Bringing Nature Inside: Environmental Education in the Classroom and at Home

Are you stuck inside with your kids? Struggling to find ways to help them learn concepts they are now being taught online?

At the beginning of March, I attended the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia’s Annual Conference: “Splashing into EEA: Making Waves within Your Community.” About 100 formal and informal educators gathered on Jekyll Island to attend various workshops about
bringing the environment into our communities through engaging education. What I came away with was many new ideas about how we at the Southern Conservation Trust could teach our environmental education programs, and I learned new activities that we could bring to this
community.

Currently, all schools in Georgia are closed and many students are now having to learn from home. For some, this puts parents in a teacher role, having to help their children learn concepts they are struggling with. Here are several ways you can incorporate nature and the environment into various school subjects. The activities listed are for a mix of age groups (one activity is suited for kindergarten while another might be more suited for middle school). Each activity can be tailored to a specific learning level. Get creative!

Math:
• Have your children go outside and collect leaves, sticks, and other small things
• These objects can then be used to practice counting, sorting, shapes, and even graphing!
• Kids can create a bar graph to count how many of each object they have. Don’t forget to have them label the axes.
• Children can measure the length and width of the leaves and can then calculate the area of them. Either categorize the leaf into a common shape for easier calculations or break the leaf up into smaller shapes for a more challenging calculation.

English/Language Arts:
• Read poems or stories about the natural world. Children can identify parts of speech, alliteration, metaphors, etc.
• Have kids write their own nature poems or short stories
• Learn about story arcs. Have kids compare animal or plant journey’s to story arcs and identify different narratives that exist.
• Have your children research an endangered species, a plant, or anything in nature. They can prepare a short research paper or presentation. Use this opportunity to teach about different types or sources, how to find accurate information, and different places you can find information (books, interviews, newspapers, videos, etc.)

 Art:
• Make plant rubbings
• Make a collage with things you find outside
• Learn to make dye from plants

Geography/Social Studies:
• Learn about watersheds in your state and have your children identify which one you live in.
• Find a map online of your city and locate all your parks, streams, ponds, etc.
• Kids can identify what plants or animals live in different areas across the state (or country) and have them map out different regions.

History:
• Research what plants were around in various time periods and what their uses were
• Learn how people study the past and use these tools to learn the history of a specific plant or animal
• Go out in the backyard and pick a plant. Have your children observe the plant and write a short history of that plant

Foreign Language:
• Learn the names for different plant and animal species and then practice describing them

PE:
• Go outside!!

Science: There are so many resources for nature-themed science activities. I am only listing a few of the possibilities below.
• Learn to use a dichotomous key to identify different leaves. Here is a link to an online version https://bit.ly/38XxAxW
• Use pictures of animals and plants found in your area to create a food web
• Research the life cycle of a particular plant or animal (don’t forget insects!). Draw the life cycle out or find items in your home you can use to represent the different life stages. (The picture at the top of this article uses different types of pasta to represent the life
cycle of a monarch butterfly)

Do you guys have a favorite environmental education activity? Did you do one of the ones
above? I would love to hear about it!

-Emma Presberg

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AUTHOR: SCT ADMIN
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