| By Gale Staff |
Earth Day provides educators with a fun launch pad for lessons and activities about environmental studies and sustainability, and Gale is ready to help! Gale In Context: Environmental Studies is loaded with articles, videos, and podcasts that meet the needs of your diverse learners, no matter their grade or reading level. This Earth Day, consider integrating some of these engaging exercises into your classroom. After all, teaching students early about protecting our planet will help them develop positive, lifelong eco-habits.
Create Earth Day-Inspired Artwork
Earth Day activities integrate easily into your science curricula, but using nature as inspiration for art can be a powerful way to help your students connect to the planet. In the weeks leading up to Earth Day, encourage students to use different mediums (photography, dance, painting, collage, drawing, or other) to create a piece of art that demonstrates what they love about the environment. On Earth Day, consider ways to share this collection. You could post images and videos on the school’s social media site or hang the art in the hallways.
Plant a Tree at School
This may seem simple, but a lot goes into effectively planting a tree. If done well, your class’s efforts could benefit generations of students to come. Before beginning the project, speak with your school’s administration to obtain permission, decide on the best location, and request assistance from the maintenance crew if necessary. Is there a small green space on the school grounds? Maybe there’s a nice spot on the front lawn? Source a small sapling (make sure you select a native species), some shovels, a watering can, and a bag of soil. Young learners will love getting their hands dirty! Ask your class what benefits a tree provides. Trees improve air quality, offer shade, create more homes for birds, and reduce our carbon footprint.
Take an Earth Day Quiz
The folks at EarthDay.org have collected dozens of quizzes so your students can test their knowledge. Topics range from climate change to activism to endangered species conservation. Have students team up and use the resources housed in Gale In Context: Environmental Studies to help them answer the questions correctly.
EarthDay.Org also hosts a number of environmental pledges. As a class, decide which pledge you’d like to try to commit to for the year. Perhaps you’ll all try to remember your reusable shopping bags at the store, or maybe you can petition the cafeteria to create a plant-based meal once a week. Team-based commitments tend to have better results. Be sure to check in throughout the remainder of the school year to see how your group pledge is going.
Hold a Sustainable Fashion Swap
Clothing swaps aren’t only an affordable way to find a new outfit, but they help students practice sustainability. The fast fashion industry is incredibly damaging to the planet. Billions of new garments are made each year, and most of them end up in landfills. Encourage students to bring in gently worn items that they are willing to swap. Bring in some folding tables so students can display and peruse the wares. Why not invite other teachers and classes to contribute and participate as well? Maybe even host a fashion show for some of the best “found” outfits. Leftover items can be donated to a local charity.
Organize a Teach-In
The whole idea behind Earth Day began as a series of seminars held at colleges throughout the United States. The date, April 22, was mostly selected because the weather would be warmer, and the date specifically landed on a Wednesday, so there was a better likelihood that college students would attend (as it wouldn’t affect their weekend plans). The event was a huge success! But there’s no need to limit these seminars to college campuses. Why not organize your own classroom teach-in? There are plenty of people you might consider inviting: an environmental studies professor from a nearby college, a staff member from your region’s EPA office, or maybe just a local nature enthusiast. Encourage your students to draft questions as a class beforehand to help stimulate discussion.
This year, the theme for Earth Day is “Invest in Our Planet.” When teachers create engaging, hands-on activities to celebrate Earth Day, your students create more meaningful connections to the subject matter. There is no better way to “invest in our planet” than to set young students on a path of environmental awareness.