Guest Author - Alissa Moy
Teaching your homeschooler about the environment and being "green" is an ideal topic for utilizing free resources. Here are some unit study ideas which you can use with homeschoolers of all ages, by adjusting writing assignments, comprehension expectations as well as hands on projects.
Begin your unit on the environment by choosing a theme for your study. This could be endangered species, pollution and waste, Earth Day, a Citzen Science project or an environmental issue facing your local area. Once you have narrowed down a specific topic, check out your local chamber of commerce website for any Earth Day event planned for mid April, 2010. Look into local nature preserves, state and national parks, and zoo's. Often an area garden club would be thrilled to do a "green" presentation for your homeschool group, or perhaps they need a few student volunteers for planting trees around town.
If you have decided to do a Citizen Science project you have several project choices available. Citizen Science is a project in which students (and adults) are tasked to assist in environmental project research. A good example of this is "The Great Backyard Bird Count". Participants were asked to count birds, chart their data and record this information. Then all information is sent to the appropriate website facilitating the study (in this case it is the Cornell Ornithology Lab). The website offers a plethora of teaching ideas related to birds, a "bird sleuth" program, and lesson plans for all age groups. If birds are not your homeschooler's interest you might try a different Citizen Science experience. Journey North is a wildlife migration project in which participants track the coming of spring and fall by making local and online observations of the migration patterns of monarch butterflies, robins, hummingbirds, whooping cranes and gray whales. Another project, The Lost Ladybug Project, offers students a chance to join others around the country looking out for all types of ladybugs. Students are encouraged to photograph them, and upload data and images to the project website. Your homeschooler will help scientists discover what types of ladybugs are out there, as well as how the populations of native and introduced species are changing. There are even three native species that have nearly disappeared. Like the other project sites, this site and Journey North also offers lesson plans, project lesson extenders and lots of fun and educational resources!
If you have decided to tackle the environmental waste issue, the EPA website offers plenty of ideas for lessons. There are options to send for printed copies, or download full curriculum on environmental protection, with these three age ranges-Planet Protectors Club (Grades K-5), Make a Difference Campaign (Grades 6-8), and Your Environment. Your Choice. (Grades 9-12).
The website offers additional online games, teaching ideas and printables to compliment the free curriculum, too.
If you are debating about several unit study ideas, such as animal habitat protection or recycling, check out the National Environmental Education Week Site to sign up free for updates and check out countrywide projects. This year
National Environmental Education Week is April 11-17, 2010. There are links to just about any environmental issue you can think of right on the site, and everything is free to explore.
However you choose to learn about environmental issues with your homeschooler you are in for some fun and free resources, too!
Here are the links for the websites mentioned above, as well as a general site offering a plethora of Citizen Science projects.