Certified GREEN Preschool

The Cottages stands alone in Florida as the Leader in implementing healthy change in the Early Learning environment. - Bill Muller, NGSC consultant

The Cottages at Michaels Learning Center is excited to announce we have been awarded the Level II Green School Certification with the National Green School Coalition. The NGSC is a national, independent, third-party green school certification and audit program governed by a group of environmental professionals. The program is implemented through trained, knowledgeable, consultants who are passionate about conserving our most recious resources – our children and the planet.

The Cottages was chosen as the pilot program in August of 2010. By January of 2011, we became Sarasota's first certified green preschool. Since opening in June of 2009,The Cottages has been committed to protecting our children from environmental hazards while providing a high quality early education program in Sarasota County.

Many schools claim to be “Green” because they operate a recycling program or grew a vegetable garden and irrigate with water from a rain barrel. The Cottages has done these three “Green” accomplishments plus 96 more. The National Green School Coalition (NGSC) has developed a roadmap to become a “Green “ school. The roadmap currently has listed 184 Green actions in the areas of improving Indoor Air Quality, eliminating Environmental Toxins and reducing Energy, Water and Waste.

Points are awarded for each action completed and verified by on-site NGSC visits, receipts and photos. When a school completes 100 points the Coalition recognizes this significant accomplishment by awarding the school the status as a Level I CERTIFIED GREEN SCHOOL. The Cottages achieved this level in 2011.

The Cottages has earned over 250 total points! 100 of these are mandatory points. When a school earns 200 points with 100 mandatory points, the Coalition recognizes this extraordinary achievement by awarding the status as a Level II CERTIFIED GREEN SCHOOL for 2012.

We provide a healthy, sustainable and non-toxic learning environment through monitoring the indoor air quality in each learning cottage as well as conserving energy and water. We use non-toxic toys and supplies as well as non-toxic cleaning chemicals, disinfectants and sanitizers. Furthermore, we have eliminated toxic pesticides and fertilizers from our outdoor learning environments.

At The Cottages, we educate the children on the importance of environmentalism through our daily lessons. The children are taught to use
our resources sustainably through reducing, reusing and recycling. Moreover, children are encouraged to respect and appreciate the natural world around them and enjoy spending time in our organic school garden. All of the early childhood educators at The Cottages have received training through the National Green School Coalition and are Certified Green
Teachers.

To find out more about the NGSC, check out www.nationalgreenschoolcoalition.org.

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Click here to verify this facility's National Green School Coalition Certification

Eco-Healthy Child Care


Developed by the Oregon Environmental Council, Eco-Healthy Child Care (EHCC) supports child care providers in creating child care settings that are as environmentally healthy as possible. The program allows parents to choose child care facilities that are committed to creating a safer, healthier environment for children to learn and grow. Eco-Healthy providers commit to reducing children's exposure to toxics and other environmental health hazards. The Cottages has been endorsed as an Eco-Healthy Child Care Program since August 2009. For more information, visit their website at www.oeconline.org/our-work/healthier-lives/ehcc.


Eco-Friendly Fundraising

Are you tired of those same old catalog sales? Many of which promote unhealthy items such as candy, cookie dough, and pizza kits. Or the cheap quality items that you really have no use for? Not to mention all the wasted resources used to create those catalogs that often times just get thrown out? Well, we were too! And that is why we are committed to offering fundraisers that offer healthy and environmentally friendly products. Below are some of the fundraiser opportunities we promote throughout the year.
Itzy Ritzy Snack Happened and Wet Happened bags, www.itzyritzy.com
Easy Lunchbox System, www.easylunchboxes.com
Growums, www.growums.com
Earth day, www.earthfriendlyfundraising.com

Eco-Friendly Activities

You may be wondering how we go about teaching the children about the environment and inspiring them to be better stewards of the planet. By providing children with hands on activities, they are better able to make the connections and relationships with the world around them. In turn, they have a better understanding of cause and effect and the impact they have on the planet. Some of the ways in which we facilitate children through this thinking process are through activities listed below.
Recycling: After reading a story about recycling, the children partake in sorting recyclable materials (plastic, paper, metals) and learn how to recycle appropriately.
Reusing: By reusing everyday items such as boxes, containers, lids, etc. children give these items a new purpose. Before throwing out or recycling items we ask ourselves, can this be used as a medium for art projects, can it be used in any of the learning centers such as housekeeping, blocks or perhaps in the sensory table? For instance, with a styrofoam egg carton you can make a beautiful flower in art, it can be added to the kitchen in housekeeping, it makes for a bumpy road or hills in the block center, and it can be used to sort objects in math/manipulatives. The possibilities are endless when we let our imagination soar!
Sustainability: How do we allow children to see their effect on the environment around us in a short period of time and make it authentic to them? Here’s one way… After a discussion about pollution, the children and teacher filled a large (reusable pretzel) container with water and added various items such as food wrappers, paper, caps and lids, etc. Over a 2 week period the children observed the changes take place in the water. Through this experiment they were able to make a genuine connection to what it means to pollute and the impact it has on our environment. Many thought provoking discussions took place afterwards, such as the impact on our oceans and beaches due to pollution, how it affects the wildlife, and what we can do to protect our natural resources.
Gardening: Each Cottage has a garden box in the Cottage Garden and the children participate in gardening activities throughout the year. A variety of items are grown from fruits and vegetables to beautiful flowers.
Conservation: One way the children learn about water conservation is by using rain barrels to collect rain water and then using the water collected in lieu of the garden hose to water the plants in the garden.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
~ Native American Proverb