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Presented by Climate Classroom and National Wildlife Federation http://www.climateclassroom.org/kids
News about Global Warming is everywhere, but how do we answer children’s questions in appropriate, helpful ways? By helping children explore nature and develop Earth-friendly habits, they grow up caring for nature and the world around them.
This guide will help concerned adults, parents, and educators conduct these discussions in accurate, developmentally appropriate, and hopeful ways using: • 8 tips prepared by National Wildlife Federation for discussing global warming with children • Answers to frequently asked questions • Additional resources
Tips For Talking With Students About Global Warming Conversation needs to be age appropriate Let the child guide the conversation Answer questions by informing yourself Diffuse fear by acknowledging it and giving hope
Tips For Talking With Students About Global Warming Don’t burden them with problems Think positively about solutions Invite participation through discussion Encourage action by letting students know they can make a difference
1. Be Age Appropriate • Talk to the students at an age appropriate level • Global warming is a complex concept for children and may not be appropriate to discuss at all age levels • Create a sense of hope and positive understanding at all age levels
Pre-School (Ages 1-4) and Kindergarten (Ages 5-6) • Pre-school children learn through doing and touching • Children do not have abstract thoughts therefore making global warming hard to understand • Take the children outside and explore the natural world in their backyard • Children who spend time with nature care about it • Consider doing an activity from www.greenhour.org
Early Elementary (Ages 7-9: Grade 1-3) • Children at this age should be exploring the natural world outside their door • Exploring should be hands-on and full of joy • No need to introduce topic of global warming, if the child is not asking • If they do ask, keep the answers brief and basic (see www.climateclassroom.org for more info)
Early Elementary (cont.) • Assure child that adults are working on the problem • Best thing for children to be do at this age is interact with nature • Planting, exploring what is under rocks, looking at clouds, listening for birds, beginning to identify with animals • If working with this age group, do an activity from www.greenhour.org
Upper Elementary (Ages 10 – 12: Grades 4-6) • Child’s ability to think in an abstract manner is now increasing • Can introduce topic of global warming and answer questions • Share your own interest in the issue • Make simple suggestions to fight global warming at all times • Action examples available on Climate Cards or www.climateclassroom.org
2. Let Students Guide the Conversation • Listen carefully to their questions and answers • Even if you know a lot about the subject, or are passionate about it, it’s important not to overload them with information they are not ready for
3. Answer questions • It’s important to be informed yourself • Review this guide again before visiting a classroom • Review the facts on the back of the Climate Cards • Visit National Wildlife Federation’s www.climateclassroom.org for additional information
4. Diffuse Fear • Global warming and many of its projected impacts are scary • If students are anxious or upset by what they’ve heard, acknowledge these fears • Diffuse fear by steering the conversation toward solutions
5. Don’t Burden Them • Children didn’t create this problem • It’s not fair to tell them they’ll be solely responsible for solving it • Let them know many, many grown-ups are working hard to solve it
6. Think Positively • Children are naturally optimistic • We’ll need every drop of this optimism to tackle global warming successfully • Emphasize that it’s not too late • People have caused this problem, and people, working together around the world, should be able to solve it
7. Invite Participation • Explain that solving the problem will require some big changes – in society and in our daily lives • We’ll need to rethink many things, from the way we get energy to the way we build houses and get around • Everyone can play a part in turning the tide
8. Empower Action • Provide opportunities for students to take action at home and in the classroom • Seek out positive steps you can take together • Whenever possible, keep it local and tangible with visible results
Students Frequently Asked Questions “What is global warming?” Global warming is something that is happening to the climate of the earth. The average temperature is rising around the world. “Why?” It’s because of the greenhouse effect.
More Frequently Asked Questions “What is the greenhouse effect?” It is a natural occurrence and helps to keep the lower 10 miles of our atmosphere livable. As more gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are added to the atmosphere, it holds in more heat.
More Frequently Asked Questions “What is the difference between global warming and climate change?” Global Warming is the increase of the Earth’s average surface temperature due to a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Climate Change is a broader term that refers to long-term changes in climate, including average temperature and precipitation.
More Frequently Asked Questions “Why is global warming happening?” The Earth’s climate is always changing. Looking back at the planet’s long history, we see evidence of big changes. So global warming – and global cooling – is nothing new. What’s different this time is the reason for the change and how fast it is happening. People have been adding extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere since the “Industrial Revolution.” This was the time in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s when people began burning fossil fuels for energy to run machines.
More Frequently Asked Questions “What’s being done now to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?” • There is no single solution to solve the global warming solution problem. We need a multitude of ways to address the issue and scientists are studying these areas: • Producing electricity efficiently • Using electricity efficiently • Vehicle efficiency • Increase our reliance on renewable energy such as solar and wind power • Biofuels • Carbon capture and storage
More Frequently Asked Questions “What can I do to solve the problem?” Global warming is a problem that needs huge solutions. Lots of people will have to help. It will mean changing the way we all live—maybe in small ways, but in some big ways, too. For more information check out the Polar Cards and various conservation websites for more ideas on how you can help save the environment.
Simple Things To Do • Turn off your computer and TV when you’re not using them. • Unplug electronics and chargers between uses. • Take shorter showers. • Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when full. • Recycle paper, plastic, glass, and cans. • Take reusable bags with you to the supermarket.
More Simple Things To Do • Refer to the backs of your Climate Cards for more tips. • Visit www.climateclassroom.org
Additional Resources (Designed for Kids/Adults) • Climate Classroom Kids www.climateclassroom.org/kids • Green Hour (Early Elementary) www.greenhour.org • NWF Ranger Rick www.nwf.org/rangerick • EcoHealthJohns Hopkins and The University of Wisconsin at Madison www.ecohealth101.org/temperature/temp2.html • Climate Change: Kids SiteEnvironmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/change.html • Climate Classroom www.climateclassroom.org