Taking It Home
Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. — Robert Fulghum, author and Unitarian Universalist minister
IN TODAY'S SESSION... we learned the importance of balance in the web of life. We considered what happens to an ecosystem if one species overpopulates or dies out. The central story was a Nigerian folk tale that showed the consequences of not living in balance with nature. Children learned ways one individual's actions can affect those sharing their ecosystem.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... your local ecosystem and the different plants and animals that live together in balance. Name the ways they are interdependent. Consider what would happen if their balance were disrupted. For example, what creatures would be affected if your local plant life was hit hard by a drought, or if there were an over-abundance of a predator species?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try...
A Family Adventure. Go for a walk in a local nature preserve, park, or even city neighborhood. As you walk, count the different plants, insects and other living beings you encounter. Talk about the delicate balance that allows all of those creatures and life forms to live comfortably together.
Family Discovery. Research a local invasive species—a species that has been transported from one ecosystem or region into another, whether accidentally or purposefully, to the detriment of the ecosystem. Examples are purple loosestrife, which overgrows in wetlands; zebra mussels, which hitch rides on boats; and the Asian Longhorn Beetle, which is killing trees in Massachusetts. On a government website, you can learn about invasive species in your area. You can visit or call a local office of a government agency involved with ecosystem management, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency that regulates fish and wildlife, or the Army Corps of Engineers. Find out about ways citizens can help prevent the spread of invasive species. Look for a multigenerational project or action you can do as a family.
A Family Game. Play Jenga(R) or build with blocks together. As you play, talk about balance in the game. Identify actions that help strengthen balance and actions that weaken it. Ask your children how the balancing game is like nature. Point out that when one block falls in a tower, sometimes a whole tower falls, too. This is similar to the way balance functions in an ecosystem.