Monday, January 11, 2010

15 Weeks to Earth Day! Week 2: We're All Interconnected!

 “To hear within ourselves the sound of the Earth crying.” John Seed

I was privileged to grow up in a magical place, Sherwood Forest; for me there was never any doubt that I was intricately connected to this Earth.  But it wasn’t until I met John Seed in 1989, and participated in the  Council of All Beings (developed by John,  Joanna Macy , Arne Naess and Pat Fleming) , that I really began to hear the sound of the Earth crying.  I was simply too busy being a mother and provider too see the destruction going on around the world. 

After that workshop, I began to research what was happening to the planet and was devastated by what I uncovered.  So much so in fact, that I plunged into a deep depression, which left me feeling hopeless about the future.  The Council of All Beings was developed to awaken our inner ear; to tune it to the primal sounds of this earth and then to transfer any sadness into action.  Thankfully, my despair was turned into determination to inspire in children a curiosity to discover, protect and preserve this earth, our home.

I wrote my song, We’re all Interconnected back in 1989; since then the phrase has become almost a cliché and I fear that it might be devalued.  I hope that we can work together to strengthen its authenticity and inclusion in the vocabulary of early childhood.

Conveying the understanding of interconnectivity to children can be as simple or as complex and you wish it to be.  Since absolutely everything is interconnected you can begin to incorporate the phrase on a daily basis, and the more you do, the more you will discover!

Lesson Plans:
1.  The Little Earth Charter: Principle No 2 - Interconnected - Watch this clip and then ask children to name some of the different things they think are important on our planet.  I suggested creating Food Energy webs in the previous Blog post; this time create a Food Audit linking the food that you eat to the places that it grows, the transportation that entails it arriving at your grocery store; the people who helped to bring it there.  You can do the same with clothes and other household items; for example what are the components that make up computers or cell phones.  Absolutely everything that we eat, wear or use comes from the Earth in some way.

2.  The Air connects us all; it circulates around the planet and moves in and out of our bodies.  I often tell kids that the air molecules they are breathing could have passed through the bodies of dinosaurs, or someone really famous like Elvis, their grandparents, or the girl or boy sitting next to them!  When we prevent air pollution it is protecting ourselves as much as it is all of life.   This Website has some fun Clean Air Activities!

3.  Water connects us.  Learning about water is a great way to teach about interconnectivity – there are some Lesson Plans about water in the Only One River, Only One Sea Blog Post I wrote in December 2009.   Coral Reefs provide insight into interconnections; there are so many different symbiotic relationships there and the reefs are crucial habitat for so many fish.  Just for fun, show these amazing photos of Snowflakes just to marvel at how water crystallizes!

4.  People!  How are we connected to each other?  The  Connected Earth website has some interesting Lesson Plans for children 7-16 showing how technology has evolved and connects us.  Apart from technology, why is it important for humans to physically interconnect with each other?  We are social beings and we need to connect to each other for comfort and community. Ask the children to create their Family Tree, to see who they are connected to.  The Ancestors are important to many cultures and there is much to be learned from them.  Here is a 4th Grade Native American Lesson Plan that you might find interesting.  The Journey of Man is a NOVA documentary that follows the genetic markers of humans to investigate how we are all connected.

Well, this whole Post is about interconnectivity, so I am not going to dwell on more of it here.  However, I will share some interesting articles I found recently that demonstrate the subtle ways in which nature is connected!  The first is about how Star Fish suck up carbon from the sea the second is about the relationship between Ants and the Acacia Tree  Here are some interesting Ocean Facts  and did you ever wonder why the sea is Salty ?  All good subjects for lessons!
Songs:  I have uploaded two songs to my MySpace page to go with this blog –  We’re All Interconnected and the Coral Reef.

Story: The story that I have always used to convey the understanding of interconnection to kids is: How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun!

Resource: The book about the Council of All Beings is:  Thinking Like A Mountain

Enjoy the journey of discovery with your children, your students and  yourself!  I am constantly AMAZED by the interconnections that I discover; I love it!  Every time I find something new, I am replenished with awe!  If you enjoy the Little Earth Charter, the DVD is for sale on the website at The Little Animation Shop and if you enjoy my songs, they are also available at a variety of Online stores.

Please do share your comments - I am here to help you and your feedback helps to guide me.  I thank each one of you for following or reading this Blog and I sincerely hope that it serves you well.
In gratitude for life and this Earth,

Design by JC Little
Photo of Spider Web from Wikimedia Commons

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