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Teaching Climate Change to Elementary Students

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Jane Gripper Jane Gripper 160 Points

How can I teach my students about climate change without them feeling overwhelmed? Is it possible to make the topic of climate change fun but for students to feel motivated to act?

Cris DeWolf Cris DeWolf 11965 Points

Would you consider a school garden? Raising fresh produce (or herbs if you are limited on available space) could be used as a starting point to have your students learn about how shipping foods great distances contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. You could also sponsor school-wide contests involving recycling, transitioning to CF light bulbs in students' homes, etc. And what about an area wide "unconnect" night where families are encouraged to engage in more traditional forms of entertainment, like board games, etc.

Hi, I agree with Chris that engaging students in gardening would be a great first step. Food and distribution will be a huge issue in the years to come Here in Maine we have schools whose gardens are providing food for their school lunch programs as well. http://www.schoolgardenproject.com/

Adah Stock Adah Stock 101510 Points

Hi: I found this wonderful two websites that might help you. http://beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu/issue/climate-change-and-the-polar-regions/climate-literacy-in-the-elementary-classroom http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/curriculum-instruction/3-sites-that-offer-elementary-climate-change-lesson-plans/ Adah

Angela Torres Angela 6190 Points

Hello Jane! I do feel that teaching climate change can be fun for students to learn. Finding ways to make it meaningful to them is a must. They won't want to learn about something that they do not feel is important to them nor relates to them in any way. As teachers we can make connections as climate change affects students across all nations. One strategy that I would recommend to you is to take students on a field trip to a local greenhouse. This will show students how different types of plants are grown that need protection from cold weather or other types of climate change. Also, you may check out this educational website that has many activities/lessons to teach your students regarding climate change. (It is specific to your curriculum subject, category, grade level, etc.) It is found at http://www.teachclimatechange.org/ Wishing you the best in your teaching

Helen Edmonson helen edmonson 1010 Points

I like the idea of using a community garden.

Cathy Neuman Cathy Neuman 790 Points

I am currently a pre-service teacher. For one of our assignments we are creating a science workshop. We are required to present the workshop to our peers and to children that volunteer to come in to experience the workshop. I have seen the children become very engaged in the workshops. I think they are so engaged because they are given a choice of activities at each station. This allows them to feel as though they have an active role in their learning. It also allows them to choose a learning modality that best suits their interests. The workshop that my group is presenting is about the structures of life. We are focusing on plants. This could be a good stepping stone for a school garden or even a climate unit or workshop.

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 63625 Points

Hi Jane, Start by teaching your elementary school students about weather and weather patterns. Have your students keep a two week weather journal. Let them decide what data to collect (i.e.: temperature, amount of precipitation, etc.) Have them compare what they observed with monthly and yearly averages. You can also get archival weather data for your area (in some places in the United States there is weather data for over a hundred or more years.) Use this data to help them start to understand the difference between weather and climate.

Nicole White Nicole White 640 Points

Ruth, I loved your ideas. I am a pre-service teacher, and I recently conducted a workshop on air and weather. Within the workshop students were required to first estimate, and then look up, weather temperatures for locations all around the world using the website accuweather.com. This activity allowed for students to make connections to real-life current temperatures in different locations around the world. Depending on the amount of time permitted, you could also require students to research and compare the high temperatures, the low temperatures and the effects of the amount of daylight time in specific locations. Workshops are a great way to cover one specific topic through a variety of engaging hands-on learning activities.

Juliana Texley Juliana Texley 1480 Points

You have one response re: school gardening and I heartily endorse it. I've been doing workshops and just attended one that was absolutely inspiring. Gardening can be totally interdiscplinary, and fun! Even if you have to do a pot garden, use pallets or other systems to avoid the soil around the school, it can be wonderful. But I'd also recommend Citizen Science. Take a look at http://www.youngvoicesonclimatechange.com/ This is a project of world-renowned author Lynne Cherry, who is documenting things that elementary and middle school students have done to change the planet! Yes, we can. There is a large body of research that says that negative messages don't work; positive efforts are wonderfully effective.

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