【MCEE】Visit to Guang’ai School—observing the environmental education lessons
Date:2016-07-27 Editor: Big Normal Small 】【Print Close

On 27 July 2016, an International Intern and Volunteer from the Roots & Shoots Beijing Office, together with the Project Coordinator of the Migrant Children Environmental Education (MCEE) project, visited the Guang'ai school for the migrant children. The purpose of our visit was to observe the environmental education lessons organized by the school's teachers under the MCEE project, and gain insights into the work that Roots & Shoots does.


We observed two different classes that afternoon—a lesson for the 6th Grade students, and a hands-on arts and crafts session for the 3rd Grade students.


(1) Lesson for 6th Grade students: Man's health and the Environment


"Why do people fall sick?"


At the start of the lesson, the teacher posed this question to the six students present in the classroom. As the 8th chapter in a series of environmental education lessons, today's topic focused on the inter-relationship between the environment and Man's health. It was certainly a great way to pique the interest of the students as they began shouting out answers such as "pollution", "diseases", "eating contaminated food" and so forth.


In the next 45 minutes, a PowerPoint presentation was projected on the classroom screen as the teacher patiently explained about natural environmental habitats and ecosystems, and how these have been or are being affected by climate change, air quality, pollution etc., and the subsequent impact on our health. Despite it being rather content-heavy, the students appeared to absorb the knowledge; one boy in particular was highly engaged and curious, constantly raising his hand to ask questions and also being the first one to shout out answers to the teacher's questions.



A lot of environmental protection and environmental concerns were raised in this lesson. It was certainly a good opportunity for the students to listen to and gain awareness of these issues, and for us (the observers) to refresh our knowledge.



(2) Arts & Crafts lesson for the 3rd Grade students: Making Leaf Art


During the break, we popped over to the 3rd grade class down the corridor, which comprised about 20 students across various ages. When the lesson began, the teacher gave a short introduction on the importance of nature and the animals that live among us. She showed the children the leaf art that she had created, which illustrated the story of 'Thumbelina', followed by some other samples of animal art made out of leaves on the PowerPoint screen. The children had fun yelling aloud which animal appeared on the screen each time the teacher flashed the next slide.


Then, the time came for the children to create their own leaf art! The teacher encouraged them to exercise their creativity and produce pictures of leaf art that would tell a story. In the next 20 minutes of the lesson, the children worked in pairs or trios and had fun coloring, cutting, gluing, and folding leaves and twigs on A3-sized paper to create an image or collage from their imagination. Some of them tried to replicate the samples they had seen earlier, making bunnies and birds and people out of different-shaped leaves.



Time's up! Each group had to present their artwork in front of the class. During the activity, they were all laughing and playing and talking to each other. But once they had to stand up in front of the class and explain what they made, they became very shy and quiet. It took some encouragement from the teacher before they could briefly share the story behind their leaf art. Some of the artwork was really creative! For example, there was a story about a boy giving a flower to a sad girl to cheer her up. Another story was about a duck going down to the lake to fish (like a person!) A child's imagination has no boundaries; their innocence and creativity certainly shone through their artwork.



Some samples of the lovely artwork created by the children


The teacher concluded the lesson with a simple sentence: Nature has given us these beautiful gifts of plants and animals. We should love and protect Nature, so that we can continue to enjoy these gifts.


It was a successful environmental activity for the little kids, and they were highly enthusiastic about seeing the animal pictures and creating their own leaf art. We hope that the children have also gained newfound knowledge of the flora and fauna around them, and will learn to cherish these gifts of Nature.


Overall, it was an afternoon well spent at Guang'ai School. We got to experience first-hand the type of environmental education lessons that are taught at a migrant school under the MCEE project, which reinforced our understanding of this aspect of work under the Roots & Shoots program in Beijing. We look forward to seeing environmental education become more widespread under the MCEE project and impact the next generation of Chinese youths and children!


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Roots & Shoots Beijing Office, Room 1309, Beijing City International School, No.77 Baiziwan Nan Er Rd, Chaoyang District,  Beijing, China 100022