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Teaching the History and Value of Earth Day – From the Home Front

Looking for more learning opportunities to use at home? At Summer Solutions, we specialize in keeping students academically engaged outside of school, so here is another lesson idea with a free download you can use right away.

Trying to participate in a global educational and celebratory experience feels like an insurmountable challenge right now. Most of us are up to our elbows teaching students remotely or teaching our own kids from our kitchen tables. But it’s important to note that this Earth Day, April 22nd, 2020, marks the event’s 50th anniversary. We’re presented with this important opportunity to ensure students better understand the current state of our planet’s health and well-being.

I’ve included links to websites and activities that can help students appreciate the roles biological diversity, pollution-free environments, and sustainable practices can play in protecting Earth’s fragile ecosystems as well as their own healthy futures.

Activities for young children

Conservationist Magazine’s Be an Earth Hero is packed with readings and action steps for children. The magazine includes a checklist of ways to reduce food waste, a one-week conservation action list, and possible activities for the home.

Sensory Bingo is a printable BINGO card, and Sunset Watch is an evening observation sheet for kids who have safe access to a natural area. Using either of these improves children’s observation skills and heightens their appreciation of the nature world.

Kids of all ages can play Jewels of the Earth an online Rainforest biodiversity game. (Use Internet Explorer or unblock Adobe Flash Player if you use Chrome.)

Activities for intermediate children

Use the What YOU Can Do About Climate Change page as a springboard activity. Have students use scrap paper to write and sketch a picture of four to eight additional actions they could take. There are many websites students could use for ideas.

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry, a YouTube time-lapse video of a strawberry’s journey from farm to table to trash educates about all that is lost when food is wasted. Students brainstorm a list of ways to reduce food waste such as what was depicted in the brief video clip.

Here’s a lesson from Simple Solutions Reading Comprehension: How to Start Your Own Worm Bin. The composting lesson can really come to life if you’ve got a source for worms and the supplies for constructing your own worm bin. Search online to purchase worms that are suitable. A word of caution: Never release worms into your yard or the wild since they can be invasive and will disrupt an ecosystem. 

Kids of all ages can play Jewels of the Earth an online Rainforest biodiversity game. (Use Internet Explorer or unblock Adobe Flash Player if you use Chrome.)

Activities for older children

Have students locate their homes with Google Earth’s search icon. Students can apply the measuring tool to determine distances between locations and, when feasible, commit to walking or biking to school or other close destinations instead of being driven. During this shelter-at-home period, students can identify locations and establish distances for future walks or rides with family or friends.

Bring The Engineering Design Process into the mix with a collection of resources to solve the contemporary problem of plastics pollution. Define the Plastic Problem is one lesson plan that is part of the PBS Engineering for Good series. PBS includes links to its series, Investigate the Plastic Problem, an informative brochure, Plastic: The Popular Pollutant, videos such as the Reality of Plastic, and teacher instructions for having students make an Infographic. This is an excellent collection of resources and activities that is easy to navigate.

After all that hard work, consider an art project using found materials, such as the one displayed in Trash Bass. Creative kids will be off and running after seeing this fishy inspiration. In their hunt for materials, kids might end up cleaning their rooms, the garage, and the basement, in the bargain.

Miscellaneous Activities

Waste Warrior Toolkit from the WWF includes student activities that might be adaptable for home use. Or use the lesson plans when school resumes.

Six Animal Webcams to Watch During Quarantine

Rainforest Activities for Kids

Fridays for Future is Greta Thunberg’s website; because she is so young, this may be of particular interest to students. Greta was just 16 years old in 2019, the year she won Time Magazine’s Person of the Year award.

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About the author


Diane D has been researching and writing for Simple Solutions since retiring from her teaching position at the Nordonia schools. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. Diane, who is fluent in Italian, travels a lot, bikes every opportunity she gets, rock climbs, skis, and has recently joined a rowing team.

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