6. Bring the Outdoors Inside
Let your students explore the natural wonders of our Earth—without ever leaving their homes! This virtual tour from The Nature Conservancy takes the audience across the planet—from Phoenix, Arizona, to Shenzhen, China—while addressing the effects of climate change and how this issue is tackled in their communities.
Cities worldwide are mixing urban life with nature. Examples include Seoul’s Skygarden in South Korea and the High Line in New York City. Virtual field trips of Kew Garden’s Temperate House in London, England, and the United States Botanic Garden
in Washington, D.C. let your students learn about similar ways other cities incorporate nature into their urban planning. Ask your students: what are different ways humans can unite our natural environments and urban landscapes? Dive in and have fun!
7. Upcycle Crayons
Craving an Earth Day art project? This activity teaches kids about upcycling by having them melt their used crayons into new crayons. Adult supervision is a must! This project is ideal for kids who have quite a few broken crayons lying around.
Melted Crayons Project
What You Need:
- Used crayons
- Cookie-cutter shapes or silicone molds (round, square, star, butterfly, flower, pineapple, etc.)
- Muffin tin or clean aluminum can (such as a soft drink can) with the top cut off
- Warming tray or electric fry pan
What to Do:
- Peel wrapper off crayons and break them into smaller pieces. (Tip: For a faster melt, use crayon shavings. To shred crayons, use a pencil sharpener or a grater with adult supervision.)
- Add the broken crayons to a muffin tin or aluminum can.
- Place the muffin tin or the aluminum can on a warming tray or into a water-filled electric fry pan set for low heat. Note: Crayons can melt at different rates. If needed, use a small wooden spoon or stirring stick to stir the crayons.
- After the crayons have melted, gently pour the crayon wax into the cookie-cutter shapes.
- Leave cookie-cutter shapes undisturbed. Once the wax has cooled and hardened, pop off the cookie cutters and voilà. New crayons for coloring!
For more crayon-related arts and crafts projects, check out these activities.
8. Read, Watch, Discuss
Get your students reading about the wonders of our environment and the actions scientists and others have taken to protect our home. Then, have a class discussion with your students about the materials they read. The following list includes books for K–5; however, explore the internet to see what other Earth-related literature you can find.
- The Earth and I by Frank Asch
- Our Earth by Anne Rockwell
- Between Earth & Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places
by Joseph Bruchac and Thomas Locker
- The Polar Bear Scientists by Peter Lourie and Susan Ramer
- Curious George Discovers Recycling by H. A. Rey
- My Little Garden by Katrin Wiehle
- Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa
by Jeanette Winter
- Bradford Street Buddies: Springtime Blossoms by Jerdine Nolen and Michelle Henninger
- Just Grace Goes Green by Charise Mericle Harper
- Listen to the Desert/Oye al Desierto by Francisco Mora and Pat Mora
Alternatively, you can watch two episodes from our web series Carmen Sandiego: Fearless Kids Around the World with your students, featuring kids on a mission to help their communities. “Protecting the Rain Forest” spotlights Pablo Cavanzo, a teenager who took action to protect the Amazon in his home country of Colombia. And “Saving the Wildlife in Africa” covers how Richard Turere, who lives in a farming community in Kenya, came up with an idea to keep farmers from killing lions.
After watching, have your students share their thoughts. Ask them: what actions are these kids taking to protect the rainforest or wildlife in their home countries? Think of other questions to ask your students to get them pondering about the steps they could take to protect the environment in their community and worldwide.
How Do You Celebrate Earth Day?
How do you honor Earth Day in your classroom and get your students thinking about the various ways they can do good for their communities and the environment? Do you clean up a local park or play Earth Day games for elementary students? Share your thematic lesson plans and activities with us via email at Shaped@hmhco.com or reach out on Twitter (@TheTeacherRoom) or Facebook.
For more ways to celebrate Earth Day with your students, check out these classroom activities.
Discover more lesson plans and classroom resources on Shaped.