By the end of this unit, students will have identified issues of misuse and mismanagement in the environment; considered that the respect people show for nature and for all people is an expression of our relationship with God; and explored God’s call to us to act courageously in issues of environmental justice.
Teachers, before you start:
- Watch the CST ‘Stewardship of Creation’ film for your own background and familiarise yourself with the Lower Primary cartoon (found within the Learning Experience below).
- Download the various resources referenced at the bottom of this page (worksheets, slides, etc.) and have them ready to go on your computer/interactive whiteboard.
- Locate any Scriptures and copies of Church texts (all hyperlinked within the Learning Experience below).
- Familiarise and decide on the use of online or app technologies.
Learn - Focus
Students identify issues of misuse and mismanagement in the environment.
Tune into students understanding of stewardship. What does it mean to be a steward of creation? If necessary, look up the definition of ‘Steward’. A visual tool such as ‘Visuwords’ could be used to discuss relevant meanings of the word.
Discuss: How is this related to our relationship with God? Where do we get our responsibility to be stewards from?
Explain that this Catholic Social Teaching Principle of Stewardship also includes care of each other. Therefore, caring for creation is not just about nature, but humans; between whom there is a significant relationship. Pope Francis emphasised this in his recent special ‘letter’ (encyclical), Laudato Si’: On the Care of our Common Home.
This builds upon the idea of valuing interpersonal and spiritual priorities over contemporary emphases on materialism and consumerism. We can show care for others by considering how we use natural resources, because this has a direct impact on people in Australia as well as people in the poorest nations on earth. As Pope Francis has said, we need to “hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” 
Briefly discuss the sacred connection we also have to each other. Can you think of special relationships in your life? Why are they special? How do you learn about God in these relationships?
Emphasise that God reveals himself in humankind. Explore, for example, the wonderful feeling we have when we feel very loved with friends or family.
Learn - Explore
Students consider that the respect people show for nature and for all people is an expression of our relationship with God.
Emphasise the connection between humans and the environment:
Select students to find and read Scriptures regarding stewardship to the class:
Students are split into groups, to more deeply investigate the above Scriptures. Students create a list of implications for humans, using the sentence starter ‘If…then we….’
For example ‘If (Genesis 2:15) The lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it, then we…. Must look after the plants, pick up litter, not pollute the oceans…etc.
Discuss: What do these Scriptures tell us about how God wants us to be stewards?
Learn - Demonstrate
Explore God’s calls to us to act courageously in issues of environment justice.
Complete a Think Pair Share
What is the cartoon trying to tell us? How do we know?
Generate a list of other issues of environmental misuse and mismanagement, in small groups or as a class.
Discuss: How does an individual’s action or choices affect the community?
As a class look at the key messages from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On the Care of our Common Home.
Stop and discuss questions or clarify vocabulary.
Students look at the presentation in pairs or groups and use the RAPS Strategy to make meaning of the encyclical.
R- Read - Read the presentation.
A- About - What’s it about?
P- Points - Choose two important points to support the main idea.
S- Summary - Summarise the encyclical in their own words using no more than 20 words.
Students then select an image to illustrate their paragraph, or draw their own.
Students share their summaries with the class and discuss.
In partners, complete a ‘Connect Extend Challenge’ thinking routine. Students share responses.
Alternatively, this could be completed online in a blog form on a website such as Wordpress or in a reflection journal.
Based on their learning throughout the unit, students suggest appropriate statements for the blank speech bubble.
A class competition could be run over the week. Distribute electronic copies of this file and have students input their statement into the speech bubble.
Explain that they need to show a concern for the poor in this bubble. Responses could be shared online or around the school.
Teacher’s Note: We must all respect, care for and share the resources of the earth, which are vital for the common good of people. Care for animals and the environment is a common and universal duty, and ecological problems call for a change of mentality and the adoption of new lifestyles.
How it guides Caritas Australia’s work: Our development programs are attentive to environmental concerns and seek to promote care for the earth and its resources.
As a humorous stimulus that could be watched before or after lessons around the topic, watch a 4 minute Mockumentary following the ‘lifecycle’ of a plastic bag. The Majestic Plastic Bag- A mockumentary’ >
Read and display Slides 2-9 of ‘Beatitude of Blessed are the Poor in Spirit’ >
Stop and provide time for silent reflection at each slide which display quotes from Pope Francis concerning materialism.
Extension: Discuss the Pope Francis quotes from the presentation as a class. In Think-pair-share routines, students simplify each component of his quote.
- Stewardship of Creation Editorial cartoon poster (PDF, 2.14MB)
- Blank editorial cartoon (JPEG, 1.8MB)
- Pope Francis’ 2013 World Environment Day speech (PDF, 991KB)
- Reflection: Beatitude of Blessed are the Poor in Spirit (PPT, 1.1MB)
- All Upper Primary 'Stewardship of Creation' resources (ZIP, 6.02MB)
- CST Prayer (PPT, 4.8MB)