Books for Teaching Sustainability, Ecology, and the Environment in BC Classrooms

Sustainability is more than a trend; it’s the initiative our world depends on. As our world reels from climate change, our mission must be to place environmentalism at the heart of our culture. Educators like you have the unique opportunity to engender young people with the desire to live sustainably.

With that goal in mind, we have a lot to learn about sustainability from Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The Grizzly Mother, part of the Mothers of Xsan series, and the Hands-On Science for British Columbia classroom resources make these lessons accessible.

How The Grizzly Mother Teaches Kids About Sustainability

The Grizzly Mother, written by Gitxsan author Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson)  and illustrated by Métis artist Natasha Donovan, is the second book in the Mothers of Xsan series. The book was released September 1, 2019.

The book follows a family of grizzly bears along the Xsan, or the “River of Mists.” The life-giving River of Mists is the heart of the Gitxsan Nation, an unceded territory in the Northwest Interior of British Columbia. 

Through Huson’s poetic language and Donovan’s captivating full-colour artwork, readers learn about the ecosystem that binds the rivers, forests, and people together—and how the bears’ survival hangs in the balance.

The story builds beautifully on the first book in the series, The Sockeye Mother, which introduces readers to the life cycle of the sockeye salmon, the grizzlies’ primary food source.

The third book in the trilogy, The Eagle Mother, is coming soon. You can start your collection by ordering your copy of The Sockeye Mother today.

Teaching Sustainability with Hands-On Science for British Columbia

The books in the Mothers of Xsan series are a great introduction to the bridge between sustainability and Indigenous knowledge, but these quick reads only scratch the surface. For more comprehensive lessons on sustainability, the Hands-On Science for British Columbia series goes even deeper.

The series is split into eight modules for each multi-age grade level, each aligned with the new BC science curriculum and grounded in the Know-Do-Understand model. The content of all eight modules integrate First Peoples’ knowledge and perspectives, along with in-class activities and assessment tools.

The four modules for K-2 are Land, Water, and Sky for Grades K-2, Living Things for Grades K-2, Properties of Energy for Grades K-2, and Properties of Matter for Grades K-2. Each module contributes to an overall understanding of sustainability by exploring the core Big Ideas within each book.

Land, Water, and Sky for Grades K-2 focuses on the observable patterns and cycles in the sky and landscape. Students learn how daily and seasonal changes affect all living things, and how water is essential to all of them.

Living Things for Grades K-2 teaches kids to identify plants and animals while thinking about how their characteristics help them survive in their environment. Students learn about ecology with themes like adaptation and the life cycles of living things.

Properties of Energy for Grades K-2 gets kids thinking more about the role that energy plays in our lives as well as in the natural world. Students learn how forces influence motion, how an object’s motion depends on its properties, and how light and sound can be both produced and changed.

Finally, Properties of Matter for Grades K-2 explains what matter is and how it’s central to everything we do. Students learn how and why matter is useful. Hands-on activities illustrate how physical and chemical processes can change different types of matter.

With comprehensive content that helps students understand their world, you’re better equipped to guide discussions on how it can be changed for the better. These topics segue easily into questions like:

  • Why is pollution dangerous?
  • Why do we need bees and other pollinators?
  • What is ‘clean energy,’ and why is it important?
  • What happens to all the plastic from the grocery store?

Each of these modules has the power to engage young learners with the biggest challenge our world is facing today. 

The Hands-On Science for British Columbia modules for kindergarten to grade two are available now. All four modules for grades three to five are now available for pre-order, and Living Things for Grades 3-5 will be ready to add to your bookshelf on September 16.


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