Foundation Stage children leading learning in Education for Sustainability

Since starting my NQT year in September I have been passionate about discussing and debating ‘big ideas’ with young children, and exploring effective ways to give the youngest of minds a voice. One of my successful examples is the learning I have facilitated through Education for Sustainability. I put my ideas together alongside Debbie Bradley (Senior Lecturer and Primary Geography Leader at Nottingham Trent University) and Peter Bevington (Year 4 teacher, Nottingham). As a team we presented our teaching ideas at the Geography Association Conference in April 2011. I then presented my work at TeachMeet Midlands in May 2011. Thank you for everyone’s support and interest in my work, I feel it’s time to share this work on my blog.

My first experience of teaching sustainability came about in the first week of the Autumn Term 2. I had planned and resourced a week of work on Autumn Poetry, where children would extend their vocabularly to describe Autumn changes. To kick start this week, we wrapped up warm and went for a muddy walk along ‘Our Special Lane’.

Whilst walking the lane, the children noticed the litter and began to talk about how messy it was. The further we walked, the worse the problem became and the more emotionally charged the children were! By the time we got back to the classroom, they only wanted to talk about litter and blame the big children for it!

They had no interest in Autumn today. Poetry would have to wait for another week. This week was all about the environment. I modelled how to make a poster and what a good one looked like and they set to work designing their own. They displayed these proudly on the gates of the school.

This became their thing. That little nugget I would remember of this class for. For the rest of the year, they had their eye on the outdoors and wanted to preserve it. In the summer term they were debating much bigger issues, take a look at this.

All of this came about from taking the children outdoors and showing them how great their local area is, or could be if it was looked after.

Take children outside.

Children will attach themselves to a place.

Present them with a change and give them a voice.

Let them lead the learning.

Any year group can access ‘big’ issues and talk about them

You can engage with global issues in a local place.

Please plan a walk and take your class outside. See what happens!

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3 thoughts on “Foundation Stage children leading learning in Education for Sustainability

  1. Wonderful ideas. I particularly liked they way you allowed the children to take control of the learning when you saw their enthusiasm. We should never be afraid to abandon the plan for the children’s curiosity. We may not know where it will lead but we can be assured, they will be interested. Bookmarked this page. Thanks.

  2. Top post which I found on Twitter. Really captivating seeing these children having a debate and emotingwith the tree. Have linked to this on my website to do with environmental education and campaigning messages. Cheers, Nicolle

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