22 April 2017
Earth Day Activities for Every Subject
By Brandy Metzger, Guest Author
Earth Day is an annual event that celebrates the environment. On April 22 of each year, countries around the world host events to remind citizens of the importance of protecting our planet.
For teachers, Earth Day offers a great opportunity to remind students about their personal impact on the environment and to instill in them the importance of embracing and protecting the natural world. Here are a few ideas for Earth Day lesson plans across your curriculum.
Math: Calculate Your Impact
It is important for children to know how their daily activities can impact the planet. Introduce the topic with a book, such as Human Footprint by National Geographic Kids. Next, have your students calculate the waste they create by focusing on one single item they use frequently. For example, if kids drink one juice box per day, model how to calculate how many juice boxes they have in a month. Then, have them determine how many juice boxes they drink in one year.
You can also have your class measure the size of the juice box and determine how much space one person’s yearly juice boxes would take up in a landfill. Seeing those numbers grow exponentially will surprise most kids.
After looking at everyone’s numbers and having a class discussion, lead a brainstorm of ideas about ways to reduce this waste. Great questions include: How can we eliminate this waste stream? Can juice boxes be reused into new products? If so, what?
Reading and Writing: Poetry for the Planet
Bring students students up to speed on environmental news with real articles about current issues. Newsela, Scholastic News, and Time for Kids provide informational text on a variety of topics, including articles about our planet.
After selecting an article with environmental relevance, have your students read and discuss it. Then, instead of writing a traditional summary of the article to check for comprehension, instruct your class to write a poem in response. Free verse is always an option, but I’ve found that this activity works best if you give the students a specific poetic format to use. For the past few years, my students have read articles about the decline of honeybees and have written a rhymed couplet poem in response to the information they’ve learned. Your students’ creativity might impress you!
Alternatively, inspire a love of nature by having your students write haikus. These traditional Japanese nature poems consist of only three lines of verse, which can help reluctant writers feel less intimidated. Before composition begins, encourage your class to spend about 15–20 minutes outdoors looking, listening, smelling, and touching natural things. Have them record all of their observations from their nature hike. When they return to class, students can use their observations as inspiration when writing their haikus.
Art: Design a T-Shirt
Art is an excellent form of expression and something that most children love. After having a class discussion on some environmental concerns, give the students the following scenario:
You have been hired by a major fashion designer to create a slogan and image for a special edition Earth Day shirt. Consider the major issues facing our environment and develop a clever slogan that speaks to one of the issues. Design an image that compliments your slogan and will look great on a t-shirt.
After all designs are submitted, have the students vote on the best one. If you have a connection to a screen printer in your area, you could even order some of the winning shirts for your students to wear on Earth Day.
No matter what subject you teach, Earth Day activities can be easily integrated into your curriculum. Environmental preservation is an important topic that lends itself to many exciting and enjoyable experiences for your students.