It’s always a good idea to have a reason to focus on environmental issues and what better reason than Earth Day? For all the latest information and to sign up for resources, visit http://www.earthday.org/
- Introduce Earth Day with a globe.
- Let children know that Earth Day was started about 30 years ago to make people aware of the importance of keeping our planet healthy and clean.
- Place a sticker on the globe to mark where the children live.
- Talk about the term “green kids” and keeping the Earth “green” – and what ‘green’ means. Kids learn the meaning of this by participating in eco-friendly experiences.
Read simple Earth Day books and talk about the content. We suggest: It’s Earth Day! (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer; Biscuit’s Earth Day Celebration by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and David T. Wenzel; and Let’s Celebrate Earth Day by Peter Roop.
Make a class book or poster
Challenge children to think of things they can do in their homes or classrooms to care for the Earth:
- Ask each student draw a picture of something they can do to help keep the Earth healthy and clean (suggestions below).
- Label each picture.
- Attach each picture to one or two chart paper posters or staple them into a class book.
When children complete one of the classroom Earth Day activities they place an Earth Day sticker next to the picture in the book or on the chart poster.
Need help coming up with ideas? Try these 8 suggestions…
1.Save water when doing arts and crafts
Children can swish the brushes around in a container of water instead of running the water to clean them. Ask the office staff to save the large poster and advertisement junk mail for easel painting. Children can explore how differently the paint handles on the backs of the shiny poster paper.
2. Build recycling responsibility
Children take turns being recycling monitors. They keep an eye on the rubbish and recycling containers each day to make sure that items are placed in the correct places.
3.Help children become ‘nature smart’
Some children aren’t as familiar with nature, wildlife and the great outdoors as others. Why not use Earth Day as a reason to visit some interesting local nature sites? Before going on field trips, help the students become ‘nature smart’ by introducing the topic with friendly books like Maisy’s Nature Walk by Lucy Cousins.
Free printable pages for Maisy’s Nature Walk: go to Candlewick Press and click on “download an activity kit” on the left hand side for free printable pages to go with the story.
Create a nature play environment to get children excited about being naturalists.
- Put up posters of the forest, of animals and plants.
- Add naturalist toy belts with binoculars, clipboards, and magnifying glasses attached.
- Add toy telescopes, recording clipboards, measuring equipment, a couple of pairs of wellies, fisher-man type vests with lots of pockets, toy stuffed animals etc.
4. Activities whilst on nature walks
Carefully lifting a rock to see what is underneath and then gently return it to the same spot. Record observations on a clipboard. You can even role play this in advance to help them practice and get them excited about what they might find.
To make simple to carry clipboards: Place two thick elastic bands around a piece of card. Tuck a piece of paper inside on the front and back of the card and tape a string with a pencil to each one. Take a few clear plastic bags to bring some items back to the classroom to study, then emphasise returning the items to the same places you found them.
5. Use reusable products rather than disposable.
Reduce the amount of items that go into the rubbish bin by teaching lessons on packaging. Choose products with less packaging when you shop for classroom supplies and show the children. Make the children aware of how they are helping the earth by bringing yoghurt in reusable containers rather than pre-packaged ones. Supply real cups (labelled) rather than throwaway plastic or foam ones and use real cloth rags rather than paper towels to clean up paint on tables. Celebrate each time a child makes a ‘green’ choice.
6. Pick up rubbish
Provide gloves and rubbish bags, and ask the children help pick up rubbish from around the playground.
7. Save electricity
It makes a nice change to turn the lights out during snack, lunch times and even story times if your environment has enough natural lighting. It alters the mood and saves power too. The special helper of the day can be responsible for this job.
8. Teach children to respect nature
Your enthusiasm concerning interesting bits of moss, leaves or shells that the children bring into the room is contagious. Have a special place in the room to show off these items.
A day-to-day focus on recycling
Teaching recycling for children need not be complicated! Instead, take advantage of daily classroom routines when planning activities.
Each day at snack or lunchtime, set up a classification area on one table in your classroom. This could be the special helper’s job. The children then sort their waste into three categories, recycling, compost, and landfill. You could use a plastic ice cream tub with a lid for the compost, a photocopy paper box lid for items that can be recycled and another for items that need to be thrown away.
To keep recycling for children simple, why not ask the special helper to weigh the compost (with help) and then point to each piece of recycling and waste in the lids as the whole class counts along? The same helper records the observations on a chart similar to the sample on the right. You don’t need to worry too much about accuracy, it’s more about getting children used to the idea of measuring, charting and recording numbers. Hopefully they’ll also be enthused if the recycling increases and waste goes down over time!
Download a pdf to observe worms
Download a pdf to create your own worm house
Download a pdf to create your own compost flap
Download a pdf to create your own compost bin
Download a pdf sort out the recycling