Gratitude in Action: Learning and Caring about Their Community

Presentations of Learning iLEAD Exploration

Last year, Leialoha, grade 2, and Keoni Hamas, grade TK, studied different biomes and cultures. This year, they are focusing on learning about their home environment and family cultures. As a consequence, they are learning first to be grateful for their family and community, and second, that they have a responsibility to those things. When a nearby offshore pipeline tragically leaked oil into the Pacific Ocean, they were prompted to use their burgeoning knowledge to take action.

Leialoha and Keoni participate in weekly field classes with iLEAD vendor Earthroots, weekly meetups with their outdoors nature co-op, and learn from a combination of resources including books, YouTube videos, family oral history, and more.

At Earthroots, Leialoha and Keoni learn to identify and respect the natural environment in Orange County, which they have learned is the ancestral home of the Tongva and Acjachemen peoples. They also explore tidepools with their nature co-op. They carefully observe and identify the many marine animals that inhabit this ecosystem.

“I like where we live because I like to climb trees and go to the beach and play in the waves. When I am in nature I have to be careful because I could get hurt.” – Keoni

“You have to be careful, too, because you could hurt plants and then they can’t grow or you might step on an animal’s home… At the tidepools, there are many creatures. You have to be careful by not picking up rocks because there might be things under it that could get hurt. You have to be careful where you step because there might be creatures under rocks or sand.” – Leialoha

Leialoha and Keoni enjoy read-alouds and educational videos by Native Hawaiian authors and educators. They also engage in family “talk story” to learn about Native Hawaiian cultural values. They are learning about the value of “kuleana”, that relates to their connection to other living things and to the land.

“I have a kuleana to my family. I love my family because they make me breakfast, buy me things, and take care of me. I do things for them too. I give hugs and kisses. I do chores and clean my bed. I feed the fish sometimes.” – Keoni

“Nature gives me plants and animals to look at. It gives me air to breathe. It gives me water to play in. Kuleana means that I have to take care of nature because it gives me all these things.” – Leialoha

In October, Leialoha and Keoni watched a news report about the oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach. They were visibly bothered by the news but did not know much else about oil spills. To learn more, they listened to a read-aloud about the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 and then engaged in a hands-on demonstration on the impacts of oil spills.

“People use oil for cars and electricity, but when oil spills happen they hurt animals and the oceans and beaches. The oil is sticky and hard to get off. There are many ways to clean it up. Soap breaks up oil into tiny pieces. Strings (booms) collect the oil at the top of the ocean. Sponges help by soaking it up. Bacteria eats the oil. But, these things don’t get all the oil.” – Leialoha

“We can help by using less oil, by using less electricity or slowing down when we drive (using less gas).” – Keoni

After learning about oil spills, Leialoha and Keoni brainstormed ways they could practice their kuleana to their community. They decided to donate some of their savings to those who help marine animals affected by oil spills. Leialoha added up her coins. She used skip counting by 5s (nickels) and 10s (dimes).

They also made thank-you cards. They watched a YouTube tutorial on how to draw a sea lion, planned what they wanted to say, and practiced their handwriting with proper pencil grip. They delivered the cards and donation in person and communicated their purpose and gratitude directly to the staff. Afterwards, the staff took them on a tour of the facility to meet some of the marine mammals they were currently rehabilitating.

Leialoha and Keoni demonstrate the value of “kuleana” and utilize the habit of “think win-win.” They are constantly seeking mutual benefits in their interactions with other human and animal life. These learners with win-win attitudes possess three vital character traits:

  1. Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments
  2. Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
  3. Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone

“If you see an animal covered in oil, you have to tell an expert. They take animals to centers to help clean them off. You can’t help the animals yourself because you might hurt them worse or you can get sick too.” – Leialoha

“I am thankful for the experts because they can help the animals that have oil on them.” – Keoni

“It made me feel happy to give money to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and to tell them thank you for taking care of the animals.” – Leialoha

Resources used to complete the project:

  • Vendor: Earthroots, https://earthrootsfieldschool.org
  • Books:
    • I Mea Aha Ke Kai? What is the kai for? by Lilinoe Andrews
    • Oil Spill! (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science) by Melvin Berger
  • Website/Blog: https://moretime2teach.com: “Oil Spill Experiment to Teach Kids All About Pollution” free download
  • YouTube:
    • Georgia Aquarium Channel: Deep Sea Learning with Georgia Aquarium’s Education Department Episode 8: Oil Spills
    • Artimee Channel: How to Draw Sea Lion – Easy Drawing
  • Field Trip: Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, https://www.pacificmmc.org



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