Our 4th and 5th graders are currently working to develop their understanding of how they personally affect the environment.
To begin, the students engage in a learning game that aims to teach them that sustaining our natural resources requires conservation and cooperative use of resources that belong to the entire community. The students are given the option to take “resources” (plastic chips), or leave them in the central pool so that they can double in quantity. In managing these “resources,” they learn it is important for people to use them cooperatively and not sacrifice long-term gain for short-term profits. Additionally, they learn that cooperative decisions must be made if ALL in the “community” (those playing the game) are to benefit.
After, students are given a community “issue” (i.e., not enough food in the community to feed all members), and are instructed to discuss and map what things, both positive and negative, might happen with the issue, as well as what can be done to alleviate the stress on the community.
My learners had a great time learning about renewable resources, cooperation, and how everything is connected within a community. Their understanding on CONSERVATION was definitely expanded!