How do I teach about climate change?

Climate change is a very popular topic at the moment both in schools and in the media in general.  The questions is, how do you go about teaching about such an important topic to your elementary / primary school students?

Here are some tips:

  • Explore some reputable websites - it is important that you have some adult level background knowledge as some of your students will be asking or posing some very challenging questions. There could be some input at home so expect anything from eager students willing to know entry level information to sophisticated conversations about ozone layer depletion!
  • Remember to stick to facts when delivering information. Try to navigate the information you are processing. The emotional welfare of our students is very important. Some households are differentiated enough to hold a healthy debate, others not so much therefore, no matter how passionate or indifferent you are to the issue, we want to minimize any conflict at home. This could potentially be a hot potato for some families.
  • Create or deliver in an engaging way. Use videos*, photos* and extracts from websites*.

*Disclaimer, remember to ensure that you fully watch any videos, check photos and websites before students see them. You have the final decision as to whether these are appropriate for your class or not. 

  • Check out what is topical - has Greta Thunberg made any announcements? Are there any climate change awareness activities in your town that you want to find out more about? Any big news stories (water pollution/ oil spills/ litter). 
  • Reddit is a great source for teachers (not children) to get some current knowledge. 
  • Check online newspapers for your own background understanding - again, not suitable for children due to pop-ups and links to stories that might not be age appropriate. However, for us as teachers, they often give a good synopsis of the latest events such as the World Climate Summit. The comments sections are always a good opinion gage. 

There are many no-prep online resources out there. Here is a freebie from my own shop to get you started:

One of my most successful products is a no-prep lesson on climate change. 

In this resource, children will be able to learn about what climate change is and the issues surrounding it. The slides are colorful and full of information. It's a useful addition to any unit of work about the environment. There are duplicates of some slides depending on whether you prefer to use U.S. English or British English, simply delete the slide that contains the spelling that is not applicable to you. There are opportunities for children to answer questions, both structured and unstructured, to express their views and to do some research (under the supervision of a responsible adult if they are learning from home). This is a useful resource for distance learning, whole class teaching or for instruction in small groups using a device.

 

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Presentation: 116 pages - including photographs, illustrations, embedded videos and short activities.

  • Climate
  • What is climate change?
  • The consequences of climate change
  • What is fossil fuel?
  • Fossil fuels: gas, coal and oil
  • Natural gas focus
  • Coal focus
  • Crude oil focus
  • What do I know?
  • Burning fossil fuels
  • What is global warming?
  • Fossil fuels
  • Fracking
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • The cost of fracking
  • The benefits of fracking
  • The demand for natural gas
  • Photo focus - Melting ice, extreme weather and loss of habitat
  • Melting glaciers and ice caps
  • Extreme weather changes and global warming
  • Old sayings
  • The ozone layer
  • Coral and algae
  • How does coral affect algae?
  • Coral bleaching
  • How does climate change affect children?
  • Food shortages and climate change
  • Ticks and climate change
  • What do you use electricity for?
  • Reducing climate change - what can you do?
  • Climate Change Summit - 2021 *** Just added***
  • Taking action to reduce global warming.

 


This is more practical and the focus is on knowledge and caring for our planet rather than the political aspect that may be explored later on in their school career.

Over 50 printable comprehension worksheets including:

 

  • How do we use electricity?
  • Help the planet.
  • What do I waste? (doing better)
  • Reading Comprehensions

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One particular topic that really engaged my students was Coral Bleaching.