Teaching About Earth Day

Introduction

Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22nd, promotes environmental protection, encouraging people to keep a clean, healthy habitat for the species residing on this planet. This year marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, and its theme is “Restore Our Earth,” which is based on the emerging concept that rejects the idea that our only two options to save Earth are to diminish or adapt to the impacts of climate change and other types of environmental damage. Climate change has become more of a pressing issue in the last decade, and it will likely continue to be the most challenging environmental problem we will face in the future. Teaching students about Earth Day is important in order for future generations to preserve the land which we live on. Education is the most powerful catalyst for change.

Resources

There are many resources available online for teaching students about Earth Day and the importance of maintaining the Earth. This topic is a vital one to teach because our only hope for a better future is the youth.

Lesson Plans

  1. Earth Day, Every Day: Scholastic provides a lesson plan for students in grades 1-2 where they will learn about the origins of Earth Day and tips for recycling. In the lesson, students will listen to the selected story “Where Does the Garbage Go,” participate in class discussions, and complete at least one activitiy on promoting environmental awareness. To guide educators through teaching this lesson, preinstructional, during instruction, and post instructional planning are included.
  2. PBS – Celebrate Earth Day: PBS LearningMedia has put together a collection of videos, articles, and lesson plans for educators who want to bring environmental justice and awareness into their classroom on Earth Day. These resources explore the history of the environmental justice movement, the racial implications of pollution and waste disposal, and the role of new technologies in conservation efforts.
  3. Earth Day Teacher Resources: TeacherVision provides a list of videos, lesson plans, printables, and references for teaching students about our environment and what we can do to help preserve it. Topics include global warming, recycling, pollution, soil erosion, and others! This page is a great one to visit, especially if you are teaching younger kids, as there are some great kid-friendly worksheets.
  4. Earth Day: Lesson Plans, Reading Lists, and Classroom Ideas: For Earth Day, edutopia has put together a variety of lesson plans, activities, and reading, each of which contain a description of the content. Some personal favorites are the American Museum of Natural History Curriculum, which guides students through different science subjects, and the Nature Conservancy’s Nature Works Everywhere, which has an abundance of different types of video lesson plans.

Articles

  1. National Geographic Kids – Earth Day: This article discusses the different ways that kids can celebrate Earth Day while also protecting the Earth. Ideas, including planting a tree, turning off the lights, limiting water usage, volunteering, and more, are mentioned, and their benefits are explained. Because of its simplicity, this work would be a great one to have students read on their own as an assignment or in small groups in order to generate discussion!
  2. Earth Day Activities: Scholastic has published an article in which teachers share their favorite tips and recommendations for celebrating Earth Day in the classroom. Educators who want to hear from others across the nation about the Earth Day activities they brought into their classrooms should check out this piece!
  3. The New York Times – Earth Day: This page contains the latest Times Topics related to Earth Day. There are many articles here to choose from, which discuss climate change, paper vs. plastic, making less trash, etc. Reading through articles from The New York Times is a great way to start off your Earth Day celebration, and having students choose a specific one to complete a poster on, whether that be a small poster or a brief article review, is a great idea. 

Informational Sites

  1. Earthday.org: This website provides all the information one would need when trying to get involved in Earth Day activities. In addition, there are stories from Earthday.org around the world and current news about climate change, environmental activism, and more. 
  2. Earth Day 2021: History.com published a short article on the history of Earth Day, including information about who started Earth Day, the first Earth Day in 1970, and what Earth Day celebrations look like today. For educators who want their students to learn some details about how this day came to be, this page is the one for you!
  3. Earth Day – Facts & History: Live Science provides an informational article on Earth Day’s history, modern Earth Day and its impact, and Earth Day activities. This piece features Earth Day ideas from people around the U.S., which may inspire students to start their own environmental project in April.
  4. Earth Day: Britannica offers a quick overview on the history of Earth Day. This article would be a great one for student’s to read before they come to class to start learning about Earth Day, and it could also be beneficial as a review at the end of a lesson on the topic. 

Conclusion

Teaching students about Earth Day is a daunting task, but it is a necessary one. Ideally, after learning about this day’s importance, students will be inspired to take action, whether that involves planting a tree, recycling at home, or picking up trash at a public park. We only get one Earth, so let’s take care of it.


Additional Resources

  1. Earth Day Lesson Plans: Education World has put together a series of lesson ideas for educators to use when teaching their students about Earth Day. Ideas include a webquest on discovering the most serious problem facing Earth, lessons on endangered species, building classroom gardens, and service-learning projects.
  2. Earth Day Activities To Inspire Your Students And Make A Difference: Provided here is a list of Earth Day activities, mostly geared towards younger students. (Also, there is a short video on the history of Earth Day that will be great to show students!) Most ideas are hands-on and require creativity, so be prepared for things to get a bit messy!
  3. 12 Meaningful Earth Day Activities for Every Grade: We Are Teachers offers a list of twelve meaningful Earth Day activities for all grade levels. Topics vary from U.S. energy use to recycling and composting to the effects of environmental change.
  4. 11 Facts About Earth Day: DoSomething.org has compiled 11 quick facts about Earth Day for students!

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