To keep things fun, the movie Ferngully is a great one for kids. It is about the effects of deforestation and pollutants on a tribe of woodland fairies and their animal friends. Even as an adult, I love the movie’s message about the need to connect with nature and preserve it.
The link below also provides a kid friendly website with animations and easy explanations as to the effects of deforestation.
Movies and websites are well and good, but I believe there’s a better and more personal way to teach children about forests: take them to a forest and let them see for themselves. A surprising number of children, especially in the United States, grow up with the idea of the environment as mostly an abstract concept. Especially when they’re very young most children are reared in an indoor environment that is tightly controlled. Take a 3-year-old to a forest park for the first time and you’ll watch them marvel at this new and totally unexpected environment, filled with growing plants, birds, frogs, insects and other marvels that they may have seen in books or on TV but never actually witnessed in real life. I guarantee that will make an impression. Children who are brought up seeing the environment firsthand will take a personal interest in preserving it. Once they learn that these marvelous forests are in danger of being substantially reduced, and once they understand the pivotal role that the world’s forests play in the whole ecosystem of the Earth, they’ll understand that measures must be taken to preserve these environments for their own children and for future generations.
Another tool I use with my nephews is Google Earth. It’s free and it’s one of the coolest things ever developed for a computer, in my opinion. You can “fly” around the world to forests, falls and other natural features and look at photos of them online right from the Google Earth browser. This is a great “rainy day” or “home sick” activity for kids, and they can see just how huge some areas of forest are, as well as how other land uses like agricultural activities are impacting on the areas of forest that we need to preserve.
Ok, now I know this sounds really korny, But my environmental club put on a puppet show for first graders about a Toucan who was trying to to stop a company from destroying his home and it worked very well. We had a question and answer after and the kids really grasped what we were saying. in fact they do one every year now for the 1st graders.
My advice would be to do something creative. Create a story to get them involved, spend time with them to answer their questions and to make it more of a growing experience. That is the best way to teach kids I think
It really depends on your parenting style and the relationship you have with your child. I would personally recommend familiarizing them with the environment at an early age — taking them to scenic parks, to the river, to the forest etc. They will learn to associate fun and happiness with the environment. At some point when you think they are ready to handle the sadness and complexity of the issue, I think you should have a very open talk with your whole family about how harmful deforestation is and how it can take the parks, forests, and rivers away from the earth.
You should try to be open to any questions they have — and also try to make sure not to be extremely serious about it if your children are still very young. It can be very upsetting for them to hear about this, so it should be presented in a way where they can learn how to help stop deforestation and protect the environment. I would focus on the positive as much as possible. I hope this helps and good luck!
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