Research shows a strong correlation between a person’s feelings of connectedness with nature and their ecological behavior. It makes sense: we want to protect what we love, but we’re unlikely to develop a deep love of nature without exposure to it over time.
As adults, we know that our oceans are in bad shape, with temperatures rising, plastic everywhere, fish populations depleting, and coral reefs dying. Yet we can’t raise a generation dedicated to restoring and protecting the health of oceans without sparking their love for the wonder and magic of the undersea world.
Exposure, of course, is the best way to encourage this sense of connection. If you live near a coast, bring your child to the beach, often. Collect shells. Look into tide pools. Go out on boats, if you can, whale watching and just experiencing the awe-inspiring vastness of the sea.
Even if you live far from the beach, you can still prompt your child’s curiosity and imagination. I’m writing this in February - not a great time for those of us in winter climates to trek to the coast. It’s a great time, though, to begin thinking about the ocean.
A few years back, in my preschool, we plunged into a curriculum about the ocean. Not knowing much about marine biology, I felt hesitant at first. It proved so rich and engaging, however, that the curriculum unit ended up lasting months.
One thing we did, that you can do at home, was learn about the different zones of the ocean. I got rolls of butcher paper in different shades of blue, and taped the lightest shade to the top of the wall and darker shades below, to represent the sunlight zone, the twilight zone, and the dark zone. You could do this with construction paper on a portion of your child’s bedroom wall.
Then we learned about the different animals that live in each zone, and began populating our wall with dolphins, jellyfish, and especially the weird and wonderful creatures that live in the dark depths. For added excitement, teach your child about bioluminescence and make some bottom-dwelling fish using florescent paint.
For another beautiful way to learn about the ocean’s zones, check out Jacquie Fisher’s blog post on KC Eventures.
More on sparking a love for the ocean next time …