Mention environmental issues and most people’s eyes glaze over. For example there is some consensus that global warming is happening but there is no consensus on its causes.
So why on earth should you introduce pre-school children to such issues?
Well, in my opinion it’s never too early to start learning that we all have a responsibility towards our environment; whether it’s how we keep it clean or how we look after the creatures we share our world with.
The Little Polar Bear character ( Lars) by Hans de Beer is a fantastic introduction to this topic. I have two titles to recommend: Little Polar Bear & Ahoy There Little Polar Bear.
Little Polar Bear features the story of a little polar bear called Lars been taken by his dad to the sea for the first time. During the trip Lars was taught how to swim and fish. They caught a tasty fish which they had for supper and decided to camp out for the night. BUT during the night, whilst they were asleep, the ice began to crack apart. To his horror, when Lars woke up, he found himself alone drifting in the middle of the sea on a block of ice which was getting smaller and smaller as the temperature got warmer & warmer!!
A storm then blew up as Lars continued to drift in the sea. Luckily, he managed to scamper aboard a barrel which was drifting by. As the storm died down Lars could not see white snow; instead he saw Green Land!
He was in a totally alien environment with animals he’d never seen before; He was in the tropics!!! The Story then progresses to show how the animals banded together to help Lars get back to the North Pole.
This story creates a myriad of discussion topics which can be tackled at various levels within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of Understanding the World and Personal: Social & Emotional Development.
Ahoy There, Little Polar Bear is the follow-on book from Little Polar Bear. In this title Lars is now fishing independently. Unfortunately on one of his fishing trips he is caught in a huge fishing net which was deployed by a ship. The content of the net is emptied into a ship’s hold and Lars finds himself aboard the ship which is heading away from the North Pole!!
Lars is horrified when he realises where he is heading but he is consoled by the ship’s friendly cat Nemo.
As they disembark Lars, quite rightly, is uncomfortable in his new environment but Nemo introduces him to a group of friends who work together to get Lars Back to the North Pole.
Again this title raises a number of topics around early year’s children learning about the environment and forming relationships to help each other.
Parents and Early Years Practitioners can decide on the depth and breadth of their coverage of the environment as a topic but these two board books are an excellent ‘gentle introduction’ about what could happen when we get taken away from our usual surroundings and how we can work together to help solve problems.
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