The bell had rung for recess. But before any of Cindy Bean's kindergartners could be excused Friday morning, they had to share with the class one thing they have learned about the environment.
The little hands of the 5- and 6-year-olds flew up in the air.
"Stop cutting down the rain forest," one boy said.
"We need to use oxygen so don't cut down the trees," volunteered a little girl.
"Don't put trash and oil in the ocean," said another.
Today is the official date set for Earth Day, but for Bean's kindergarten class at Colfax Avenue Elementary School in North Hollywood, every day is earth day.
At one end of the classroom sprouts a giant kapok tree that the children built from recycled materials and construction paper.
On the other side is an underwater seascape, complete with handcrafted sea cucumbers and papier-mache exotic fish.
There's also the pet bunny the youngsters collectively take care of. The children are taught that they are all responsible for the rabbit's welfare since the animal has been removed from its natural environment.
On Friday, lessons included building a huge cactus out of old three-gallon ice cream containers stacked on top of one another, and reading a story about the life cycle of ladybugs.
Bean has taken the theme "The earth is a house for all of us" and applied it to her entire curriculum. "It's all about getting children to care about the environment," Bean said.
Her next class project will be a lesson about what happens to oil when it is dumped in water. "We are going to put oil in the water and put food coloring in the oil to show them," she said.
For the kapok tree project, each student was asked to make an animal that would be found in the rain forest.
Robert Tobolowsky 5, pointed out the 12-foot-long anaconda water boa he made with his dad for the assignment. "They can grow to 25 feet," Robert said.
As Robyn Manning, 5, prepared to help put green paper on the outside of the mammoth cactus, the little girl was a bit surprised to be asked why people should take care of the environment.
"Because it's important to us!" Robyn said.