Let me explain...this week is "Water Week" for the Smart Summer Challenge and as I was trying to think about projects, I suddenly got inspired to start talking with Zoe about endangered species. Since even before I became a Mom, I've dreamed about teaching my kids how to care for the earth and that every little bit counts. I'm proud that Zoe knows how to recycle and every time I see her put something in the "compost" in her play kitchen, my heart swells a bit. So far though, she's been really too little to talk about things bigger than our own little world, but I thought I could start introducing this concept of endangered species by focusing on one of them.
So, I found this website called Earth's Endangered Species that does their best to keep an up-to-date list of the current endangered species by monitoring a bunch of other sites that keep lists in more specific areas (US Fish and Wildlife and such). They have an easy to browse through list, broken down by category and when you are looking at the category you're interested in, you can choose to read more about it, donate and/or adopt. So, I sat Zoe down with me at the computer and clicked on the "Oceania" category. I read all the animals out loud to her that had the option of adopting and when I got to "Humpback Whale" she got so excited she almost fell out of the chair. I told her I was going to read the rest just in case there was something she'd want more, but she kept saying "I don't want anything else Mommy, I definitely want a humpback whale!" Then, after making sure the price was something we could reasonably try to raise, I told her that was our new mission. I told her we could write letters and talk to people about why helping whales is important and that she was trying to raise money to adopt a whale through the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society one. She started in right away with the cute as can be questions: "Where are we going to KEEP something that BIG?", "How do whales talk? How will we be able to talk to it?", "How will we walk around with the whale? Can whales even walk?" Eventually, she understood that the whale wouldn't actually LIVE with us but that by donating the money she raises, she will be helping it live more comfortably where it is now.
So, we got to work! This project has been so great because it's got so many lessons built into it: learning about the animal and why it's endangered, talking about the reasons you want to help and what you love about the animal, the tedious fundraising letter writing, spreading the word and learning how to talk to people about your cause, how to be gracious when people donate and understanding when they can't, being patient (the hardest part for her!), counting money and writing thank you notes. The first day, when we wrote the letters, we must have worked away for 2 hours and she never got sick of it. Even when we had gone as far as we could for the day, she was saying "What ELSE can we do?" All day, she was telling people that she is going to adopt a humpback whale, and never lost her excitement..it couldn't have been more successful except when we reached the end of the day (ie meltdown time), she suddenly decided she wanted to use the money she raises to buy a toy. When we told her she couldn't, she promptly melted and it was time for bed. It's not all bad, though...I suppose it's important when talking about fundraising to fit in a little lesson about embezzlement.
So, immediate family members can expect letters in the mail in the next day or two so be prepared! Our friends here locally have already been so kind and generous. She's very nearly met the minimum goal of $30 and she will have her whale in no time, so I'd call that a successful campaign. Who knows, maybe her enthusiasm will inspire you to look into doing the same with your kids and we can all save the whales together, one cutie-pie kid at a time!
By the way, I asked Zoe today what she likes about humpback whales and she said:
-How they stick their fins out of the water
-How they jump out of the water and splash
-How they swim
|We started by making a "whale jar" to collect her money in|
|The letter writing stage...she wanted to copy the letter too but got too frustrated|
|So she drew a picture of a whale jumping out the water with the mountains in the background instead...even better!|
|The Whale Jar!|
|Counting the money she's collected so far|
|A little side project...she also liked the "Rainbow Parrotfish", which is also endangered, so she made a little collage with the fish and her beloved humpback whale.|