This blog article is Part 2 of a 3-part series on being a “Steward of the Earth”.

Part 1 defines what a ‘Steward of the Earth’ is, and how we can help children become one. Read Part 1 at Part 2 continues to explore how to become a ‘Steward of the Earth’ through more developmental domains.

Developmental Domain 2: Approaches to Learning
When educators talk about ‘approaches to learning’, they are referring to the attitudes, behaviors and learning styles children (and adults) use in social situations, in acquiring information and knowledge, and in being flexible and resilient when confronted with change or conflict. ‘Approaches to learning’ also encompasses the development of positive attitudes and dispositions.

Your child’s inborn ‘approach to learning’ not only impacts their cognitive/school learning, but their social and emotional development. Often concepts such as curiosity, risk-taking, imagination and invention, persistence, and reflection and interpretation are included when defining ‘approaches to learning’. For example, being comfortable with new, unfamiliar circumstances demonstrates positive emotional development and self-concept.

How does this developmental domain nurture becoming a “Steward of the Earth”?
Nurturing your child’s natural curiosity, imagination and interpretation greatly enhances their ability to get along with others, problem solve, and understand their world! These skills and attitudes are essential for becoming successful adults – not only in their work and personal lives, but also in our society in general.

We do not live in a vacuum; we need the support, help, and interaction of other as evidenced in the news on a daily basis. Our ability to problem solve, take risks, and create solutions to help others in need is what makes us ‘humans’. This is part of being a “Steward of the Earth”.

Activity for SEASONS OF A TREE that promotes how to become a “Steward of the Earth”
1. Visit your child’s tree.
2. Ask questions such as: How does your tree look?; What makes your tree grow?; How can you make the area around your tree better for the tree?
3. Try to get your child thinking about the ‘what ifs’ and how they can make things even better for their tree.
4. Encourage your child to think about ‘what happens next or after’ a choice/decision is made.
Supporting development:
• This type of thinking encourages children to think about others instead of just themselves. This is one of the first steps in developing empathy.
• This also encourages them to develop higher levels of thinking – to look at all of the information to help make decisions.
• Encourage your child to think/learn about non-toxic solutions to common gardening problems such as bugs, fertilizers, and weeds.

Developmental Domain 3: Language & Literacy
Language and literacy is how we communicate with others, how we express our feelings, and how we learn and share knowledge. Emergent Literacy is a gradual process that happens within babies and preschool children over a period of time. It is already there within the newborn infant, but needs the right conditions to develop and emerge.
Literacy refers to the interrelatedness of all language skills:
• Listening
• Speaking
• Reading
• Writing
• Viewing

How does this developmental domain nurture becoming a “Steward of the Earth”?
One of the most important gifts we can give our children is a love of learning. This starts in infancy, and hopefully will continue throughout their entire lives. When we talk, touch, read and sing to our infants, toddlers and preschoolers, they react like little sponges, soaking up all of the words, sounds, actions and feelings we are portraying.

Language and literacy development reflects a child’s social/emotional development and how they ‘approach learning’, (developmental domains previously discussed). Children use language to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions. They also use language to process and share what they are learning, how they are thinking, and what they will do to solve problems. This is a concrete way to connect with nature and its importance.

Activities for SEASONS OF A TREE that promotes how to become a “Steward of the Earth”
1. Create a book by writing stories about what is happening with your tree… tell about how the leaves grew from buds in the spring/summer, how they changed color and fell in fall/winter; tell about the bird that built a nest in the spring; tell about how you had a picnic n the summer etc.
2. Write simple poetry using the cinquain style of writing:
Line 1: one word, subject
Line 2: two words that describe Line 1
Line 3: three action words that relate to Line 1
Line 4: four words – feelings or sentence that relates to Line 1
Line 5: one word – synonym of Line 1, or a word that sums it up

Supporting Development:
• Telling a story encourages children to develop sequencing skills.
• Language activities increases vocabulary and descriptive language.
• Writing or telling a story helps children organize thoughts and make choices.
• Create a poster about recycling newspapers because they are made from trees.

Developmental Domain 4: Creativity & the Arts
The creative arts provide many valuable learning experiences and opportunities for young children. Being involved in the creative process provides the chance for children to create their own art, respond to the art of others, and evaluate both their own art and the art of others. The creative arts includes the mediums of paint/paper, music/song, dance, and dramatic play/theater; and nurtures the development of all domains.

Providing children with a variety of materials and mediums encourages them to show what they know, express how they feel, and expand on their thinking. Early childhood is the perfect time for experimenting and developing a sense of aesthetics – finding out what they like or dislike.

How does this developmental domain nurture becoming a “Steward of the Earth”?
Most young children are free, uninhibited and truthful with their creative expression. Children use their art work to tell about the things that mean the most to them – their families and their world.
The creative process allows children to show joy, concern, happiness or sadness about their world.

Early childhood is also a time for children to begin developing a sense of right/wrong, a sense of community, and a love for the world around them. The creative arts can be a tool or strategy that helps them define and describe their feelings and understanding of what is happening in their world.
This understanding can lead to children identifying the value of nature in their world.

Activities for SEASONS OF A TREE that promotes how to become a “Steward of the Earth”
1. Draw, paint or color pictures of your tree through the seasons. These could be illustrations for your book.
2. Do a series of crayon rubbings – bark, leaves, twigs and seeds/flowers from your tree. Create a collage or ‘patchwork quilt’ design from the rubbings.
3. Collect leaves in the fall, glue them onto a piece of construction paper, laminate it (or use contact paper) and use for a placemat.
4. Create a dramatic play ‘tree costume’ using a grocery bag for the trunk, headband with paper leaves for top of the tree, and roots made from yarn – attached to bottom of grocery bag.
5. Use collected leaves for printmaking – paint the raised side with tempera paint, lay a piece of paper over the paint and rub, lift paper off and you have a beautiful leaf print.

Supporting development:
• Creating a picture encourages children to develop a sense of color and design.
• Pictures can be ‘artistic interpretation’ or realistic. Both types of pictures have value for different reasons and neither one is right/wrong or better than the other.
• Use scrap paper to tear leaves, trunk, grass etc. to create a picture of your tree.
• Collect ‘found’ items from around your tree and create a collage from the items. The collage could focus on a ‘trash’ theme, or simply a nature theme.

Part 3 will address the final 2 domains of development: Cognitive and Physical/Motor development.