Skinners, Summer 2015

This summer we worked with children from Skinners Academy once again over 7 sessions. During this time we:

  • asked "What Has Climate Change Got To Do With My Cup Of Tea?"
  • drank lots of different herbal teas
  • picked and ate lots of fruit
  • built and decorated two splendid willow dens


What Has Climate Change Got To Do With My Cup Of Tea?

The children from years 7 and 8 used home-made teaching resources to address the complex link between our own consumption (in this case, of a cup of tea) and climate change. where does tea come from? flowerThis is a process that many adults would struggle to explain. The resources are shared here so that anyone can copy and adapt our approach:

Step 1

Think about how tea is produced, using a fun 'Where does tea come from?" jigsaw - this teases out the different elements in the production chronologically, using flower petals for each step. The petals are different sizes to reflect their relative carbon footprint - though this is not yet explained to the children. The main thing here is to draw attention the many different stages in tea production and that each stage uses energy - thereby starting to develop an understanding of "embodied energy"

What are fossil fuels - cloze procedureStep 2

Next we take a look at fossil fuels. The words in the two "Did you know..." sentences are removed and given to the children - who have been divided into two teams. They must race to place the words in the correct positions. The Q and A cards are distributed to the group and they must find the person who has the card that matches their question or answer. Afterwards it's all displayed on the board and read out by the children. This was probably the most successful of all the exercises.

carbon dioxide comes from - pie chartStep 3

Can the children think of anything they do that hasn't used fossil fuels? Think about all the different ways we use fossil fuels and divide them into sectors. Then link the tea production process with each of the sectors using the stick on parts of the process, e.g. planting and caring for the tea bushes goes into the agricultural sector..

At this stage we link each step of the process to a level of carbon emissions. Point out that a black cup of tea uses 21g of carbon, but that adding that tiny splash of milk bumps the carbon emissions up to 53g. Most children and adults are surprised by the impact of dairy products.

giant carbon footprintStep 4

Having linked the tea production process with carbon emissions, we can now put the petals from "Where does tea come from?" on the foot shape - which makes the idea of a carbon footprint more tangible.

It now becomes more obvious why the petals of the flower were different sizes - so they'd make different sized toes in the carbon footprint.





global weather forecast mapStep 5

The next step is  looking at the connection between climate change and those carbon emissions. We made a global climate change weather forecast. We read out news stories on the reverse of each of the blended circle/arrows and then worked out where in the world the arrow could go. This was the hardest lesson to teach because the news stories were quite devastating e.g. farmers in India killing themselves because of failed crops!

What can I do?Step 6

Finally, we empowered the children by talking about how we can all reduce our own carbon footprints. We brainstormed different behaviour changes which loosely fitted into the categories of food / energy and travel. Written on the back of the behaviour change cards are statistics that shed light on the impact of making each change.

The Resources

We used old for sale signs made out of corrucard because corrucard is lightweight, easy to shape with a stanley knife and clean white. We used Pentel permanent markers to write on the designs. Please contact us if you want larger resolution pictures or to find out the text on the reverse of the cards. The resources were suspended on a washing line in our garden during the lessons.

Y7 and Y8, after the project. Most children clustered around '5' shwoing good understanding.The Outcomes

Children's understanding of climate change was assessed at the beginning and end of the project using a scale that is used across the whole of the Manor House PACT project. The children went and stood next to a description which best matched their current understanding, which ranged from "I am not aware of the key issues surrounding climate change" to "I have a good understanding of how climate change will affect me and my community, and what I can do about it." Most of the children had shifted along the spectrum in their level of understanding.

More photos of the sessions we did with Skinners are here.