4 Sure-Fire Ways to Kick-off Earth Day
Celebrating Earth Day can be a bit overwhelming for new teachers. There’s plenty of information on the topic and so many ways to involve kids, but where to begin?
I have found that a literature-based approach works well for beginning and veteran teachers alike. I begin by assembling a collection of fiction and nonfiction books designed to help raise student awareness of issues and practices related to environmentally responsible practices. These books become thought-provoking springboards for discussion and projects related to Earth Day.
Here are some of our favorite “go-green reads”:
• The Earth Book by Todd Parr (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010)
With its colorful array of primary pictures, this book offers ten suggestions for how kids can help the Earth. While the ideas may all seem very elementary, they provide a wealth of opportunity for exploration and curricular integration that go beyond the book. For example, after reading “I throw garbage in the trash can and recycle glass, aluminum, paper, and plastic because . . . I love to walk barefoot in the grass and I don’t want to move to Mars!,” ask students what they think about moving to Mars, then research what it would take to build a human habitat on the Red Planet. The Earth Book is printed on recycled paper with non-toxic soy inks and includes a GO GREEN poster that you can detach and display as a visual reminder of the earth-saving strategies. Have students brainstorm other ways they could conserve our resources; encourage them to create posters with eco-friendly tips of their own to hang around school as they campaign for conservation and celebrate Earth Day.
• 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World by Melanie Walsh (Candlewick, 2008) is a great pick for younger conservationists. It demonstrates how even small changes can make a big difference in our efforts to take care of Planet Earth. The book offers tips that make sense to kids (such as turning off the water while brushing teeth and using both sides of a piece of paper) plus reasons why each tip is eco-friendly. The book provides a perfect introduction to environmental studies; its vibrant art and large format means it’s an easy book to share in a group setting.
• The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole (Scholastic, 2010). Older students will join Ms. Frizzle and her students as they explore serious topics including climate change, the greenhouse effect, alternative energy sources and carbon dioxide emissions. Back at school and at home, the characters model ways your students can put energy-saving practices into effect.
• We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child (Dial, 2009).
In this book, Lola decides to enter a recycling competition in order to qualify to receive her very own real live tree to plant. With the clock ticking, Lola turns to her classmates for help. This tale is printed on eco-friendly paper and includes save-the-Earth suggestions plus a tree poster just like Lola’s. Together the book and poster serve as a call for young students to institute and track similar recycling projects at home and in school.
This article was found in April’s Classroom Connection Newsletter. Read more stories from that edition by clicking on the links below.