Earth Day activities: Inspire your students and make a difference
April 12, 2022
By celebrating Earth Day, you’re part of a community of over 1 billion people who take part in this holiday every year.
Earth Day is about raising awareness about the importance of protecting our planet and taking action. Here’s a quick (3-minute) introduction to how Earth Day started and the impact it’s had:
Earth Day 2022
Earth Day will be held April 22, 2022 and the theme is Invest In Our Planet—because a green future is a prosperous future.
Just in time to support Earth Day this year, PLT Canada has released a ready-to-use, free and hands-on Learn about Forests activities to engage middle school aged youth in learning about trees, forests, and sustainable forest management. Each 50-minute activity offers simple suggestions for leading learners ages 10–16 in themes related to sustainable forest management, stewardship, and green careers.
Another way teachers and parents can observe Earth Day is to simply take children on a nature walk, whether that’s in your backyard, at a local park, on a nearby forest trail, or on school grounds, depending on what’s accessible in your area at this time. Doing a nature walk is not only about celebrating Earth Day. It’s also an opportunity for learning experiences in a variety of subjects such as science, geography, math, and art. Make your nature walk educational and fun at the same time with Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) 12 Nature Walk Activities for Earth Day (or Any Day!)
Also, be sure to check out PLT Canada’s free Earth Day activities in our store and PLT Canada’s Forest Literacy Framework, a free conceptual framework that aims to increase understanding and empowering actions by all for the benefit of our forests.
Even though Earth Day has a rich history, many people associate it with recycling. You’ll probably find a lot of Earth Day activities for the classroom that focus on just that. This can be a great starting point, especially because it’s an action students, schools, and families can do right away. If you want to incorporate activities on recycling in your Earth Day lesson plan, be sure to check out PLT’s reduce, reuse, recycle lesson plan ideas for every subject.
Young students can, and do, make a big difference. As an educator, you have the opportunity to spark a passion in students that will drive them to do their part to take care of the Earth. Here are a few different kinds of activities you could add to your lesson plans to inspire your students this Earth Day.
Make a pledge and a plan to take action
Writing down a commitment and making a plan are two actions that increase the likelihood that someone will follow through. So if you want those Earth Day lessons to stick, this is an easy activity to do with students of any age. This is a great way to incorporate an art project with a writing prompt.
Here are a few examples:
Integrate art projects
Art projects are fun way to add a hands-on activity to a lesson about Earth Day. Creating art can also help students feel connected to environmental topics, even if the issues you’re studying are happening far away from home. It’s also a great way to help them imagine the world they want to live in.
Make signs for school and at home
Sometimes we just need a little reminder to help us change our habits. Have students think about what they can do at school and at home to help the environment and how they can encourage others to change their habits.
Plant a tree
The Earth Day Network has a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees by 2020 – one tree for every person alive. By planting trees, you’re taking a tangible action with your students and you’re taking part in this bigger goal. Don’t forget to check out these tree planting tips from PLT before you get started.
Engage students in a pollution experiment
Teaching about pollution is an essential part of Earth Day because it helps students understand the consequences of not protecting the Earth. It can be much easier to prevent pollution than to remedy it later. Students can experience the effects of pollution on a small scale in the classroom.
An activity for younger students:
Pick up trash around your school
Trash clean-ups are another hands-on activity you don’t even have to leave the school grounds to do. To make a bigger impact, have students write down what kinds of trash they pick up and where. After analyzing the data together, you can find patterns and explore solutions so you can stop the trash at the source.
In fact, there’s a new app that can help you do just that. Check out Litterati, the app that makes it fun to pick up littler and helps prevent litter:
Host a drive to collect e-waste
E-waste is a growing problem in Canada and around the world. E-waste represents more than 70% of toxic waste in landfills. So it’s probably not surprising that only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled.
This is an opportunity for your students to help raise awareness about this problem within our school and community. Students can research a nearby recycling facility and organize a drive to collect e-waste to help combat this problem in your community.
Show them examples of others making a real difference
It’s important for students to see examples of some amazing men and women who work in and care for our forests, and find out why their jobs are key to managing them sustainably so they know about options when they’re older to make a difference. These inspiring examples of Green Jobs professionals and Indigenous forest and conservation leaders are great places to start, and there are many more people doing great work. Learning about the work these people are doing can give your students new ideas for how to protect the environment in the future. It can open the door of possibilities for how to think about finding solutions to problems they can help solve in the future.
Earth Day isn’t just on April 22. It’s every day. How will you celebrate Earth Day and help students make a difference year-round?
A version of this article written by Rebecca Reynandez was adapted from Project Learning Tree. Read the original here.
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