eePRO

The hub for environmental education professional development

Teaching Climate Change

I agree with Jason Davis in his article, "Do We Need Climate Solutions?", that we teachers need to be teaching children about climate change. Although it can be a scary topic, it can be communicated to children in an age-appropriate way. After all, that's a teacher's job - to translate the adult world in a way children can understand. Just as we teach "Stranger Danger," a VERY scary topic, but necessary for our children's well-being, we need to introduce climate change to elementary children. I've been teaching climate change to 10-year-olds for several years, with the goal of educating and empowering. When children realize they can take steps to help slow down climate change, they face the challenge with a positive attitude. Last year, my class was granted a meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at the UN, to discuss climate change. As my student, Brian, told him, "We may be small, but there are A LOT of us. If we work together, we can make a difference!" Out of the mouth of babes....

My students and I started a website last year, Kids Against Climate Change. It provides an authentic audience for students from around the world to communicate the information they're learning about climate change. We'd love to hear from your students! In addition, there are lesson plans for the teacher and worksheets for the students to launch a unit. My contact information is there as well, if you want additional hands-on activities for the classroom.

Teachers, what are you doing in the classroom to help kids internalize the concept of climate change?

Kids Against Climate Change
Kids Against Climate Change

Thank you so much for your resources for teaching climate change! I am currently working on teaching my first climate unit in 6th grade. I have been fortunate enough to go through a great teaching program as well as several environmental education courses. However, I want to make my students care about the severity of global warming and what climate change can do to our planet. How have you instilled this into your teaching? Do you have any advice for teaching the 6th grade age group of students about climate change?

Good to hear from you, Phyleesha. I applaud you for taking on climate change. It's such an important societal issue. Show your students the KidsAgainstClimateChange.com website. Show them that lots of kids are concerned about climate change and let them read some of the comments students have left. Ask them why they think it's so important. Give them an opportunity to do some research (see Start Learning page on the website), and have class discussions. Let them know that they will also have an opportunity to contribute to the conversation on the blog. If you have any questions while you're teaching the lessons, please feel free to contact me: kchristieblick@socsd.org. Kind regards, Kottie

Sea Level Rise Model: When land ice melts, sea levels begin to rise, causing flooding.

Hello everyone! Your comments and advice have been helpful to read and to use in formulating new ways to teach the youth about climate change and how they can be environmental stewards. I have a more tailored question though for whoever is willing to answer. I am a journalist who is studying environmental education in hopes of better presenting environmentally related articles to the younger generations. What advice would you give to the media in terms of educating the youth? How can we better mold our articles and news stories on climate change so that they will be more appealing to children or teens?

Hi Kristiana. So glad to hear you're interested in helping young people understand the importance of climate change. Yes, I think my students and I may be able to help you. I teach 10- and 11-year-olds. They really like The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David. It's engaging, uses lots of kid-friendly analogies, it gives them enough background information so they can understand the new information she's introducing, and it's written on their reading level (although quite challenging for my lower readers). The text is split up on each page, so it's not "too much" to take in, and the pictures are colorful and rather humorous. All-in-all, a winning combination for kids. Feel free to email me if you have more specific questions for me (or my students). My students have helped critique writers in the past quite successfully - after all, they're experts at being kids! We are in the midst of our climate change (NGSS's Earth's Systems: Atmosphere) unit right now, so they knowledgeable, and would be keen to help spread the word about climate change. ~Kottie Christie-Blick kchristieblick@socsd.org

Thank you so much for the advice and feedback Kottie! I will have to check out The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming to get a better idea of formulating my future articles and news packages to younger crowds! The news media has always focused their attention on adult audiences, and I think it would be beneficial to tailor certain news articles and stories to children, so they are better informed on the world they are growing up in. Especially when the topic has to do with the environment and climate change!

Thank you for pointing us to that website. I am creating a few lessons about climate change that I am adding to my weather unit. Pretty much everything I need to help assist me in teaching from articles, videos, activities, and comments from other students on the topic. To me, as an educator, climate change is a bit daunting. However, these resources are very helpful and making it a bit less daunting to teach. We must remember we are educators there to give the information out to the students, to teach them, and to help them be environmental stewards.
I have seen and read the book The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming before and totally forgot about it. Yes, it is a fantastic book to help guide them through global warming and climate change. The graphics help enhances the reading. I teach 7th grade so this book would be great for my students and isn’t took difficult for my lower readers. Sometimes we need reminders of the amazing resources that are out there.
As I said I teach 7th grade, I also teach STEM. I am having massive teacher lesson writing block, and want to find a way to incorporate some STEM when teaching about climate change. Does anyone have any resources or ideas that can help me teacher lesson writing block?
Thank you everyone for the amazing work you all do and help!

Hi Hilarie. You can find lesson plans to begin teaching climate change right away (No huge prep time needed!) at the link below. Hope this helps get you started. You don't have to know everything about climate change. You're a teacher, not a climatologist. Just plunge right in. Once you do, you'll see there are plenty of online resources that will answer your science questions (especially at https://cleanet.org/index.html). Good luck! ~Kottie

Hello every one, i am very interested by your comments and the way you provide additional competence knowledge related to climate change education. I am currently tutorial assistant in private Institution in Africa in department of Natural Resource and Environmental Management, however i assist in teaching climate change, i saw that most of our students think climate change like strange things that are away of us. But i sow that it is because lack of knowledge of this science . Most of African countries, climate change education looks very new sciences. On my side i heard climate change word when i started undergraduate!!! I appreciated the way you start to teach young generation about climate change. I wish too but i need some additional advice and technique that may help me to empower my society for teaching young generation about this issue of climate changes.

Hello, Fabien. Glad to hear you are teaching about climate change in Rwanda. If you do an Internet search for Climate Change in Rwanda you'll find many articles about the increased weather events and flooding in your country. If you search Water Crisis in Cape Town, you'll find many articles about the drought and the probability of water being turned off throughout the city beginning 21 April. You can also follow me on Twitter: @KottieCB . I tweet climate change news for teachers wishing to keep current for their own information, as well as for use in the classroom. I also tweet/retweet climate teaching strategies that teachers are using successfully in the classroom.

Thanks Kottie really appreciate your effort in sharing climate change material we are learning a lot and imparting the information to our youth in Zimbabwe under our organisation Living Green Campaign Zimbabwe.

I'll be presenting "Digital Natives Use 3-D Learning to Collaborate on Climate Change," with a colleague at NSTA in Atlanta, March 17. Hope you'll join us! Anyone else from NAAEE presenting on climate change? I'm always looking for new ideas!

What an incredible resource this thread is for all teachers who want to teach their students about Climate Change. I live in a very conservative community. English teachers are dealing with books being banned, and I have several students who have voiced that they of the strong opinion, "Climate Change is a lie." I'd really appreciate any suggestions how to handle that aspect of teaching about Climate Change, dealing with conservative, helicopter parents. My approach to date has been to couch in in Ecology and Geology content areas, but I would like to try and address the issue directly without ending up in front of the school board like some of my ELA colleagues.

Thank you for the comments, suggestions, and resources in this discussion thread. The encouragement to dive right in was terrific--I know I have only touched the surface of the subject. I also agree with the previous post--not only a conservative district, but in a state where Climate Change education is being taken out of the standards (actually, just barely touched upon). I have also had to take a similar approach by addressing the subject through change over time in Geology. Suggestions on how to approach this a little better? Thank you all for these posts--they are very helpful!

It's an interesting conundrum trying to address these worldview differences in education while remaining true to the science - that's for sure! I've been interested by studies that find that conservative Americans tend to make more open-minded assessments of climate science when policy solutions that support their worldview are discussed (i.e., geoengineering or carbon capture. Here's a link to one of the studies: https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1284&context...). While the efficacy of such methods for addressing climate change is clearly still under question, including discussion of potential solution scenarios that focus on technological innovation (creating a new technology which could be the product of market forces rather than focusing solely on limiting old technologies through industry/emissions regulations) may help dismissive parents/educators feel like their students are being exposed to multiple perspectives without subverting scientific consensus. I think we can be realistic about the uncertainties surrounding these policy solutions when discussing them in the classroom while still acknowledging that addressing climate change will require participation across a range of opinions using multiple strategies. If anyone tries this out, let me know how it goes! Ever since I've read those studies I've been so curious to know how it would play out with a parent.

Fortunately, there are many excellent climate change education resources currently available. Hearing the concern about addressing skeptics, I created a subset of climate change resources targeting different age levels, but also particularly addressing deniers/skeptics/doubters. When you open the URL below, you need to click on the small square box at the bottom of the "Denial/Skeptics/Doubters" bubble to open a set of links. Best regards as you explore! http://cmapspublic2.ihmc.us/rid=1Q1B9HWXL-1TY0J2P-3XHV/Resources.cmap

I love looking through all of these resources for our students in the classroom. I teach first grade and love sharing EE lessons/units with my kids. One area that I don't have much content in though is Climate Change. Any ideas for resources appropriate for first grade? Thank you in advance!

Best resource for first graders? Dr. Seuss's The Lorax! It reminds us all that everything in nature is connected, and that people can have a positive or negative impact on nature. If we want to live in a beautiful environment, we need to protect it. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not!"

Thanks, Kottie. The Lorax is a great suggestion. Our elementary school community put The Lorax on as a community play a few years ago.
Meanwhile, here is a URL that leads you to hyperlinked climate change resources for the elementary level. Just click the box at the bottom of the "Elementary Resources" and "Elementary Curricular Resources" bubbles to access these resources. Some are appropriate for first grade and some are more appropriate to share with your upper elementary colleagues.
Let me know how that goes for you! http://cmapspublic2.ihmc.us/rid=1SL97PRB0-27LYZY1-3KJL/Supporting%20Elem...
Jane Heinze-Fry