Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recycling: Learning the Four R's

Author: Martin J. Gutnik

Illustrator: David Dennis & Tom Stack

Grade Level: 3rd-6th

"Recycling:Learning the Four R's", written by Martin J. Gutnik, is one of eight books written for the Books in the Better Earth series. The book explores four main concepts that if implemented, can help make the earth a better place; the four R's are reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover. Gutnik not only further breaks these down for a better undertsanding of what recyclig really is, he also discusses multiply plans of action that students use for thier own social action projects. This book is all about furthering our knowledge about recycling and using our newly expanded upon knowledge to better out planet by getting out there and making a differnence!

Element Six:

This book is an excellent example of element six, taking social action, because it gives the students the tools and knowledge they need in order to really make a difference within their schools and communities. This book shows the students that every little effort to make our earth a more eco-friendly and overall better place, can really make difference. Once the students realize that these social action projects can be done with little or no materials, and all they need to do is take a stand, they will see that they can have a huge impact on not only their communities but society. There is nothing more valuable than giving the students the knowledge they need to make a difference because then they can pass it on and teach it to others. Having the students take action and start perhaps new, more eco-friendly habits is something they can continue and keep with them forever.


There are many great activities that teachers can use both in the classroom as well as outside class assignments to go along this specific book. A few examples that I thought could be used include, having the students create a school/classroom recycling center, building a compost, or spreading the word about remembering to recycle at the local supermarket by handing out flyers. For the school recycling centers, you can have the students make signs for each of the appropriate bins (glass, paper, plastic) and distribute them to each classroom. You can also have the students create posters to hang throughout the hallways to remind the other students the importance of remembering to recycle. As for the creation of the compost, the teacher can send home instructions on how to create your very own compost and offer extra credit for those students who create their own or volunteer to make one for the school. This will be a great way to bring awareness to parents and other faculty about helping the environment as well as give some students a hands on experience. They can then either draw or take pictures of their creation and document the process in their journals as an entry. The last idea can be used when looking for a short and easy to organize field trip. The students will simply make a bunch of different flyers about recycling and saving the environment, and hand them out at the local supermarket. This will bring a great amount awareness to the community to think before they toss!

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