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Environmental Education

Environmental Education
Activities & Games

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Descriptions of Environmental Education Activities & Games

Old Nature, New Nature: Environmental Activities for Growing People & Planets

This 12-page booklet is designed to be a practical and inspirational primer for environmental activities which can be applied in diverse settings.  Activities focus on raising environmental awareness and developing eco-sustainable behavior. [A4 booklet]

Little Ways & Big Ways of Engaging with Nature

Find little ways to learn about nature and explore them regularly e.g., visiting a special place, looking after an  animal, a meditative walk, tending a garden. Then gradually engage in deeper, longer, nature-based activities e.g., vision quest, switching to solar power.

Solo Hour in Nature

We are rarely "still" in nature.  Visit a natural place that is conveniently available.  Spend one hour in silence.  Simply observe and be.  Relaxing and opening.

Solo Walk

A group walks in silence as a form of "physical meditation". Helps to calm minds and set tone, providing an initial personal and group experience in the outdoors.

Hug-A-Tree

In a forested area, pairs take turns being blindfolded, lead to a tree (for touch and feel) and then lead away.  After removing the blindfold, the tree hugger tries to locate his/her tree.

Eating Bugs

There is arguably no more intimate way of getting to know nature than by handling it with bare hands and even, yes, eating it.  Most insects are edible and nutritious.  Opening your mouth can open your mind.

Sensual Awareness Inventory

An eco-therapy exercise adapted for a group setting.  Participants identify what experiences give them pleasure through each of their five senses, then share and discuss this with the group.

Natural Orchestra

Create a musical performance using only natural materials.

Secret Smells

A guessing competition - use different smells from nature (e.g., flowers, leaves) - who can guess them right?

What if We Slept for 100 Years?
(A Rip van Winkle proposal for the restoration of nature)

If we slept for 100 years, what would the world look like and what would we do?  Individuals or groups can dream, draw, write, act, discuss, etc. possible scenarios.  Such activities help people to envisage new possibilities for more sustainable relations with nature.

Favorite Place in Nature

Where is your favorite place in nature? Write a description, draw or picture or describe the place to someone else. What makes it special?

Nature Scavenger Hunt

One way to run a nature scavenger hunt is to hand out an egg carton and a list of 12 items to collect - e.g., natural items which are: soft, spiky, blue, strong, beautiful, old, fragile, yummy, sharp, smooth, closed, open, wet, dry, from an animal, dead, etc. (be creative).

Leaf Rainbow

A nature art exercise: In small groups, students search for leaves of different shades and colors and create a "leaf rainbow".

Night Eyes

Go for a night walk without a flashlight (torch). At first, sit in one place and let your eyes adjust (10-15 minutes). You might be amazed how much you can see. As you walk, scan ahead by looking out the sides of your eyes – your night vision is even better in the periphery. If walking through the forest (bush), have your hands in front, protecting your face.

Observing the Micro-Universe

Peg out a 1 metre x 1 metre (3ft x 3ft) square in a patch of nature.  Sit in the square for an hour, focusing only focus on what is inside the square.  Observe the terrain and the myriad of natural dramas which are unfolding on the micro-scale.

Star therapy

Lay down under the night sky and watch the stars (or clouds in the daytime).  An age-old, natural natural way of calming anxiety and dealing with depression.

What Has Changed in 150 Years?

What has changed in the last 150 years? Brainstorm as many things that have changed as you can. This is ideal for small groups – run it as a brainstorming competition. Ask groups to read their lists out to the whole group. Discuss the main themes, the surprises, etc. (Also see What Was Life Like a Long Time Ago?)

Ancestral Visualization

Imagine this: All your direct ancestors standing on your left, in a line, starting with your father (or mother), your grandfather, your great-grandfather, etc.  All your future direct descendants standing on your right, starting with your son (or daughter), grandson, etc. These two lines stretch out over the horizon.  Imagine being able to send messages “Chinese whisper” style up and down the line.
What would you say? What would you ask?

Kill an Animal and Skin and Eat It

Bound to be controversial and not to be taken lightly.  For the first time ever in human history, there are large sections of human society who have never killed an animal (other than an insect) with their bare hands and then made direct use of the animal such as for the skin or food.  Our bond with nature becomes much deeper when we are directly engaged in the cycles of life and death.

Camping in the Backyard

Why do we spend all the time, fuel, energy, etc. going off for outdoor camping trips? Most of the benefits of camping (plus some extra ones) could be obtained by families sleeping in their backyards. (If you don’t have a backyard, try the balcony, roof or a friend’s or neighbor’s place).  Sleep in your backyard for at least a week each year. Cook on a fire (or a stove if fires aren’t permitted), eat home-grown vegetables, don’t watch TV or use power or the telephone. Stay on your property, but don’t use the house. Really live in your backyard and get to know and care for it. It might change your life forever – and it will cost less than your normal, everyday life.

 

Descriptions of Environmental Education Activities & Games (on other sites)

Have You Ever Met a Tree?
(Kindergarten-Elementary Lesson Plan)

Detailed lesson plan includes discussing trees kids have known, basic facts about tree, and then each student finding and studying a specific tree.

Portraying the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
(Drama/improvisation warm-up)

Allocate each person an element and discuss what kind of personality/behavior attributes belong with to each elements.  Then have people move through the playspace, acting out their element.  Rotate through each element.

101 Nature activities

Large collection of nature activities in a pdf format under subheadings.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

In a nature area, give participants this list of items and send them off to collect them either alone or in pairs depending on age group

Council of All Beings
(John Seed & Joanna Macy)

A role-playing workshop. Participants each play the role of a part of the natural environment, then speak during a "council of all beings" at which no humans are present. Beforehand, participant make each make a masks to represent their particular aspect of nature. Has been used with adults, youth and children.

Playground Planting

A guide to planting with students in a school setting

Environmental activity: Coastal creatures in crisis
(Australian Government Department of Heritage and the Environment, 2004)

A role playing game to help people understand the impact of litter and pollutants on our sea birds and marine animals. Common items such as plastic bags, bottle tops and cigarette butts, can be fatally mistaken by coastal birds and animals.  Students work in pairs, one is the narrator and one is the coastal animal. The role playing helps the students identify with the animal and allows them to be creative in developing a narrative and actions. For younger groups, the teacher can narrate.

Leave No Trace: Teaching resources

How can we enjoy nature but "Leave No Trace"?  Provides activities for each of the 8 principles of LNT.

The Recycle Challenge

Use study of worm farms with students to help understand the food chain and how nature recycles; includes evaluation guide and teacher notes.

A Nature Meditation

A simple, powerful nature visualization/meditation.

Ontario Parks Lesson Plans

11 environmental education activity lesson plans for grades 2 to 6.

Environmental Education Classroom activities and workshops

Peter Puffin's wonderful creative environmental education music, activities and resources. Look for the free teaching resources for elementary school in bottom left column.

Kids Nature Activities

Teacher resources for nature activities (Canadian National Parks)

Last updated:
08 Oct 2009