Posts

My favourite environmental children’s books

By Sierra Club BC Environmental Educator Kirsten Dallimore

February 2017

One of my favorite things to do with a class is to read them a story. I use stories as a way to introduce myself and to share an important key message about nature and our connection as people to nature. Stories enable children to get hooked and become engaged in a program.

This month I would like to share with you three storybooks that I read in my workshops to spark nature connection. These stories help share a message about sustainability, local ecosystems and the importance of environmental stewardship.

 

“The Tree in the Ancient Forest” written by Carol Reed-Jones and illustrated by Christopher Canyon is a beautiful story about the interdependence of the plants and animals that live in old-growth forests. Students are reminded of their own dependence upon nature and the importance of preserving and respecting living things.

I have a lot of fun reading this story because of its rhyming and repetitive word patterns. It allows the students to join in the story and follow along in a fun and interactive way. I highly recommend this book to any classes that are learning about relationships between species in their local ecosystem.

 

 

 

“The Little Hummingbird” written by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is an Indigenous story about a little hummingbird that is doing its best to take care of its home. Children love this story because it is so simple and leaves them feeling empowered. They understand that more than likely the little hummingbird was probably not able to put out the fire alone, but the fact that little hummingbird did something at all is what is most important.

Children feel a strong connection to animals and compassion for them. They see themselves in this story as the little hummingbird and wonder what they would have done in this situation. I always ask them what they believe the lesson is from the little hummingbird and they come back with the same answer every time: “it doesn’t matter your size, we all can make an impact, so always do your best to protect your home.” I recommend this story to anyone who needs a simple reminder of the importance of always doing your part to protect the environment.

 

 

“Wild Berries” written and illustrated by Julie Flett is a lovely Cree storybook about a grandmother and grandson going out to pick wild blueberries. This story really ties in well with our “Going Wild! People & Plants” program. The key message delivered in this book is about sustainability. It reminds us of those special moments when we truly make a connection out in nature.

While the story takes you on a small journey about going out to pick wild berries, it really draws on the connections that are developed over time between people and the land.  Students are able to easily relate to the story because it is simple and clear about how they too can make connections with all living things in nature. I highly recommend this story to everyone who loves picking and eating wild berries.

Here are some more of my favourite environmental children’s books:

Eagle’s Reflection and other Northwest Coast Stories by Robert James Challenger

The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer

West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet by Deborah Hodge

Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

From the Mountains to the Sea We Share the Seasons by Brenda Boreham and Terri Mack

Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest by Caitlyn Vernon

Why Our Children Need to Get Outside and Engage with Nature

By Guest Contributor Louise Pedersen

December 2016

Children spend less and less time in contact with the natural world and this is having a huge impact on their health and development.

Since the 1970s, there has been a vast accumulation of evidence to support the critical importance of nature for human health and well-being. Access to nature results in positive physical and mental health outcomes, enhanced attention and learning, and social and emotional well-being. Time in nature buffers the stress of fast-paced urban life and builds emotional resilience.

Sierra Club BC Environmental Educator Kirsten Dallimore exploring nature with Ecole Poirier students.

Evidence of the benefits of access to nature applies to people of all ages and at all stages of life. However, time in nature as a child is particularly important. It contributes positively to development of the whole child and lays the foundation for future health and emotional well-being as well as a lifelong connection to the natural world.

Early, sustained in-nature experiences are also predictive of future support of conservation and environmentally responsible choices. Thus childhood time in nature is critical both for human health and the health of the planet.

There is a well-developed body of knowledge of the many benefits of time spent in nature. The consequences of not having a nature-rich life is also well documented and reached the mainstream over a decade ago in Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.

It is somewhat surprising then that this generation of children spends significantly less time in nature than their parents did. Canadian children are increasingly sedentary, spending an average of 6-7 hours per day engaged in screen-based, solitary activities (2011 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card) and less than one hour outside (David Suzuki Foundation). This troubling trend is affecting children’s connection to the natural world as well as their ability to learn, their social development and their health. This issue is multifaceted and complex: urbanization, the seductive lure of technology, and an increasingly risk-averse and litigious culture are all contributors.

NatureKids BC (formerly the Young Naturalists’ Club of BC Society) is a grassroots registered charity that helps children get outdoors to explore, play, learn about and take action for nature. Like Sierra Club BC, NatureKids is working to change the trend away from nature engagement, primarily through levers of access and opportunity.

We do this through an award-winning network of volunteer-led Family Nature Clubs that extends across BC. Together with our volunteer club leaders, nature mentors and donors, we share a vision of working together to help children develop a love of nature and a lifelong connection to the natural world while building environmental literacy and skills that will enable them to take action for nature.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern saw-whet owl

Thousands of children have participated in the NatureKids BC program since its inception in 2000. Program Alumni tell us their experiences with NatureKids BC helped embed in them a love of the natural world and a desire to protect it. NatureKids BC members have gone on to restore bogs, raise salmon fry, conduct humpback whale research, and share the wonder of the natural world with others.

Last year alone, we helped 1500+ children enjoy 4700 outdoor nature experiences across BC. And this is important because we now know that children need nature.

NatureKids BC publishes NatureWILD Magazine for kids. It’s the only magazine written about BC wildlife and ecosystems for elementary-aged youth. Each issue features fun and informative articles written by top BC naturalists and biologists, stories about children taking action for the environment, easy-to-read stories, and much more.

Through a School Membership, Teachers receive NatureWILD three times a year. Each issue comes with an accompanying Curriculum Guide linking it to the BC curriculum and helping teachers meet crosscurricular learning outcomes. NatureKids BC School Membership supports teachers in their efforts to incorporate place-based learning into the classroom and nature into the school community. It helps teachers address the big ideas and core curricular competencies for science, as well as other subjects such as math and language arts.

Learn more at NatureKids BC.

Thanks for teaching us about plants!

In fall 2015, our environmental educator Kirsten Dallimore, was up in the Okanagan visiting schools and teaching children about people, plants and the ways that we interact.

Through her program, students are invited to get to know local plants and learn ways aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures use the plants.

At the end of the day, Kirsten asked her students to draw their favourite part of the day. Here are some of the responses:

Find out more about our environmental education programs here.