I’m so glad that spring is here. The daffodils are blooming and spring is ushering in longer days and chances to be outside. Spring is one of my favorite times of year because it is so easy to teach children about the world that surrounds them. Everything you need to be an environmental educator is right outside your classroom door I’m going to give you five easy ways to connect your classroom to environment. Children love environmental education once they are introduced to it! Even one of these ideas could be the spark your classroom needs!
1) Collections are an excellent way to get children using their senses to learn about nature. You can easily turn collections of different natural objects into math and literacy lessons. We pick up rocks around our campus to order by order and sort. Then we write our own sorting rules. If you have a campus without many rocks hopefully you can collect some during your travels. Children love rocks! Each student can also make a small collection to take home in a recycled egg carton.
Children naturally love to collect and two of the favorite collections in our classroom are collections of feathers and shells. These collections are great for descriptive writing and helping children learn about textures in nature. These are also great calm down boxes for children that are feeling stressed.
2) Share nature sounds in your classroom. There are an abundance of recordings of wind, water and forest sounds. These are great for learning about visualization and to develop attention to oral detail. Which is the same as listening and following directions. Nature sounds also provide a soothing background for work in the classroom. Walk around your campus and listen for all the many different sounds you can hear. Help the listeners sort out the natural and man-made sounds.
3) Look for signs of animals and plants around your campus. Even in the most urban areas birds will be attracted to bird feeders. You can find many ideas in books and online for creating bird feeders in your classroom. Help the children learn the names of common birds in your environment. There are a variety of books and apps available to help you identify birds and plants. Biological identification is an important skill for everyone. Children will need this skill throughout their educational career.
4) Encourage interest in the environment by having an abundance of books about the earth, animals, weather, plants and trees in your classroom library. There are so many wonderful non-fiction books available to all levels of readers. We continue to make a concentrated effort at our school to purchase sets of guided reading texts that relate to science topics.
5) Classroom pets are probably one of the best ways to teach children about animals in the classroom environment. I have had millipedes, sow bugs, earthworms, hermit crabs, ladybugs, butterflies, a snake and guinea pigs. Currently I have a rescued Eastern Box Turtle, a guinea pig and earthworms. Earthworms and millipedes are easy to keep in the classroom for extended periods of time. They do not require a lot of maintenance and they do not bite if that is a concern in your school. The children love our Eastern Box Turtle. We have watched him eat, learned about hibernation and have felt sad about his injury. He has a cracked shell and a hurt leg that prevents him from being released back into his native environment. Dash has taught us about us turtles, animal characteristics and more importantly he has taught us about compassion.
I hope these ideas will help you bring the outdoors indoors!! Everyone can be an environmental educator. Your children will love learning about the world that surrounds them. This post is also featured at The Organized Classroom Blog by Charity Preston. Charity has a lot of great ideas to share!