5 Activities to Celebrate Earth Day Across the Curriculum
Now more than ever, it’s important for children to learn about the environment and how to protect it so that in the future they can knowledgeably participate in global conversations about climate change, water quality, renewable energy, wildlife conservation, and more.
While many teachers incorporate lessons around environmental issues throughout the school year, April’s celebration of Earth provides a perfect opportunity to make these topics front and center.
Following are five activities, shared by teachers of all subject areas, for how to easily and meaningfully integrate Earth Day activities across the curriculum:
1. Science: Design a Water Filtration System
Challenge students to design and test a device for cleaning up polluted water using household materials. Have them collect local water samples, ensuring first that they are safe to handle.
If you’re not confident that the water is safe, you can create “dirty water” samples using water, dish soap, coffee grounds, and bits of plastic. Have students collect data on the performance of their device and make revisions for improvement.
2. Social Studies: Examine Inequities and Advocate
Introduce students to the problem of environmental racism. Have them research real-world examples related to the sourcing, distribution, use, and disposal of natural resources.
Students can then take action in a number of ways including engaging in conversations with friends and family to raise awareness, creating brochures or flyers for the school community, and/or composing letters to local and federal organizations.
As an example, students can research and discuss the ongoing Flint water crisis, in which the drinking water of the majority-Black city was found to have extremely high levels of lead. Then have them create informational brochures to raise awareness about this issue, and follow up by organizing a fundraiser and making a donation to the Flint City School District.
3. Math: Measure Your Impact
Using an online calculator, students estimate their carbon footprint. To do this, they first research and commit to two lifestyle changes that would decrease their personal impact on Earth. Changes may be as simple as shutting the water while brushing their teeth or turning off the lights when they leave a room.
As a deeper dive, students can also investigate the carbon footprint of different countries, comparing America’s consumption of resources to other nations.
4. English: Produce a Public Service Announcement
Invite students to consider what environmental issues are most important to them. What actions do they want people to take to help improve the problem?
Using BrainPOP’s Make-a-Movie tool, students can produce a public service announcement educating others about the issue and persuading them to take action.
5. Plan a Service-Based Field Trip or Scavenger Hunt
Organize a clean-up day in your local community. Taking action helps students recognize the difference they can make and provides an avenue to continue volunteering.
If an in-person field trip isn’t possible, consider a virtual one. Many parks, nature centers, gardens, etc. offer virtual tours for schools.
As an alternative to a field trip, create an outdoor scavenger hunt. Challenge students to collect certain items, such as pine cones, leaves, and spider webs. Involve families, if possible, and make it a game to see who reaches the highest elevation in the community, who finds the most shades of green, and more.
Keep the Learning Going After April!
Continue integrating lessons and activities around the environment throughout the school year. Explore BrainPOP’s Our Fragile Environment Unit for more than 25 topics ranging from recycling to extinction to organic food.