Climate Action: global lessons for young learners.

I was set to travel to Isle of Wight and work with teachers on a Stories of a Lifetime project this week but Storm Ciara disrupted those plans. As weather becomes more unpredictable and increasingly extreme across the planet the conversation of climate action becomes more important.

“The SDGs are unique in that they cover issues that affect us all. They reaffirm our international commitment to end poverty, permanently, everywhere. They are ambitious in making sure no one is left behind. More importantly, they involve us all to build a more sustainable, safer, more prosperous planet for all humanity.”

United Nations Development Programme

During January I have been unpacking the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and sharing ways that the goals can be discussed with young learners in school. These ideas link to the Young Children Can Create a Better Planet books which apply drawing, music, video and photography tools of iPad.

All 193 member countries of the United Nations signed and agreed to take action towards these goals, including Canada, USA, UK and Australia. Therefore, we have permission from the leaders of our countries to take action towards these goals in our classrooms. It is our duty to educate students on these global issues!

One target for this goal is to “Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning”. Acting on the climate begins with developing a relationship with plants and animals. Young children need to connect with the local area, their favourite animals and build knowledge about other habitats. With a strong relationship with plants and animals, children will be able to evaluate decisions and make informed choices.

Book 1: Plants

Before young children can discuss environmental issues they need to build a relationship with their local habitats. Photography is a great tool to use as it focuses attention on the plants and wildlife. Children take a close look at the natural world and form an attachment to it.

Further curriculum integration ideas which use photography are given in Book 1: Plants. These activity continue to build knowledge about the role plants have on our locality and ask children to reflect on human impact.

Take children outdoors again and have them photograph an area in school where human impact has reduced the amount of wildlife. How can this environment be reimagined to encourage growth of nature? What actions can be taken in our local areas to improve habitats and how might these actions meet the targets of Goal 13: Climate Action?


Book 2: Animals

The activities in this book use music, drawing, video and photography tools to deepen children’s understanding of plants in relation to animals and wildlife. This moves their relationship from themselves and plants to start them thinking about other implications on climate change.

You start to move children’s knowledge from their local area to other regions. Use drawing tools to sketch pictures of a contrasting habitat elsewhere in the world. Drawing where children’s favourite animals live is an opportunity to learn about the types of plants that grow in these places.

In this book children make animations of their favourite animals enjoying life in their perfect habitat.

In Book 3: People, children will reflect on ways humans impact these habitats so be sure to immerse them in photography and videos of these places in the worlds to develop a relationship in the same way you did with your local area.


Book 3: People

There’s lots of content in this book which relates to Climate Action but successful teaching depends on the extent of the relationships young children have made with the plants and animals in their local area.

Head outdoors with your cameras again but this time collect evidence of litter. How are humans damaging the locality by polluting it? How much of these materials could be recycled? You could also photograph travel choices in the local area. What evidence of cars, buses, trains and bicycles are there? How do these modes of transport impact on the local environment?

Return to the habitat drawings and animation activity. What impact are humans having in these places? This is a powerful activity as children will realise their local choices have a global impact on animals and wildlife. This does not have to be focused on litter, the impact could be on travel, fuel or water usage too.

Finish your learning by interviewing local stakeholders. Share the findings and reflections you have made. What needs to be done to improve the environment to meet the targets of Goal 13: Climate Action? If we continue to destroy habitats, what will happen to our climate?


There are plenty more ideas to use photography, drawing, video and music tools to help teach about the Climate Action goal with your young learners.

All of the work that children complete in these lessons can be saved and organised in a Learning Journal:

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The download link for the Learning Journal is available in the books and instructions on how to use the journal, and all of the apps included in the planning, is included in the books too. Download the books below:

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Book 1: Plants                               Book 2: Animals                     Book 3: People

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