JOSHUA, A STUDENT AT THE ASSOCIATION TO BENEFIT CHILDREN (ABC), USES A MAGNIFYING CLASS TO GET A CLOSER LOOK AT HIS CHERRY TOMATOES! ABC STUDENTS LOVE TO USE THEIR RED RABBIT GARDENING JOURNALS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PLANTS IN THEIR ONSITE GARDEN!
Throughout the year, Red Rabbit offers education programs for our meal partners as well as non-meal partner schools. This summer, Red Rabbit is taking action to encourage our friends and partners to help educate youth on the environment. Exposing our children to the beauty and joy of nature can be a daunting task, but here are ideas to incorporate environmental education into your classroom's curriculum, as well as some easy and fun ways to do it. Tight budget? There are also some funding opportunities to help ease the cost!
So, why is environmental education important?
Very soon our children will be in charge of this big beautiful planet. Especially in major metropolitan cities like New York, kids are at risk of spending much more time in front of a screen than interacting with the natural world around them. With nature’s lack of electrical outlets and excess of crawling critters, our youth tend to fear and avoid nature.
Our children, who grow up far from nature, need a teacher. Luckily, we can repair this relationship with nature by encouraging our children to have compassion and care for our earth through environmental education. If we want our kids to have healthy relationships with nature, they need someone who can show children the magic and beauty of our natural world and instill the values of environmental stewardship. We can teach responsible use and protection of the natural environments in the classroom so they can make smart, informed and healthy decisions about this place we all call home.
What are some ways we can bring environmental education into the classroom?
Our environment is best enjoyed through direct contact, which is why Red Rabbit programs focus on experiential teaching. Here are a couple of our favorite projects to easily incorporate into the classroom:
Build worm bins!
It is fun and easy to bring in composting worms to munch through your classroom’s organic waste. Worms are great ambassadors of nature and its glorious systems. Worm bins are simple for the class to build and easy for the students to maintain. The bin will help students get a first-hand understanding of the waste cycle, how plants grow, and the animal’s role in our food system. They will also reduce the classroom’s carbon footprint.
Learn how to build an indoor worm bin on page six of New York State’s “Everything You Have Always Wanted to Know About Home Composting...”here.
Grow food in the classroom with aquaponics!
Growing food with the nutrient input from fish waste is a beautiful way to demonstrate nature inside the classroom. Hydrofarm andAquaponicals are both easy and effective products that allow classrooms to grow hydroponic plants in a small space. Plants we would recommend include herbs, tomatoes, and lettuces of all varieties!
These systems and the plants they produce are great aids in teaching about botany, waste, food chains, balanced ecosystems food production, and food harvesting and processing. Additionally, the vegetables and herbs grown can be used in simple recipes for the class, allowing students to taste whole foods they had a hand in growing! This will help increase curiosity and confidence with healthy foods.
How can classrooms fund these projects?
These are two great current opportunities for grant funding environmental education initiatives in the classroom. Visit the links below for more information.
Here's to learning, and to the Earth!
Grace Anne Rosenthal, Red Rabbit Community Partnership Manager