Note to Educators
These projects are being shared in the hope that they might provide some practical support and ideas for those of you trying to acquaint young people with this amazing world in which we live.
The activity sheets can be used in either formal settings such as classrooms or in informal settings, such as nature centers or homeschooling contexts. Some could serve as ‘take-home’ materials at Farmers Markets or as pages available for coloring (or as prompts) on children’s art tables at Environmental Awareness festivals or fairs.
These activities are designed to help in people’s efforts to transmit to new generations a love and understanding of this sacred and complex planet. If you’re reading these words now, perhaps you already share my belief that one of our tasks as adults is to ensure that young people continue to be animated by a true awareness and knowledge of the wondrous natural world – and by a sturdy emotional sense of connectedness to it all. The goal, from my perspective, is to equip young people with insights, attitudes, and skills that will allow them to be both glad and able contributors to the health of their local communities, bioregions, and the Earth Community in general. I hope that the projects described here will enhance or facilitate your own work towards this larger endeavor.
These resources have been developed by Edith Pucci Couchman. Edith has been teaching about the visual arts and environmental science for over twenty-five years in Southern New Hampshire and North Central Massachusetts, in settings ranging from Nature and Arts Centers to public, independent, and Catholic schools. Most of her teaching has been with students aged 5 to 12, however she has also designed classes for three-year-olds (with their parents and caregivers) and presented programs for adults. She is blessed to be the mother of two wonderful grown children and the grandmother of two.
Edith’s educational preparation includes a B.S. in General Science with Distinction from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She pursued graduate studies in Environmental Education leading to formal teaching certification in Elementary and Science Education for students in grades K to 9. She has participated in the Cooperative and Organic Food Movements since her university days. She has also worked as a graphic artist, cartographer, and independent painter with artworks in numerous private collections. She has been privileged to study with many inspiring artists along the way, including particularly Antonio Cirino, S. Carl Fracassini, Forrest R. Bailey, and Jinghua Gao Dalia.
Mrs. Couchman was the grateful recipient of the 2014 Hillsborough County Conservation District’s Teacher of the Year award, and the 2017 NH Excellence in S.T.E.M. Teaching award (Grammar School level) from the Joint Committee of NH Engineering Associations. Her fifth article for the Canadian environmental magazine “Green Teacher” was published in 2018 Winter issue. She was the principle illustrator for NH Farm to School’s Indigenous Harvest Calendar, released online in September, 2020. She serves on the Board of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire. Her collection of games and activities for learning about fellow creatures and processes in the temperate forests of eastern North America, Circling the Sun, Racing the Wind, is scheduled for publication by Green Writers Press of Vermont in Fall, 2023.
Edith has presented workshops at state, regional, and national conferences for organizations including the National Art Education Association, the New England Environmental Educators Alliance, and the Natural Start Alliance of the N. American Association for Environmental Education. Her artworks (paintings and drawings) have been exhibited in venues including the U. of Wisconsin’s Arboretum in Madison, WI, the Springfield Museum of Art in Springfield, MA, the Sharon Arts Center and the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough, NH, and the Anne Marie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons, Maryland.