Getting Kids Involved in Protecting Nature

BY ON December 14, 2018

climate change hourglass graphicThe Living Planet Report of 2018 conducted by The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) focuses on global biodiversity. This new report garners insights from over four dozen authorities in the fields of conservation, policy, and the world of academia.

Very much like the conclusions drawn from the IPCC findings, the top takeaways are not promising. A critical deterioration is in store for all elements of the “natural world,” and as a result – for our children too. The analysis uses the term “environmental catastrophe,” and underscores that the timeline to rectify the ongoing decimation of nature as “the next few years.” It lays out the need for “a collective commitment” from populations and leaders around the world.

To expand outreach of this news, WWF has put together a version of the findings made accessible to young people. They designed a syllabus to ensure that the upcoming generation, who will be most impacted by the current state of affairs, is informed about the issues set to shape the future of their lives.

I looked at the classroom guide designed for children ages 8 and up. Supported by visual components and exercises, it delivers a study manual that is intuitive in its introduction to a range of concepts.

Additionally, it draws a direct line to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Goals of 2012, which encompassed:

  • Climate Action
  • Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Life on Land
  • Life Below Water

A downloadable board game, targeted at kids from 8 to 10 years old, presents a fun way to access these ideas. There is also a video, The World’s Largest Lesson, introduced by the youth activist, Malala Yousafzai.

The actual school handbook targets the fourth through ninth grades, and drills down on understanding the interrelatedness of earth’s ecosystems, in tandem with sustainable development. Grades 4 to 6 are presented with material on “nature and society.” Grades 7 to 9 are exposed to more advanced topics like how matter and energy work.

While illustrating how humans are dependent on ecosystems and the benefits from resources that nature provides, there is also a clear parallel drawn to the negative repercussions of excessive consumption.

In 2008, the world actually needed 1.5 planets to fulfill all their demands. It is this type of “activity” which is pushing our “natural systems to the edge.”

Too Much Pressure On Our Planet graphic

WWF supplies a guide for primary school teachers. The study outline connects the dots through ideas, creative stimulation, exercises and projects. (Check out the online toolkits.)

For instance, over the past four decades the decline in wildlife population has been 60 percent. All children like animals. One model suggests having students chose an animal, research where it lives, what type of food it eats, and the potential dangers it may face.

By example, it outlines an assignment that demonstrates the link between the survival of orangutans and consumer food choices – specially products that use palm oil. The lesson depicts how palm oil cultivation increases greenhouse emissions, causes environmental degradation and deforestation (specifically the destruction of rainforests), and too often displaces populations of indigenous people.

With the holiday vacation coming up, parents have the opportunity to take their own initiatives to engage their children in nature-awareness activities.

Here are three suggestions to get you started!

    • Check out iNaturalist for a fun way to become a citizen scientist.
    • Have your child do a piece of artwork or write a story, in which they express their feelings about the world of nature. Encourage them to pick a species (animal, insect, or plant) they care about.
    • Start a scrap book with downloadable images of animals or insects. Find out how they each are being impacted by the changing environment or in risk of becoming endangered. Did you know that currently there are only 100,000 giraffes left?

Getting our children involved in loving and protecting the planet at an early age is the best insurance that we have!

Images Courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund

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TOPICS: Animals, Climate Change, Environment, Schools