Children and Youth

“Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature. Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.” --Zenobia Barlow

What You Will Do

  • Consider how children can be transformative change agents in society by examining your personal ideas.
  • Learn the basics of designing children and youth activities.
  • Engage in writing and drawing exercises that will connect you to your younger self and help you appreciate children as clients and co-creators.
  • Participate in an exploratory design process with one or more young people.

Integrating children, youth, and families into your designs ​

This section by Penny Krebiehl

Whether you are an educator, neighbor, parent, grandparent, third cousin, or an aunt or uncle, ecological design is so very worthwhile to share with children and youth of all ages. ​I know that I’m not the first to say children are essential to consider in your design work. But think about it, aren’t little people the best woods wandering, nature exploring, hands-on citizen scientists and artist-designers from the get-go? My experience with them says YES! I believe they are our true nature guides and mentors.

Working with Children and Youth: Part 1

There’s a link between what’s possible in neighborhood design and what I’m sharing here about including children in the plan. One of the challenges that I’ve personally had to work through is that I’m a landless permaculturist. That’s right, I do not own land and have had to figure out how, where and when I could plant a garden, host community and neighborhood projects, and find places to host children and youth programming. I’ve been doing this through my entire 25+ year career, garden-farming and art educational programming. It has taught me much about creatively using and responding to change.

Whether you are approaching this module as a parent or in consideration of a design that focuses on teaching children and youth about the Earth, I hope you will agree with me that what we are learning here in this course is a necessary, wonderful and critical part of life-experiences for children and youth. Also, that they are totally deserving, and will benefit from the inclusion in our design and building of resilient communities!

​Why children and youth?

Ecological education is a resource which can move outward from your interior language, and into the exterior world(s) that surround you. When we think of elemental resources of our planet, air, fire, water, earth, we can all agree how precious and necessary they are to our survival. With a sincere, sacred observation and study of those resources, I gratefully know that they are a part of me and I am a part of them. This knowing, understanding, practicing and living has happened with my art, science and design education.

So let’s revisit our own education and allow some of it to be undone and tossed aside, reviewed and revamped, and supported by our learnings. Let’s keep at the good work and play of developing an ecological identity through a regenerative education. It is important we learn from children, so that we may reconnect with ourselves as nature.

We are nature working, playing and discovering.

​So, why do you need to know how to design with children and youth in mind?

Please read through and answer the following questions:

  • Do you have children? Or do you regularly spend time with children or older youth?
  • What is your interest and experience with children and older youth?
  • Are you a parent looking for home-based design and activities to contribute to your child’s education?
  • Are you interested as a designer/educator in supporting parents in sharing their values?
  • What do you have time for? What are you willing to make time/space for?
  • Would you like to design a short camp format?
  • Add ecological design to your home-schooling curriculum?
  • Apply ecological design to your everyday home and community life?
  • Will your design project be a place of healing or therapy?
  • Do your design clients intend to raise children or have them as visitors?
  • Do you think children may one day live within the landscape you have designed?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, this is why you are being asked to involve children in your final design project. Children are an element in our systems, and as essential as any other element. Whether or not you are a parent or teacher or remotely connected to your great niece, as an ecological designer you will be asked to consider the next generations in some fashion or another. They will touch upon your implemented design in many ways, at some time and place.

Even if designing specifically for children may not be a core part of your design they may be visitors, or in future generations, be part of the household who live on your project land. The needs, strengths and input of children are often overlooked and this is why you are being asked to consider them as stakeholders in your final design project. Children are active components in our living systems, our neighbourhoods and communities, and as essential as any other component.

Regardless or whether you are directly caring for or working with children, as an ecological designer, an essential part of your work is designing systems with future generations in mind. Even if you are restricted to a semi-permanent potted plant design on a fire escape, we are designing with today’s children and subsequent generations as our indirect clients. Whether or not children are part of your design brief, their future will be influenced by your implemented design in many ways, at some time and place.

That being said, if you answered no to all of those questions, you by all means have the option to skip to the next module!  

​General tips for working with children and youth

Involve them from the very beginning.

Here are a few more questions, followed up by observations and experiences that may be helpful to you.

  • Will you include people care/fair share lessons about gender, sexuality, ageism, race, diversity, and equity? How? Read up, review, ask questions and seek examples.
  • Are you familiar with basic learning development stages and learning styles? I will introduce this in the next section.
  • Gardening and farming are a wonderful learning environment to share with children. Do you have access to land to utilize it as a growing space with children? Could you rent a community garden plot and designate it as a children’s garden? Gardens are a great classroom, the wild ones and the tame ones.

Outside and over there.

In an adult-focused design course, we generally begin by discussing the state of the world, where we name the challenges and problems, and go on to explore the great and possible solutions. Most parents and teachers do not want to expose children to violence and scary stuff if they can help it. But many of us cannot separate the violent and scary stuff from our lives and the world around us. Even from our precious children. Disasters happen, and crisis is real. While we are hard at work trying to be responsible, earn a living, and protect our families, we have all likely been touched by hard times. I’m sure we do not want to scare the bejeezus out of kids with the state of world, but it’s necessary to be honest when asked, and we must offer support and wise counsel. These times are giving us all a reality check, and we need to learn ways for healthy discussions and improve how we communicate.

To save or not to save.

When I work with children and youth I avoid “saving the world” statements, but say yes to exploring and discovering ways to get involved in gender, class, and race equity, social justice, food justice, clean water for all and other positive action oriented community opportunities. These are all very complex subjects, deserving careful exploration and examination, and are very much a part of our current, local, regional, national and worldwide transforming culture. We have leverage points to work from in the field of education, and children and youth are amazing change agents!

Young children and older youth deserve and enjoy opportunities to be present with caring adults at local rallies, discussions and community meetings. What’s happening in your community and neighborhood is likely an open door to sharing ecological education in some fashion. 

Kids are wired to inquire, appreciate and ask questions about most everything, including the way we live and consume resources. They challenge us to walk our talk, live simpler and within limits.

Bottled water, for example, when is it a solution, when is it a problem? How has the problem become a solution? ​

​Children are not just small sized nature gurus, they are also mighty and creative eco-activists. Empowering them to ask questions and challenge the powers-that-think-they-be is A-OK!

How are we going to be together?

Every time I meet with children, I begin the sharing and laying out of a plan for ways in which we are going to be together. This can be integrated into a getting to know each other group activity, branching off from your introduction of the people care ethic. This is a good time to introduce the basics of nonviolent communication (NVC) as a simple conflict resolution process. With older youth, you may want to introduce the foundations of sociocratic decision making.

Information was shared about NVC previously in this course, but it’s good to have a reminder, and can be helpful when you are figuring out how you will be together. NVC is about developing and practicing empathy and honesty.

Here’s a quick checklist as a guide for yourself and the children:

  • What do you observe?
  • How are you feeling?
  • What need is not being met?
  • How could it be done differently in the future? (Request).
  • Be concrete and clear, describe the specific situation factually.
  • Share real emotions and take responsibility for how you feel using I statements.
  • Address needs. What would make you feel better?

A recent study done by Stanford University explores the idea that “hierarchy is innate, it’s in our DNA, while egalitarianism is a learned way of being. What the study suggests is human beings are hardwired to understand hierarchy. All children are born into a hierarchical state. Children have parents and grandparents and teachers and all of them give direction and guidance to the child. Egalitarianism, on the other hand, does not develop until late childhood and is contingent on the development of complex social processes that only begin to form around age seven.”

This study supports the idea that you may want to wait to introduce the principles of sociocracy until an age when the concepts will really resonate with them. I’ve included a link in the resources section below to The Wondering School, a sociocratic school model with a decision making approach based on consent.

Care, care, share and be fair.

We all will benefit from a serious self-review, and gain deeper understandings of social justice issues, examining patterns and behaviors that have seemed acceptable, but truly are not. I believe it is not an option to hold back on discussing social justice. It has to be done, and it is being done. You can contribute as a designer, and possibly an educator to this positive change!

​As parents, permaculturists, mentors or educators, we have a responsibility to teach diversity and social justice in all learning spaces.

Remember that ecological design is about creating beneficial relationships between individual components, and making sure energy is recycled into the system.

​I hope you will embrace the ethics, principles and design process as constant companions, while you design with children as one of the essential components of your project.

​Developmental stages and needs for different learning experiences

​1-2-3 Teaching, Working, Playing.

When I think back on the time and place I was in when my children were approaching school-age, I remember feeling I wanted to make the best decision for them, in terms of where they would go and the type of education they would experience. Having spent four or more solid years of hands-on, day-to-day parenting time with them, I had a strong feeling about who they were, and what kind of experiences they were interested in and passionate about. We wanted to be a part of the cultural diversity in our urban school district and neighborhood. As far as I knew, I was all about making the best possible choice for them.

For, For, For.

What would it be like if we switched the for them decision making process in regards to where/when/how to educate children and youth, to making those decisions with them, and really applying ecological ethics, principles and design process to everyday life?

With the experience of taking this course, and with your new found passion and deeper understandings, you can try the switch from for to with. Your passion will spark their passion.

Remember the essential aspects of ecological design are creating beneficial relationships between individual components (children and youth, you, your family and neighbors/community), and making sure that energy is captured in, rather than lost from, the system.

So let’s explore creating an everyday regenerative educational system. Let’s think from the heart (ethics) and respond from the head (principles and design process). We are combining practicality and common sense with eco-based philosophy. Kids will love it! It makes sense and it feels good too, for all of us!

Working with Children and Youth: Part 2

​Developmental differences: what learning experiences look like for different ages

​Teaching, working and playing alongside children can be quite different from teaching adults. Especially if you are planning a group project, taking time to review or visit the basic developmental learning stages is helpful.​

Here are a few opening questions to consider related to learning styles and developmental stages:

  • In a group setting, working with differences in learning abilities and styles is inevitable and diversity rules. How would you handle asking for clarification or support related to these learning styles up front?
  • How much time do you really have? How much are you trying to share or accomplish? How will the learning styles in your group influence the way time is structured and used? Some of the best learning experiences happen when the time is structured, and yet there can also be lots of wandering and wondering space. Keep an open mind and remain flexible.
  • At all ages, build comfort working with diverse ages. Exchange skills and ideas between adults and children and provide leadership opportunities for youth.


Purely sensory, exploratory, explain activity in a few seconds.

Early childhood. 

Sensory plus a bit more dexterity and exploration.

6-8 years. 

Imaginative, but concrete and productive activities.

8-12 years. 

Abstract thinking, autonomy, small projects, introduce egalitarian group processes.

12-14 years. 

Social, active projects with use of egalitarian group processes and related discussion.

14 years and older. 

Larger community based projects, activism, responsibility, and longer-term roles.

​Niche analysis

​A niche analysis is a tool that we use as designers to understand the many aspects and connections a single element has within a larger system. We are using niche in the ecological sense here, which is defined “a position or role taken by a kind of organism within its community.”

In ecological design, we see each element having its own niche in an ecosystem, i.e., a number of things that element does well. We design intentionally, placing components in the system that fill the multiple roles. A typical niche analysis might include yields, needs, and behaviors.

This is a group niche analysis that will help you recognize the strengths of the children you are working with. After looking through the developmental cycles and 8 Learning styles, you can consider (and add to) the roles, functions (yields) and tools (needs) necessary to support them and your design project.

Here is an example niche analysis for considering how to include children and youth in the design process.

​Organize a perma-blitz for the whole family!

​Here’s an easy to follow structure and guide for a one-day perma-blitz or day-camp, with consideration of the developmental phases and learning styles:

Plan for 3 key lessons per perma-blitz or day-camp. Prepare notes or an outline of material.

Opening/Morning. If this is a more than one day blitz or camp, recap any previous days content or work you’ve accomplished.

Introduce any new steps to your new day’s project or lessons. Remember to make the content user friendly for at least three learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic. If I don’t have everything pre-made in the form of a simple, readable and illustrated chart, I like to use live graphic facilitation whenever possible. Drawing, storytelling or guiding along as you go, demonstrates all three learning styles listed above. Always have drawing materials available for children! Graphic or visual recording is great if you are outdoors with no electricity in sight. Having a small-scale white board with non-toxic dry erase markers works well. I take rolls of butcher paper and unfurl it in a line so that kids can draw in mural style. The used butcher paper can be put on display later for the gallery walk and it can be composted in the garden as mulch, or in your worm bin.

After Lunch. Recall morning lesson and focus on action! Keep it physical/hands-on. You can wander in the woods and use games that link up and crossover the theme you were sharing in the morning

Closing. A gallery walk. A show/talk/share discussing questions such as:

  • Where were we?
  • What did we do?
  • What will we take with us into our time away from each other?

Goodbye until we meet again! Have a closing circle and remember to get everyone’s contact information, for next time!

A permablitz brings together neighbors from every generation to help with a local project.

​A GOBRADIME approach to designing regenerative educational systems

​Remember when I said earlier that it doesn’t matter if your are a parent, grandparent, aunt-uncle etc. in regards to being a teacher or a student? Even though the language here is focused in a teaching way, I wish to empower you to understand that you don’t need to be a teacher to hold space and to learn and share alongside children. If you are interested in becoming a teacher, I have provided links below to a couple of real-time and online training opportunities, including what I am offering in Northern Michigan, USA.

Please do remember this, even if we choose to get further trained up and adopt individual titles, throughout our living experience we are all teachers, and we are all students. You are brave, awesome and right-on-cue for being a part of the transformations that are happening on the planet!

​Now let’s dig into what you are learning through the GOBRADIME process, and apply it to what you are doing with children, youth and all of your significant relationships.​

Goals and visioning.

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” -– Peggy O’Mara

Begin with gratitude for what you have been gifted in your precious lifetime in the form of an awakening, insight, skill, or learning opportunity by a mentor, teacher, educator, or skilled, kind, inspiring neighbor. What’s that story about? Recall and lay out your personal story and compare/contrast it with what kind of outer world events may have been taking place. Consider the timeline of what you were learning and what was happening in the greater world.

  • Who are you to teach or share an ecological pedagogy with while also designing and integrating regenerative behavior changes with your family and within your community?
  • A good starting place for goal setting is to ask ourselves: Why are we doing this? Why are we involving the whole family/neighborhood block in our project? Why do we need to know this? Our passion sparks theirs, and vice-versa. Remember to take good long walks in the woods, or along a lakeshore (my favorite!) to keep the flame burning, to digest and breathe in space for the whys to emerge.
  • Create a vision board or physical representation of visions and goals with the children and youth involved in the project. Start messy and fine-tune (think patterns to details). Get creative with your medium. If drawing isn’t your thing, consider collaging with graphics from magazines.
  • TAPO means Thoughtful and Protracted Observation, and it begins with goal-setting.​


What is your role? Parent, mentor, friend, guide, peer, cohort, fearless leader?

How does what you are observing in that role effect or relate to the children?

How are they impacting you? 

Observation is the answer! 

When we observe we use all of our senses: sight, smell, listening, feeling, and tasting. Sometimes we just skim over these sensory experiences and rush here, rush over there. If we really practiced deep, nourishing observation on a regular basis, I believe we would not only be better designers, but also kinder and sincerely grateful human beings. This is the part where emergence happens, through our stillness, meditation, wondering and wandering times. 

Here’s an observation activity to share with children of all ages, and even big people like you:

The Owl and the Strong Tree.

Calm the chatter, clear the mind, get ready for a new experience! With children in our Summer Puppet Camp at Little Artshram, we had a beautiful location on an old farm property that was on the edge of a 100 acre wood. Kind of a Winnie the Pooh-ish location, with a variety of landforms and an amazingly diverse ecosystem. We referred to our community teaching garden site as our tame garden, and when we took a walk up the hill to the woods, it was our wild garden, where we spent a cooler, action-oriented afternoon. This is where we stopped at the edge, that rich and lovely line between this and that, and took time to center ourselves in our core with a few yoga poses.

When doing this as a group, begin by creating enough room between bodies to not bump into each other.

​Start with a reminder that we need to respectfully be very, very quiet as we are about to enter other wild creatures homes as a guest.

Everybody puts on their Owl Eyes. Stand still with feet a foot-length apart, with everybody holding the palms of their hands together in front of their faces. Thumbs extended upwards, separating arms slowly out to our sides. Staring straight ahead all the while, not looking at their arms/wings as they spread wide open, wiggle their talons and notice what they could see with their peripheral vision.

Next, while standing ever so still and peaceful, everyone slowly brings their wings into their heart space, palms still together, feeling the earth beneath their bird feet, they grow roots to hold steady in the place they are standing…

Transforming now into mighty, Strong Trees, everyone holds hands to heart while balancing on one foot, in the traditional yoga tree pose. Steady the tree trunk from toe to head, then slowly raise the arms and hands. The tree canopy holds steady and calm and strong as one of our tree friends.

Everyone takes a few deep breaths, feeling a strong connection as a group of lovely trees, with root systems intermingling and tree-tops reaching high.

​Finally, bring the foot back down to the earth, hands back down to hearts and give gratitude to the owls, bird friends, trees and plants you are about to visit in the wild garden!

Boundaries and Resources.

This is the phase where we ask what do we have and what is needed? Research what is out there. Are there neighborhood permablitzes, workshops, programs that are child/youth friendly? Can you make them child and youth friendly? Which longtime perm-educators have resources, programs, and/or information to share or collaborate on? 

Consider challenges which include educational, environmental, and socio-economic opportunities. Creatively respond to change. Be flexible, slight detours can still lead back to the original premise. If you are scheduling a design project larger than your personal backyard involving children and youth, be prepared with back-up people such as interns, partners, parents, grandparents.

Common boundaries and risks when working in groups with children include physical safety, food, and allergies. Medical, video and photo release forms, as well as emergency contacts, can all help prepare and protect you. Do you have a system in place for refrigeration of lunches, hand washing and toilets? Are compost toilets ok?

The following is a hypothetical list of boundaries and resources you might need to consider for a one-day perma-blitz or camp.


  • Share spatial boundaries/map with group.
  • Establish nonviolent communication. How are we going to be together today?
  • Beginning, ending and break times.
  • Consider the learning styles and special needs. Do people need to be grouped together or require assistance?


  • Toilets.
  • Food storage (lunches).
  • Tool inventory, use and safety.
  • Shaded space for gathering.
  • Extra water.Gloves.
  • First aid kit.

Think through your project or program and be as specific as you can with the boundaries and resources needed, and you can’t go wrong.


Go back through, clarify your ideas, and make decisions about your design. Now is the phase to bring out tools like this Critical Thinking Checklist and create a needs analysis. Ask for input from your children about the basics: food, water, shelter, but also other physical, emotional, and social needs.

  • What kind of work do they want to do? 
  • What do they want to play? 
  • What do you want to do? 
  • Who will be able to participate? 
  • How are ecological themes and topics woven into the design, and how do they integrate and build upon each other?

​Your design should be aware of and sensitive to not only the learning styles, developmental ages and considerations we discussed in Section 2, but also the diversity of economic and relative location. This awareness will shine a light on your relationships, not just between you and the children, but also with the materials being shared, and the design itself.


Developing a design project that considers children and youth in your neighborhood may require you to take an interest in their interests! 

You can take a look at a bunch of ideas of small scale gardening projects with children in the links provided at the end of the module. A great starting point would be to model your projects after other projects that seem to achieve the same results you want to achieve.

​At this point, however, you have learned that design need not always apply to the physical landscape. You may be designing a curriculum, workshop or camp. Design a program or workshop that is more than a daycare service.

Design a transformation, for the kids, for the land, and for yourself!


Remember to always revisit and utilize ecological principles as guideposts for our great design work. We can look through the lens of patterns to details. Work on a large scale (your specific project or program involving children) to a smaller scale (all the bits that are going to make this a go!). You will need to identify what needs to be done when, and certain tasks will depend on the completion of others. You can do this simply in a mind-map, with a list of tasks set out on a timeline, creating a basic visual pattern to work from. 

​A well written implementation and maintenance plan can work as an instruction manual for someone to step in. With scheduled neighborhood or community events or programming for children, especially something that parents and kids are counting on, it’s important that you include a source of extra help in your implementation plan.

Since you have a complete GOBRADIME design you are working from, you have a part in there that can be a ready reference and guide. We never know when there may be an emergency or some type of family need that would call you away. This kind of preparation needs to be in place to hold the structure and experiences together for children: People care is also self-care!


“If a child is to keep alive her inborn sense of wonder, she needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with her the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” –Rachel Carson

I love that quote and appreciate all that Rachel Carson contributed to instigating a new level of environmental awareness. While letting her words sink into our hearts and minds, you can take a look at ways to keep kids involved in your design project and to keep education programs for kids going strong. The goal is to create a maintenance plan that will support and empower your future self and whoever gets involved with the project. Think through how your maintenance plan will preserve momentum. What support do you need to expand or offer this program as a model to be replicated?

Follow the checklist and answer the questions below. Write it down or draw it out.

  1. Create the plan! What are the manageable tasks? Create a work breakdown list that could be made into a visual-mind map with sub-tasks.
  2. What’s the Goal? What are you sharing and who would care to attend, benefit from this program/project? Think broadly, make a list.
  3. Set dates, times, and check community calendars and neighborhood activities. Schedule in an end of summer potluck and celebration to share the great veg and herbs with everyone involved (sponsors, partners) and invite the public too!
  4. Secure location/venue, and make certain you have liability insurance if needed.
  5. Revisit your outline and finish up gathering all the details of what you will be doing together (listed above). Detailed description of activities, hands-on, breakdown of daily time-frame. Will there be another week or day of this program offered? Look ahead at how this program can connect and expand.
  6. Budget how much you will spend on program resources, space rental, staff, healthy snacks, materials and supplies. Over-estimate: for healthy snacks, materials and supplies, I usually do a base cost of $3-5 per child for each session).
  7. Who’s involved and when? As guides/educators, you? Will your kids help? Any others? Who is on paid-staff, interning/apprenticing or volunteering? Value all of these roles.
  8. Launch, publicize, announce enthusiastically.
  9. Finalize any special guest speakers, or off-site field trips to other great garden-farms.
  10. Find sponsors who are itching to support your goodness, invite groups and schools and other parents and people in the neighborhood where you are hosting the program to partner with you.

Even with gardening programs and projects, year-round activities can correspond with time-off/holidays from school, or be integrated within the school curriculum. There’s so much to share even outside of the growing season, and it can be fun, smart, productive, helpful, awesome! Feel it! There is going to be a lot of appreciation and gratitude for yourself and the others working alongside you, for the children and the youth, and for what you are creating!


What worked, what was challenging, how can we improve? Make sure to have a circle discussion with any and all children and youth that have been involved with your design or group educational project. They will give you honest feedback and also feel empowered by completing the project/program alongside you while being valued for their ideas, work and accomplishments! Set aside time to include the children/youth in your evaluation. Revisit what has worked, what has been challenging and what needs improvement based on your experiences and research of other developing educational programs.

​Lastly, one very important matter to consider and emphasize with the children and youth involved in your project: What’s the plan to recharge and quiet down to fully digest what you’ve created and accomplished with this project or program?

​Case Study: Grow a Lot of Food on a Little Land.

Working with Children and Youth: Part 3

Here’s an example of organizing a group project focused on the basics of growing lots of food on a little land, which happens to be the title of this workshop for children and their families.

In closing, I will recap the essence of my message that you don’t need to be a teacher to hold space and learn with children, while adding that what you are learning throughout this course will help lay a foundation to begin on that path, and become more effective involving them in your design work.

​Children are often an afterthought in the planning process. We can begin designing for the inclusion of their input, skills, and energy. If we are to build healthy communities based on food security and regenerative education and living, we must listen to and involve future generations in the process.

Working with Children and Youth: Conclusion


Questions for Review

These questions are just for you to review and reflect. Read and contemplate or write down all of your answers and ideas–whatever works for your learning process.

  1. Children engage in constant story-making. Take something that has happened in your day, from the smallest thing such as a spill of tea or coffee or the scene happening outside your window. Imagine it is part of a greater story.
  2. Give yourself permission to be silly and go into your young self! Write or draw for 10 minutes.
  3. Imagine yourself as a child. Visualize a rich outdoor environment with plenty of loose parts such as hills, gullies, sand, water, leaves, nuts, seeds, rocks, etc. to create in/with. What would you want to build or create? Describe or draw what comes to mind.
  4. What is the last random act of kindness you engaged in?
  5. Why do you care about this stuff? Were there any moments in your youth that had a dramatic impact on your understanding and awareness of stewardship?
  6. What are three essential items and/or areas that your dream classroom would have? Let’s assume it has generally useful things such as writing utensils, chairs and tables, easels and whiteboards. Describe or draw what comes to mind.
  7. What is one earth-friendly/enhancing behavior or habit that you wish all children would learn from an early age? How might you go about helping to encourage this among the children and adults in your life?
  8. Provide an example of a place or activity in which children/youth are not generally included in your culture but you think could be. If you can’t think of a preexisting example, come up with something new! Explain briefly.
  9. What do you envision when you think of a regenerative educational system? What role could you see yourself taking in such a system? Mentor, peer, teacher, etc.
  10. How could you encourage children to feel a sense of creative expression, stewardship and ownership on a project?
  11. How would you explain to a young person that cultivating land, planting and harvesting their own food is an act of independence?
  12. How would you explain to a young person the difference between fair share and being fair? (Insert reference on expansion of ethics for kids).

Recommended Hands-On

These activities are recommended, if possible, to solidify your learning and help advance your design project.

Try this eyes-on, ears-on, brain-on exercise! Now that you have considered the relationship between children and ecological design, attend a community group/club/space/event with this perspective in mind. Be present and attentive at the event, but take a slightly ethnographic approach to your time there (put on your explorer cap and pretend you’re an anthropologist). Use all of your senses to consider the various ages and learning styles present in the room:

  • Are people using images?
  • Talking with their hands? 
  • Are there action based activities? 
  • What is unfolding? 

Reflect on how you would develop activities appropriate for the group. Create a plan for an organized hour of teaching/learning that you would use with the group you have observed. Use these curriculum themes, if it’s helpful.

​How was your curriculum development process influenced by the dynamics of this group?

More suggestions, pick and choose:

  • Make a blanket box for your household and cook something with it. If you need a reminder on how to make a blanket box, go back to the Cooking and Food Storage video in this module. Make a note of how long it took your meal to cook and how much energy you saved. Take a photo of your blanket box and the meal you made in it, and share it the student group!
  • Make a solar dehydrator or a solar oven, check out the details for a solar food dehydrator here.
  • Invite your friends over to share a blanket box meal and get them to commit to doing the same! During the dinner, share ways in which you will be using appropriate technology and reducing consumption around your home. Ask them to commit to one action.
  • Build a pedal-powered grain mill. Check out the example here.​
  • Build a root cellar out of an old fridge. Check out the ‘how to’ video here.