T his year Latvian eco-programme for kindergartens called "Pigman's Detectives" was included among the top 10 activities of the Global Competition on Best Practices in Forest Education organized by International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). In total 71 proposals from 23 countries from all continents were received. The best activities were selected by the competition board using predefined criteria – pedagogical quality, novelty of the practice and practical effectiveness.
Who is Pigman? Pigman is the main "super-hero" of the eco-programme “Pigman’s detectives” created JSC "Latvia's State Forests" that teaches everybody: "Don't litter the forest! You'll turn into a pig!". During the five years of programme's existance, more than 20 000 children of Latvia have been directly involved! The methodological material has been published and distributed widely for free.
This school year around 4000 children from all over Latvia are committed to become Pigman's detectives. The programme's patron Pigman (Cūkmens), a fighter for green forests, has already visited the young detectives to bring them a secret bag with study materials. It contains everything necessary for children to reveal the secrets of forest. In order to raise children's sense of responsibility towards the environment and help them deepen their understanding of the processes occurring in nature, the programme participants are given a number of tasks. Everyone, both kindergarten students and educators, have to be active. The works that can inspire every nature friend are published on the Pigman's website www.cukmens.lv and social networks.
The ecoprogramme "Pigman's Detectives" is based on "learning by doing" about forest and forest products. It focuses on four themes: 1) Dirty secrets of the forest; 2) Let's trace the Pigman in the forest; 3) Forest in the Toy box; 4) Let's grow the Oxigen. With the help of specially designed on-line and board games, dance and songs, fairy tales, different types of visualisation (such as Pigman dolls and other materials) children perform certain tasks of a detective to assess the good and the bad things that happen in the forest. Each theme is built according to the principle: See, Hear, Listen, Do, which also foresees an active involvement and participation of children in different fun-classes. In the second year of the programme, children are encouraged to go outdoors in the forest to discover and explore the forest in all seasons.
Pigman continues his fight for clean forests both in educational institutions, as well as in various public events in all parts of Latvia. The hero throughout the year could be seen in such ambitious sporting events for children as the "Stirnu buks" trail race and the MTB cycling marathon; last year he also attended children's camps and the event "Sporto visa klase" (Sporting Activities for the Whole Class), where the huge audience in the "Arēna Rīga" hall sang together the hymn for clean forests and solemnly gave the Pigman's oath, promising not to litter the forest and stop others from doing so.
What makes the “Pigman’s detective” programme effective? Students learning is monitored by the teachers involved in the programme according to Latvian Education system. Teachers report better learning results in kingergartens and higher learning motivation and involvement in the learning subject when undertaking the programme "Pigman's detectives”.
Around quarter of all kindergartens of Latvia participate each year in eco-programme “Pigman’s Detectives”. The programme has gained high publicity and great media attention as an inovative educational practice. It has been described by National Centre of Education Content of Latvia as one of the best examples of learning competences in preschool.
JSC “Latvia’s State Forests” gather the feedback from teachers at the end of every school year to improve the programme. The feedback shows that programme is evaluated as excellent practice to learn about forest. The programme has been approved and appreciated also by the local municipalities. During the meeting of the the Association of Executive Directors of Latvian Local Governments, Pigman, our nature friend and patron of clean forests, raised the discussion with Latvian local governments about the role of sustainable forest management and presented his wooden manifesto. Tottaly 60 Latvian local governments joined the wooden manifesto that promotes the value of wood and encourages people to honour wood as the best material in daily life, as well as in construction. By signing this manifesto, Mayors of Municipalities undertook to continue the work started by Pigman - to praise wood as the best material that is used in the living space.
Plus - Pigman also is the spokesman for better waste deposit system in Latvia. Pigman takes active part in campaigning in different places of Latvia, visiting various cities, talking about the plastic deposit system even with the Prime-minister and the President of Latvia, introducing facts about environment pollution and collecting votes for introduction of the bottle deposit system in Latvia. Every year, Pigman also offers thousands of people to get acquainted with the role of forest management and explains the importance of taking care of our forests.
To explore more about the Global Competition on Best Practices in Forest Education and read about other excellent examples of world-class methods and practices in Forest Education, please check the following link that includes all activities in TOP 10.