At the beginning of January, Greatham Village Nursery School opened its doors for me to go in and Teach Children Conservation Through Art. The staff and kids alike were very welcoming, and I began by sketching through the continued devastating effects of the Australian bushfires; a staggering one billion animals have now died. Hundreds of thousands of fish also suffocated in waterways in New South Wales when it rained in mid-January and washed ash and sludge from bushfires into the rivers (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/17/hundreds-of-thousands-of-fish-dead-in-nsw-as-bushfire-ash-washed-into-river).
The very sad issue of fish dying in Australia led me on to gently teaching the children about plastic pollution and how it's adversely affecting life in our seas and oceans. Did you know that it's estimated that more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans and that by 2050 nearly every seabird species is likely to have plastic in their stomachs (https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/10-shocking-facts-about-plastic)? Startling I know and something that it'd be good for little people to be aware of as they grow up.
It's always interesting to see how I'll connect with a new group of children; how they'll react to me and the information I'll be sharing with them, but these kids were so enthusiastic and eager to learn that they've already created some really beautiful artwork.
What I have found most intriguing was that last week when I led a workshop on African animals and asked the children to tell me what they knew about zebras, lots of them were very keen to repeat the things we'd been talking about that morning, and then a handful of them went on to relate the endangered species we'd been drawing to the Australian bushfires, saying how Australia needs our help and acknowledgement too. This group of toddlers have only had three conservation art workshops, and they're already remembering and making links between them. Wow.
You can never quite tell how much information children are taking in at the time a workshop is running, but this really was wonderful, and I made sure the kids knew how impressed I was. I think it's set to be an enthralling term and I'm looking forward to seeing how the toddlers will progress with what they take on board about conservation and how we can make thoughtful, little changes that will help our environment now and in the future.