Communicating climate change using environmental games at schools

The effective communication of climate risks need to be nurtured at a very tender age and the school is, first and foremost, the first point of call, without undermining the role played by the home, of course.

By Peter Makwanya

Environmental games, which are an element of play contribute to communicating the milestone of science and climate change in enterprising and memorable ways.

The use of environmental games enable children to learn through play because naturally children like to play. That is to say, children acquire knowledge of their surroundings in a play-like manner. According to Feeney et al (2001) a game is an activity that may or may not be governed by rules and has educational values. Environmental games are quite flexible in the sense that they can be played indoors or outdoors.

Young children need games with simple concepts that are entertaining and also teach appropriate skills. Environmental games or games of any nature, help children to progress along the developmental sequence from the sensory motor intelligence of infancy to preoperational thought in the school years to concrete operational thinking exhibited by primary children.

The sustainability of games in articulating environmental issues depends more on their dialoguing and participatory nature. The nature games contribute to overall experiential learning by incorporating the children’s dominant world views and culture.

It is also significant and a prerequisite that the teaching and learning curriculum of nature games be grounded in scientific knowledge, contributing to Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). If the concept of STEM is nurtured appropriately, even the environmental sustainability would unlock mineral and agricultural productivity necessary for the economic and technological development of the country.

The routines of traditional classroom set-ups and learning have become boring and irrelevant, lack motivation and innovations important for critical thinking. Therefore, environmental games are critical in that they are interactive and engaging as well as being able to communicate complex concepts in sufficiently inclusive and encompassing ways. The teaching and learning curriculum is therefore called upon to seriously consider the development of nature games for sustainable education.

Teaching and learning games are not only designed for educational purposes but also act as firm basis and bedrock of environmental awareness, education, sustainability, advocacy and training. The use of nature games to facilitate teaching in schools enables children to critically analyse their environment, interpret nature, forecast weather and also generate meaning from the environment in which they live.

Nature also facilitate children to be able to share their experiences with others, discuss and evaluate them in order to come up with multi-purpose perspectives in interacting and interrogating nature.

Environmental games would help people become good risk managers, be disaster prepared and have the resilience necessary for critical adaptation purposes. Interactive climate games do not only help policy makers and educators but farmers too.

It is also important and significant that, children from developing countries lack materials, resource empowerment and necessary equipment for play, but also for nurturing them with interactive environmental games which would make them sustainable guardians of nature, as well as be able to communicate life-long risks.

Above all, the games should make it possible to empower them with critical knowledge of climate change adaptations, critical for environmental regenerations and sustainability. Environmental games in environmental education are important in the sense that they largely make use of locally available materials that are readily available, cheaper and resonate well with relevant cultural practices, beliefs, norms and values, for people to interact with.

The participatory methodological techniques and interventions are centred on role-playing, whereby pupils will be made to role-play, simulate and dramatise farming activities, effects of drought, floods and other natural disasters as well as how they can manage them.

Games are significantly paramount in the sense that they thrive and prevail in context of situations and they don’t exist and operate in isolation. By so doing, learning becomes a memorable experience. Participatory games are important in that they encourage educators to engage tools and elements of play. Environmental games also facilitate in communicating climate policy in all aspects of human survival.

Lastly, there are other schools of thought who view games as primarily insignificant to nurture climate growth and protection, but as a reminder, they shouldn’t undermine the fundamental element of play.

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