Thursday, June 12, 2014

Inspired to Care for the Ocean, Thanks Take 3

Here at Willard School we always trying to come up with ways to throw less in the trash. It's second nature to think before we throw something away. From working to reduce the amount we send to landfills with the help of Terracycle, to recycling, to composting and zero-waste lunches, we want to be sure we are responsible about the resources we use.

We were very excited to learn about Take3, a group that is sending a message about protecting the oceans. Their work has inspired us to recognize the ways that we can have an impact from land. One thing we've learned is that pollution and litter become water pollution when it rains. Knowing this we have set out to take more care... we're going to Take 3! Here were the steps that we took:

The first graders took on noticing...

And then began to help clean up...

 Then more of us got involved and we sorted our trash so it didn't all go to a landfill, and to be very sure it didn't injure animals, people or end up in the ocean.

Finally, we sorted everything so it found it's right place:

Our students we're very interested by this video by a student on the Take 3 website:

We've learned a lot from these few steps... thanks Take 3! Check out the Take 3 website to find out more:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pumpkins aren’t just for Jack-O-Lanterns!

Here at Willard we celebrate our favorite fruits and vegetables. These foods are good for our bodies and we can compost the leftovers. This helps keep the Earth healthy. This month we will focus on orange foods by bringing in orange foods and wearing orange clothes on Wednesday, November 13th!

After our trip to the pumpkin patch

photo by: Kirsten Skiles knitsteel

Pumpkins aren’t just for Jack-O-Lanterns!

Now that Halloween is over, it’s time to start thinking about how we can use all of those pumpkins left rolling around!  Sure, they make great decorations for Halloween but they are also delicious and packed full of good stuff.  Here are a few reasons to try some pumpkin!

1. Pumpkins contain Vitamin A which is great for your eyes and especially helpful when trying to see in the dark.

 2. Packed full of fiber, eating pumpkin will help you feel fuller longer!

3. Pumpkin seeds contain something called “phytosterols” which decrease the bad cholesterol in your body and increase the good cholesterol which is great for your heart.  Research shows they can even help defend your body from certain cancers!  Not only that, but pumpkin seeds help keep our moods bright by helping to produce serotonin and ward off depression.

4. A pumpkin’s bright orange color comes from an antioxidant called beta-carotene which can fight cancer and keep the skin wrinkle-free.

5. Pumpkins are packed full of potassium—even more than a banana!  So have some pumpkin after exercising to help recharge those muscles.

6. Eating pumpkin also gives you a big dose of Vitamin C which can help reduce the symptoms of the common cold.  It also helps keep the immune system nourished which can help the body battle disease.

How can you become Peter Peter the Pumpkin Eater?  Here are a few yummy ways to get pumpkin into your diet.

Toast the seeds that are inside the pumpkin.  Add a dash of salt or some delicious spices like cinnamon or nutmeg and you have a powerful treat.  If you like it hot, add some garlic and cayenne pepper instead and you’ve got yourself a spicy snack!

Add some pumpkin to a smoothie!  Toss in some cinnamon and nutmeg and you have a natural pumpkin spiced drink.

Add some pumpkin to your morning oatmeal and you’ll feel full well into lunch.  Top it with raisins, walnuts or some brown sugar.

Make pumpkin cookies.  Put in some chocolate chips for a delicious dessert.

Pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins are also great ways to eat pumpkin.  Freeze the leftovers and you can have a pumpkin treat whenever you are hungry!

Mix some pumpkin with butter and mix it into your pasta for a tasty dinner.

There are many other orange foods to celebrate with...
Happy Wellness Wednesday!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Willard Alum Shares "Local" Knowledge

On Tuesday March 13th I had the privilege of teaching and being taught by Mr. Altieri’s enthusiastic 2nd graders. My name is Natalie Azar and I’m a student at Montclair State University, a few credits short of graduating with a bachelor’s in nutrition. Being a Willard alumni it was no surprise that the class had excellent listening and participation skills.

Ms. Azar picking apples at

The main focus of my presentation “Good For Me, Good For My Planet” is that it is better for both our bodies and for our planet to consume produce grown locally. The students mapped out different regions of the world where we get some produce ex. tomatoes from Italy, pineapples from the Philippines, bananas from Mexico, etc. and saw how far a distance these foods have to travel to get to our plates.

After, I showed them one of the 38 farms and nurseries in Bergen County. We looked at pictures from Alstede Farms because this farm offers many fresh fruits and vegetables between May-November. The students shared that many of them have been to this farm or others where they can pick their own apples, strawberries, and pumpkins.

Photo by: F Delventhal
We finished the class by drawing an ideal plate with all five food groups and how we should strive to make our plates complete everyday. Balanced meals give us the energy we need to do well in school and have plenty of fun in this beautiful warm weather!

Find out more about making a trip to

Click for tips on local eating and nutrition shared in Ms. Azar's presentation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Time to Head Out and Play!

As we focus on wellness here at Willard, we are noticing the direct connection between the health of people and the health of our environment. How do we keep ourselves healthy? How do we create a healthy environment? We see this as one question, not two separate questions. And our response? Seek out deep nature connections.

How do you do this? One way to try it, and this is a tough one... Get outside and play! Yes, the project is that simple.

We are thinking that we can help inspire each other to be more active, healthy, and Earth-conscious. Here's how you can be part of the inspiration: Whenever you find yourself out somewhere, send us a photo from the location. Go ahead and use your smartphone and send them to We'll share the photos in class, and we'll post them on a our wellness bulletin board. If it's ok with you, we'll also share them on our websites (we will not share photos online that have student faces).

There is mounting research to confirm what many of us adults remember about our childhoods. That our free, unstructured play offered something powerful for our development. We were trusted by our parents to explore the neighborhood and world around us. There is a lot of interesting research that now begs the question, "Why are we spending so much time indoors?"

Here are a few links that might be of interest, and you might find one or more of them worth sharing:

The Benefits of Nature Play:

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills:

Get Outside and Play Challenge... There's no bad weather, just bad clothes. Bundle up!

The More High Tech Schools Become, the More They Need Nature:

We offer space in the classroom for students to share those things that they are passionate about. At home and at school your children are trusted to explore their interests in some wonderful ways! If there are discoveries, stories or more that come from this, more than the photos of your travels into the backyard and beyond, we are happy to give them a forum to share. This is one way we support one another.

Thanks and we're excited to be inspired to play!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Turn It Off -> Power Up!

Willard's Earth-minded students, the Green Ambassadors have noticed that being green and being well go together. We have found that the health of people is closely related to the health of the planet.

The more time we spend
caring for ourselves and enjoying the Earth,
the less energy we waste!

Turn It Off -> Power Up! from Willard Wellness on Vimeo.

This first video is a reminder to save electricity and get outside to play (one way to reduce pollution!). We have to thank our friends and mentors of Ridgewood High School's club Students for Environmental Action for sharing their Turning Off The Lights Project.

Some other things we've learned will be highlighted in future video projects. We have found that: healthy people create healthy environments, and healthy environments create healthy people. We want Willard to be as strong as can be. Also, there's a link between healthy soil and growing healthy foods... and any of that healthy produce can go right back in the compost bin. No waste!

So we could use your help with this video project. Watch our video (above) and then respond with ways that you will turn off the power and get outdoors. We would like to add these ideas to the next movie. We would even love to have you answer our video with your own video! Up for the challenge? Let us know how you get your Earth connection!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Kearns and Altieri Farm Report

Check out Mr. Kearns's and Mr. Altieri's trip to Stone Barns Farm
[Made possible by the Whole Foods: Nominate Your Teacher Award!]

Thanks to all the hard work of the Willard community, we are known for being one of the most Earth-minded and green places in our town! Everyday, Willard students and staff are making choices to care for the Earth in creative ways... we recycle, compost, protect our grounds, save power and get outside!

Mr. Altieri and Mr. Kearns had the opportunity to keep this tradition going by learning more about healthy ecosystems in a trip to Stone Barns farm, not far from Tarrytown, NY. By talking to farmers and harvesting greens and eggs, the teachers got to experience a system of healthy foods, people, animals and soil. They are finding ways to help us all play our parts in helping us be the best! We are looking forward to an even healthier environment here at Willard. Maybe even our own crops...

and how about a few chickens!? ;-)

Check out more about the Stone Barns Center here.

Wellness Wednesday Returns!

Thanks for participating in Wellness Wednesday last year everyone! We are all stronger for the colorful, power packed foods we ate. Our compost bins are well fed too! Wellness Wednesday helps create zero-waste since we compost fruit and vegetable left-overs. This means a healthier YOU and a healthier ENVIRONMENT.

Now get ready for Wednesday, October 5th! This year we will run Wellness Wednesday EVERY Wednesday. October is ORANGE month. EVERY Wednesday in October (that means 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26) wear ORANGE and bring in ORANGE fruits and/or veggies for lunch. The produce section (or your backyard garden or local farm!) are great places to find these foods. This ensures less packaging too. Did you ever notice that the healthiest, freshest foods don't come in a package?

Considering orange food ideas? See if you can find: apricots, grapefruit, mango, nectarines, oranges, papayas, squashes, carrots, pumpkin, yellow beets, yams, and certain tomatoes.

Orange foods are full of powerful antioxidants that can be good for your joints and keep your body clean. Thanks for celebrating Wellness Wednesday with us!

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Time to PLAY!

Did you notice that the bulbs each of us planted in November are sprouting up around Willard? That was the sign that we would look for. So we now know it's now time to get out to play! We asked some students about the best places to play around Willard. We found that the Willard field is one of the best places to play in Willard neighborhood.

Image: Vlado /

As we work on being our healthiest, we find that healthy environments are important too. We are sure to recycle and compost our waste here at school. Getting out to play with nature is also a great way to strengthen ourselves and our environment. There are studies that explore the benefits of unstructured playtime. This recent article highlights some of the ideas:

A quote from the article:
"...according to researchers, not just because play reduces stress and makes children more socially competent—which evidence suggests that it does. It matters also because play supposedly improves working memory and self-regulation; in other words, it makes kids sharper and better-behaved."

We have also noticed that the Children and Nature Network support some great initiatives to remind us to get outside:

You might also just know it in your bones... playtime is the best time, and some of the best lessons happen once you were turned out from dawn to dusk, playing in your neighborhood.

So how do you play? Don't just sit there, go for it!

Be well!