From Peace Corps Wiki
Info about the Environment Club
Environmental Activities for Kids
Using the Senses: Adopt a Tree
- Take kids out into the community, or surrounding area. Maybe assign small groups of children to several different types of trees, so there will be more of a chance for discussion later on.
- Have the kids describe the tree as it is now… how it looks, how tall it is, is it bushy, or are there few leaves? What does the bark look like? What are the colors and textures. What does it smell like? Feel? What do the leaves look like? Color? Shape? Are the edges smooth or jagged? If crumpled, what do they smell like?
- How can you tell if the tree is alive? Dead?
- Does the tree move at all? (in the wind I mean, or is it very solid?)
- Have the kids think about why that tree is growing in that spot—is it naturally there? Did someone plant it? If it is naturally growing, what parts of the environment make it a good home for the tree? What may be harmful to it?
- What does this tree need for survival?
- What other plants, animals, or insects depend on this tree for survival?
- Estimate how long the tree may live for.
- Visit these same trees every month or so, have the kids document any changes they see, feel, or smell in the tree. Or… if it has been cut down :0(
- In the classroom, use our good old flipcharts… and put down a few statements about trees… as obvious as they may seem to you, kids here have never really been asked to think about these things. What parts does a tree have? What is the use for each of these parts? There are many different kinds of trees—what are some of their names? What are some of the uses for trees (besides firewood)?
Go out (without the kids seeing you) and get 10 everyday “nature” objects from outside the school, community, etc. These can be rocks, leaves, feathers, branches, etc. Place them on the ground, and cover them with a handkerchief. Gather all the children around. Lift the handkerchief for 25 seconds, and have them try to remember everything that was on the ground. See who can remember all of them, or as many as possible. Maybe give the winner some little prize?
After that, have all the kids go out and find identical objects in the surrounding area. Call them back after a few minutes, and pull out each object at a time, see who found something like it, and tell a story about what that item is, where it comes from, and how it is somehow important in the ecosystem.
Get some unlined paper, enough for each of the kids to have a few sheets each. Collect some dirt, oil, charcoal, clay, etc. Have kids use their hands and fingers to make pictures with the different colors of naturally occurring media. It will most likely be messy… but teaching kids that they can create things out of only the things directly surrounding them—will decrease their dependency on pencils, paint, brushes, and canvas, if they want to pursue art and pick up a fun hobby.
Go around the community, and see what trash you can find that could make a cool sculpture or multimedia piece. Of course, try and watch out for kids picking up sharp metal objects and such, but you can always find some fun things that don’t work anymore, but still have some sort of aesthetic value. Try old cans and bottles, broken radios, hair nets, combs… anything! If you can, get some glue and cardboard (and paint, should you wish) and put it all together! If there is anywhere in the classroom to display it, kids will be proud of what they have done—no matter how elementary it looks to us… since they don’t have access to art teachers for the most part here, they will be excited to try something new!
Kids here are not taught to think for themselves… they just copy, memorize, copy, memorize. Go out into the community, and have the kids sit for a while, paying attention to nature. Ask them to write what they see, what they hear, what they smell. Ask them to write a story about what they are experiencing, or maybe a poem. Even if they don’t write full sentences, have them make lists of what they are noticing about their community that they had never thought about before, and why it caught their attention… what is so special about it? Why does it interest you? After each student has had some time to think by themselves (try not to have them sit in groups, they will only be distracted). Back in the class, have each kid make a drawing or collage about what they saw, and how if effected them personally… post these on the wall when they are done—they’ll be proud!
Familiarize your kids with some basic pollution terms… Fossil fuels, CFCs, Acid Rain, Climate Change, Greenhouse effect, ozone, leaching, runoff, smog, renewable and non-renewable resources, point pollution, solid waste, toxic, etc. Make a “game board” of 5x5 squares, and make enough copies for all the kids. Write or print squares that fit onto the game board, each with one pollution word on it. Have the kids each put their squares down on the board, each in different place. Try to make sure the kids aren’t just copying each other. Otherwise you will have a multiple bingo. Try to have the kids familiar enough with the definitions of each word, so that when someone wins bingo, they can try to tell the class what each of the bingo words mean.
Weather Scavenger Hunt
Go around town, choosing items that you want your kids to pick up, or identify… make them a list, and put them in groups of 3 or 4. Give each group a list of items needed, a pencil or pen, a notebook, and a “weather find” back to collect things. Come up with some sort of treat or reward for the group that finds all things first and returns to you! Ideas for the hunt can be…
- Something that will become part of a cloud
- Something left by the rain
- Something facing the sun
- Something hiding from the sun
- A building that has been damaged by the weather
- A place someone can seek shelter during a bad storm, such as a tornado or hurricane
- A place where water has moved the soil
- Something that reflects sunlight
- Something that repels water, and something that will soak up water
- Something that uses water or sunlight to work
- Something the color of the sky
- Something the color of snow
Anything really… just to get the kids thinking! For the things that cant be picked up, have them make a drawing of what they see, and describe where it is in town.
At my local JHS School I took over a previous volunteer’s Environment Club. This club was for Form 2 and 3 students only and had an executive board of 7 students who met outside the club to plan meetings. The club met bi-weekly (or weekly depending on the school schedule) immediately after school and did a variety of activities such as eco-art crafts (magazine bead jewelry and water sachet purses), educational games, and event planning. The club also participated in a local field trip to the Oda Big Tree and also planned an Environment Day.
When I took over the club there was interest for the Form 1s to also join. Eventually each grade was allowed to be in the club based on attendance and school behavior. Some days there would be anywhere from 25-50 students. The club was entirely funded by myself and the money made from the sales of the magazine bead jewelry. Sadly, there was no teacher support for the club, thus it was not very sustainable.
The club was enjoyable when the students were well behaved. Sometimes it was difficult to handle so many of them all by myself. I would have liked to have more teacher involvement so the school could continue the club. The teachers showed interest but never actually stayed after school to help. Not sure how to inspire them to help with the club.