Earth Day is this Saturday, and if you don’t have anything planned in your classroom yet we’re here to help. Earth Day is an extremely important day, not only for adults but for children. It’s the perfect time to investigate what we are doing to the planet and what we aren’t doing that will make it better. We highly encourage you to have a lesson or activity that emphasizes the importance of our Earth, whether it’s a general overview or specific to a topic such as pollution or global warming. Here’s some of our favorite activities that you can implement to help teach your students the value of being environmentally conscious.
- Start a Recycling Drive. Recycling is something that everyone can do every single day that can make a huge impact on the planet. The USA generates a huge amount of waste. On some levels that is unavoidable, but recycling reduces that waste. A recycling drive in your school not only helps the environment, but it encourages students to ask their family to recycle. Plastic, cardboard, paper, glass, and cans should all be recycled.
- Get Students Outside to Appreciate Nature. In the short term, you can do this by taking them out this week, even if it’s just to give a lesson on the nature surrounding your school. You could also hold a poll in your class to see what outdoor activities they enjoy most. This will show students the wide range of outdoor activities that are available to them. Ideally, you would be able to schedule a field trip that takes students outside. Take them camping, bird watching, boating, or on a nature walk. Show them how beautiful the world is so they feel inspired to protect it.
- Start a Class Garden. This may depend on your administration, but if you are able to this is a great way to show students where their food comes from. Students will be part of growing food in this school garden and will learn how rewarding it can be. If a garden isn’t possible, teach about gardening and farmers markets. Make sure they understand the value in the food we grow.
- Do a Craft Using Repurposed Materials. You don’t need to make art only with paint and glitter. Crafts can be made with all types of materials. You may even take it a step further by showing students how they can repurpose materials for their everyday lives. There’s tons of articles out there about repurposing things for the kitchen, organization, crafting, and more.
- Take Students Out to Clean up Trash. There’s an important lesson in this activity. Too often, all of us ignore the problem of trash in our communities. The common notion is “trash is disgusting, and that’s not my trash so I’m not touching it.” Yes, trash is disgusting. But even though we may not have produced the trash outside the local supermarket, why not clean it up? The trash has become a part of the community, and it is everyone’s job to keep the community clean. Picking up trash is also a great way to encourage students not to litter. You may even take them out in the community, especially if an area of town is known to be filled with trash.
- Have a Solar Cookout. Students make their own solar cookers and cook very basic meals. Of course, this is only possible if the sun is out, but if it is this makes for a very memorable activity. It’s a great way to teach about sustainable energy, while pointing out the flaws of relying heavily on fossil fuels. You can find how to build solar cookers HERE. Students can make these at school or at home. Pizza and s’mores are commonly cooked in these solar cookers, but you can look around online for other options if you wish.
- Teach About Composting. Food waste doesn’t have to be taken to a landfill. Instead, use it to create fertilizer for a garden! This activity can easily be done at home, so it is a practice students may take with them outside of school. This can be done outside or inside, depending on the space you have available. You can also compost with worms. Learn about creating a compost bin HERE.
- Encourage Students to Volunteer. There are often numerous volunteer opportunities on Earth Day, which is even better this year since the day falls on a weekend! Make a list of local organizations looking for volunteers. You can also find local organizations who seek out volunteers year-round. Students may be interested in helping out on days other than Earth Day after all.
- Plan a Writing Activity. If you’re very short on time and resources, a writing activity is easy to implement and can have big impacts. Some examples are:
- Have students write from the perspective of the Earth, who is writing a letter to humans.
- Assign students to write letters to a local government branch about the environmental issue that concerns them most in their community. This could be as simple as keeping the city clean of trash or as complex as using sustainable energy.
- Imagine steps aren’t taken to take care of the environment. What happens? What is pollution like? How much trash is there? What happens to the water? Write about humans living in this environment.
- Have a “No Trash” Picnic. For lunch, or as an activity during the day, take students outside for a picnic. Make it an event with games and activities. The rule is that students bring a lunch that generates no trash. This means food should either be brought in reusable or recyclable containers. Students may find it challenging, and this will show how much waste is created just from a lunch!
Earth Day is an amazing opportunity to teach students about the environment. There’s so much they can do, and they may not even realize it. We hope these activities are a success in your classroom. Have other ideas? Let us know in the comments!