Elementary Teaching Strategies

Climate! How do I teach this complex, controversial, and challenging topic to my elementary students?

Many elementary teachers grapple with these questions, so you are not alone! Climate science includes many complex systems and concepts. Climate change is a high-profile, planetary challenge with some easy and countless controversial solutions. The impacts of a changing climate can lead to feelings of helplessness and anxiety, especially in younger learners who do not feel addressing the challenge is within their locus of control. Luckily, there are effective strategies that teachers can apply with students to help them understand and connect with this challenging topic:

Focus on Climate Science

This module will explore how to deal with the controversies surrounding climate change and avoid despair and fear among young learners.

Encourage Action and Solutions-Centered Learning

This module will explore how to encourage concrete actions and solutions that students can personally implement in their own communities.

Make It Personally Relevant and Culturally Sustaining 

This module will explore how to bring in multiple perspectives, values, and ways of knowing about our climate.

Ground Students in Place-Based Learning 

This module will explore how to use students' own environments and communities as a critical context for increasing understanding about the climate.

Keep It Experiential, Embodied, and Playful 

This module will explore how to make learning about the climate nature-based, exploratory, fun, and hands-on.

Foster Empathy, Perspective, and Care-taking 

This module explores how to use empathy to encourage young learners to care for their environment.

Teach It Across Disciplines 

This module explores how climate science can be integrated into a variety of topics, such as math and reading, and how to use systems-thinking from an early age.

Grow Curiosity-Driven Science Practices 

This modules explores how to use students' interests to drive their learning, and how to ground their investigations in science practices.


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