Trees for knowledge – helping kids build a sustainable world

01/11/2017

To encourage young people to manage the planet wisely, we have to give them the means to become agents of change. FAO’s Forests for kids teaching and learning guides, released in July 2017, are part of an FAO initiative to inspire and engage young people, in this case 8-13 year-olds. Forests are an essential part of our environment and the Forests for kids modules shed light on a variety of wooded areas, from the field or park next door to the world’s major forests. They examine forests’ role in the water cycle, reveal their presence in the medicines, foods and objects of daily life, and challenge received wisdom about ownership and management. Perspectives – and curricular entry points – range from geographic to scientific to social, and call on analytical, decision-making, research and interpersonal skills.

The learning approach is emphatically hands-on. It draws inspiration from the enquiry method, a tried-and-tested approach that encourages young people to develop their own questions and paths for discovering the answers. The teachers’ guide is practical and flexible, designed by teachers for teachers. And while most of the learning is intended to take place outdoors, the learning guide provides a beautifully illustrated workbook to complement the outdoor activities. The knowledge is reinforced in different ways: from analysing material and information gathered during excursions, to writing stories, producing artwork or role-playing. Content draws upon FAO’s major biennial report on The State of the World’s Forests and other key forestry publications.

The guides, produced initially in English, received funding from the European Union’s StarTree project for the module on non-wood forest products. Spanish and French versions are forthcoming and testing of the materials is about to begin in selected schools. To participate and help us improve the modules, to propose a translation/adaptation in another language or to share ideas for new modules, please contact [email protected].