Standard 4

Language Arts

Here Comes the Garbage Barge - Jonah Winter

THEMES IN THE STORY Before everyone recycled…there was a town that had 3,168 tons of garbage and nowhere to put it. What did they do? Enter the Garbage Barge! This mostly true and completely stinky story is sure to make you say “Pee-yew!”

THEMES IN THE STORY: Accountability, Responsibility, Environmentalism, Community

Activity 1
Use the following questions to discuss the themes of the story:

 “Did you know the average American makes about four pounds of garbage every day?” 


  • Discuss what garbage you make from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. What can you do to make less than 4 pounds of garbage every day? 


  • Islip did not want its stinky garbage. Do you think it was fair for them to try to dump it in North Carolina, New Orleans, Mexico, Belize, Texas or Florida?


  •  Explain. What happens to the garbage in your area? Where does it go after it is thrown in the trash? Do you think your local landfill smells as terrible as the Garbage Barge?


  •  What do you think would happen to your community if everyone was careless about their garbage? What would you tell a friend if you saw him/her throw garbage on the ground? 


  • What are some ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle?
Writing Poetry

The Garbage Barge traveled for 162 days before reaching its final harbor. Can you imagine the stink?! Create an “Ode to Odor”. Write a diamante poem about smelly garbage.


Materials: Pencil/Paper LENGTH OF ACTIVITY 30 Minutes

A diamante poem is a seven line poem that forms the shape of the diamond. Diamante poems are made with individual nouns, adjectives and verbs. You can choose to describe one topic (smelly trash), two similar topics (smelly trash and smelly landfills), or two opposite topics (waste and recycling). Poem may or may not rhyme. 


DIRECTIONS FOR ACTIVITY:  Use the pattern below and the example to help you write an “Ode to Odor. Have Fun!

Activity 2

How long does trash last in landfill?

This activity should be guided by a parent

After the trash from the Garbage Barge was burned, the remaining 430 tons was buried in a landfill in Islip. Does it stay there forever? Let us find out!



Materials: Paper/pencil, computer/internet
  • What is your best estimate for how long this trash lasts in a landfill?


    • aluminum can (soda can)
    • banana
    • cigarette butt
    • cotton rag
    • glass bottle
    • leather boot
    • rubber sole of a boot
    • paper bag
    • plastic jug
    • Styrofoam plate
    • tin can (soup or vegetable can)
Directions for activity
  • Step 1: Organize the list above from shortest time to longest time you think the items last in a landfill.

    Step 2: Then, use the internet to search for scientists’ approximations for each item.


a. Was your list correct?

b. Are you surprised by the amount of time items last in a landfill? Which ones? Why?

c. How will knowing the life spans of trash have an impact on your recycling habits?


Step 3: Will you do anything different with your garbage? If so, what?


Create a poster that illustrates the lifespan of the trash items listed. Place your poster in a prominent place to remind family members to reduce, reuse and recycle!



Activity 1
Practice Work
Practice 1
Practice 2