Be prepared. Read through the entire description of
the activity before you begin, to ensure that you are
prepared. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Pay
close attention to the materials list, procedure, and
tips before beginning. This will ensure that you have
what you need and have a sense of how the activity is
going to work before you proceed.
Use your best judgment about when to step in and
provide guidance. Almost every step of every activity
can be done by children. However, adult guidance is
required for some steps, such as using hot glue guns.
Read through the activity thoroughly, and take the
precautions necessary to protect the children with
whom you work. Something that seems risky to one
teacher or student might not be so for another. For ex-
ample, some children are extremely careful with scis-
sors whereas others are not and need to be supervised.
Use your best judgment for your individual situation.
Take necessary precautions. For activities that
require painting, gluing, or other messy work, take
necessary precautions to protect children’s safety,
clothing, and workspace. Basic items such as smocks,
floor and table coverings, and wet paper towels are
not listed in the materials/supplies section of each
activity. Obviously different children and educators
have different tolerance levels for mess and kines-
thetic sensory input (messy hands!). I am assuming
that you will address your own needs and those of the
children in your care as you typically would.
Many of the activities involve small objects.
Supervise children closely when small objects are
involved to prevent accidental ingestion or “hiding”
beads, buttons, and so on in ears and noses!
Certain activities also involve food items, some of
which may provoke reactions in children with aller-
gies. Please be aware of all allergies or other health
concerns of children in your care, and adapt activi-
ties or otherwise take precautions to ensure children’s
safety when dealing with any activity that includes
potentially allergenic foods or substances.
Practice sensitivity. Respect children’s cultural
heritage, especially with regard to food and animals.
8 Chapter 1
While most cultures share the same overall values be-
hind environmental education, cultures differ when
it comes to some views about food and animals. For
example, some ethnic groups fear certain animals
whereas others revere them. Others may hold certain
foods in very high regard, and using those foods as
art materials may be seen as disrespectful and make
the children uncomfortable. Learn as much as you
can about the children and families in your program
and their religious and cultural beliefs around food,
animals, and nature before you begin, and then be
sensitive to any differences. Of course, avoid singling
out any child or family by calling undue attention to
those differences. If an activity includes materials, ac-
tions, or images that might make a child or family un-
comfortable, use alternate materials with everyone or
choose a different activity. Be as inclusive as possible.
Reuse materials whenever possible. Many activi-
ties include suggestions for reusing specific items
that work particularly well for the purposes of the
activity (for example, empty milk cartons work great
for small plant pots). But don’t stop there. Look
around your room. What can be reused? As an educa-
tor, you’re probably already well-versed at stretching
those budget dollars by reusing everyday materials.
Chapter 9 provides specific ideas for identifying other
useful disposable items and ways to reuse them.
Allow plenty of time. Introducing a topic, doing a
quick activity, and moving on to a completely dif-
ferent activity the next day can squelch burgeon-
ing interest in young scientists and stewards. Allow
time for the children to really immerse themselves
in their experience of creating art, exploring water
and weather, and enjoying quiet (or loud!) time mak-
ing discoveries. Repeat an activity day after day, if
it’s what the group wants to do. You may make new
discoveries each time! Learning happens when infor-
mation is synthesized through reflection. Reflection
happens only when there is time allowed for it.
Prioritize experience over information. There is so
much information to share, particularly in environ-
mental education, and educators often have a strong