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Children’s learning tool

Multiple Authors

Developed as part of seminar series at the Pennsylvania State University, two undergraduate students, Andra Barraclough and Nancy Pazmino, created a game, titled Climatching, to help educate rural children in Tanzania on climate change issues in their region. The seminar, Living on the Margins, was led by two faculty members from The Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering, and Development in Africa (AESEDA) and the PSU Department of Geography, Dr. Petra Tschakert and Dr. Robert Crane. Its purpose was to explore issues of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. Instead of final papers, the students’ main output was a series of learning tools that could be used by marginalized populations in Africa to prepare for and adapt to uncertain future climate conditions.


We use the concept of a matching game, which includes pictures and “Fact Cards” to make a connection of cause and effect for each theme. The six themes addressed in the game are: health, agriculture, forestry, energy, water resources, and coastal resources. The Fact Cards are used after a match is made to provide further information and an opportunity for discussion. The discussion could include questions about climate change awareness and adaptations measures and provide reasons why certain people may be specifically vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.

This learning tool can be used in the home, or at school. The target age group for our game are primary school age children; however we would like to encourage future plans to create other games or learning tools that can be used over the years and grow with the children. Our primary objective is to make climate change awareness “stick” with the children as they grow up and make flexible and effective decisions for themselves, their community, and their environment.

How to play Climatching

How to play this game:

1. Place purple “Picture Cards” face down on colored board.

2. Place red “Fact Cards” in pile near game board.

3. Youngest person picks first.

4. Player to the left goes next.

5. Player must flip over 2 “Picture Cards” trying to find each other’s “mate”.

6. When mate is found, collect cards!

7. If uncertain on match, pair the numbers at bottom, for example (A1, B1).

8. If match is not found, turn cards back over and your turn is over.

9. When match is found, find “Fact Card,” and read aloud.

10. The player with the most matches at the end of the game wins.

Fact Cards and Picture Cards:

1. Agriculture Picture Cards: Maize (A1) and Dry field (B2)

Fact Card:

  • 80% of the Tanzanian population relies on agriculture
  • The three most important crops are: maize, coffee, and cotton

CAUSE: Increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation EFFECT: Shorten the length of the growing season and desertification

2. Forests Picture Cards: Forest (A2) and Fire Woods (B2)

Fact Card:

  • 44% of the total land area in Tanzania is under forest cover
  • It is important source of fuel wood and other commodities

CAUSE: Increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation EFFECT: May cause change in forest distribution and deforestation

3. Water Resources Picture Cards: River Basin (A3) and Dry Lake (B3)

Fact Card:

  • There are three major rivers basins in Tanzania: Ruvu, Pangani, and Rafiji
  • These basins are very important because they support activities such as sugar plantations, irrigation set ups, the water supply, and power stations

CAUSE: Increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation EFFECT: Change in water runoff, water distribution, and may cause irrigation issue

4. Coastal Resources Picture Cards: Mangrove (A4) and Flood in Mangrove (B4)

Fact Card:

  • The coastline of Tanzania is around 800km long
  • The major coastal feature is mangrove forests, which is an important resource for coastal people. It also provides firewood and timber for people, and feeding, breeding, and nursing grounds for fish, insects, and bird species.

CAUSE: Increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation EFFECT: Mangrove forest flooding

5. Human Health

Dr.Tschakert playing Climatching at COP14 in Poznan

Picture Cards: Increase in Humidity (A5) and Mosquito (B5)

Fact Card:

  • Changes in climate are responsible for the transmission of many human diseases
  • Malaria is a particular disease of concern in Tanzania because of parasite resistance to drugs and insecticides

CAUSE: Changes in temperature, precipitation, humidity, and wind patterns EFFECT: Spread of more human diseases and may open new areas to seasonal or year-round transmission

6. Energy Picture Cards: Power Station (A6) and Irrigation (B6)

Fact Card:

  • Temperature increases lead to more energy usage
  • Extended energy usage effects energy supply

CAUSE: Increase in temperature EFFECT: May cause demands for cooling system and irrigation practices

See Also

Penn State University

Living on the Margins

Farming the Future (A book that encourages anticipatory thinking; useful for all ages.)

Fact Sheet for Kwahu North (A fact sheet for policy makers in Kwahu North District, Ghana.)

Facing Climate Change in Jomoro (An activity proposal for social scientists doing applied research in Jomoro, Ghana)

External Links

Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University

The Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering, and Development in Africa (AESEDA)

Related resources

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