Earth Day (April 22) can easily be integrated into all curricular areas and the Common Core State Standards. Think about it: close reading, op-ed writing, social studies, science, art, music, and math!
Since a study of the rainforests seems to encompass so many aspects of Earth Day and interests elementary-aged children, I used that topic to create a month of learning activities.
Earth Day lesson ideas with a rainforest theme:
- Find age-appropriate rainforest articles online and model the highlighting of important facts/phrases with younger students while they use close reading strategies to gather information. The students can then use this highlighted information to write a persuasive piece with evidence on Why People Should Care About Rainforests.
- Assign an endangered rainforest animal project for homework or as a small-group project. Click to view a sample assignment.
- Using sentence strips or large poster board, have students copy individual facts learned about the rainforest. Then have students write ways they can help save the rainforest.
- Do a musical performance, such as The Rumpus in the Rainforest.
- Additionally, visit these Pinterest sites for amazing project ideas: Rainforest Crafts and Rainforest Unit Study
Additional Earth Day ideas and resources:
- Go to http://www.earthday.org/ with students to learn about the history of Earth Day, what a “Green School” is, and how to make healthy food choices. The students can create a fun “Avatar” online while doing a “Footprint Calculator.”
- Have each student make a poster with one tip on how he or she can help the environment, such as: Walk or Ride a Bike to School, Turn off Lights When Leaving a Room, Unplug Cellphone Chargers When Not in Use, Print on Both Sides of Paper, Plant Trees or Bushes, Don’t Keep the Water on When You Brush Your Teeth, Use Public Transportation, etc. Post these colorful illustrated posters around the classroom or school!
- Use little peat seed pots (found at any nursery) to begin growing Mother’s Day flowers!
Alice Evans is a forty-year veteran National Board Certified elementary classroom teacher and a published author. She recently retired from the San Diego Unified School District and has published a children’s chapter book entitled Torrey Pines Summer.