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As a preservice teacher, always looking for material to offer my students,
I was excited to hear about the 40-ish books, many of which are written
for children, that Hirschi has written. If DIANE MEDVE of OSU os reading
this: you might check out one of his books, Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.
It might go along with your issue of providing children the changes in the
season as a media for artistic expression.
Hirschi collaborates with visual artists to create picture books that seem
to speak on behalf of the natural world. I see Hirschi's visually
appealing picture books as a great way to introduce the concept of
ecological preservation and restoration to the elementary-age kids that I
will be teaching. After presenting the students to a series of Hirschi's
books, together with other materials that are related to the southern
Arizona ecosystems, I'd like to do a class brain-storming activity that
would focus on the local environmental areas that need "healing" and
discuss possibilities of preventing or restoring specific places here in
Tucson. We would discuss the importance of each individual's
participation in this restoration.
For example, here in Tucson, thousands of people flock to nearby Mt.
Lemmon (an hour's drive away, a 6000' climb, a big temperature drop, and
often the only source of snow during the winter). The adults and chilren
arrive at the mountain ready for tubing and sledding and often slide down
snow-covered hill that have newly planted baby trees. Many trees are
destroyed each winter as a result.
As part of our brain-storming activity, I would steer the kids from the
new perspective and awareness they now would have of the need for
ecological restoration, to a more proactive and cooperative position.
Specifically, the class may choose: as individuals to happily pass by
those hills that have signs indicating where baby trees exist, or
volunteer as a class to help the forest service post such signs, or
actively participate in planting the baby trees, or even decide to "adopt
As an epilogue to their efforts, I'd like to have the students publish a
book. This would be a collaberative effort from each member of the class
and be similar to one of Hirschi's, but in their own words, experiences,
thoughts, reflections. They could then lend the book to other classes
within the school, sharing their ideas.
The important issue is that they will understand why the baby trees are
vital to the mountain, and they will feel an individual resposibility to
their environment, and they will see from first-hand experience that they
can be an active part in restoring a part of their backyard.