Teaching children about sea-level rise does not have to be complicated. Elementary teacher Kottie Christie-Blick uses a 3-D plastic model with a town nestled between elevated mountains and the ocean.

Sea level rise classroom model
A miniature flood and a miniature plastic world make for effective learning experience.

Christie-Blick: “And I pour water into that lower area so it looks like a little miniature ocean in their little miniature world there.”

Ice on top of the mountains simulates glaciers, and as it melts, the water runs down the mountain and raises the level of the ocean, which floods the town.

Christie-Blick: “This causes a huge commotion in the classroom. The children are indignant because they had all chosen their particular home in this town – and it’s now flooded. They’re laughing because they’re dealing with real water. And yet they’re rather upset because this shouldn’t be happening. Towns aren’t supposed to be flooded by the ocean.”

Blick follows up with a lesson about how the children can help make a difference by doing things like recycling and turning off the lights. She also encourages them to talk about the issue.

”Learning Click To Tweet

Christie_Blick: “They can help their family members understand about climate change and open up their minds to understand the scientific evidence.”

Her students say their families are listening.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo source: South Orangetown Central School District.

More Resources

Kottie Christie-Blick’s Lesson Plan
Kottie Christie-Blick
Talking to Children about Climate Change

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Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...