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Strange Wetlands: Edible Wetland

Just eat it. Can’t beat it. An “edible wetland” helps teach kids about wetland ecology. Growing up on the coast of Maine, I nibbled saltgrass as a child and learned which seaweeds were edible. My parents taught me which plants were safe to eat in the woods and saltmarsh, and which plants to admire but not pick. But there are lots of ways to teach kids about wetlands…

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency developed a kit for teachers working with kids in grades 3-6 learning about wetlands. The kit includes a “mouth-watering” recipe for an edible wetland. Here’s the idea: Students discuss the word “wetlands” and life that depends on them. Students think of different life forms that exist around wetlands. After identifying the life forms, students may build their own “wetland” out of edible materials. Here’s the list of ingredients:

Materials for Edible Wetland

The amounts listed below will vary dependent upon the number of students involved. You will need a half a sheet of brownies or chocolate cookie bars, and one green and one blue fruit roll-up per group of 4 to 5 students. Other ingredients can be used for several groups. 

• 9″x13″pan of brownies or chocolate cookie bars prepared ahead of time – soil base of wetland
• Graham cracker crumbs – sand
• Instant chocolate pudding or pudding cups – mud
• Blue fruit roll-up – body of water
• Green fruit roll-up – aquatic plants
• Fish shaped crackers – fish
• Green lollypops – trees and shrubs
• Green chewy fruit candy to anchor the lollypops
• Gumdrops – shrubs
• Gummy bears -animals
• Animal crackers – animals
• Coconut dyed with green food coloring – grass
• Milk for pudding preparation (if not using pudding cups)
• Large mixing bowl (if not using pudding cups)
• A cookie sheet on which to create a wetland

For full instructions on how to create an edible wetland as a teaching tool for kids, go to: http://www.epa.state.il.us/kids/teachers/activities/wetland.html  

For an award-winning video, “Wetlands and Wonder: Reconnecting Children with Nearby Nature” as developed by EPA Region 8, visit: http://epa.gov/wetlands/education/wetlandsvideo/

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