Tuesday, May 13, 2008

kids and earth day 2008

we celebrated earth day back in april, a couple days later than actual earth day (the 22nd) because they were still fixing up the school roof. anyway, i told mirna that the kids in her class (5th and 6th grades) should be in charge of earth day this year. not that i was being lazy and didn´t want to organize anything, but because our supposed job as volunteers is to work with communities in schools in the hopes that they will be self-sustaining by the time we leave. so i figured it being my third year and all, that it was a good time to put the whole self-sustaining thing to the test.

i will admit, i was the one that had to light the spark under mirna´s butt to move the responsibility for earth day activities into the kids´ corner. but once i did that, she absolutely took over. she talked to the kids and asked them how they thought we should celebrate earth day and they suggested having groups put together charlas and activities for their class about protecting the environment. she decided to call it a ¨gran exposición por día de la tierra.¨ in addition, i asked them if they were interested in doing something fun as well, and they of course said ¨síííííí!!!!!¨ so i suggested that we have piñatas or something, but i told them that we weren´t buying any piñatas, that we could make them. of course, all the girls wanted to participate in that, so i scheduled times for them to come into the school on their off days. we decided that the girls in 5th grade would make one and the girls in 6th grade would make one. i asked them what they wanted to make and they decided on a planet earth and a sun.

now, let me tell you, the last time i made a successful piñata, unsupervised, was back in high school in señor krummel´s 9th or 10th grade spanish class. this is when i first was anointed ¨lauuura¨ (which me and my friends erroneously spelled ¨laúra¨....i was eventually corrected of this in college when i put laúra on the top of my paper and the professor crossed out the accent mark with this huge fat X making me feel like a big dummy. since being here i´m still called lauuuura, just without the accent...) anyway, in señor krummel´s class, we made piñatas for some kind of fun activity...other ¨fun¨ activities included watching the movies ¨el cid¨ and ¨la bamba,¨ as well as making mexican food and watching señor play pocket pool during every class. (sorry señor if by some unheard of coincidence you are reading this blog....you were actually a pretty tranquilo teacher and i´m way glad i took your spanish class instead of the hoity-toity french one.)

so the piñata project 20 years ago...oh my god, it was really 20 years ago, WTF????....we were put into groups of two and my parter, rochelle, and i made a mr. peanut piñata. let me tell you, this thing turned out AWESOME. we won second place in the judging of the piñatas...i think we lost to a pair that made a california raisin. anyway, our mr. peanut piñata was not that big...we used balloons and some kind of powdered paste and tissue paper. it was so damned easy.

the next time i made a piñata was back in molineros when megan, anna and i made a mosquito piñata. we tried it with balloons first (my idea, since i was obviously the piñata expert), but it failed miserably. we were finally pushed out of the way so mama rosa and ana could teach us how to make a piñata the salvadoran (and obviously correct) way. they took newspaper and wire and some OTHER kind of powdered paste and formed it into what we wanted...the shape of a mosquito. it seemed so easy! all the stuff ana had in the tienda and in a matter of an hour or so, we were finished and ready to show it off to the rest of the pc group in training.

so i thought, as i suggested this piñata project to the 5th and 6th graders, piece of friggin´ cake! good times, good project to get the kids doing something fun, everyone can participate in tearing apart the piñata when it´s done. in short, it´s a win-win situation.

yeah, right. i got all the materials...including the mysterious powdered paste called ¨almodon¨ or something like that. i didn´t care that i was spending a few dollars getting the materials. the point was to have the kids doing something creative and seeing the fruits of their labor realized. first off, it was a complete disaster trying to get the wire to be in a round shape. FYI, don´t ever try to make anything resembling something round if you are making a piñata. the girls started off making these piñatas huge and by the time we realized they were too big to form the rounded shape, the wire was all weaved together and cut and basically just a huge mess.

but we pushed on. i kept saying stuff like ¨it doesn´t need to be perfect, the point is the fun in making it!¨ that worked the first ten times i said it. finally i just said ¨think of all the candy we´ll all get afterwards!¨ so next came the whole newspaper debacle. i finally decided to split up the two groups because it was too hard trying to work with them both at the same time. while i was helping one group of girls, the other group was scouring the newspapers and finding all the pictures of the surgery before and after photos that can be found in the mysterious ¨middle section¨ of the newspaper, you know, right after the classifieds end and the social scene pictures are. yeah, there in that no-man´s land are all these photos of people´s private parts that weren´t quite right, but after miraculous surgery now look only slightly better. the girls would go around giggling and running around with these gross pictures and i was like ¨seriously....,¨ knowing full well that at that age (or older even, i wasn´t the maturest of kids growing up...) i would have been doing the same exact thing.

anyway, the 5th grade girls and i all tried every which way to use that god awful almodon to paste the newspaper to itself and the wire. no luck. we finally just ended up using regular old glue. we pasted and pasted and pasted and when we got it all covered, it looked like an asteroid that had already made contact with earth. but i figured, ok, the problem was we didn´t have ENOUGH almodon. so antonio was going to ahuachapan the next day and i ordered him to bring me a butt load of almodon this time. he did and so i figured the 6th grade girls´ piñata would turn out excellent. everything went on great, it stuck and looked beautiful....not a perfect round planet earth, but good enough. i left it that night to dry.

the next day, the 5th grade girls came in the morning and we started putting the tissue paper on. this was the one part that worked fabulously. the girls loved putting it on and seeing the sun become something that slightly resembled a sun. i took a step back when they were working on it and when they were done they were like ¨it looks so great!¨ and i thought ¨ok, that´s what i was shooting for....something that they made that they were proud of.¨

in the afternoon, the 6th grade girls and i went to work on their piñata and all my ¨excellent¨ expectations turned to goo. all the damn newspaper started falling off in strips. so out came the glue again, but this piñata was much weaker. we slapped on the tissue paper, trying to make it look like earth. we filled it with candy and i prayed to god it would at least hold until the first swat at it the next day. but again, both the girls and i were proud of their work.

the following day we started off the gran exposición by having the various groups give their charlas. they all talked basically about the same thing....that we don´t take care of the environment so let´s start doing something about it. the 6th grade girls had us all go out on the fútbol cancha and gather the trash that had collected their since the last time we cleaned it up.

the last group, the 5th grade boys, did their charla about recycling. then at the end of the charla they had an activity that was really similar to the activities i have done with the kids in the lower grades (where we make flowers and butterflies using old toilet paper rolls and construction paper). one of the boys in the 5th grade group has a sister in 3rd grade and he must have seen her flower one day because their activity was making the same kind of flower. only instead of using toilet paper rolls, they used popsicle sticks stuck together for the stems and then we put the flowers in cut off plastic bottles and sand. i loved it!!! they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. well, i believe it!

after all that, the 5th grade girls shared their sun piñata with the 3rd and 4th graders. we finally strung up the hanging-by-a-thread planet earth piñata and just as i suspected, after about the third swat, the whole thing burst open and the candy all came out. it actually did turn into a win-win situation after all, just not the win-win i had expected.

don´t worry, i did do activities with the other grades too! i printed off a small book that had words about earth day that the 1st graders could write and color in. i had a flower activity book for the 3rd and 4th graders, as well as a book about why plants are important. and in 2nd grade i gave all the kids a copy of a book about how seeds grow into flowers that we read together. if it ever starts raining we are going to plant some flowers that they can take home. but for the time being, we need rain!

last but not least, i went to the old stand by with the kindergartners....activity making things out of toilet paper rolls. the kids absolutely love this activity which is good because it´s something simple maria laura can do with each new kindergarten class.

anyway, all in all it was a fun earth day and i was glad that i didn´t organize it. hopefully when i´m gone they will continue to celebrate earth day in some way, shape or form.

delmy cutting ¨papel de china¨ for the sun piñata

selena pasting the paper on the piñata

more cutting and pasting

ruth, lety and jenifer

kindergarten kids with their flowers

1st graders working on their little día de la tierra books

6th graders irene, ingrid and deysi cutting paper for their ¨planeta tierra¨ piñata

5th and 6th graders giving their charlas about protecting the environment

ok, so the piñata wasn´t exactly round, but it worked and a lot of candy fell out!

the girls´ cleanup campaign on the fútbol cancha

me with the flower i made as part of the activity that the 5th grade boys put together