By Environmental Educator Kirsten Dallimore
Welcome back to another adventuresome year of environmental education with Sierra Club BC!
This is the beginning of my fourth school year as Sierra Club BC’s environmental educator. I am thrilled to again be sharing my nature connection tips and tricks with B.C. students and teachers.
Here’s my first tip: take your students for a nature walk and invite them to share their observations on how nearby plants and animals were able—or not able—to adapt to this summer’s very dry weather conditions. Students can draw pictures, write stories, or simply make a list of their observations. Remember to save time at the end to allow students to share what they observed.
I had a wonderful summer exploring southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The highlight was taking a camping trip to Pender and then Galiano Island. I love that when I am camping I get to step back from the rest of the world and embrace a much simpler lifestyle. Have you ever thought about how the simple act of eating outside is a way to connect with nature?
Another idea for a nature connection activity to do with your students is to have a picnic lunch or snack outside together. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just have each student bring their own food and together you can make some tea to share. The most important part is that students will make a connection with nature. While eating, take some time to listen to the birds. Count the number of animals you see and hear, feel the ground you sit upon and take time to gather together in circle to share your observations. For an even more intense nature sensory exercise, try eating with your eyes closed!
What makes my job so much fun? I get to spend time with students sparking their curiosity about the natural world in their own community. Here is my best tip for how to do this: take your students outside on a regular basis. Make outdoor exploration part of your weekly routine throughout the school year. Sierra Club BC’s Going Wild! programs are designed to support students’ opportunity to make observations about nature and reflect on their nature experiences in their own community. Together they brainstorm and develop their own ideas about how they can best take care of their local environment.
The Going Wild! programs are also designed to be a model and support for teachers taking their students outside to explore and experience nature in a familiar place. Together we can build healthy and long lasting communities. When we take students outside, we foster a direct experience with their local environment which makes them more likely to work towards the protection of their local ecosystem.
Why do I love nature so much? My answer is usually very similar to what students tell me: I get to play, explore and have many exciting experiences when I’m outside. I always have an awesome story to share once I’ve been in nature.
Wouldn’t we love to see every child in B.C. have an exciting and memorable story to share about their experience in nature? Through support and modelling done by teachers, students are having greater opportunities to get outside and have stories to share. Thank you to all the teachers that have taken it upon themselves to be a part of the growing nature connection movement.
I look forward to supporting teachers this year in their nature connection journey. Feel free to share with me your stories and the experiences you have in taking your class into nature and your ideas about environmental place-based learning!
Happy Fall everyone.
For more information about connecting your students with nature check out some of these great resources and professional development opportunities: