Education for Planet Earth
|Teaching Green - The Elementary Years:
Hands-on Learning in Grades K-5
Tim Grant and Gail Littlejohn, (editors), Teaching Green - The Elementary Years: Hands-on Learning in Grades K-5 Toronto: Green Teacher, 2005, ISBN 0-86571-534-3, 256 pages, 8½ " x 11"
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Subtitled "Hands-on Learning in Grades K-5," this brand new 240-page large-format paperback contains over 50 of the best teaching strategies and activities contributed to Green Teacher, the non-profit magazine during the past decade. Almost all were updated and revised for this special 2005 anthology. As in their 2004 book Teaching Green - The Middle Years (for Grades 6-8), Toronto editors Tim Grant and Gail Littlejohn have assembled a wealth of kid-tested ideas contributed by educators from across North America, covering a wide spectrum of environmental topics and presenting a large diversity of practical projects and learning strategies.
In the "Approaches to Learning" section, readers will find innovative ideas for exploring the natural world, promoting environmental citizenship and integrated project-based learning, along with opportunities for taking action and practicing authentic democracy. A particularly interesting article is "Guiding Your School Toward Environmental Literacy," which outlines a step-by-step whole-school approach used successfully by dozens of Calgary schools over the past decade to evaluate what a school is already doing and then develop a workable plan.
In "Exploring Nature Around Us," the largest section of the book, a first grade teacher describes taking her class on an overnight trip; a naturalist suggests ways to get the most out of a pond study; an article titled "The Numbered Forest" gives ides for incorporating schoolyard trees into mathematics lessons. One author describes how observing patterns in nature -- such as the nest-building behaviour of squirrels -- can help students to discover basic concepts of ecology. Two others discuss the use of creative journals as a springboard to fresh insights and discoveries about the natural world!
The "Plants and Animals" section includes activities for studying forests and monarch butterflies, as well as a "Great Lakes Food Web Drama" and instructions for creating a tropical rainforest simulation in a school gym. One of the most compelling articles looks at the research showing that having animals in the classroom contributes both to learning and to the development of empathy and respect for all living creatures. Included are useful guidelines for animal care and recommendations on the most appropriate classroom pets.
While the book focuses on helping kids develop a strong connection with the natural world, there are many articles that focus on the social and global aspects of our environment. For example, readers will find activities for promoting global awareness in kindergarten, ideas for organizing a school-wide Development Days theme, and a recipe for baking a "One World Cake" to help students understand how food links us to people and places all around the world. One section describes a variety of projects to link school and community, such as creating community green maps, developing waste-free lunch programs and building watershed models that educate the community about local threats to water quality. The final section presents ideas for exploring the environment through literature, imagination and celebration.
The book is attractively designed and organized, and, for each article and activity, the editors have identified appropriate grade levels, subject areas, key concepts, skills, and materials. One other teacher-friendly detail is the practical "lay-flat" binding. The hands-on projects and learning strategies in Teaching Green - The Elementary Years are sure to inspire all educators who are seeking innovative ideas for incorporating green themes into their programs.
What the reviewers are saying:
“Teaching Green: The Elementary Years brings multiple voices and experiences to our practice as teachers, nature interpreters, museum educators, and youth leaders. It’s like sitting down with colleagues to share new approaches, discuss current issues, and reflect on what we do. The wide range of topics and activities, the engaging descriptions, and the wealth of references are what we’ve come to expect from Green Teacher.”
“Teaching Green: The Elementary Years provides practical examples to illustrate that exploration of environmental issues is achievable (and lots of fun) in the elementary years. It’s an inspiring resource that encourages learning through engagement, awareness through exploration, action through celebration of the world around us, and knowledge that connects us to our communities. It’s a valuable resource for creating a better world.”
“This book is a delightful collection of activities to connect the elementary classroom to the natural world in an active and engaging way.”
“Teaching Green: The Elementary Years offers educators a wealth of background information and activities to enhance learning about the environment. For those who are just embarking upon their teaching careers as well as those with decades of experience, this resource provides creative and inspiring tips and techniques to help instill passion for the environment in elementary students. (And, it will be very difficult, indeed, for any teacher using this resource to remain untouched by the enthusiasm that will certainly erupt from one’s students.)”
“Wow! (And I don't use exclamations points loosely.) Teaching Green: The Elementary Years is like a greatest hits collection from the last ten years of Green Teacher magazine. Many of my favorite articles are all here in one place, along with many others that I wish I had seen the first time around. I know this resource will become a highly valued text in my Place-based Education course and I envision it dog-eared and well loved on my shelf a decade from now. It’s the handbook that the environmental education movement has been looking for.”
“Teaching Green: The Elementary Years offers a collection of richly detailed stories about life in classrooms and schools where teachers and students are working together to understand human/environment relationships, develop environmental literacy, and effect positive change. It provides a sound base of concepts and curriculum frameworks from which teachers can build or enhance environmental education programs in their classrooms, and at the same time offers a wealth of practical examples of how teachers and students can work together to develop and model environmental citizenship in their communities. This book is a wonderful resource for teachers concerned with educating students about the place of humans in nature and our responsibilities to the planet and to each other.”