Sunday, November 21, 2010

Teaching Children the Value of Nature

Perhaps it’s time we taught children the real value of nature. 

It’s wonderful that we are teaching them to care for it, to protect and preserve it, to try to “save” it etc. etc., but unless we, and they, fundamentally comprehend its intrinsic value, I fear we will not act fast enough to prevent the complete breakdown of biodiversity that is actually happening at this very moment. 

Thankfully nature has an indomitable way of resurrecting itself when we just leave it alone; however if we continue on this present trajectory it may take millions of years for that to happen and we, like some pesky mite, will simply be sloughed off along the way.

How do we understand this value?  How can we teach it to the youngest members of our society so that they might grow up fiercely determined to acknowledge its importance and relevance in monetary terms?  I will attempt here to offer some ideas that you might find useful in your classrooms and home-school lessons.

Lesson Plans

1.  The value of a watershed
Everyone lives in a watershed, and every watershed impacts the ocean.  Even if you live far inland, the lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers all flow through the countryside to the sea.  Therefore, the health of that watershed has far reaching implications not only for wildlife but for humans too.  Find out which watershed you live in and invite your students to learn how that watershed impacts the economic wellbeing of the various communities therein.  For example, here in Florida, saltwater fishing in the Charlotte Harbor region generates nearly $37milllon,  annual revenue from angler expenditures.  Pollutants from human habitation can severely affect the health of the marine ecosystems subsequently impacting the fish and the industry that is reliant upon it. 

2.  Bats
Bats provide a valuable service to famers because they feed on many of the pests that destroy crops.  Without bats, farmers would have to spend large sums of money on pesticides to curtail such destruction.  Fruit-eating bats spread seeds across large swaths of forest ensuring the survival of fruit bearing trees.  Ask students to find out which pests bats eat, and what fruits might be impacted if bats were not able to distribute the seeds.

3.  Bees
Bees pollinate a variety of plants that provide us with essential foods; invite students to research these foods and then look at their commercial value.  Bees are currently declining around the globe; what would be the economic impact if there were no bees?  Ways Kids Can Help Protect Bees

4.  Earthworms
Without earthworms, there would be no soil and therefore no plants, no food. We don’t often see posters celebrating the value of worms!   Create a poster illustrating the role of earthworms in the food chain.  Write a song, a poem, an ode to the earthworm!  Importance of Earthworms

5.  Trees
Trees provide a multitude of services; paper, wood for building, shade for crops, they provide us with food and they also clean the air and act as carbon sinks.  Ask students to list some of the econimical benefits of trees.   A Tree's importance and Environmental Benefit

Bats, bats, bats!   Is one that comes to mind!  The Coral Reef is another - coral reefs are essential nursery grounds for so many species of fish.

Have fun!  Thanks for stopping by!  Let me know if I can help you in any way with your lesson plans!
In gratitude to this Earth for life!

Other Resources:


  1. They should learn that nature has a value in itself, beyond the shallow meaning of the word value today, and that human beings are incomplete without it.

  2. That is very true, thank you for sharing this. I personally feel that way, but there are many different perspectives amongst human beings and for some, it is necessary to perceive that nature is in of itself valuable. True, the word "value" has been de-valued, as have many other words. As someone who seeks to educate children one way or another about the fundamental gift of life that this planet bestows upon us, I find that I must navigate the waters of perception in a multitude of ways.

  3. I personally feel that way, but there are many different perspectives amongst human beings and for some, it is necessary to perceive that nature is in of itself valuable.
    Caravan Parks

  4. It would be also good if our youth and even older people can get some awareness or some kind of environmental training courses. Sometimes some people only needs to see what is happening and know that they can do and they will definitely do it. Remember earth hour when everyone kills their lights, it's the same concept.

  5. That is very true John, thanks. Different regions, cities, towns have a variety of opportunities for people to learn about the ecology and the environment and ways for people to be engaged. It just takes a little research wherever you are, but thankfully there is increased awareness and appreciation of the importance of conserving and protecting the natural world.