Family School Projects – Recycling Brains and Hands To Save The Earth


I love family school projects.  Yes, you read that right.  Ahhh, dragging in the family for added brain power and extra hands.  It’s actually a brilliant form of recycling and reuse.  Yet, I have many friends who shudder at the thought of having to work on class projects.

 “I’ve already been to first grade!”

 “I’ve done this project three times before with my other kids.” 

“I don’t have the time between work, carpool and after-school activities.” 

On the other hand, I’m thrilled when I see the “F” word before projects.  Perhaps it’s my desire to gain redemption for failed paper mache masks, soggy salt maps, crumbling sugar cube igloos or science projects gone awry during my own primary school years.  

Who doesn’t love a good Michael’s run to load up on glitter, foam shapes and fun markers?  I bought a five dollar glue gun years ago in a DIY Halloween costume frenzy and it’s the best investment I’ve ever made.  And hey, I’m finally putting that elementary education craft class to good use that I talked my parents into letting me take Senior year (which had nothing to do with my major) just so I could live on campus for the summer. 

The family project assignment this time was to construct a garbage monster out of household trash in honor of Earth Day.  What a great way to show that our family can actually be good “Green” citizens.  While friends are busy building composting bins, upsizing recycling containers and driving mopeds, we’re the family that actually asks for plastic bags at the grocery store.  They actually make great dog waste bags.  That’s recycling, right?  At least no one is going to step in dog crap with their teeny tiny carbon footprint on our watch.

Recently, my daughter proclaimed, “We don’t recycle?  You people disgust me!”  I tried to explain to her that while we aren’t great at recycling, I never litter.  I still have the image ingrained in my head of the public service announcement featuring the Native American Indian with a tear in his eye at the sight of litter.  Keep America Beautiful!

Maybe I would have learned the importance of recycling in school if we weren’t so focused on learning the Metric system before it took over the world.  O.K., was it worth all the fuss just for the conversion to 2 liter soda bottles and kilometer relay races?  I don’t think so.  We could have been learning about recycling!

After collecting trash for a few days, we were ready to construct our garbage monster.  The germaphobe in me winced at first but was soon overrun with the excitement of becoming a junk sculptor – just like Spencer on iCarly. 

We used a large mailer box for the body, formed hangers into hands and feet; and made legs out of large cranberry juice bottles.  We gave her a dress and hair made out of newspaper and even accessorized her with a purse cut from a cereal box and ring bling made of a plastic milk bottle ring.  We flanked her with a hand-me-down pair of black Easy Spirit mules from my mother that my husband has tried to throw in the trash several times.  The piece de resistance was a fringed piece of old fabric we found on the driveway that we used as an eyebrow. 

My daughter kept asking, why does she have a monobrow? 

“Because she is a monster!” 

She actually looked like a cardboard robotic Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith show.  By the time we got done constructing her, she was at least three feet tall.  It’s probably a good thing we have our gas-guzzling Tahoe because there is no way in hell I could cram Aunt Bea into a Smart Car for the drive to school.  Her ZuZu Pet cardboard box head and butter tub hat would have certainly blown off on a moped ride.  Only, I’m fairly certain she could have held onto me with those Man hands that were crafted out of hangers.

As we carried Aunt Bea into school, all the kids looked on in amazement.  All they could say was, “Wow.”  When I got her to the classroom, all I could say was, “wow” as she dwarfed the Pringle’s can and water bottle-size garbage monsters.  Maybe I got a little carried away.  Or, maybe, we just have a little too much trash.

I have a feeling Aunt Bea will end up in the school’s recycle bin after Earth Day celebrations are complete.  Her fate may likely be the incinerator if she causes the kids to have nightmares.  In the meantime, we’ll work on making our carbon footprint smaller.  At least, small enough so we don’t creep the kids out next year.  I’m looking forward to the next family school project!

4 thoughts on “Family School Projects – Recycling Brains and Hands To Save The Earth

  1. Love your monster. The attention to detail is exceptional. It’s great that you enjoy helping out with school projects. I do, too. It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and to have fun with my children. My daughter – now 8 – was the inspiration behind my family’s increased commitment to recycling and being better stewards of our planet. After learning about recycling/Earth Day/Arbor Day at preschool she talked me into walking around the neighborhood with her so she could clean up all the litter.

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