World Wetlands Day 2002: Russian Federation


Jennie Sutton ( of Baikalskaya Ekologicheskaya Volna / Baikal Environmental Wave ( in Irkutsk, writes: "Dear Valerie, You'll be pleased to know that the Ramsar stickers that you kindly sent us came through fine. I just wanted to let you know what we did in our organisation to spread the message and celebrate such an important occasion. 1) We now have a translation (into Russian) of some of your site information on our Web site, together with links to the Ramsar site and to another Russian site, Caspinfo, where the Convention is posted both in English and Russian. I'm afraid you won't be able to read our Russian text, but you could see the links! 2) One of our American volunteers together with some of our Russian volunteers held lessons here at our offices, on Saturday the 2nd, for local children on the subject. I'm attaching a description of the lesson that Jennifer, our volunteer, has written up for you. The same description is being made up in Russian, and I hope we'll get that on our site too so that others could use it. The lesson SOUNDED good - there were squeals of delight and much laughter ringing throughout the office on that day! Thanks for the inspiration! Good luck! Jennie."

Baikal Environmental Wave, Irkutsk, Russia
Activities/Lesson for World Wetlands Day
February 2, 2002

1. Short Introduction
2. Brainstorming/ Associations
3. Ramsar film
4. Wetland Metaphors activity
5. 20 questions
6. Wetland Food Web activity
7. Review/Brainstorm new list

1. Short Introduction

At the beginning of the lesson, we introduced ourselves and asked the children to go around the table and tell us their names. We explained that it was world wetlands day, and that wetlands are more than "swamps."

2. Brainstorming/Associations

We asked the children to think of the first words that come into their heads when they hear the word "swamp," and recorded their answers on a piece of paper that hung in the front of the room throughout the whole lesson. Their list (translated into English) was:

Flies Gooey Lichen Frogs Mosquitoes
Disgusting Quagmire Mud Toads Clayey
Dragonfly Cattails Garbage Leeches .

3. Ramsar Film

Next, we played the Ramsar World Wetlands Day film on a computer. We had previously translated all the text into Russian, and read this aloud as the text appeared on the screen. The children were very excited to watch this on the computer. The students had many questions during and after the short film, because they were only familiar with the thick bogs and swamps of the Siberian Taiga. They didn't understand how fish could live in wetlands or how people could use wetlands as transportation. We explained these things to them with the help of the photo on the homepage of the Ramsar web page (an open marsh with lilies and marsh grasses),

4. Wetlands Metaphor Activity

After further explaining some of the functions of wetlands, we divided the students into pairs and gave each group a card with a drawing. Their task was to describe what the object in the drawing had in common with a wetland. (Essentially, the objects drawn on the cards could be considered metaphors representing the functions of wetlands.) The picture and what they represented were as follows:

Mixing spoons: oxygen and nutrients get mixed together in a wetland

  • Soap: wetlands can clean pollution out of water
  • Food: wetlands provide food for many different species
  • Sponge: wetlands absorb water and can help prevent flooding
  • Baby toys, clothes: wetlands are nesting grounds for many types of birds and fish, and many mammals raise their young in or near wetlands
  • Bed: wetlands provide important resting grounds for migratory birds
  • Strainer/filter: wetlands can filter pollutants out of water.

5. Twenty Questions

This version of 20 Questions focused on animals and plants who live in wetlands. We taped the name of an animal or plant of the back of one student, and the rest of the children stood around in a circle. The student who had the label on their back had to guess what he or she was by asking the other children questions such as "Am I a plant? Am I green? Do I eat fish?" and so on. The other children could only answer yes or no. We took turns until each student had had the chance to guess.

6. Wetland Food Web activity

Again, we divided the children into small groups of two or three. Each group was given a set of pictures of pieces of the wetland food web. (In our previous lesson, we had focused on food webs and producers, consumers, and decomposers, so this activity serves as review/reinforcement of those concepts, as well as a way to explore new info about wetlands.) The students glued the pictures onto blank paper and drew arrows to illustrate the connections of the food chain. The pictures included:

frog cormorant snail mussel
fish insect larvae plankton crayfish
algae heron dead plant matter raccoon (fish eating mammal)

The students were then asked to verbally describe their webs.

7. Review/Brainstorm

As a conclusion to our lesson, we asked the children to tell us what words now came into their heads when they thought of wetlands and swamps. The new list they created was:

Regulates water
Provides food
Resting place
Recreation place
Means of transportation

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