Introduction

Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22, promotes environmental protection, encouraging people to keep a clean, healthy habitat for the species residing on this planet. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and its theme is climate action. 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. Academy 4SC: Find videos related to Earth Day at Academy 4SC, like Carbon Neutrality: Narrowing in on Net-Zero and Tragedy of the Commons: All I Want is Everything, among others. Teachers have access to resources like worksheets, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more included in each topic’s lesson plan. Explore Academy 4SC’s full library of applicable content under the tag Earth Day.
  2. Leaders 4SC Forces: Leaders 4SC provides a variety of Task Forces that provoke students to think critically about key issues as they roleplay as decision-makers and brainstorm well-detailed solutions. Each Task Force comes with step-by-step instructions, Google slide templates to be used with virtual breakout rooms, and topic-specific questions to get students started. The activities can be completed either individually or as part of a group. Some relevant Task Forces are Choose an Energy Solution For Your Country, Design a Green City, and Population Stalling.
  3. Celebrate Earth Day: Scholastic provides teaching ideas, lesson plans, and activities for students of various ages. A brief overview is given and the resources are split into a handful of different categories, which include Classroom and Community Projects, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” Preventing Pollution, Endangered Animals and Ecosystems, and Reading Resources. This resource page offers creative ways for students to learn about Earth Day, encouraging them to write blog posts, participate in hands-on lessons, and complete interactive projects and activities. Checking out this page is a good start to helping students understand the importance of taking care of Earth in a fun way!
  4. Earth Day Curriculum Resources: nea offers a list of lesson plans, portals and websites, games and activities, printables, infographics, and videos for teaching about Earth Day to students in grades K-5. There are a multitude of resources on conserving water, different types of energy, endangered ecosystems, and more. Educators looking for a wide range of topics to choose from under the umbrella of Earth Day and environmental preservation will benefit from this resource!
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 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 around the world. In addition, the most important FAQs about Earth Day 2020 and its theme are answered and news stories about climate change, environmental activism, and more.
  2. Earth Day 2020: history.com published a short article on the history of Earth Day, including information about who started Earth Day and the first Earth Day in 1970, and the 2020 Earth Day celebration. 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.