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Rachel Carson Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Rachel Carson is an historical figure who offers so much for students to learn about and admire. This lesson provides activities that will help your students learn about her life, legacy, and work.

Studying Rachel Carson

Whether your students are learning about the history of ecology or studying famous women from history, Rachel Carson is someone who offers them much to think and learn about. Carson was a nature writer and conservationist whose passion, dedication and bravery are often credited with beginning the contemporary environmental movement. For students who are interested in earth studies and the environment, knowing about Rachel Carson's legacy is crucial.

Rather than simply having your students listen to a lecture or read an article about Rachel Carson, you might consider maximizing what they can learn about her life by incorporating activities into your instruction. The activities in this lesson are designed to appeal to students with a variety of learning styles and strengths, all while helping them understand the importance of Rachel Carson and her accomplishments.

Visual Activities

This section provides activities that help students who learn best visually, working with art or using graphic organizers to consolidate and synthesize new information.

Rachel's Settings

In this activity, students will come to understand that much of Rachel Carson's work and activism was inspired by the beauty and wonder she found in nature, including in a variety of natural settings. Working alone or in partnerships, students can start by taking a large piece of paper and folding it into thirds. In each third, they should paint or use pastels to draw one of the settings that inspired Rachel Carson. After they have completed their triptych, they should write a caption for each segment, explaining exactly what that setting meant to Carson and what work it inspired.

Visual Timeline

Rachel Carson's biography and her work and legacy are intimately intertwined, and this can be seen quite clearly by following a chronology of the major events in her life as well as her major career accomplishments. Break students up into small groups, and task each group with creating a time line showing the most important life and career events over the course of Carson's lifetime. Then, ask them to add a sketch or image for each item they have put on the timeline. Let students compare and contrast timelines to see what each of them found most significant.

Concept Map

Ask students to work in small groups for this activity. Each group should choose one concept that they feel was central to Carson's life and work. They should write that concept in the middle of a piece of paper, with a circle around it. Then, they should draw lines out from the circle and write words that they associate with the central concept. Finally, they should use this organizer to guide a conversation about the values and ideals espoused by Carson's life.

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