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FOR TEACHERS
fostering
a greater understanding, respect and appreciation
for the natural world. 

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Select a title from the summaries below or scroll down to find some great group activities.

Kids' Book Project  Involves kids illustrating copies of the story and selling their own editions to help the rainforest - and their schools/communities: DREAM THE FOREST WILD: How Children Saved a Rainforest by Sue Memhard with Jim Crisp

Eco-Friendly Practices for the Classroom Excellent classroom strategies for helping to increase environmental awareness.

Make Your Classroom Eco-Friendly by Ms. Siegelman's Third Grade Class
This picture presentation demonstrates some very easy to implement eco-classroom routines. (This may take a lot of time to load if you have a slow computer.)

Environmental Pledges:  Writing Letters to Local Businesses  Enable your kids to inspire businesses in the community to improve their environmental practices.

Waste-Free Lunch Week This easy-to-implement activity is a very effective way to bring awareness to the amount of garbage we consume.  

Recycled Art  Help inspire creativity while teaching your kids about recycling.

Group Activity: Sound Game  submitted by Scarlett, 11 years old 
London, England 
This is a fun game where students focus on the importance of using sound to locate an object - in this case a fellow student. 

Sounds and Colors  by Joseph Cornell
This very easy to use activity helps kids develop their listening and observation skills while gaining a deeper connection to the natural world.

Blind Walk by Joseph Cornell
This totally engaging activity fosters trust and the development of communication skills while experiencing nature from a totally different perspective.

Find Your Age by Joseph Cornell
This thought provoking activity helps children to develop a better understanding and appreciation for trees.

Click here if you have a favorite activity that you would like to share.

 


Sounds and Colors
by Joseph Cornell

Type of Activity: Focus attention
Qualities/Concepts:
Auditory/Visual Awareness
Recommended Time and Environment:
Day and night/anywhere
Number of Players:
1 or more people
Best Age Range:
3 years and up
Materials Needed:
None

        In a forest , meadow, marsh or park, a group of children sit or lie down on their backs with both fists held up in the air. Every time someone hears a new bird song he/she lifts one finger. Who has the best hearing? This is a wonderful way to make children aware of the sounds (and the stillness) of nature. For fun see if you can count to 10 without hearing a bird song. Vary the game by listening for general animal sounds - or for any sounds at all, like wind in the grass, falling leaves, rushing water. See if you can follow the wind as it flows through the forest. To get children to concentrate more deeply on any natural setting, ask them how many colors they can see in front of them without moving from where they are standing.

Extracted from Sharing Nature With Children by Joseph Cornell. Used with permission of the author.

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Blind Walk
by Joseph Cornell

Type of Activity: Direct Experience
Qualities/Concepts:
Sensory awareness and trust
Recommended Time and Environment:
Day / anywhere
Number of Players:
2 or more
Best Age Range:
7 years and up
Materials Needed:
Blindfolds

        It's very simple to organize and lead a blind walk. Form pairs, with mixed adults and children or children together, if they're mature enough. Each pair decides who'll be the leader first, and who'll be blindfolded. The leader guides his partner along any route that looks attractive - being very careful to watch for logs, low branches and so on. The leader also guides his blind partner's hands to interesting objects, and brings him within range of interesting sounds and smell. Remember to demonstrate how to lead one's partner safely, and to remind the leaders that they are the eyes for their blindfolded partners.

        When people try something new, they're often nervous and cover it up by joking and laughing. Since covering one's eyes is a new experience for many children, It's helpful to play the following game before a Blind Walk. Ask everyone to sit in a circle and each person is to use his sense of smell, touch, and possibly hearing to discover something new about the object. Have each player share his discovery before passing the object to the next player.

Note on Blind Activities: Blind-folded activities   stimulate children's imagination as perhaps no other games can. These   activities dislodge our thoughts from self-preoccupation, and free our awareness to embrace more of the world around us. Vision is the sense we depend on the most. Deprived of sight, we must fall back on our less-used senses of hearing, touch and smell. Our attention is powerfully focused on these senses and  our perceptions through them are intensified. The babbling of our minds slows down, overwhelmed by the information that our fully-awake senses are giving us.

Extracted from Sharing Nature With Children by Joseph Cornell. Used with permission of the author.

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Find Your Age
by Joseph Cornell

Type of Activity: Direct Experience
Qualities/Concepts:
Tree identification and biology, empathy
Recommended Time and Environment:
Day/forest
Number of Players:
1 or more people
Best Age Range:
5 years and up
Materials Needed:
Paper and pencil

        In this activity each person tries to find a tree his/her own age. It's easy to estimate how many years a young pine spruce, larch or fir tree has, by counting its whorls or branches. In these trees you can see where one year's growth of branches all radiate out from the same band. Simply count the sets of branches and you'll have the approximate age of the tree. Be sure to add extra years for the branch whorls the tree has probably lost at its base. If you look closely you may be able to see scars where the old branches have broken off.

        You'll find the best shaped young trees growing in open clearings, well away from the larger, more dominant trees. (This activity only works with trees up to about 25 years old, because as they grow older, it's difficult to estimate their age.)

        Tell the players how a conifer tree grows - from the tip upwards. Each year's new growth grows beyond last year's new growth which stays at the same height. The youngest part of the tree is at the very top, while the oldest is at the bottom. The tree also grows from the tips of its branches and roots, as well as a little in diameter at the trunk each year. The trunk doesn't grow any higher, but stays at the same height. To see if the players understand this, you can ask the following question: "If I nailed a board five feet high on a tree, how much higher would it be after 30 years?" If they think the board will be higher ask them if they've ever seen a barbwire fence nailed to a tree - hanging twenty-feet form the ground!

        To begin, write down the age of everyone in the group on a piece of paper. Then as a group look for trees that are the approximate age for each of the players. After this is done, have each player spend time studying the tree to see if he can tell anything about its growth and life. For example, I was studying a twenty-year old ponderosa pine, when I discovered I could see the history of northern California's rainfall reflected in its growth. Counting back in years from the top of the tree, I could see energetic growth between the branch whorls during rainy years, and little growth during the drought of the 80's.

        Other things you can look for are fire scars; places where animals have used the tree, like deer rubbing their antlers, or bird nests; where another branch has taken over for a tip that was damaged (look for a bend in the trunk); and how its surroundings may have affected the tree.

        After giving players time to get to know their tree, have each of them write a letter to their woodland friend. Then have everyone share what they have learned and felt about their special tree. In addition to teaching science, this activity encourages a wonderful sense of empathy and appreciation for trees and their lives.

 

Extracted from Sharing Nature With Children by Joseph Cornell. Used with permission of the author.

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Do you have a great activity that you would like to share ?

If so, please E-MAIL or mail it to: Children of the Earth United ~ P.O. Box 258035 ~ Madison, WI  53725 .   Please include the inventor of the activity, if known.  If possible, please use the above format.  (We would love to include a picture of people participating in the activity.)

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Green Activities for the Classroom: Environmentally Friendly Activities for Teachers and their Classes to Help Improve the Environment and Learn about Nature - Presented by Children of the Earth United

 

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