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Poetry Power: Using Poems in Environmental Education

Originally appears in the Winter 2009-2010 issue

Poets can be eloquent tour guides on the journey to sharpen our awareness of nature, connect with our planet and take action on its behalf. Poetry distills the essence of things, invites us to inspect the details of our lives and helps us see what we might not otherwise see. Combine environmental poetry with children’s sense of wonder and natural delight in language and you have a powerful and joyful way to nurture ecological values in young people. Poetry can enrich many areas of the curriculum at any grade level, whether it be a kindergarten unit on winter, a Grade 4 lesson on sketching from nature, or a Grade 8 study of natural adaptation.

This article looks at how to use poetry in environmental education: finding the right poems, writing poems for your students, presenting poems to students, teaching them gratifying ways of playing with poems, and guiding them in performing and writing poetry.

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Alison Flensburg is a retired teacher who is now a children’s writer and performance poet. She and her husband, Mike Flensburg, are currently working on a number of picture books and two poetry collections for teachers, one on environmental education and another on peace and justice issues.

Alison is seeking to collaborate with teachers who require poems on particular themes. If you are interested in having her write poems for your class in exchange for feedback, please contact her at