Biodiversity is the variety of living things. When an ecosystem is high in diversity, in general, it is considered to be healthy. This means it is important to respect and take care of all living things and try to reduce any negative impact on biodiversity.
According to the department of Parks and Wildlife Western Australia is home to :
141 of Australia's 207 mammal species, 25 unique to the state
439 reptile species, 187 unique to the state
More than 1,600 fish species
Hundreds of thousands of invertebrate species
Approximately 13, 000 plant species
Whoa! That means there is A LOT to learn just in WA. Don’t feel overwhelmed though, because what it also means is to learn about and teach this area of sustainability you can start pretty much anywhere! Not sure where to begin? What are your favourite plants, animals? If you can’t think of any, you can even start with colours, how many plants have purple flowers or fruit? Is one of your children swimming? What other animals swim?
Remember: In no way are you expected or required to be an expert in biology in order to facilitate an excellent learning experience for your children. Just pick something that interests either yourself or the children and start there. If you are having trouble finding information with a particular area, send us an email and we will help guide you along.
It is essential that we pass on respect and the responsibility to care for our environment to the children in our lives, and not just because it is part of the National Quality Standards (3.3.2). You can start by intentionally spending more time outdoors, setting time specifically every day for outdoor activities or play.
Here are some information sheets that can help you get started with some things in this area:
Plants and trees in outdoor play spaces need to fulfil certain attributes: shade provision, hardiness, low allergy effects, pleasant textural attributes and low or no toxicity. From a sustainability perspective it’s also important to consider the water requirements of plants and their ability to provide habitat for/attract native birds and bees. Additionally, some plants may provide the bonus of being able to be used in edible gardens, which children can plant, care for and compost leftovers from.
Download LGSWA guide on Plants for playspaces here.
Allow children to get up close and discover all that this amazing world offers! Allow the children to get excited about things you may not have ever thought of as exciting - try your best to join in- who know? Perhaps what you thought was too slimey or a little gross moves in an interesting way or has more colours to it than you first thought. Keep those interactions positive!
Helping children to experience the sights, sounds, textures and smells of nature can be one way to spark their imaginations and can be the beginning of an interest in conserving plant and animal species.
Ready Set Wonder is a great resource for early childhood educators, with many prompts and activities to bring nature into your work with babies, toddlers and older children. Get your free PDF version here.
Have you thought about how you can help children look for evidence of native animal activity in your area ? Children are always curious to explore what animals eat, where they live and how they move about, so use these identikits to encourage their curiosity.
These Resources can be placed in your nature tool kit and when you go for a walk, try to identify what you can see !
You can even draw these tracks with sticks in your sandpit so children can make the connections after reading a book on the way animals move.
HERBIVORE, CARNIVORE OR OMNIVORE ?
That homemade play dough, bird seed, wild rice and collected leaf material will come in handy to make realistic scats for display which will encourage children to think about what native animals eat ?