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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Posters for Classroom Managment

I use posters as a classroom management tool for primary grades. The pictures and words help to build literacy, and remind students of expectation when they are not readers yet.

"Using the Bathroom" Sign

The students use sign language to ask to use the bathroom. It is silent I can nod and continue teaching or working with small groups without interruption.

Part of the sign is covered up because I went from a classroom where we had our own bathroom to having to use the “big kids” bathroom.This changed the expectation.

"Using the Water Fountain" poster

Wild About Reading!

I love Where the Wild Things Are and used my love for this story as the inspiration for my library corner.

How To: I used dark blue butcher paper as the base, it fit the feel of the book the best. I made the trees from butcher paper, using the tree’s in the story for inspiration. I cut the stars out of reflective plastic and placed them all around the board. I made Max out of construction paper and pipe cleaners. I got my Caroll cardboard from Barnes and Noble

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Have you filled a bucket today?  Source

This amazing book by Carrol McCloud is the bases for my entire social skills curriculum. I read this story all throughout the year, especially after winter and spring break. It shows that every person in the world has an invisible bucket, that you can fill by doing and saying kind things. And by filling others buckets, you are filling your own. It’s a brilliant way to make the golden rule concrete. It’s amazing the change that I see in my students after completing a lesson on this book.

We don’t just read it, and put it back on the shelf. We live this book. I make each student a bucket of their own, then I copy bucket fillers in various rainbow colors. During our Daily 5, if a student chooses writers workshop “filling buckets” is one activity they can do.

How To: To make these buckets I took milk cartoons from the students lunch, cut the tops off, and washed them out. Then I drew  buckets onto various colors of card-stock paper, cut them out then stapled them to the milk cartons. The bucket filler sheet can be found here. I copied those on to rainbow colored copy paper, and cut them out. I always have lots of “bucket fillers” ready so kids can fill lost of their friends buckets.

I always make sure that I give examples of how you can fill someones bucket. We start the beginning of the year out by me asking them to write at least one detail to fill a students bucket, by January I ask them to write at least 3 details onto the bucket filler paper.

Cute SchoolTube bucket filler video.

Calendar and schedule

The rug area is where we spent our calendar time.

Our Schedule, Kelso's Choices, and a bathroom reminder.

A few helpful things about this picture. Having a picture schedule is great for primary grades and English Language Learners. This schedule gave must students the power to know what their day would look like. I didn’t have to worry about students asking me “when’s recess” etc. I tried to use picture reminders to go along side the words. An example of this is the bathroom poster.

For this bulletin board, I covered up a blackboard that was there that I didn’t use. I used brown fabric at the background. Fabric won’t fade like butcher paper does. The border is an Eric Carle Border.

My “Kinder Garden”

This was the back-wall of our “kinder garden”.

How To: I used large light blue butcher paper first for the sky. Next, I cut the hills from light green butcher paper and stapled them over the blue. The clouds were cut from white paper with googly eyes. Each student had their own flower. They drew a “me on the first day of school” portrait on white  paper. I used these flowers for the cover of their portfolio at the end of the year. The butterfly’s came from a small shop in Portland, OR. Though I found something similar here: Butterfly Garland

It’s important for your students to see themselves in their classroom. To feel some ownership and pride in the space. A great way to do this is to make sure their work decorates the room.