Summer is for Sustainability!

Summer is here and the household feels busier than ever! The kids are busy with camps and activities while we try to figure out some kind of routine.  Summer is also a time to purge and organize school work from the recent ending school year.  In past summers, the kids and I would get together and go through their school work from the year and keep their five favorite things to put in their scrap books.  Then what happens to the rest of it?  Off to the recycling bin they go!  Each time this year, I always say to myself, “The kids go through so much paper at school!”  Each year it seems to lessen slightly as they grow into more paperless activities (for my middle schooler especially), but even with the computers and technology, there is still a chunk of paper that they use.

So this summer, we decided to try something different.  I am constantly trying to make connections to grit and persistence in their everyday lives and am constantly communicating the guiding principles of Grit Moms to them (Change, Power, Systems and Relationships/Connections).  A lot of times the connections are made when talking about our family and our culture.  Other times lately, the connections are being made through some time work involving service and ways they can be better citizens to our community and our world.  As I looked at the pile of papers of their work from the past school year, I thought about what we could do with school work instead of throwing it away yet again.  That’s when my daughter said, let’s make some art with it.  Soon after, the recycling paper project emerged.   I immediately thought about the guiding principle of relationships/connections.  Everything is connected.  Kids’ attitudes and behavior not only affect them but others. The same is true for parents.  But it is also connections that allow others to achieve.  For example, we often hear adult share stories like, “If it wasn’t for that teacher who believed in me, I wouldn’t have achieved this.”  Relationships are important. We are social beings and need to interact to share ideas and connect.  Kids need to understand that what they do and accomplish affects those around them.  Achievement should be a form of self-betterment.  It should be something that contributes positively to one’s family and society.  In the end, achievement should promote harmony for oneself and for all.  So kids need an understanding of the importance of family, their community and their world.

So with that, we decided to take all of their school work from the past year and repurpose it into decorative paper they can use instead of throwing it away.  Take a look at pictures of our project where the kids made “Grit” paper.  We had a blast and plan on making more.  We have a lot of school work paper to repurpose and reuse!

First we gathered all of the school paper that my daughter brought home throughout the school year.  Wow!  First grade was a busy!

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Then she ripped the papers into strips and placed them in a small tub.

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Then we filled the tub with water.  Just enough water to cover the paper so they can soak and get soft.

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After letting the paper soak in the water for about a day, we put the gloppy paper into a blender to break down even more.  We also added a little liquid starch to help with keeping the paper sturdy after it dried.

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Then the kids poured the paper glob back into the plastic tub and again filled it with water so it looked like thin muddy water.

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We bought some cheap small window screens from the nearby hardware store and used those as the mold for our paper.  The kids took turns dipping the window screens into the tub and slowly pulling them up to make the recycled paper sheets.

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Finally, after a few tries to get it “just right” the kids laid out their papers in the screens to dry.

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After a few hours (it has been so hot this summer), the paper dried.

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The kids carefully took them out and cut them to regular paper size.

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This was a great project and one that we will keep doing this summer as we repurpose all of their school work.  The kids are not just thinking about decorative paper, but book marks, wall frames and more!  Message us on facebook (www.facebook.com/gritmoms) or on twitter @gritmoms to learn more about doing this project yourself or having us help you!

What a great way to make use of their school projects?  A reminder that there is a use for everything and there is always something we can all do to contribute positively to our home and to our world!

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