An Introduction to Climate Dice

The aims of Climate Dice:


A set of Climate Dice comprises seven dice, each with its own overarching theme. The themes are as follows:


With six images on each of the dice, there are a total of 42 individual images and it is beneficial, but not essential, for children to have some awareness of the meaning associated with each one before starting to play. Some will be immediately obvious whilst others may need a little more explanation.

Teachers will be in the best position to assess the current level of understanding of their own pupils and thus we have avoided making specific recommendations about preparation. However, we have compiled a table for each of the themes, containing the following information to be used as much or little as is deemed necessary:

Theme 1: Endangered Species

Information: all children
Extension information
Small Wins
Handle with care
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We need them for our food to grow. Bees are gentle, and we need to look after them. Types of bees (honey, bumble, solitary) They’re part of a flowering plant’s life cycle Bees and honey. We can do a lot to help bees
Reasons why bee numbers are falling: pollution, climate, habitat loss, and chemicals.

Actions we take to help bee numbers - eg plant flowers. Bees help plants to grow, so without them, other insects would suffer
In Kenya, over 500 bee hives have been installed to encourage girls and young women to take up bee- keeping to earn a living.

Also see Flowers
Where do bees live? (some in hives, some solitary)

Why do bees buzz? (wings)

What do we call someone who looks after bees? (bee keeper)
The numbers of bees and other pollinators are declining at an alarming rate. Without pollinators like bees, humans will struggle to grow enough food. We are the main reason bees are dying.
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Cheetahs need a very large space to live in and hunt, but people are taking their space. There are far fewer cheetahs now than there used to be and scientists are worried they will disappear altogether
Cheetahs are a crucial part of the ecosystem. Rising temperatures mean male cheetahs cannot reproduce as well, leading to lower numbers. Cheetah numbers have decreased by 90% since 1900. They are the fastest land animal but can’t run for long.
India has been trying to reintroduce cheetahs into the country for decades — and they just had their first successful birth of four cubs in 70 years.
Can you guess how fast a cheetah can run? (as fast as a sports car)

Why do you think cheetahs have spots? (camouflage)

Where in the world do cheetahs live?
Cheetahs are ‘keystone’ predators. If they no longer existed, there would be a domino effect where too many herbivores result in loss of vegetation, greater soil erosion, less available water, and a negative impact on the health of their ecosystem.
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Some penguins live on the ice which is melting, so finding food is hard. People are fishing more so there is less fish for the penguins
Without the ice, some penguins cannot hunt. Emperor penguins are at serious risk of extinction
Scientists have discovered nearly 20 per cent more emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica than previously thought.
How do Emperor penguins stay warm on the ice? (adapted feathers and huddling together)

Can penguins fly?

Are there any penguins at the North Pole? (no)
>80% of the emperor penguin population is threatened. This is partly due to loss of Antarctic sea ice which is used as a nesting platform and foraging habitat.
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Polar Bear
Climate change is melting and thinning the ice, so polar bears have less hunting space.
Without so much space to hunt, females are hungrier and don’t reproduce as much. Thinner ice is easier to melt during the Arctic summers.
Polar bears in some parts of Canada are getting fatter and more numerous according to recent survey results from two of the world’s 19 polar bear subpopulations.
Suggest one way we can help (eg save energy)

What do polar bears eat? (seals, fish)
2/3rds of the polar bears could be gone by 2050. Scavengers like the Arctic fox and Arctic birds like the snowy owl depend on big kills from polar bears, and so are also under threat.
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There are over 500 different kinds of shark. Because the sea is warming up, sharks are moving to different seas and eating food from places they wouldn't usually.
Sharks are part of a delicate ecosystem needed to maintain other species. 143/500 species of shark are at risk.
Zebra sharks were at risk of going extinct, but now 15 countries have joined together to breed and release 500 sharks to their native waters.
Have a guess at the size of the smallest shark (size of a human hand)

And the longest? (12 metres).
Some hunt sharks for their fins. Cutting off a shark’s fins means it can’t swim and will die. Sharks help to balance the marine ecosystem.
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Largest tree-dwelling mammal. Live in forests of Borneo and Sumatra, spending most of the time in trees. Numbers more than halved in last 100 years. Critically endangered. Intelligent - can make and use tools eg to reach and eat insects.
Orangutans normally have one baby every 3-5 years or even longer, so it takes a long time for numbers to recover. People have cleared the forests where they live to plant palm oil trees. They are also hunted and their babies stolen to be pets.
The Orangutan Foundation has been successfully guarding the forests of a national park and wildlife reserve to prevent illegal activities.
How do you think orangutans sleep in trees without falling out? (They make nests by weaving branches together)

How long are an adult male’s arms from fingertip to fingertip? (up to 2m)

What can we do to help? (Support sustainable palm oil initiatives).
The orangutan receives 60% of its diet from almost 200 different kinds of fruit trees, so are great spreaders of seeds. Fewer orangutans means their forests will struggle to provide habitat and food for other fruit eating species.

Theme 2: Getting Around

Information: all children
Extension information
Small wins
Handle with care
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Benefits of walking, health/planet. Least damaging of any way of getting around. Makes you happier and healthier. Remind of road safety.
Regular walking starting in childhood makes healthy adults
£200 million will be spent across England to make it safer to walk and cycle, with better crossings and junctions. government/news
Who walks to school? Is it a nice walk?

Are there busy roads to cross?
Walking may be not a viable option for those with accessibility barriers or needs. These could be through disability, living in a remote area etc.
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Benefits, health/planet. Sustainability. Small carbon footprint. Pros and cons of riding a bike (not always a bike lane)
Bike lanes making cycling more accessible. Bike schemes in towns. Importance of safety gear.
There are now more people cycling than driving in the City of London, with cyclists making up 40% of traffic at peak times.
Who has a bike?

Where can you cycle safely?
Cycling safely is problematic where appropriate cycling infrastructure is not in place. Many car drivers are impatient with cyclists.
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Public transport
Sustainable. Pros and cons of travelling by bus and train. Trains use less energy, have fewer emissions and are quieter, buses sometimes pollute but reduce number of journeys.
Sometimes spoil the countryside when new lines are being built. Some rural areas have very few buses, if any at all.
Luxembourg has made all public transport free for the past three years which encourages people not to use their cars.
Who has been on a train? Where to?

Who catches a bus to school?

Is there a bus stop near your house?
Not all places, especially rural areas, have adequate access to public transport. The cost of public transport could be too high for some.
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Sailing boat
Sailing boats were first invented in Egypt more than 6000 years ago. They use wind power (although some may have an engine too). They do not pollute and have zero carbon footprint.
Sailing enabled people to travel to other lands and also to catch fish. Still used today although mostly not commercially.
Engineers are working hard to develop cars with a built-in wind turbine to power them. Many of these cars are shaped more like motorcycles or bicycles because they have three wheels.
What problems could people on a sailing boat experience? (can’t control the wind)

Can you imagine a wind-powered land vehicle?
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Diesel cars are very polluting but electric cars much less so. Many cars use fossil fuel. Cars produce air pollution,which is toxic.
The pros and cons of electric cars
There’s been a massive increase in the number of electric vehicles on sale in the UK with more than 40% of models now available as plug-ins.
How do you charge an electric car?

Who comes to school in a car?
The school run often leads to dangerous parking attitudes and idling of engines. There is a clear link between air pollution and disease and death. Some families have no choice but to use a car on a school run.
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Aeroplane pollution. Planes use fossil fuel. Planes are the biggest polluters.
NOx and CO2 Significant contributor to global warming. Sustainable Tourism
Norway is developing electric powered planes and has promised all its short flights will be on electric aircraft by 2040
Who has been on a plane?

What other kinds of holiday are there?
Some may have relatives or close friends who live abroad. Per-person emissions from the odd flight every few years pales in comparison with those who take regular business flights or own private jets.

Theme 3: Issues

Information: all children
Extension information
Small wins
Handle with care
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Discuss the problems with plastic eg long lasting, littering the earth and sea. What to do with plastic we do use. Other materials to use instead.
The carbon footprint of plastic. The consequences of plastic pollution including micro plastic as appropriate. Single use plastic. Living plastic-free.
The Ocean Cleanup has just reached a milestone of 200,000 kilograms, or 220 tons of plastic removed from the ocean in the area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Look around the classroom. What plastic items can you see?

What will happen to plastic items if they get broken?

Is it possible to be plastic-free?

How do plastic items end up in the ocean?

How many chemicals do you think plastic can contain? (10,000)
A 2022 study identified microplastic particles in 11 of 13 samples of human lung tissue. Microplastics have also been found in maternal and fetal placental tissues, breast milk and blood.
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Air pollution
Air pollution can make us ill. Main causes are emissions from vehicles, heating our homes, making electricity and chemical production.
How air pollution can damage our health. Smog (still found in some countries)
In September 2021, China pledged not to build any new coal-fired power projects overseas. Earlier this year, similar commitments came from top coal financiers South Korea and Japan.
What can we do to help reduce air pollution? Eg drive less, don’t burn coal or garden waste, save energy.
Air pollution in both cities and rural areas is causing fine particulate matter which result in strokes, heart diseases, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory diseases.
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Global warming or Climate Change
Meaning: the Earth is getting hotter. That means the weather is changing and some countries are having less rain while others are having too much.
Explain greenhouse gases trap the heat that would normally escape and this causes the planet to heat.
Everyone can help by making small changes. What’s your top tip for helping?
‘The language used by scientists is increasingly powerful. Words like ‘unequivocal’, ‘unprecedented’ and ‘threat’ now regularly appear in research papers. Language once perhaps only associated with media reports.
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Fossil fuels
Types of fossil fuels and what they’re used for - Oil, coal, natural gas. Meaning of non-renewable
Dangers of fossil fuels - contribute to global warming, pollution during extraction, air and water pollution
Humans are set to use less oil, coal and gas to produce electricity this year than last year – the first ever annual drop in the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity not caused by a pandemic or a global recession.
Can we find out what kinds of fossil fuels are used in school, eg for heating?

Are there plans for the school to use renewable energy?
Many of our economic systems are built on the back of fossil fuel use, making it difficult to escape using them directly (e.g. fuel for cars) or indirectly (e.g plastics) without systemic change. Some families, especially in rural areas, rely on oil to heat their homes
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Ice melting
Most ice is around the North and South poles. Climate change is melting the ice which will affect the animals that live there. Show on a globe or map of the world.
Other effects of climate change on ice. Reduced glaciers, sea level rises (as appropriate). NB: melting land-based ice causes sea-level rise, not sea-based ice.
Have you ever tried to build something out of snow?

People who live in the far north of Canada and Greenland build shelters from ice blocks when they are hunting. What do you think it would be like to sleep in one?
Sea-level rise increases the risk of coastal flooding during storms. Some smaller settlements on the coast may need to be abandoned.
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Farming meat
More greenhouse gases are produced by the rearing of cows and pigs than all the cars, planes and boats combined. When forests are cleared to make way for animals for meat, billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere.
You can grow 8 times as much grain for human consumption in a field big enough for a single animal. Introduce the idea of real food - food that has not been processed or genetically modified.
Part of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is being farmed sustainably without cattle. Farmers are replanting the forest with local crops.
Are there other problems with farming animals?

Do you think all farm animals are well-treated?
Some may be very resistant to giving up meat. Beef is by far the most carbon-intensive meat.

Theme 4: Nature

Information: all children
Extension information
Small wins
Handle with care
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Flowers are beautiful. They provide food for lots of wildlife. What plants need to grow. Why we should plant more flowers.
Flowers are being affected by the changing climate. Growing and maintaining flowers. Life-cycle of a flower.
Two farmers in Oxfordshire have left space around their fields for wildflowers to grow and have left some fields as grassland to encourage wildflowers such as cowslips and bee orchids to return.
Can you think of places to plant flowers in school?

What is your favourite flower?
Imported flowers may involve anything between 3x and 67x the emissions as British-grown flowers. This is when you account for transportation, heating and electricity for growing.
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Why we need to plant trees - produce oxygen, important habitat. Benefits of tree planting for other wildlife.
A tree’s link to air (CO2 and pollution). Tree planting targets (national, global). Joining tree planting schemes.
The Wildlife Trust recently started a 100 year project to protect and enlarge Britain’s temperate rainforests, using a £38 million donation.
Why do we need trees? What will happen if we continue to cut down trees?

Could we plant any more trees in school grounds?
Planting trees alone is not a solution to climate change, and we must take care to plant species that are suitable and native to the local environment.
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They are permanent and don’t move. Great for exploring. Great for nature.
Mountains store water, stopping rising water levels
Are there any mountains near where we live?

Which country has the highest mountain?
Climate change is impacting mountain areas by increasing risk of hazards such as avalanches, river floods, landslides, debris flows and lake outburst floods.
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Can symbolise the sea, rivers, lakes and water of any kind. Water is essential for life. Importance of saving water but also water pollution.
The water cycle. Discuss too much water (flood) and too little (drought) and their consequences. Rising sea levels.
After 10 years of talking, there is now an agreement to make 30% of the world’s oceans into protected areas by 2030.
How can we help by saving water? Eg turning off tap when brushing teeth Guess how much water the average person uses per day (140 litres)
Flooding is one of the biggest threats in the UK. Flooding events are becoming more extreme in the UK. Many families live in flood risk zones.
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People in harmony with Nature
In the past, before people built towns and cities, people lived with Nature and didn’t damage it. Some people still live like that. Indigenous people are those who first lived in a country or area.
Discuss what it means to live with Nature. Many Indigenous people were killed or had their land taken from them. Now they are trying to get it back.
In Canada, 6.5 million acres of land are now protected for the Łutsël K’é' Dene First Nation who have lived in this region for countless generations.
How could we live with Nature today?

Is it possible in a town or City?

What would need to change?
Be aware of conservation efforts that do not work with the land or Indigenous people. An example is ‘fortress conservation’.
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Meaning of vegetarian Meaning of vegan. Why some people choose to be vegetarian. We should all eat plenty of vegetables even if we still eat some meat. Introduce idea of organic farming (grown without use of chemicals, pesticides etc)
Exploring vegetarianism and veganism. Things to avoid if you’re a vegan/ vegetarian.
44% of UK households that have a garden, allotment or balcony are now growing their own fruit and vegetables.
Do you know anyone who is vegetarian/ vegan?

Would you consider it one day when you are old enough to choose? Why do some people disagree with livestock farming?

Is other non-meat farming a problem? (palm oil)
Be sensitive around promoting esp vegan diets to young children. Be aware of cultural and other issues.

Theme 5: Making a Difference

Information: all children
Extension information
Handle with care
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Explore, reduce, reuse, recycle. Discuss and practise the process of recycling. How are things recycled?
Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle Recycling is 4th on the list of actions because much of what we separate isn’t actually recycled. Need for alternative packaging solutions e.g. replace plastic with banana skins. Introduce idea of a circular economy.
A charity called Community Furniture Aid won an award for collecting unwanted furniture and household items that would have been thrown away, and using them to furnish homes for people who have nothing.
Do you have any ideas for how to reduce what we put into recycling?

Do you have any ideas to improve existing packaging?

What did people in history do when something was broken?

Imagine you are in this classroom in 100 years and people have got much better at saving resources. What changes might you see?
Recycling can be challenging where access to facilities is a barrier, e.g. living in flats.
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Meaning - working with other people to change something important. Examples: demonstrating, writing letters, TV programs, petitions, contacting politicians
Talk about notable campaigners: Suffragettes, Nelson Mandela, Greta Thunberg, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai. How did they campaign?
Unicef has published toolkits, developed by young activists, young designers and UNICEF experts, to provide them with the knowledge, tools, and resources to participate in global youth climate action and advocate for change.
What would you campaign about?

Who would you write to about eg air pollution near the school?
There is an increasingly hostile political environment against campaigning, protests and activism. However, doing these things in a responsible manner is a democratic right.
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Conserve energy
Main sources of energy in most uk homes - gas, electricity, oil, solid fuel.

Reasons to save energy. Many people all making small changes can make a big difference.
Light pollution and its impact on wildlife. Climate impact of overusing energy. Other things we can do to save energy eg insulation, off-peak use.
The City of London, where there are many skyscrapers, is considering asking for all unnecessary lights in buildings to be turned off at night which will save energy and reduce light pollution.
How many lights do you think are in your house (check later to see how close you are)

How do you think energy will be provided to homes in the future?
It may be necessary for important items or lights to be left on for accessibility reasons. Houses which are poorly insulated may require more energy to heat.
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Conserve / protect water
Protecting water (quality and quantity). Different ways to reduce water usage (see Small Wins) Exploring times we use water. Is it always necessary?
Water shortages worldwide Predictions for future water shortages World droughts
In 2022, an Early Years setting won an Eco Schools award for saving water. They checked dripping taps and fixed toilet leaks, harvested rainwater and reused grey water, installed water-saving devices and appointed water monitors. Scientists are working on ways to obtain water from air, using solar panels for the energy they need.
How many children have showers/baths? Imagine all the things you couldn’t do if the water stopped in your house.
Some power showers on their full setting can use as much water in a few minutes than half a tub of bath water.
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Renewable energy
Introduce meaning of renewable energy. Types of renewable energy. Explore solar panels and how they work. Discuss where they might see solar panels or wind turbines.
The benefits of solar energy - lots of new ideas about where they could be placed. Pros and cons of wind turbines (they are large and people sometimes don’t want to live near them).
Wind energy is now so cheap in the United Kingdom that energy bills could start to go down. In Switzerland, there are plans to install solar panels between train tracks to increase energy production.
Has anyone got solar panels on their roof at home?

Do you pass any houses with solar panels on your way to school?
Although the price is falling fast, renewable energy for homes is still unaffordable for many families. They definitely save on household bills in the long-run, but the up-front costs are still high.
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Protect soil
Soil is a living ecosystem and needs to be protected. Soil is needed for the food we eat, but also for other creatures. There are fewer birds because there are fewer worms in soil that has been starved.
There are more organisms in one teaspoon of soil than there are people on Earth! It is highly complex but people have been taking out more than they put in for years.
Community Supported Agriculture projects involve farmers working directly with the people who will eat the food they produce. This means there is a connection between the person growing the food and the people eating it.
Who has grown flowers or vegetables - at home or somewhere else?

Did you enjoy it? If so, why?

Can you find out what soil is made from?
Contaminated soils (e.g. old industrial land, sewage overflow sites etc) cause water pollution and are harmful to wildlife.

Theme 6: Concepts

Information: all children
Extension information
Handle with care
A Teacher’s Guide to Climate Dice Climate Dice
What it means to be equal. Reasons we need equality. Explain the idea of Fair Trade. Explore Fair Trade items and where in the world they come from.
Explore equality in more detail including advantaged/ disadvantaged areas of the world. Explore what fair trade means to workers and their life without it. Make links between disadvantaged areas of the world and the climate. (For example Niger (amongst the poorest countries and Norway (amongst the richest).
Does being equal mean being the same? Eg 2+2=4 and 1+3=4. Both are equal but not the same.
People living on floodplains, coastlines, or in areas prone to severe storms are more vulnerable to extreme weather. Those living in poverty may be less able to prepare for or respond to extreme events. Those whose voices are ignored or marginalised tend to have contributed the least to climate change. We call this ‘climate injustice’.
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Carbon footprint
Meaning of greenhouse gases (ie what humans are putting into the air and causing the planet to heat up). Meaning of carbon footprint (how we measure the amount of greenhouse gases each person, or city or country adds). We all have a carbon footprint but it’s hard to measure. Comparing activities that leave a high and low carbon footprint.
Explore carbon footprint in more detail. Think about what leaves a high carbon footprint; travel, food, and housing. Explore the footprint of some of the Industries / companies / brands that you are familiar with such as Agriculture, BP, Coca-Cola Encourage children to think about what might reduce their carbon footprint (but see Handle with Care)
Do you think our country has a high or low carbon footprint?

(UK 11th according to Climate Change performance Index 2023, rated ‘High’ but fell from 7th. Many other measures available online but all show relatively high)

Can you think of any fun activities that have a low carbon footprint? (eg football in the park, playing on play equipment)
A large proportion of an individual’s carbon footprint is a result of living in a system built on fossil fuels.
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Discuss meanings of peace - no wars, but also being calm and without any disturbance.
Extend discussion to what is needed for peace - eg justice, fairness.
Close your eyes and think of a time when you were feeling peaceful and then tell the class about it. What could we do to make (eg) playtime more peaceful?
War is one of the biggest threats to making progress against climate change
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Time passing
People all over the world are working hard and as quickly as possible to find ways to stop the world getting any hotter.
Companies and governments not acting quickly enough. Talk about young people such as Greta Thunberg who are pushing for change.
Do you agree that the adults are not doing enough to stop climate change?(for older children) Why?
Scientists have calculated that we have more-or-less ran out of time to keep climate change to the safest possible level. However, every effort counts, and we still have time to create a world with a stable climate we can adapt to.
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Symbol of love known across many countries
Why do you think a heart means ‘love’ to so many people?
We feel anxious about climate change because we care and when we care we can act. Caroline Hickman has reframed 'eco-anxiety' as 'eco-empathy' as empathy is an outward facing emotion and supports active response, whilst anxiety is inward and demobilising.
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House / home / shelter
Image can be used for any kind of building but also symbolic of somewhere to live. Talk about different kinds of homes, including the fact that Earth is home to all of us and we should care for our home.
Shelter is one of the fundamental human needs. Some people may have to move because of climate change.
What does ‘home’ mean?

What does ‘homeless’ mean?
Increasingly, refugees are fleeing areas due to impacts of climate change, or their situation has been made worse by climate change. People don’t choose to be refugees or homeless.

Theme 7: Actions

Information: all children
Extension information
Handle with care
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Reading brings us joy. Reading helps us to learn. We can learn about the planet from books.
Learning about current events through reading. Not everyone is as lucky as we are, with schools to learn and books to read. Explore charities who help take education to disadvantaged areas.
What is your favourite book?

Does anyone belong to your local library?

Why do people say books are our best friends?
Be aware of bias and the danger of a single story. If using non-fiction, seek out texts which make reference to scientific studies.
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Meditation and mindfulness can bring us peace and make us calm. It’s a way to keep healthy. People who meditate are often more aware of the environment around them.
Activities such as mindfulness, meditation, being outside in nature, music etc. are essential for self-regulation and support the nervous systems. Because we are living in a highly stressed environment, it is more important than ever to support ourselves to feel calm and to 'reset' our parasympathetic nervous system.
Have you ever meditated?

What makes you feel calm?

Older children could discuss what being ‘in the present’ means
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Music can make us feel happier and calmer Types of music.
Music and emotions
What music do you like to listen to?

How does it make you feel?
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Happiness / being positive
Staying positive is good for our health. At an appropriate level, talk about a positive mindset. Ways to stay positive. Links between nature and happiness.
Explore the difference between happiness (state of mood) and positivity (state of mind). Scientists have discovered that children who spend more time outside are happier, healthier and learn better. We don’t have to be in the countryside to be with nature (parks etc).
What makes you happy?

Do you feel happier when you are outside in nature?

What do you feel positive about?
The latest IPCC report includes, for the first time, studies into the impact of climate change on mental health. People all over the world are worried.
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People write in different ways with different alphabets. Talk about the different ways to write - on paper, on phones, on computers
Writing as communication. Talk about how technology has changed writing. Will writing with a pen ever become redundant?
Discuss whether writing is enjoyable and why. Why do people write - eg to give information, to tell a story, to write down something you want to remember.
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Thinking / ideas / problem solving
Ever since the first people lived, they have been using their brains to solve problems and find better ways to live, eg making tools. Talk about some of the important good ideas - the wheel, growing crops, printing machines, computers etc
Some good ideas are not so good for the environment - eg cars, fossil fuels. Now we need people to use their brains to think of solutions to the problem of climate change. Introduce idea of conscious v subconscious mind (5% v 95%) Importance of subconscious in terms of self-belief and self-esteem.
Can you think of any inventions that will help stop climate change? (eg wind turbine, electric vehicles)

What would you invent to help save energy, or reduce pollution, or make the planet a better place to live in?

How to play

In its simplest form, playing with a set of Climate Dice is very similar to playing with any other storytelling dice: Children take turns to roll the dice, look at the images that land face up and use their imagination to create a story using those images. They tell their story to the group.

However, with so many issues of concern related to climate change, it’s important to support children to remain hopeful and see themselves as a critical part of a better future, a future in which many of the problems will have been addressed or at least reduced and the most doom-laden predictions have proved not to be the case. Instead of a generation that is climate anxious and fearful, we want to see them practising ‘active hope’ by focusing on healthier futures for people and planet, and taking steps to move towards that future.


Eco Anxiety is defined by the American Psychological Association as: ‘Heightened mental, physical and/or emotional distress in response to changes in the climate.’

In 2021, the largest study yet to be carried out into the subject of young people’s response to climate change was published. (See link below).
10,000 young people aged 16 – 25 from 10 countries were surveyed and the findings were concerning:
‘Respondents across all countries were worried about climate change (59% were very or extremely worried and 84% were at least moderately worried). More than 50% reported each of the following emotions: sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty. More than 45% of respondents said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning, and many reported a high number of negative thoughts about climate change (eg, 75% said that they think the future is frightening and 83% said that they think people have failed to take care of the planet).’

A study carried out by Save the Children saw similarly worrying results from children aged 12 – 16 years:

There is ever-increasing evidence of children expressing anxiety and feeling overwhelmed by a problem they did not create. To quote Clover Hogan, a young activist and founder of Force for Change:
‘Young people have not created this reality, we have inherited it. Yet we are told that we are the last generation with the chance to save humanity.’

It is easy to understand why there are concerns about children’s mental health in the face of such a huge problem. However, Rachel Musson from ThoughtBox says, in her informative video (see link below) that it is normal to feel anxious about what is a real crisis. It is what we do with the big feelings we have that matters – and helping young people connect to actions they can take to make a difference is vital.

This view is supported by Caroline Hickman from The University of Bath and The Climate Psychology Alliance who says that responses such as anxiety, grief and frustration are healthy and that adults ‘need to get alongside them rather than pathologise them.’ See link below for a fuller explanation:

Jo McAndrews stresses the importance of ensuring children do not feel responsible for solving the problems of climate change. In her very useful ebook ‘Truth Without Trauma – talking with children about climate change,’ she raises the risk of children believing it is their job to save the world. ‘If they forget to recycle their plastic or switch a light off, they are not contributing to climate change. The message needs to be that adults are taking responsibility and that children’s support and action is welcome.’

She also emphasises the need to recognise that children will have big feelings about climate change. They will hear alarming predictions and these could generate fears about the very nature of their future lives. The adults around them need to ‘listen to their fears and respond wisely to their questions’ she says, in order that they do not feel alone with those feelings. That is the crucial issue.

Rachel Musson points out that teachers are not – nor can they be expected to be – experts in climate change and do not have all of the answers or easy solutions. They may in fact have just as many questions and concerns as the children. Their role is to provide a safe space in which children can discuss, question and share their thoughts and feelings. This allows us to both normalise the range of feelings we all have about the crisis and – most significantly – strengthen our resilience by recognising we’re not alone with how we feel, and there is so much we can do to ‘be the change’ and create healthier futures. That seems very wise to us at Climate Dice and fits in perfectly with our aim to help children feel empowered rather than overwhelmed.

Climate science educator and ex-Geography teacher Kit Marie Rackley has made substantiated arguments towards framing climate change as a school safeguarding issue. Kit Marie suggests a reflective approach where school leaders can evaluate schemes of work and school policies, which would help create a school culture that is ‘climate resilient’

Clearly, teachers will use their judgement when discussing the impacts of climate change, taking into account the ages and understanding of the children they are working with. For example, the impact of sea level rise in terms of mass displacement of populations would need to be handled very carefully, if at all, and only with older children who already have a good level of understanding. Care should be taken to ensure that children are guided towards a full understanding of climate change, rather than being presented with the most extreme consequences from the start.

Nevertheless, it is our view that children should be taught the facts about climate change, as they will hear them and indeed experience them soon enough, as children in the Global South already know all too well. But they should be encouraged to look to a future that does not have to be the disaster that has been predicted, a future in which adults will have started to take responsibility and action for change. It will also be a future in which they will have an active role as tomorrow’s scientists, politicians and activists but they will only be prepared for that future if they have the emotional resilience and positive thinking that adults can help them achieve. Part of this support welcomes us to connect young people to the stories of the millions of people right across the globe working in alternative solutions, from transport to housing, food to clothing and everything in between.

Handle with care

It is important to differentiate between children feeling empowered to act to reduce climate change and feeling responsible. That’s why it is important to be careful of allowing discussions to stray too far into areas they have no agency to influence, at least while they are children. It is usually sensible to avoid concentrating on the most extreme predictions for the future we will face, especially with younger children. Many children will find it difficult to instigate changes in aspects of their own lives, as these are necessarily largely controlled by their parents/carers who often have multiple other pressures and responsibilities to juggle with. Instead children should be encouraged to consider what they can do and this will often be as part of a wider community. Knowledge is power, and they can be encouraged to research, to ask questions of the adults around them and to join with others in campaigns, actions and simple behaviour changes which can both empower them and support others to make shifts in their lives and habits.

Happy endings

For all the reasons above, we strongly suggest just one rule for stories created by playing with Climate Dice: there must be a positive outcome or a solution to a problem at the end. That doesn’t mean that issues related to climate change are minimised. The solution could be something as unlikely as a machine that turns plastic into compost or as simple as the main character starting a litter-picking club. Children can think big or they can think small, it doesn’t matter as long as they are thinking and recognising that there is so much work happening right across the world to create healthier futures for people and planet – and so much we can all do to shift our behaviours to support a thriving world.

First person stories

We also suggest that children are encouraged to see themselves as the main protagonist in the stories they create. Our research has shown this to be most effective because:

  • The only other potential ‘characters’ included in the images are the endangered animals
  • The aim is for children to see themselves as powerful agents of change, as tomorrow’s decision makers. They need to imagine solutions and embrace the fact that they will have a part in making them happen. Being in their own stories will contribute to this.

This is simple to achieve by providing a set story start such as ‘One day I was …’

Roll again?

There are no rules in relation to rolling dice again if a child is struggling to create a story, but we recommend limiting that as far as possible. If children are allowed to re-roll the whole set simply because a story is not immediately obvious to them, they will not learn to think creatively and problem solve. Teachers may ask other children for suggestions or offer as much help as is needed, but of course will exercise their judgement regarding the option of rolling a die again to facilitate a coherent story.

How to interpret the images

Climate Dice have been designed to be as flexible as possible. The tables above provide suggestions that will encourage climate change related stories, but young children in particular should be allowed to use their imaginations without any boundaries when creating their stories. If they choose to take a dove (peace symbol) on a train journey to the top of a mountain where they meet a cheetah who reads to them, that story should be celebrated too. Discussions about the specific meanings associated with the images can take place over a period, directed by teachers, and thus children’s stories will become more focussed on climate change issues as they mature.

Story Hub

Click here for example of stories written after playing with Climate Dice and details of how to submit your pupils’ stories for inclusion:

Using Climate Dice in the classroom

Teachers will already have many ideas for how to use Climate Dice with their pupils, but here are some suggestions:

  • Alongside or instead of any other form of storytelling dice already used.
  • To generate whole class or small group stories with a climate change theme.
  • To teach about specific aspects of climate change eg by exploring the images on one die in particular, in much more detail.
  • As a Circle Time activity, with children taking one die at a time from the pouch, throwing it, and trying to use that image to continue the story.
  • Encourage the children to consider the images on Die 7 ‘Actions’ and rate them in terms of their ability to effect change.
  • As a ‘time filler’ eg when there are a few minutes available before playtime.
  • As a Speaking and Listening activity for children who would benefit from additional support in that area.
  • As a paired memory game, where one child rolls the dice and tells the story, but his or her partner has to remember it and tell it to the class.
  • Older children could be encouraged to consider the principles of story structure when ordering the dice before telling (or writing) their stories.
  • Record children’s stories over time and use as a longitudinal record to demonstrate increased understanding and maturity regarding both content and the development of problem-solving thought processes.


Have you found another effective way to use Climate Dice in your classroom? Have you any comments or ideas that could usefully be shared? Please let us know by writing to us at or share on social media and tag us @ ClimateDice or use #ClimateDice.  We love to hear how Climate Dice are being used to educate and empower the next generation – that helps us to remain positive too.

These materials were produced in consultation with:

Rachel Musson, ThoughtBox

Kit Marie Rackley

Jo Mcandrews, psychotherapist and environmental campaigner

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