These games/activities will help kids think of the social justice/individual aspect of climate change:
Tell the campers to form a large circle (whatever is appropriate for the size of the group). Scatter a bunch of balls in the middle of the circle. Explain to campers that they are going to race to gather as many balls as possible. Before starting the game, form the campers into three groups. One group can run to get the balls, the second group can only crawl and the third group must wiggle on their stomachs across the floor to gather the balls. All groups must move their assigned ways for the entire game and all must bring their balls back to their group’s headquarters (where ever the game leader points that out to be). Clearly, this game is unfair. By the time the campers who are only allowed to wiggle reach the balls, there probably won’t be any left, while the campers allowed to run probably will have most of the balls. Replay the game a few times, giving each camper a chance to run, crawl, or wiggle. Once finished, discuss what happened in the activity. Talk about personal feelings, fairness, and the fun factor. Make a connection between the activity and the world’s limited resources that we all must share. Discuss the need for an equitable distribution on the world’s resources to all people instead of to only a small percentage of the world’s population. Make a special note of how the world’s resources will be affected by climate change and how that change will disproportional hurt the people in the world who are “wiggling and crawling”, making it even harder for them to gather the resources they need to survive. Ask what can we do to help bring about greater fairness/justice in our world?
This is a variation of Fair Ball. Youth stand in a large circle. The leader designates about one seventh of the youth as group 1, two sevenths as group 2, and the remaining four sevenths as group 3. (For example, in a group of 42 campers, group 1 would have 6 people, group 2 would have 12, and group 3 would have 24.) The leader scatters pebbles or some other object in the middle of the circle. At the leader’s signal, group 1 has 10 seconds to gather as many of the objects as they can. They must stop at another signal and return to the edge of the circle with the objects they have collected. Group 2 then has 10 seconds to do the same, followed at last by group 3. The leader tallies how many objects each group collected. Group 1 will, of course, have many more than the other two, and group 3 may have few or even none. The leader then says that group 1 is the current generation and the objects are natural resources. If everyone in group 1 has two children, there will be twice as many people in the next generation, which is group 2. Group 3, the grandchildren, doubles in size again.
Play the game again with the same people in each group. Now that group 1 knows that they are competing with their children and grandchildren, will they leave more objects behind? Compare the results with round 1. Discuss: Why did or didn’t the numbers change? Our planet currently has over 6 billion people, which is more than it has ever had before. Population is projected to reach 9 billion by midcentury. What kind of stress will that put on our resources? What ideas do the campers have to deal with so many people?
“If The Earth Were Small…”
Have the campers close their eyes and ask them to use their imaginations as you read this poem by Olaf Skarsholt:
were only a few feet in
diameter, floating a few feet above a
field somewhere, people would come from
every where to marvel at it. People would walk
around it marveling at its big pools of water, its little
pools and the water flowing between the pools. People
would marvel at the bumps on it, and the holes in it, and they
would marvel at the very thin layer of gas surrounding it and the
water suspended in the gas. The people would marvel at all the
creatures walking around the surface of the ball, and in the water.
The people would declare it precious because it was the only one,
And they would protect it, so that it would not be hurt. The ball
would be the greatest wonder known, and people would come
to behold it, to be healed, to gain knowledge, and to know
beauty and to wonder how it could be. People would love
it, and defend it with their lives, because they would
somehow know that their lives, their own
roundness, could be nothing without it.
If the earth were only a few
feet in diameter.
This could be coupled with a few clips from “An Inconvenient Truth” (or the whole movie) or some other multimedia resource. This is also fun to do while standing or sitting in a circle in a park or open space. It can lead to some good discussion.
Small Group Activities
Break the audience up into small groups (10-15) and play some basic team-building games (ie Human Knot and/or the one where you all sit on each other's lap in a circle....Lap Sit) and then explain that we can't stop climate change unless we all work together.
Mud Painting Activity
The kids should think about the things they have done to “dirty up” the environment and put some mud (or a little face paint) on their face to signify this. Then they could sign a pledge on one change they are willing to commit to to help reduce their carbon footprint and after they sign this they can wipe the mud off their face. This could be at the end of worship or a presentation with some environmentally themed song playing in the background.
Here are two games to help kids think about the consequences of climate change on animals and food chains:
Icebergs and Polar Bears
Have all the kids line up on one side of the gym. Spaced out around the other side of the gym should be numerous gymnastics mats (the kind that are rectangular and about 6 ft X 10 ft or anything similar). The kids are polar bears and the mats are icebergs. Whenever the game leader says go the kids have to run to stand on the icebergs. For the first round there should be enough mats so that every kid will be standing in a group on one of the mats (meaning no one is “out”). Instruct the kids to go back to the starting line and the leader announces that the global temperature has increased by X-degrees or that the carbon dioxide has reached X-parts per million (whatever is most appropriate for the age group/ties in with the overall presentation) and removes one of the icebergs because it “melted.” After saying go, the kids race over and will either be more cramped on the remaining icebergs or some may not be able to fit on at all and they are out. This continues until the temperature gets so hot that there are only a few icebergs and a few polar bears left or until there are none left at all. This can then be tied in with global climate change and how we as humans are changing things for the animals and for the world.
Mosquito, Salmon, Bear
There is a field with a line drawn half-way across. Before the round, each team decides what they're going to be, either mosquito, bear, or salmon, without letting the other team know. One team stands on one side of the line, about three feet away from it, facing out, and the other team stands on the other side of the line, about three feet away, facing out. At the count of three, the teams all turn around (so the two teams will be facing each other) and make the noise/action of the animal their team chose. Salmon chases mosquito, mosquito chases bear, and bear chases salmon to the other side of the field. Whoever is the chasing team tries to tag as many people as they can, and when they do, that person joins the other team.
The learning part comes after a few rounds, where you take one of the animals out of the food chain (the salmon) and just have the bear and mosquito. And what happens? There will be a ton of mosquitoes and no bears. In the first part you can (hopefully) point out that generally the teams moved back and forth in size and all stayed relatively equal because that's how the food chain works. When one animal gets taken out, problems arise and the food chain doesn't work. So even though mosquitoes might be annoying, they feed the salmon, which in turn feed the bears, which feed the mosquitoes.
These games will help children become excited and curious about the natural world and learn how to protect it:
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Send out teams to find different items in nature (i.e. leaf, needle, flower, pine cone, etc.). The first team back with an example of each item or the team with the most items wins. Items to be "found" can include things to describe. A variation could be to have the children take photos of what they find using a digital camera.
For further ideas, see:
Nature Scavenger Hunt (National Wildlife Federation)
Earth Day Nature Hunt (Windstar Foundation)
Start with a loose pile of recyclable and non-recyclable items, have teams move them from one end of the field to the other, placing them in the appropriate recycling or garbage receptacle. Points are deducted for mis-placing items and bonus points are given for the first team to finish. Alternatively you could have the children sort the items into three categories: Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle.
For further ideas, see:
Recycling Relay (Idaho Department of Environmental Quality)
Lesson Plan: Recycle Relay (Solid Waste District)