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Planet Protecting Superheroes

Originally appears in the Winter 2015 issue

DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE you’re competing with Minecraft for children’s attention? That you have to be as funny as the Simpsons to engage your kids in learning? That your attention and time is being increasingly divided as your classroom composition gets more complex, and you have more children with learning issues every year? Have no fear, story-based creativity is near! Story- and arts- based activities engage the whole child in exploration and learning in a way that is fun, fresh, and exciting.

For almost two decades, I’ve been combining story and arts to help close to a million kids and counting learn about and engage with environmental issues through the charity I co-founded. DreamRider Productions produces live theatre and interactive digital classroom resources for teachers. The ideas at the core of our work are actually pretty simple, and I’m delighted to share some of them with you here. In addition I’ve got some fun story- and arts- based activities to try out from our digital resource, the Planet Protector Academy.

Two of our core concepts at the heart of this learning engagement are: (1) To bring students into a fun story world as active participants – as characters in the story. (2) Then to provide them with opportunities to express their learning artistically. The result is a classroom full of students fully engaged and excited about learning. When Michele Reid, grade 4-5 teacher and principal at Mary Hill Elementary in Port Coquitlam, BC, used the Planet Protector Academy she concurred that, “This is solving so many classroom management problems, you have no idea!”

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DreamRider Productions’ website contains a number of downloadable resources that can be used in the activities found in this article. You can find them all here: green-teacher-magazine

Vanessa LeBourdais is the Executive Producer and Creative Director at DreamRider Productions. Over the past 17 years, this charity’s arts-based environmental education programs have reached over 850,000 elementary school children in 900+ schools in 20 school districts in British Columbia. An award-winning playwright, musician, designer, director and performer, Vanessa’s latest classroom resource, the Planet Protector Academy won a TELUS Innovation Award.