I don't know why I love the water. Maybe it's growing up in Michigan where there's plenty of lakes to go around. Maybe it's because of the family vacations we took up north or to Florida. In either place I'd hear the comment "she swims like a fish!" To which I'd obviously reply by pretending to be Ariel, flipping my hair dramatically (spoiler alert: it never worked like it did in the movie).
At any rate, being by the water has always brought me comfort. If I've had a stressful week, I head towards the lake no matter the season. Give me a good book, a sunny day, and a body of water and you can forget about interacting with me for a while.
Right now, I'm on winter break from school. My family's celebrations are over and like the good introvert I am, I needed a day or two to decompress. What did I do? I took advantage of a weird 45 degree day in December, loaded the pup in the car and drove towards the water. I live about 25 minutes from a lake that has a pretty walking trail. This is just what I needed. I stopped at the edge of the lake during my walk. It looked like glass. The small ripples at the shoreline created a comforting sound as they slowly broke against the rocks and pebbles that lay there. I took a few deep breaths and planned to continue around the loop. However, about 3 feet to my left there was a small indentation in the ground from a man-made storm drain. Presumably this is to keep the grounds from flooding, letting the excess water travel back to the lake. The mouth of the drain was littered with plastic caps, bottles, bits of leftover fireworks, cigarette butts, and more.
Just last week I watched a piece on 60 Minutes about the amount of plastic that exists in our oceans and waterways. This isn't new information, but there was a point during the report that stuck with my family and I after we watched it. To prove it, we all received reusable veggie bags to take to the grocery store for Christmas from my mom. The report said that while recycling isn't bad, it's not doing what we think it is. A lot of the plastic we recycle is being shipped off to other countries, where we don't know exactly what is being done with it. Based on the interviewee's response, a lot of it isn't being recycled at all. If you want to check out the report, here's the link:
I stared at this little piece of beach with plastic strewn about it and it hit me in a way it hasn't before. We can do better. We have to do better. A trip to the grocery store the next day, reusable bags in tow, made me realize just how much plastic we're using. Seriously, go to the store and try to buy something that isn't contained in plastic. It's no easy task.
We here in Michigan are surrounded by 1/5 of the world's fresh water. We love going to the lake. The lakes account for a large part of our economy. But even we Michiganders aren't taking care of our lakes the way we should.
This brings me to the part about books. Think I'd get through a post without mentioning them? There are a lot of great books out there about the importance of water, water conservation, and pollution. As teachers, I think it's up to us to use the power of literature, knowledge, and learning to seek out answers to large problems and share what we can with our students. Maybe they'll be one of the people to come up with a solution one day. Listed below are some books that I've come across and read with my 2nd grade class. I know there are more out there as well as other books for older students. I would love if you shared any others that you love!
The Water Princess-Author: Susan Verde Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
One Plastic Bag- Author: Miranda Paul Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Water (National Geographic Kids)- Author: Melissa Stewart
Why Should I Save Water-Author: Jen Green Illustrator: Mike Gordon
Young Water Protectors-Authors: Aslan Tudor & Kelly Tudor
All The Water in the World-Author:George Ella Lyon Illustrator: Katherine Tillotson
Water is Water-Author: Miranda Paul Illustrator: Jason Chin
Teacher, reader, tea drinker, and dog mom.