wiki activityExercises for Fostering Ecoliteracy


It is important, as educators, to provide exercises that engage students while teaching them valuable cross-disciplinary lessons. Ecoliteracy encourages an understanding of the principles of the natural world, and the ability to then apply those to find solutions to human problems, thereby building a more sustainable world. Critical thinking skills are also essential, as they lead to a better understanding of how our everyday choices affect the world around us, and how systems are linked together.

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of engaging with nature have also been widely documented. Below are some exercises that may be used to promote ecoliteracy and a strong sense environmental citizenship, while enriching the quality of life of students. Some may be used in a classroom setting, others advocate less 'traditional' forums of education. Many can also be adapted for various age groups, can be used to acheive all types of learning objectives, and can be integrated across various subjects.

On this page, you will find many ideas for cross-disciplinary projects for engaging youth. Many of them could work with adults too. Click on the linked activity titles for more information, links and resources!



Art in the Outdoors

Art can be a means of developing a closer relationship with nature. Taking art class outside is a terrific way to explore the environment more closely while linking the experience with creative expression.

Biomimicry

Instruct students to find something in nature that they think is particularly interesting or beautiful. Discuss the properties of it, and how parts of it, or the design of it, or some aspect of it may be used to form the basis of the design for something we use everyday.

Camping

Camping is one of the mayors activities to connect with nature. Is not necessary to be in extreme conditions but a weekend camp once in a while benefits not only the ecoliteracy but our well being. And is a great opportunity to spend time in family or with friends.

Citizen Science

Citizen science is where everyday people help scientists monitor the environment. Individuals/groups are taught how to recognize and report observations of many different species of flora and fauna.

Community Walks

A very simple way to engage students in their immediate surroundings, is to take walks around the community, discussing what they see, feel, smell, and hear. With children, questions will likely naturally arise, and should be encouraged. Depending on where the community lies, a broad range of lessons could emerge, spanning the fields of cultural geography, engineering, architecture, meteorology, economics, biology, physics, chemistry and an inexhaustible list of others. A good project to complete following the outing may be asking students to design a neighbourhood they would like to live in: what built and natural features would it have? Where would it be? How would residents produce their food? How would you get from place to place?
Try this activity from the Institute for Integrative Science and Health, called "From the forest comes our story", which is a great complement to a community or nature walk.

Composting

Worm-composting bins are easy to set up in classrooms. Children often enjoy saving their food scraps to feed the worms, and, in doing so, are engaged in natural processes. This class project could be combined with many different lessons in the fields of biology, nutrition and food, chemistry, etc. Seeing the decomposition happen and having that concrete connection to their waste is extremely beneficial for children. They may think twice before throwing their food waste in the garbage at home!

Cooking

Learning to prepare a snack, a dish, or even a meal can be very educational and empowering for youth. Encourage youth to plan a meal using local foods. Ask them to consider where they might get the ingredients - are they available from local farmers? If they get them from the grocery store, where did they come from originally? Can they use any of the foods from their garden? Many other lessons can tie in cooking, including chemistry, nutrition, biology, economics, and even history! Take the activity even further by engaging youth in a community activity - why not plan, and cook a meal for a local seniors group?

Gardening

The soil produced in the composting bins could be used to make a small school garden, which gives the opportunity for lessons on meteorology, biology, geophysics, and many other areas of study. It gives children a connection to their food, and with encouragement will begin to question where the food on their plates comes from.

Language Studies

Students in Canada are required to take French as a second language. Language exchanges are common-place and it is known that immersing someone in a language will help them to learn it more quickly. Why not engage more often with the things we are learning through seeing, touching and interacting while learning how to describe them in French? If the children are learning about animal-names, why not take a trip to the zoo, or a farm?

River Tour

Taking students on a river tour where they make observations on the uses of a river can help them appreciate the economic, social and environmental services provided by the river's ecosystem. They may leave the lesson with a greater concern for the protection of the river as they come to understand that the ecosystem services provided by the river help to sustain their daily life and the lives of others in the community. They may also begin to consider the consequences of their actions and those of current political and economic systems that impact the river.

Summer Camp

Place Based Learning

Learning environments should leave students’ asking questions, discovering, and being engaged in the atmosphere. I will be using a resource from TDSB and Evergreen to promote that schools create learning environments in outdoor spaces surrounded by nature. Play, learning, and interaction leave a profound effect on health, thinking, and behaviour. (Gopnik)


Puppetry


Making and performing puppets fuels the imagination like almost nothing else. Whether performing an original puppet play or sitting in the audience engaging with puppets, when people and puppets get together, magical education happens! You can choose to create puppets made from natural materials, perform your show in the wild, write shows about sustainable subjects or all three. The only limit is your imagination - which is limitless. So go ahead - master the art of puppetry and feel great about engaging others in your stories.

__Making Musical Instruments__


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