  We play together and visit together.  NIne years ago at our first Earth Day celebration, children planted teeny tiny lemon trees and lavender bushes.  Nine years later, they are exploding with lemons and our preschoolers have enjoyed picking them, juicing them, and making lemonade!

This year, we are doing our part to help the Earth’s inhabitants by not getting together!  Each week we offer activities for children and families to try.  This week included some of our Earth Day favorites, like making butterflies, and encouraging children to make an Earth Day promise.  Today I am happy to speak with Nanette Heffernan, author of the new children’s book Earth Hour.  Nanette will share with us her inspiration for her book as well as little things children can do to make a big difference.  We won’t be celebrating as a community this Earth Day, but we look forward to connecting virtually and continuing to work together to make the world a better place.