“Inhabiting” ecological exhibits

Divya Choudary

Teaching children about biodiversity is not a simple task. It is a vast subject and we have to consider how children at home and in schools can wrap their heads around it. While the term itself requires an explanation, teachers do need to further explain the link between the environment and the plants, animals, and people living within it.

Greenwoods Kindergarten, in Hyderabad, provided their students with a perfect introduction to the subject. All the students, from nursery to class III, helped create different exhibits that showcased the different eco-systems, from oceans with whales to polar regions with igloos and Eskimos. While the younger ones enjoyed colouring, the older children made charts and helped with the cutting and pasting. The children took 45 days to build the exhibits, working on it in their ‘free’ periods with help from teachers and parents.

While working on the exhibits, the children learned about concepts like habitat loss, pollution, development, and livelihoods. These topics were looked at more in detail in the classroom, with children learning new words and understanding the importance of plants and animals for food, clothing, and survival of humans. Salma, the UKG teacher believes that while the terms may be complicated, one can never be too young to love and respect nature.

With an exhibit that showcased modes of transportation and various means of livelihood and others with a large variety of animals and birds (cut-outs and stuffed toys) to represent species diversity, the children seemed to have covered all topics. From the forest exhibit with its butterflies and snakes to the desert one with the oasis and camels walking across the dunes attention was clearly paid to detail (shells, nests, animal tracks) and texture (grains, fabric).

The Principal, Jhansi, said, “With the biodiversity meet that took place in Hyderabad and all the talk about global warming, our children were hearing and seeing these terms everywhere. It seemed like the right time to introduce them to these concepts and educate them about the world they live in. Getting them to participate in making the exhibits, which other school students could enjoy and learn from as well, seemed the best way to do so.”

For students who visited the biodiversity exhibit at Greenwoods Kindergarten, the exhibits, with plenty to see and touch, gave them the opportunity to walk through and discover/experience the different environments themselves.