Teaching Guide: Climate Change Curriculum

This curriculum is aimed at fourth and fifth graders. However, it can be used for a range of ages. Use your judgment to determine which activities are appropriate for your group, and feel free to add to them as needed. It is ideal to lead the class with two co-teachers or a more experienced teacher and a youth helper. It is a six unit course, meant to be spanned over six sessions, about an hour each. These could either be during the time usually used for Sunday school or as a separate program. If you want to span the curriculum over more than six weeks, you could integrate a service project every other session or at the end to act on some of the issues presented. For example, creating a garden to build community and reduce the emissions used to put on coffee hour.

The leaders should meet before the first session to go over the six sessions and divide tasks to prepare for the first week. If it is convenient, leaders can meet directly after each session to debrief the lesson and prepare for the next week. During the class one teacher can explain the activity while the other reminds participants to stay on task.

The curriculum is divided into six classes: climate change and religion, food shortages, human health, natural disasters, energy use, and tragedy of the commons. Each class starts with an introduction that contains general information for your use. The learning objectives give an outline of what participants should come away with, and they can be used as a guide to focus time and energy on the aspects of the activities that help achieve them. The chalice lighting and check-in begin each session. They are optional, but a nice way to bring the participants into the space together and establish routine. There is also a story provided to get participants thinking about the subject and add a human interest aspect. If the activities you choose to do are longer, the story is a simple thing to eliminate to save time. However, stories are an important and accessible way for participants to learn and connect to an issue.

The meat of each lesson is the activities. Two to three are provided with each lesson along with the materials and location needed. A background is also included to educate the leaders on the subject, often with links for more detailed information. Feel free to modify the activities as you feel best suits your group. In many congregations there won’t be time to complete all the activities. In that case, pick the ones you have the best resources for, you feel your group would get the most out of, or that best meet the learning objectives. Also remember that the time estimates can vary with the size of the class and their existing knowledge. At the end of each session there is an action section to check in with the participants about their Do One Thing projects. This does not need to happen every time, but you should try to make time for it at least twice between the second and last sessions. Finally, each session ends with extinguishing the chalice.

More generally, it is important with your co-teacher to think about your relationship with the participants and the classroom atmosphere you want to create. It is key to remember that you are a member of the kids’ community, and it is your responsibility to mentor them and be engaged in what they are interested in. However, it is important to maintain a structured environment in class. The aim of Religious Education is not to be school on the weekends, but it is all right to remind participants to focus on the task at hand and respect their classmates and teacher. The covenant created in the first class should be adhered to throughout the sessions.

Another thing to think about is accessibility. Be aware of any disabilities, physical or mental, that participants have and adjust activities accordingly.