On Wednesday, I had a group of friends over so we could introduce our kids to joys of playing with trash. I hosted a party for Trash for Teaching to get the word out about this innovative not for profit that uses recycled materials to teach kids.
Teaching artist Kelly Crispin arrived with bags of recycled materials from empty pen casings to fabric to reflective paper. She gathered the kids, who ranged in age from 3 to 10, in a circle and talked about what is trash and what is treasure.
It was a pretty boy heavy group and one of them said “I don’t even like art!” Well, the minute Kelly started talking he was enthralled. She showed the group a butterfly made from tubes and cardboard and then passed out materials. Kelly asked the kids to go around and share what they thought the materials could be. My older son used a piece of plastic and acted like was looking through a window. My friend’s son put a cone on his head and pretended to be a rhinoceros.
After all of the kids had a turn they went over to the tables where Kelly had put bags of materials and tape and scissors. My 6-year-old made this bear and my 4-year-old made a lovely collage.
Before everyone arrived, I tried my best to be crafty mom and I lined the tables with cut up paper bags and newspaper ads. The day before, my 6-year-old and I planted flowers in a cleaned out Gatorade bottle (something good came from the vomiting child who had needed the Gatorade), and a plastic strawberry container. My kids were so involved in setting it up, I think I’m going with Trash for Teaching for our next birthday party.
Kelly ran the Trash for Teaching party like she would a birthday party, which seemed like a much better alternative to a sweaty dude dressed up as Darth Vader. T4T can do theme birthday parties, like eco-superhero, garden or fashion. Each child gets a goody bag so they can work on more projects at home. It was impressive how much fun, energy and thought that Kelly put into the instruction. The kids loved her and had a great time making their projects, which was lovely because it gave the moms some time to chat.
The party was also a small fund raiser for my teacher friend’s school in Inglewood. We raised enough money for the terribly underfunded school to buy 100 pounds of materials from Trash for Teaching. I’m always amazed at all that my friend and her colleagues do there. For instance, her 4th grade class is going on an end of the year field trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. The kids aren’t going there to enjoy the rides, but to learn about the California gold rush. The trip cost $2,000 and the teachers raised all of the money themselves by holding fundraisers after school. Amazing.
Trash for Teaching is also trying to raise money. The not for profit mostly works with schools and has had some trouble recently after LAUSD cut its funding due to the district’s budget problems.
There are a few ways to help T4T including donating money through its website or donating materials. If you want to support Trash for Teaching and introduce your local school to a fun green art program, you can buy the school a membership or set up a Treasure Truck visit. You can learn more about Trash for Teaching here or visit the fan page on Facebook.