Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Week Left to Earth Day! Week 16: Earth Stewardship

So here I am, at week 16 in this series of posts that began in January; the goal was to provide a collection of ideas that might be useful to a teacher or parent in the run up to Earth Day.  Truth is that I think every day should be Earth Day, I mean let’s face it without the Earth we don’t exist!  However, I am grateful that we do have at least one day dedicated to the Earth, and I do believe we are changing and becoming more aware of Earth’s importance to our survival and wellbeing!

It seemed fitting that the last post in this sequence should be about Earth Stewardship.  What makes someone a good steward of the earth?  I return to Baba Dioum’s famous quote: “In the end we will conserve only what we love.  We will love only what we understand.  We will understand only what we are taught.” 

“We will love only what we understand....only what we are taught.”  It is vital that we share with children the beauty of Earth; that we make the time to take them outside to experience first hand this incredible place where we live.  Educate them about the importance of preserving and protecting ecosystems, and convey to them that it is our individual responsibility to be good stewards.   According to Google Trends, environmental education has steadily declined since 2004 to the present day.  With all the “green” hoopla, you’d think that maybe, just maybe, it would have increased!  It is a reminder to us all to not be complacent or assume that it is not our responsibility.  Each voice is crucial and relevant.

I’m currently in studio recording a new CD, called I “Saw Butterflies Kissing Today”!  With a focus on backyard critters, I aim to use this body of work to inspire parents and grandparents to get their kids out exploring the backyard again!  After all, the whole wide world is really our backyard!   Encouraging kids to be outdoors, to explore and discover nature plants the seed that can blossom into love.
Lesson Plans
1. Awe and discovery!  To ignite passion for the Earth, help kids to discover it!  Begin with the backyard, or if you don’t have one, go to the nearest park.  Take magnifying glasses, jars and tweezers and go on a Nature Treasure Hunt!  Collect things - leaves, worms, insects, bits of bark, rocks, flowers, anything that looks interesting!  Bring your findings back to the classroom and share what you’ve found.  Make leaf and bark rubbings; look at patterns; make paintings using the natural pigments of leaves and berries.  Nature Mom’s Blog has some fun ideas for Natural Play for Teaching Science!  
2.  Plant a garden!  Even if you don’t have much space you can create a small area of pots and tubs for plants.  Here's an Easy Way way to get you going!  Planting a garden is one of the greatest science lessons kids can have!  You can make it as simple or as complex as you want!  Kids Garden Club has some good ideas to help you and here are some Lesson Plans built around plants.

3.  Explore some of the incredible aspects of nature, such as Patterns captured in these National Geographic photos.  Take students outside and invite them to draw what they see; sitting quietly in a natural setting is a great way to get kids connected to the natural world.  If you have a hard time justifying including such an activity in nature, then discover how the Fibonacci Numbers work in nature!  Here is a beautiful film you could share with your older students called Nature by Numbers!  This website, called Patterns in Nature has some cool ideas too! 
4.  Plan a trip to a park, river, beach, swamp – some natural setting.  Fund-raise if you have to.  Prepare for this trip with your students; learn about the flora and fauna that live in the place you are going to visit.  Create journals to take with you and make sure that all the food you are taking is packed in re-usable containers so that you leave no trash behind.  Invite students to write a story about the trip and when you are actually at the location, ensure that time is set aside for quiet reflection.  Students should each spend time sitting by themselves, with just their journals. 

Kids need to know that our lives are integrally connected to the health and well being of this planet.  If we live in a city, this is not always obvious and therefore it is incumbent upon those of us who are parents, grandparents, teachers or mentors to impart this wisdom to young people.  It is as simple as that; we will not be healthy unless the planet is healthy.  Show them how Global Ocean Currents connect us; how we all breathe the same AIR – even if pollution is far away, it soon reaches us.  The recent eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano demonstrates how interconnected we all are!  
When I was out on tour across Canada and the US, children would often sing Friends of the Earth to me, especially on Earth Day!  In celebration of neighborhood critters you could sing Rocky Raquino (about a raccoon) or the Chickadee Blues, or Butterflies Kissing!  All of these songs can be found on my MySpace page.
One of my favorites! The Rainbow Child
Green Action of the Week!
Make a pledge!  Invite each child to pledge to do at least one thing toward becoming a true steward for the Earth.  There are plenty of things to choose from - to always recycle, to walk or bike instead of going by car when traveling short distances, to plant a tree or some native plants, to turn off lights and appliances, to educate others about why it is important to do these things, to raise money to protect a local habitat, to seek out products that are locally made or produced and much more!  Each one of us that commits IS making a difference.

As I mentioned earlier, I am recording my new CD.  If you like my songs and would like to show your support, please visit my Kickstarter page; a $10 pledge will give you a free download of the CD!  I am really thrilled with the collection of songs and think they are some of the best I have written.

Have a WONDERFUL week, and Earth Day!  I shall be thinking of everyone around the world celebrating!
In gratitude for life and this precious Earth!
Photos by Tessa Emery

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