Earth Day (week) in First Grade

I do Earth Day lessons throughout the week. Here are a few activities that I do with my students to get them thinking about the planet we live on, and how to protect and celebrate it…

Day 1: Read The Earth and I by: Frank Asch

This book is about a young boy who names all the reasons why he is friends with the Earth. This is a great stepping off point to get your students talking about why they are friends with the Earth. For the end of this lesson we brain storm a list of all the reasons we should be friends with the Earth.

Day 2: The Earth and I are Friends Because…

Today we start out by looking at our list of the ideas we came up with in day 1. I tell the students that they get to create their own The Earth and I are Friends page. One of the things that I really love about Frank Asch’s book is the illustrations. So for these projects we use water colors.

I make some basic outlines for students who want to water color some basic nature pictures.

The students watercolor their picture, then cut them out and paste them on their The Earth and I are Friends paper where they wrote their sentences.

The Final Product:

Then I make a display board to post all of their projects:

DAY 3:

I begin by reading the Lorax, and talking about “stuff”… We identify how a lot of the “stuff” we have is sort of like a Thneed… It takes resources to make, and we only use it for a short while and throw it away. I then pull out a plastic bag and ask how many kids have these at home. We talk about how long something like this will last on the earth, and where it goes when we are done with it. I then give each student a plastic bag and tell them to pretend their bag is in the water. What would it look like. They start moving their bags like waves are happening. I ask what it looks like, and most kids reply “Jelly Fish!!” I collect the bags back and we are able to discuss why these bags looking like jelly fish is bad news for sea creatures that eat jelly fish. I show them some pictures of sea turtles eating plastic bags and dolphins becoming trapped in plastic bags. We then watch the mockumentary: The Majestic Plastic Bag

Day 4:

Through this amazing program Conserving Now, teachers can request a classroom guide to teaching about plastic bags, and a classroom set of cloth reusable bags. So because of the amazing organization, I was able to get these bags for my students. I showed them the box of bags, and they just exploded with excitement. We made a list of all the ways we could use these cloth bags instead of plastic, and made a class pledge to cut down on the plastic bags that we use, now that we each have a clothe bag. Each student decorated their bags with an Earth Day message. I put inside each bag a list of ways you can help the earth from The Lorax Project and on the other side of the same sheet of paper I wrote a list of local Earth Day goings on for April.

We used Fabric markers, and Fabric Paint, and sharpies to decorate. I put cardboard in the bags so their design wouldn’t bleed over to the next page.

Finished bags:

Day 5:

Our last day before Earth Day we took a practical approach.  We did a waste sort. I collected a box of things the students have used over the last few days. It’s great when they see something from their lunch. It really gets them to make the connection that this is their waste. I make sure to have a great selection of waste.

I then have a student scribe, and have them call on students to think of all of the things we do with something when we are done with it. After they have their categories I call on students for the “GARBAGE CHALLENGE!” and each student gets to make a guess about where on the list the item goes.

We now have an amazing list by kids, for kids! We hang this us in our class near the trash and recycling and they use it as a guide the rest of the year.

After our Earth Day Week, my students feel empowered and ready to make some change. We finished up by becoming the “litter police” and spending our last afternoon recess picking up litter around our school.


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