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Education and Climate Change

Joe R. Zammit Director of Education

The Ontario Curriculum Grades 9 to 12 has embedded within it lessons on Climate Change. Unfortunately, there is so much in the curriculum that Climate Change sometimes gets pushed aside in favour of the traditional concept of education delivery. To be fair, the concept of Climate Change is rather new and there has been very little in the way of professional development that would allow teachers to extend their understanding of this concept. However, it is there, it exists all the same.

Despite the challenges of tradition and time, in general, educators, once they have embraced Climate Change into their curriculum have done an outstanding job across Canada. Incredibly creative lessons that have embedded the concept into action plans. As an example, thousands upon thousands of trees have been planted and a multitude of best practices to mitigate climate change have been introduced to millions of children.

Here is a fun little activity that demonstrates the sacredness of water that meets the curriculum requirements of a multitude Ontario Curriculum grade levels that I have used with small groups of Special Needs students as well as a group of 250 students that ranged from Grade 5 to Grade 12.

This Light Blue Yarn Is Water:


– a large ball of light blue yarn

– a small ball of dark brown yarn

-an empty water bottle

-an empty pop can

– crumpled up newspaper


The light blue yarn will represent pure and fresh water. Pull out a large amount, then tie the dark brown yarn with the light blue yarn (the dark brown yarn will represent pollution that will foul the pure and fresh water.

Within the yarns tie the empty water bottle, the empty pop can and the crumpled up newspaper to represent items that have been thrown into the pure and fresh water.


Have all students sit in a circle. Best to use a gym floor but a classroom can also be utilized.

The Teacher starts to carefully feed the light blue yarn to each student.

Teacher: This light blue yarn represents pure and fresh water. Carefully pass the water to the person next to you and carefully hold it with your finger tips.

This water is precious. It allows us to live. Don’t drop it! We need it. Each one of us is connected to the pure and fresh water. It is precious but we need to share it.

Once the light blue yarn has been extended through out the circle continue to send the yarn onto the fingers of the students.

Teacher: Now we are going speed up the water. Take it faster, faster and faster, the fresh pure water is rushing to each of you because we all need water and we need it now! Faster, Faster!

The light blue yarn will be circulating in rapidly and the students will get very excited that the pace has changed.

Teacher: Don’t forget it’s precious be quick but be careful.

It is at this time the Teacher will begin to pass along the dark brown yarn into the circle of circulating light blue yarn.

Teacher: What happened? Our precious fresh and pure water has suddenly turned brown. Someone has polluted the our precious fresh and pure water!

It is at this point the Teacher can begin to circulate into the yarn circle the empty water bottle, the empty pop can and the crumpled up newspaper, all previously tied into the yarn. Keep the pace fast and quick.

Teacher: OK. STOP. Hold the yarn. Hold the fresh pure water that we all need. Look at it. The fresh and pure water we need has been polluted. What has happened to our water? The water we need to live? What has happened to our fresh- pure water. It is fresh no more. It is pure no more. We cannot live now with this water.

The Teacher can now stop the activity and move into a lesson on the importance of water and how water pollution effects this precious resource.

Specific Ontario Curriculum that Incorporates Climate Change.

Grade 10 Science: Earth and Space Science – Grade 10 Advanced

Earth’s Dynamic Climate – Grade 10 Applied

Grade 7 Science

Understanding Life Systems: Interactions in the Environment

Understanding Earth and Space Systems: Heat in the Environment

Grade 7 Geography

Investigating Physical Features and Processes

Grade 8 Geography

Interrelation between Settlement and the Environment

Grade 5 Social Studies

Climate change as it affects aboriginal people

Grade 6 Social Studies

Climate change as global issue

Indirect References

Grade 5 Science: Conservation of Energy and Resources

Understanding Earth and Space Systems

Grade 6:

Understanding Life Systems: Biodiversity

Grade 8:

Understanding Earth and Space Systems: Water Systems

(The Toronto Star- Classroom Connections.

Lesson Activity designed by Joe R. Zammit

Image: Google: iStock by Getty Images

Another great resource:

Learning for a Sustainable Future- York University (

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