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We watched a movie to learn about native turtles, why many are endangered and what their habitat requirements are. We also had a visit from a biologist who is an expert on turtles and he brought turtles for us to see! This project taught us about environmental awareness and tied into our lessons on habitats.
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Our group used the Roots & Shoots EcoTeam curriculum as part of our study on pollution. The group made and tested cleansers made from oil soap, baking soda, vinegar and salt. The cleansers were put in clearly labeled recycled containers and delivered with recipes, so families could make more on their own. This is the third year the group has done this project.
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Our participation was requested at the annual Forest Grove Children's Fair. This event was held on May 12th, at Pacific University. The primary focus of the fair is a celebration of children and a showcase of organizations that serve children. Even though the age focus is younger than our group, we had a wonderful time! We led a parade through town with our Giant Peace Dove, then ran a booth, sharing the Roots & Shoots program and teaching the folding of "Peace Cranes" & other origami projects. This has become a yearly event for us. Great outreach and great fun!
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In October, Tom McCall Roots & Shoots sponsored one of our twice yearly community 'clean ups' of our McCall Forest, a one acre forested area connected to our school. This was a collaborative event with a statewide environmental volunteer program (SOLV) and over 50 community members participated! It was a beautiful fall day that was spent removing invasive plants, weeding, mulching, planting native trees and plants, developing trails, installing bat house and maintaining bird and squirrel feeders. A major focus was expanding our butterfly wildflower garden, which is now planted with milkweed (an absolutely necessary plant in the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly). We have recently received a small grant to help establish a "Monarch" station, as part of the effort to re-establish this butterfly into our area again. It was an extremely successful day that really enhanced our forest 'outdoor classroom'!
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This is the first year that we participated in this service-learning project sponsored by SOLV. We actually took a day out of school to help restore an overgrown stream area and prepare it for re-planting of native plants. It was a gorgeous Spring day. First, we were taught about the importance of native plants and the destruction of habitat caused by invasive species. We then went at it, removing invasive Himalayan Blackberry and English Ivy. We surprised ourselves at how much could be removed by a group of 22! It felt great to be out there making a difference.
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The children in Mrs Toscano's class studied skin color and designed their own peace symbols. They mixed paints to simulate their own skin color.
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Instead of exchanging gifts for the winter holidays, the children and teachers in all three classes collected items to donate to the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA) in Stratham NH. Mrs McFarlin delivered piles of times, including blankets, towels, food, treats, toys, etc. for the animals cared for by the shelter. (The group also made a collection and donations in May 2006.)
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We did a study of owls. One of our moms found a dead barred owl beside the road. She brought it in for the kids to examine up close. At the next meeting we did an owl pellet dissection. We studied which owls are native to Maine and which Owls live in our area of Maine. We planned a project to build owl houses. The kids read "Owl in the Family" and "There is an Owl in the Shower" which led to a discussion of the needs of humans vs. the needs of animals. Some of the kids saw live owls at the Gray Wild Animal Park. All of the kids saw the owls on exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science and tried the the flight pattern exhibit.
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We participated in the afghans for Afghans project. The kids knit or crocheted 5" squares which were then put together to create a warm wool afghan to be sent to folks who were in need in Afghanistan. Some of the kids learned to knit or crochet for the first time. We also collected squares and contributions from other homeschool groups. In all we sent one large afghan, one baby blanket, three hats and one pair of mittens. Some of the older kids watched the movies "Beauty School of Kabul" "Search for the Afghan Girl" and "Afghanistan Revealed". Some of the kids read the book "The Breadwinner". We discussed the climate, geography and politics in Afghanistan. We culminated the project with a potluck of Afghani food.
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Our group participated in the Great PA Clean-up Day. We cleaned five local parks and schools, collecting trash and litter along the way. We rewarded the kids afterwards for a job well done by getting them ice cream.

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