From Earth Day in Your School and Community © 1993 published by Heartland All Species Project, Kansas City, Missouri USA

Developing an All Species Parade - What can be learned?

Rapport Building Skills

A core theme in the All Species perspective is rapport. Rapport is a sympathy, a harmony, an emotional connection and bond with "the other." Rapport takes us out of ourselves into the perspective of another. It is a powerful skill that has been underplayed in our educational system. In war, rapport is missing. In racism, rapport is missing. In violence, from neglect to physical abuse, rapport is missing. It also seems in our relationship with the Earth and nature, rapport is missing. When rapport is experienced, as the American Indian wisdom states, we speak with one mind. We begin to care.

Development of rapport is encouraged by having the students choose their favorite species and build rapport with it. Children seem tocome with an innate sense of rapport. The simple mention of the word "tiger" has them on the floor roaring. This natural rapport can beused as a powerful motivational tool. Masks are excellent rapport building tools for young and old. Mask making is nearly a universal human activity. Masks are found in cultures all over the world from Halloween in the US. to New Year celebrations in China to Carnival in Latin countries. For our purposes, making masks is a powerful rapport developer and it also leads, through activity and study, to the celebration of Earth Day. Mask making evokes emotional ties to the chosen creature. Students want to know more about their chosen species.

By involving students in rapport-building skills they have a chance to shift their perception and take a larger view of the Earth. They begin to see Earth as a whole rather than as isolated parts. By "becoming" their animals, the students shift from a self-center perspective to one that includes other viewpoints.

Shifting Perspectives

Another core theme is building within students a facility for perceptual shifts. Creativity and problem solving depend on our ability to see things from many different perspectives. The scientist tends to focus narrowly; the systems analyst sees the whole system; and the poet or the artist sees systems in motion, adds emotion, and reflects back to us possible consequences. Citizens of the future must be able blend these skills and more. Throughout these activities, help your students move their perspectives around.

As the hunter moves along the trail, his vision shifts back and forth. It changes from peripheral vision, where the entire field of view is seen as a whole, and where movement is instantly registered, to focused vision, where one moving object is in focus, and all else slips into the unfocused background.

Our task with our students is to focus concentration, initiate research, and then relax back into an overview through the arts and play. Our students must be at home with seeing the Earth from space--a living, dynamic system. They must also be able to view a microscopic individual responding to factors in its life, without losing the perspective of the whole.


Music is mentioned early in the process because it takes time for students to develop skills and familiarity with songs to sing in the parade. Music is a universal lubricant for human emotions and can be integrated into any program. When music starts, it says that we're about to have fun. Music is a powerful educational tool as well. Ask anyone how they learned the alphabet and they will sing the alphabet song. There is a lot of "green music" (environmental music) available today. Use song as a break to punctuate lessons.

In preparation for the parade, each class can write a theme song or rap to sing as they march along. Five-gallon plastic water bottles and large popcorn cans work as drums. Gonzas (shakers) can be made from soft drink or other containers, with a handful of unpopped popcorn inside. The samba provides a great beat that helps develop a festival atmosphere. By starting early, your music teacher can have the students shaking their cans for the Earth accompanied by a marching kazoo ensemble.

Buffalo Time

Jim Nollman, in Dolphin Dreamtime (a wonderful book that explores healthy attitudes toward nature), tells of attempting to communicate with buffalo using a guitar. He sways as he slowly walks toward the herd, picking four notes repeatedly on his guitar. He is suddenly struck by how slow-paced the buffalo are. He realizes that if he is going to relate to these creatures, he will have to shift his mind to "buffalo time." He does, and has a surprising sharing experience.

Stories like this are good to set the stage for finding a species to study for two reasons. One, they show a great deal of respect for animals, and two, kids can really relate to images like buffalo time. Having the students get on buffalo time helps them slow down, and become relaxed and open to the experience. (Link to Nollman's work)

Choosing A Creature Friend

The beauty of All Species projects is that they aspire to establish a heart connection with nature. A heart connection, once formed, can motivate individuals throughout their lives, modifying their actions toward caring and respecting the natural world.

There is no way to force such an experience on students, but we can design educational experiences which set the stage for its discovery. In setting the stage for choosing a creature, we help the children get into a non-analytical mood. By telling stories or singing songs that value animals, students are able to see how to express love between human and creature. Valuing through an emotional connection is different from valuing an animal for what it produces for us. Both ways of valuing are important.

Since we are in the classroom and can't visit animals in their habitat, we ask the students to pretend that they are in their favorite place in nature. It could be grassland, rainforest or mountain top. We ask the students to go on an adventure and see what creature they meet. Their new-found friend becomes their creature. Have those who find nothing on their imaginary hike thumb through magazines and books to find pictures that they like. There are many ways to choose a creature. Just try to make it fun and playful, not "work" or "an assignment."

On to Maskmaking and All Species Parade Development

Maskmaking techniques


Creative Drama Ideas


Creature Congress


Resources: Connecting With Nature

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