But what happens when we give children too much “bad news” about the environment?
Research shows that they may become fearful and anxious.* Even if our best intentions are to instill environmentally helpful behaviors, such as recycling or turning off the lights, we may be inadvertently giving kids the dauntinng message: “The ice caps are melting and it’s your job to fix the problem.”
So what’s a teacher to do?
“Without an abiding sense of comfort in and love for the natural world, no amount of chastising about turning off the lights is going to make a bit of difference,” states David Sobel.**
What will make a difference? The answer is simple: connect children and the curriculum to the near-by natural world.
- I notice . . .
- I wonder . . .
- It reminds me of . . .
Here’s a sample response from a 4th-grader standing under a fig tree:
- I notice that the fig leaves are different colors–some are green and others yellow.
- I wonder why one side f the leaf is sticky.
- It reminds me of a hand because of it’s shape.
The Next Generation Science Standards encourage children to think like a scientist, and that’s exactly what they’re doing in this activity.
- I notice: Scientists make observations.
- I wonder: Scientists ask questions–a lot of questions!
- It reminds me of: Scientists make connections.
Can’t get outside. No problem!
- Bring a variety of natural objects into the classroom and let children choose what they would like to look at.
- Use one of Dawn Publications’ beautiful picture books.
**David T. Sobel is an internationally-known researcher, practitioner, and promoter of developmentally appropriate environmental education for children. He’s an advocate of Place-Based Education.