Everson kids get hands dirty, make recycled paper to learn waste prevention lesson

Alyssa Daskam exuberantly jumped when she finished creating her handmade card made from recycled paper, though what the fourth-grader seemed to enjoy most about the process was getting her hands dirty.

“I love it. It’s so squishy,” Daskam said. “It was really fun to do.”

The yellow or green mushy pulp covered the fingers of fourth- and fifth-graders at Everson Elementary School on Wednesday, Jan. 7, as they turned liquid into cardboard-like pieces of paper.

The activity was organized by AmeriCorps member Haley Mountain to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Mountain will go to two other schools within a month — Eagleridge and Beach elementary schools — to help kids learn about recycling, waste prevention and service to the community.

The process of making the recycled paper was simple. Before the fourth-graders arrived, Mountain mixed pieces of yellow or green paper with water in a blender to make the paper pulp that the students put their hands in. The students then poured the mixture into a cookie cutter of their choosing and had a screen underneath filter out the water while they used their hands to help mold the shape. Once the water was all drained with the help of a sponge, the result was a card in shapes ranging from a tree to a football.

The cards either will be sent as thank-you cards to people who have donated to the school for a new playground toy or be displayed on the classroom wall, said teacher Lisa Shafer.

Some of the fourth-graders said learning how paper can be recycled could inspire them to recycle more in the future. In general, Shafer said fourth-graders learn more using their hands than when they’re told how something works.

“It’s sometimes easier to attach meaning to things when they see it and they’re just having fun,” Shafer said.

Mountain said the activity not only helped the students learn about recycling, but it also gave them a chance to give back to the community. Eagleridge and Beach elementary schools may donate their cards to local community centers or nursing homes, Mountain said.

She will travel to Eagleridge Elementary School on Friday, Jan. 9, and to Beach Elementary School on Feb. 4.

“It can be fun and easy to make something and brighten up someone’s day,” Mountain said.