Eco-Justice Ministries
   Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"

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Eco-Curriculum Review for the title
Co-workers in Creation: First Steps in Ecology

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   A five-day vacation church school program for grades K-6.
Long Description:   Co-workers in Creation is a creative approach to introducing elementary aged children to the wonders of Godīs world and their responsibility as caretakers of it. An emphasis is placed on the positive contributions we can make so that the children are not overwhelmed by the enormity of the worldīs environmental problems. Designed for a five-day vacation church school, this program can be adapted for any number of settings.

The five session themes are: "Exploring Godīs Wonder-full World", "Water Polution Solutions", "Somethingīs In the Air", "Haste Makes Waste", and "An Earth Day Celebration". These themes are developed creatively through stories, discussion, outdoor exploration, drama, games, crafts, music, worship, guided meditations, experiments, and writing activities.

Reviewed by:   Marjorie Williams, United Methodist laywoman from New Mexico

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Kristen Kemper
Publication date:   1991 Website for this resource:   none known
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Educational Ministries, Inc.
165 Plaza Dr.
Prescott, AZ   86303-5549  
Phone 800-221-0910   928-771-8601 Fax 928-771-8621  
Website E-mail  
Price $9.95  Order # 5224 

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool     Primary    Jr. High    Sr. High    Adult
Optimum class size Assumes no more than six or seven per adult. There is no help in team-teaching, but assume it would take place in most classrooms. 
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 5 class sessions each lasting about 3 hours
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? Vacation Church School, but adaptable to other situations. I think it would be possible to teach the three middle sessions on water, air (and importance of trees), and waste independently, with some use of materials in session one  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 using these materials, or even just one session from them, a reasonable, coherent and self-contained class can be offered in a single session of about an hour.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? none  
Target audience:
 Interfaith - addressed people of many faiths
 Judeo-Christian - addressed to Jews & Christians
 Christian - addressed explicitly to Christians
 Not explicity faith-based - not much religious content

Materials provided
Materials include:
 Leader's guide
 Student book
 Discussion questions
 Class activities - arts & crafts
 Class activities - group participation 
 Reading materials
 Presentation or lecture notes
 Prayer or worship resources
Other materials required:A large selection of craft and activity items Possible music and audio-visual items
Description of the Leader's Guide:Everything is in the teacherīs book and all of it is essential reading at least several weeks ahead. If not started 2-3 months ahead, permission from the church body on energy-saving stickers, tree planting, and a compost pile may not be possible. Since materials must be assembled (after deciding which to use) time before hand is essential. There is an introduction, adapting, music resources, advance prepartion, schedules in the front and useful follow-up, comprehensive supply list, environmental organizations, and bibliography in the back. For each session, there is: scripture, goal(s), background, gathering activity, story & discussion, activities, closing worship.
Description of the Student's Book:There is no guide, or no description was provided

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Definitely helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
The material is organized well but will need someone experienced with children to choose the activities, determine the length of activities, and choose a complimenting choice for the time provided. 

Content focus
Is this curriculum explicitly focused on environmental awareness or action? Yes, as a primary focus  
Does this curriculum deal with a specific environmental issue or problem? value of cration, water, trees & pollution, waste  
How is the scope of the environmental impact positioned?  Impact on specific human communities
 Impact on humans in general
 Impact on humans and non-human parts of creation
 Impact on non-human parts of creation only  
Does the curriculum address questions of social or economic justice in relation to environmental issues? Yes - as part of the topic  
Does the curriculum provide detailed content in a particular academic area?   For example, is there significant content in biology, physics, sociology, economics, etc.?
Biblical & theological content are covered below
Areas include water cycle, oil spills, global warming, ozone hole, treatment of wastes. Generally, the materials do a good job of a brief, accurate description. It would have been useful if, in each case, a footnote with the best sources of additional information had been given. This would be especially useful for the greenhouse effect.  
Biblical/theological content
Does the curriculum have explicit biblical or theological content? Yes, but very minimally presented  
How are the Biblical materials used? Individual texts are presented as meaningful ('proof texts')
Several texts are developed to show a larger biblical theme
Texts are placed in a historical or cultural context
Texts are presented as authoritative
Students are invited to comment/reflect on the meaning or authority of texts
Biblical texts are of equal importance to other scriptures/readings  
The checked statements reflect how ethical guidelines are grounded The Bible tells us how we should live/act
A theological tradition or other authority tells us how we should live/act
We should make decisions about how to live/act based on defined ethical norms
Caring for creation is an assumed norm  
The curriculum views humanity's role in creation as:
The checked lines are clearly affirmed
Domination - God created the Earth for human use; there are no real restrictions on what we can or should do.
Stewardship - "The Earth is the Lord's"" and humans are in a position of managing the creation according to God's will.
Partner - Humans are part of the web of creation, and participate in it as one species among many.
Intruder - Humans are separate from nature, and inherently destructive.
In evaluating changes to "solve" environmental problems, does the curriculum tend toward an approach that is: Confessional - I/we need to change
Confrontational - Some other person, policy or institutions needs to change
Combination - a mix of confessional and confrontational

Content approach
Which of these are a primary target outcome of the curriculum?  Increase awareness or concern about the environment in general
 Increase awareness of concern about a specific environmental issue
 Acquiring factual knowledge about an issue
 Changing or deepening personal beliefs
 Change in self-awareness or self-identity
 Changes in personal behaviors or lifestyle choices
 Influence on institutional (church or other) practices
 Increased political advocacy
 No change, or goal not clear
Range of perspectives offered:   A single perspective is offered
  Compares 2 or more perspectives
  A diversity of perspectives presented

Subjective Reviewer Feedback
In general, would you use this program with your congregation/organization? Why or why not?
Yes, I would definitely use this material. I think it gets children involved right from the start not only in appreciating the earth but also learning the why and how to take care of it -- and seeing it in connection with their faith (which seems to be lacking in adults). It is on their level.
What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
I liked the freedom to plan and to adapt for younger and older children (and even a different setting). Those used to more time-specific and printed handwork would be very frustrated. Basic outline is background and story for discussion, a given variety of activities, and a very brief closing worship. Almost no help is given on worship, except the last dayīs celebration.

I think the author did right, but have a concern in Session I background: "Yet by Godīs grace, the earth continues to supply the resources that sustain the lives of people and animals in ever-increasing numbers." Since this is for adults to help in interpreting to children, it could possibly be indicated that this may not always be so, but we canīt blame God. We donīt want to scare children, but adults must face this new reality.

What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
The reviewer did not answer this question
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
Session 4 on waste seemed a little weaker -- a number of activities are rather complicated or peripheral. Perhaps a complimentary theme like simplicity might have been added. However, each session had clear aims, many activities, and areas about which children could do something. The author might have suggested possible length of time for each activity, although there would be many variables. Although audio-visuals are mentioned and sources given, no help is given for selecting titles (which does make it less dated). Iīm afraid only enterprising teachers will go in this direction (good to have one on hand for a rainy day).
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
Additional Bible verses should have been included (both Old and New Testament) for further biblical work in more conservative churches and for worship. A few activities could have used a little more explanation - most very good. It would have been useful if each activity for each day had been given a letter. Then, in the comprehensive list of supplies, the letter for each activity could be next to that item. If you arenīt doing the activity, you donīt need the item.
Have you ever used this program in the past, or heard of others who have used it? What if any response was received?

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Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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