One of the most popular activities at the Durango Nature Center is called the “Web of Life.” It is a good activity to sum up what we often talk about in all our programs – how everything in nature is connected.
Each child stands in a circle as a ball of yarn is passed across the circle from one child to another. As the ball reaches each child, he or she names a part of nature and passes it along to another child who represents another part of nature that the first depends on.
For example, a deer would depend on grass for its survival, and grass would depend on the sun, and so on.
Once everyone is holding a piece of the yarn, we tell an individual representing a part of nature, say the grass, to wiggle her thread. Inevitably, everyone feels the thread move, not just the animal that is directly dependent on it. This activity shows that all parts of nature depend on each other for survival. When one goes, all are affected.
On March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, a new adaption of “The Lorax” will be coming to theaters. “The Lorax” has long been a favorite of mine as a cautionary fable about the pitfalls of human greed and the exploitation of Earth’s resources.
In addition, the Lorax himself is an educator of sorts. With each warning to the Once-ler, he demonstrates how damaging one part of the ecosystem affects another. The Bar-ba-loots didn’t die off mysteriously. Instead, as the Lorax explains it, “Thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there’s not enough Truffula Fruit to go round. And my poor Bar-ba-loots are all getting the crummies because they have gas and no food in their tummies!”
Similarly, the Swomee Swans don’t just one day decide to leave. They are driven away by the “smogulous smoke.” And finally, why do the Humming-fish disappear? Of course, it’s because the pond where they live has been “glumped.” And, “no more can they hum, for their gills are all glummed.”
The importance of learning about the connectedness of everything in nature is to help understand the role humans play. Our actions do affect our world, even when we don’t see it immediately. It is essential to create a generation of children that understands this and can work to minimize the damage human actions do to our delicate web of life. After all, like the Lorax, someone must “speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”
For children, spending time in nature and learning about it makes them care about it as well. And why is this important? As the Lorax reminds us all, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”