Education should be serious fun!
Nature Club, our environmental education program at Little Fireface Project has been has been my favourite role here in West Java and I have enjoyed restructuring the way we do things. Monthly themes have been introduced and we have contiunuely seen great improvement in children’s interest and attendance numbers have ballooned.
Children join Nature Club every Friday for two hours of hands on and fun learning with a different theme each month. I cover all styles of learning, but, without doubt the kinesthetic learning style is the favourite here in West Java! These children have a genuine creative flare and when given tasks they produce the most immaculate pieces of art with very little prompting.
So over the past 10 months the themes covered have been mammals, amphibian, insect and endangered species, to name a few. We had a visit to the zoo and had heated debates about why animals are endangered. That was great and it made me realise that some of these children have a great passion for wildlife, even though, in general they are brought up to see wild animals in an indifferent light.
We have learned all about our solar system and the night skies and that clouds are NOT planets. We played sensory games to show how nocturnal animals have adapted to live in darkness and we made ‘space playdough’ and made our own planetary system. It was crazy fun in a child’s eyes but they were learning!
We have just completed our ‘oceans’ them and strangely, the children seemed to have an excellent knowledge of the oceans compared to what they knew about forests when we first began. The ocean is about two and half hour drive from us and the forest is at the doorstep … literally, so this was a surprise for me. One 10 year old girl, Hismi, was up in arms over the killing of all of the sharks and fish. She said “killing sharks and fishing too much is really bad for the ocean’s health and we will all be sorry one day”. I came out of that class with the biggest of grins on my face.
Next month I am sure will be everyone’s favourite theme when we learn about primates.
There are some great primate activities planned and I cannot wait to be climbing, swinging, leaping and playing in the forest near where we live for the CHIMP-OLYMPICS. I’m also in the process of making a ‘Primate Quest – Q & A game’ which will be available for all organisations to use in their education programs.
Did you know that Little Fireface Project, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and Columbus Zoo funded the building of the new Nature Clubs rooms which officially opened this year? Since then, our classes have grown and grown. What started as a class of 10 is now 45 eager and ready to learn children. Forty-five LOUD and energy-filled children learning about nature and wildlife (did I mention loud?). The children have even decided that they want to start a tree planting club and want to plant trees at least once a month. Now that’s a win!
I am so proud of my personal achievements here and particularly with Nature Club. I only have three months left on the ground here, and then we are off to Europe via Central and South America, hopefully to do more environmental education with organisations along the way.
I do believe a solid foundation has been set for future environmental education endeavours here and I just know Little Fireface Project will continue with the wonderful work they have been doing.
– Sharon Williams – Environmental Education Manager