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April is Earth Month! And we are proud to be shining a spotlight on Sam Bryan and Joseph Parsonage's Teach Rex, whose unique and immersive in-school workshops bring the wonders of nature to life for children, inspiring them to be kind to nature and to each other. Plus, they share a list of their favourite Kid Lit about sustainability!
As two Primary School teachers based in the North West of England, we have always promoted a love of learning both in our classrooms as teachers and also whilst running our business, Teach Rex.
For the last two and a half years, Teach Rex has delivered educational workshops to thousands of pupils in over 250 schools across the UK. With the help of our dragons and dinosaurs, we use props and storytelling as the foundation of our Science and Literacy workshops to promote a love of learning among the children we interact with.
"Nice to meet you"
These hand-tailored workshops, with their unique approach of narrative-led learning use powerful hooks to ignite the imagination of the children we teach. They offer an interactive educational experience covering Science, History, Creative Writing, and many other subjects across the National Curriculum.
With our family of dragons and dinosaurs, we help to foster an emotional attachment between the children and their learning. This inspires and motivates them to engage in a range of topics from Biology and storytelling to problem solving and History. The latest arrival to our team is a gorilla, named Thomas. Thomas enters the classroom with us and assists us in creating a narrative to teach children about the world around them, how the world is changing and the impacts their actions have on the world.
Through the power of story-telling, we are able to explore deep into the heart of the rainforests of Africa that are being destroyed every day. We are able to delve into devastation that surrounds wild animals and are able to provide children the platform to think about their actions and more importantly, how together, they can change the world.
Every year around the world an area of forest the size of the UK (26 million hectares) is lost to deforestation. The vast majority of that forest is rainforest, causing untold damage to wildlife. Over the last half-century, almost 20% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed. If current trends continue, it may cease to exist at all in another fifty years. However, human impacts on the rainforests can be both negative and positive and behaviours are starting to lean towards the latter, but only starting to! National governments and international organisations are putting laws in place in a concerted effort to reverse the current situation. However, much still needs to be done.
Joe and Sam with Thomas the Gorilla
As teachers, it is our obligation to educate people from a young age about the importance of sustainable behaviours. We do this by linking our workshop materials to subjects within the curriculum – including science, English, geography and ICT. If humanity is to continue enjoying the splendour of the natural world then future generations – that is, the young people we are teaching today – need a fundamental awareness of the positive and negative impacts of humans on the planet. One thing that must be realised is that, while the planet will continue to survive, animals and humans on it may not.
The main thread that ties all of our workshops together is the constant power of storytelling. Not everybody reading this will be able to take a gorilla into their sitting room to inspire their children. The magic that can be extracted from a book is monumental.
Stories can transport children to the heart of Amazon and we believe, there is no better way to inspire and educate a child about a subject, than reading a book.
Therefore, we have put together a selection of books that can be purchased that link to conversation, inspire questioning and inference skills among readers.
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh (Candlewick)
The first book we have chosen is ‘things I can do to help my world’ by Melanie Walsh. As children (and adults) the devastation and lack of thought to the environment boggles the mind. How can we make a difference? How can we make a change? We are all too familiar with these questions and these questions can be even more intimidating to a child that wants to help. This text is a wonderful, simple introduction with child-friendly illustrations that introduces the reader to 10, easy, everyday ways we can be kinder to the earth. The concept that many small changes, established into the routine of one child, that promotes it to their friends can have a rolling effect and potentially, change the world!
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with Chimps by Jeanette Winter (Schwartz & Wade)
Whether your child wants to be an astronaut, wrestler, magician, firefighter, dancer or a paleontologist. The opportunities that face them are limitless. The story of Jade Goodall and her relationship with chimps illustrates just this. Her inspirational, caring and loving personality linked with the eagerness and motivation to inflict change portrays a wonderful story of how one woman can have a massive impact into conservation efforts of wild animals. This story is a fantastic base for questions and to grasp an understanding into what intelligent, beautiful animals chimps are and how they can interact and form relationships with humans.
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry (Harcourt Brace)
A story that we have both loved teaching in Key Stage 1. Throughout this beautifully illustrated story, explore habitats and what animals need to survive in them. The message "all living things depend on one another" portrays a powerful message and it works.
In this story, the reader will be introduced to a young boy from the Yanomami Tribe. A thought provoking message that it is not only wildlife that is impacted through deforestation. The many people that make up communities in the Amazonian rainforest are greatly impacted, leading onto a range of purposeful learning opportunities.
Can We Save The Tiger? by Martin Jenkins and Vicky White (Walker)
Throughout this beautifully illustrated book, Jenkins explores the different risks that are placed on our wildlife. It is an insightfull look into the impact humans are having on our world. The message portrayed throughout this book to children of all ages is simple, if change is not apparent, many of the animals we see and love today, will not be here in years to come.
World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky and Frank Stockton (Workman)
The concept of global warming and deforestation is often well documented and children are aware of the devastation that is possible. Introducing a ‘world without fish’ to children (aged 10 and above) is an affective way in bringing their attention to other areas of the world that are under threat due to overfishing, pollution, global warming and loss of biodiversity. The first three terms are widely believed to be the primary contributing factors causing multiple species of fish to dramatically decrease in numbers. This text outlines what will happen within the next fifty years if the ill effects of over-fishing, pollution, and climate change aren’t addressed soon. In clear language that kids will understand, Kurlansky gives a step-by-step account of what would happen if fish became extinct and then outlines a plan for remedying the situation.
We firmly hold the belief that the children of today are the future of tomorrow and if steered in the right direction through learning behaviours that will create a healthier world, future generations will prosper and live in harmony with nature. It all starts with education.
Thank you, Sam and Joseph! Visit the Teach Rex website and follow them on on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about their work and for more great insights and tools to empower our children to live sustainably and practice caring for our planet.
Check out Lantana's books teaching kids about eco-consciousness below! A thriving, inclusive society is not possible without a thriving planet. We are committed to publishing all our titles with non petroleum-based inks and on FSC paper and strive to embed sustainable practices in all areas of our work.
Coyote's Soundbite: A Poem for Our Planet by John Agard and Piet Grobler
Excitement spreads like bushfire through the jungle. Earth-goddesses are planning a conference! From Australia to Antarctica, the Amazon to Africa, goddesses will debate the burning environmental issues of our times...and bushy-tailed, smooth-talking Coyote wants in on the action! Can this infamous trickster come up with a plan to infiltrate the conference and leave a lasting legacy for our planet? A rip-roaring poem by a master poet, inspired by Earth Day.
Click HERE to look inside!
You're Snug With Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry
At the start of winter, two bear cubs are born, deep in their den in the frozen North. “Mama, what lies beyond here?” they ask. “‘Above us is a land of ice and snow.” “What lies beyond the ice and snow?” they ask. “The ocean, full of ice from long ago.” And as they learn the secrets of the Earth and their place in it, Mama Bear whispers, “You’re snug with me.”
Click HERE to look inside!
Teach Rex provides creative learning workshops with the power to ignite young minds and imaginations. Through story telling, each session transports children to a world of dinosaurs, dragons and gorillas, enabling pupils to experience something truly magical.