Celebrating Earth Day with Oliver Jeffers

Screenshot 2019-04-28 at 13.26.35Next year, Earth Day will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. Back in 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the impact of 150 years of industrial development. 49 years later, the campaign continues in 192 countries with over a billion people participating.

This year, children’s author and artist Oliver Jeffers and Apple Education designed an education project for Earth Day to inspire young children to think about the future of their local area.

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Oliver’s message was simple. Snap a photo of your environment, draw how you’d like to see it in the future and share your idea with the world. He describes himself as an optimist in a short trailer about the project, explaining that the world becomes a better place because people it imagine it that way. You can watch the trailer here.

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My class watched the trailer and we paused the clip in a few places to talk about the message or discuss the whimsical sketches Oliver makes. I then modelled to the children how to take a photograph of our outdoor area then use the mark-up tools in ‘Edit’ to create our own images to share.

This project was well-timed as we have been reading fiction books about enchanted forests. To talk to the children about forests and deforestation made sense, and they were fascinated to learn that their locality would have once been Sherwood Forest; they had learned the story of Robin Hood too.

Imagine our playground as an enchanted forest! What would grow here and who would we see?

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Young learners took their cameras outdoors and returned with photographs ready to sketch on to. It is only a few taps to move from a photograph to the drawing tools too:

  1. Open Camera and take a photograph,
  2. Tap the thumbnail under the white shutter button,
  3. Tap Edit in the top right corner,
  4. Tap … on the left hand toolbar,
  5. Tap the pen icon.
  6. Sketch!
  7. Tap Done to save.

After children had imagined their forest environments, we talked about the other plants and wildlife which would live here. Children added more colour, insects and birds to their pictures.

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As they were working on real images of their local area, they were eager to see their vision come to life. What could we do to achieve these goals? The ideas to plant flowers and build bug hotels came about. Children also talked about their own gardens and what they could grow at home. Photography made Earth Day meaningful for young learners! Over the coming weeks, children will learn about plant growth and plant their own beans and seeds. The weekly ‘Woodland Workshops’ will be themed around insect and animal observations. A couple of children had already talked about trees being good for clean air and oxygen, so this discussion will continue as our knowledge and investigation in to Earth Day progresses.

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Children will also be visiting Sherwood Pines and one activity they take part in is a project called ‘One Best Photo’. Children take a short forest walk with their cameras and capture the story of people, wildlife and timber. You can learn more about this project here.


For more ideas on using photography and sketching, take a look at these blog posts:

Adapting Stories With Photography and Drawing

The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Drawing

Photography and Story Writing

Download Your Free ‘Young Children Can Create’ Guides Now.

These 4 free guides are published on the Apple Book Store right now and written in partnership with Kristi Meeuwse and Jason Milner. Read more about The Young Children Can Create series here.

The Rich Potential of Children’s Photography

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The Rich Potential of Children’s Video.

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The Rich Potential of Children’s Drawing.

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The Rich Potential of Children’s Music Making.

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