Climate Change: What’s a Teacher to Do?


thWith so much recent media coverage about climate change, young children are bound to have heard stories of gloom and doom about the future.

But what happens when we give children too much “bad news” about the environment?


Research shows that they may become fearful and anxious.* Even if our best intentions are to instill environmentally helpful behaviors, such as recycling or turning off the lights, we may be inadvertently giving kids the dauntinng message: “The ice caps are melting and it’s your job to fix the problem.”

So what’s a teacher to do?

“Without an abiding sense of comfort in and love for the natural world,  no amount of chastising about turning off the lights is going to make a bit of difference,” states David Sobel.**

What will make a difference? The answer is simple: connect children and the curriculum to the near-by natural world.

boy-with-magnifying-glass-29eyjolHow? A first step can be simple, too: Take your class go outside and have each child find a natural object. Then ask them to complete these 3 statements:

  • I  notice . . .
  • I wonder . . .
  • It reminds me of . . .

Here’s a sample response from a 4th-grader standing under a fig tree:

  • I notice that the fig leaves are different colors–some are green and others yellow.
  • I wonder why one side f the leaf is sticky.
  • It reminds me of a hand because of it’s shape.

The Next Generation Science Standards encourage children to think like a scientist, and that’s exactly what they’re doing in this activity.

  • I notice: Scientists make observations.
  • I wonder: Scientists ask questions–a lot of questions!
  • It reminds me of: Scientists make connections.


Can’t get outside. No problem!



*Finger, 1993

**David T. Sobel is an internationally-known researcher, practitioner, and promoter of developmentally appropriate environmental education for children. He’s an advocate of Place-Based Education.

subscribe     Blog by Carol Malnor I love making connections: kids and nature, science and reading, fun and learning. I discovered the joy of connecting Dawn Publications' books with kids when I was a classroom teacher. Dawn's books were easy to incorporate into my lessons and the kids loved them. I used picture books with students of all ages, from primary school all the way up through 9th grade. Over the years, my relationship with Dawn changed and developed, and I authored Dawn’s Teacher’s Guides as well as writing books for children 4-14 years old. ARTICLE How to Use Creative Nonfiction Picture Books in Support of Common Core and Science ACTIVITIES Dawn Publications STANDARDS Common Core State Standards Next Generation Science Standards National Science Teachers Association Picture Perfect Science   OTHER FAVORITES Dawn Publications Children and Nature Network
Sharing Nature Worldwide
Roots and Shoots
Audubon Adventures
Journey North: Citizen Science
Project Learning Tree