Today is Earth Day, and if you planned ahead and built classroom activities to share with your students this past week—go you! But if you’re anything like me, and still trying to figure how it’s already April of 2018, then here are some engaging activities you can incorporate into your post-Earth-Day curriculum.
(Feel free to modify/adapt based on the ages of your students. Highest relevance would be between lower elementary to middle school.)
1. Create art from recyclables/trash.
You can take this in so many directions. From using old coffee filters to make construction paper flowers, to making a hodge-podge collage of random artifacts you find outside/on the beach/around the school, (like this truck activity above) re-purposing junk into something beautiful will give your students a new appreciation for recycling, as well as an awareness of how much waste we’re actually creating on a daily basis.
2. Do a trash challenge.
This might work best with younger students, but is possible with older age groups as well! Set up either a scavenger hunt or some sort of race to collect the most trash around the school/grounds in a given time period. Have students work in teams and whoever has the biggest bag of trash at the end wins some sort of prize. As a reflection activity, the students can discuss what their items were and whether they could be recycled. (You could also have them sort their trash vs. recyclables at the end as a bonus!)
3. Create your own ‘green’ product.
There are so many ‘green’ diy projects out there (just use Pinterest for ideas!) Have the students spend the day creating something that is green and learning about the ingredients in their homemade product vs. the ones they use on a regular basis. For example, here’s a way to create green toothpaste.
4. Practice recycling rain.
This is a bit strange, and only works if you’re in an area where rain is applicable on the day you’re doing this, but set out bins/milk cartons and collect rainwater to reuse to water plants etc. in your classroom. Having students be conscious of the limited amount of water (especially in areas that struggle with drought!) can help them understand the importance of conserving water!
5. Reduce your footprint.
Teach your students ways they can reduce their footprint: turning off lights, unplugging electronics, walking instead of driving. If applicable, incorporate this into your daily curriculum. Can you have the students record the minutes/miles they walked for that day or week, with a focus on intentionally reducing their footprint?
6. Research recycling.
We’d like to think that we know a lot about recycling, but it wasn’t until recently I realized that I must remove labels from products (ex: peanut butter jars) in order for them to be fully recyclable! Spend some time this week educating your students on the specifics of recycling.
7. Get dirty.
Take time out of your week to plant flowers, spruce up your garden, weed the school grounds, etc.
8. Recycle nature.
This pine cone project is a classic, but can be great for younger kids (and as a throwback for older students!). Take pine cones, tie ribbon around the top, spread peanut butter, honey, and birdseed around the cone and hang it from a tree. Wait and watch as the birds come. Then talk about nature, life cycles, and the importance of reducing pollution/waste.
9. Try organic.
Encourage your students to attempt to eat organic foods this week; if possible, incorporate this in your classroom as well! Have students stay accountable (or at least try to!) with a food chart recording the meals they consumed/made etc.