Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd and Arbor Day is celebrated on April 29th. Both of these nature inspired celebration days offer a chance for students to learn about the earth and trees by contributing something back to their community. Many classrooms around the nation will be celebrating these occasions by planting trees, participating in environmental clean-ups, joining recycling programs, and other ecological related activities.
Both of these events provide a great opportunity for hands-on learning in the classroom that can be bridged with almost any subject area including science, math, language arts, social studies and even PE, foreign language, art, and drama.
Reading, Writing, and Drama Lesson Idea
One great idea inspired by a teacher at my school is to read the students The Lorax. This children’s fable was written by Dr. Seuss with imaginary creatures and personification shows how nature can be harmed by humans. Concerns are raised about cutting down trees, polluting lakes, and air pollution caused by industrial businesses.
In small groups, students can then reflect upon these ideas and use them to compose their own environmental story for children. Taking this lesson one step further, students could then perform a reader’s theater skit for fellow classmates based on their story. This activity ties in with both Earth Day and Arbor Day.
Science & Art Lesson Idea
eHow.com has a great article with 3 informative and engaging lesson plan ideas for Earth Day for special needs students.
The first lesson is to have students create a compost bin. The students can then see the process of biodegrading over time. This compost can then be used to plant a classroom garden. This activity gets the students active and involved outside.
The next lesson idea is to teach students about the harm plastic bags on the environment and the benefit of reusable bags. Students then students create their own reusable bags using recycled materials and cloth. These can then be used at home or in the classroom in lieu of plastic bags.
The most interesting lesson was to have students coat paper in petroleum jelly and then hang it in the school parking lot. The jelly will cause all of the air pollution caused by passing cars to stick to the paper and can then be observed or even analyzed by the students. This is a great connection into a further lesson on air pollution and how we can reduce our carbon footprint. A banner could be used to explain the project and attract community attention to local pollution.
PE Tree Lesson Activity
A simple connection to trees and PE is through learning the “tree” yoga pose. PE central provides a description of the activity and song suggestions for students to personify a tree. Students are arranged in lines with enough room to stretch out and yoga mats. They will learn tree yoga pose and then during the stretching and movements they reach up like branches, sway side to side as if the wind were blowing their leaves, and planting their feet like the trunk of a tree.
More Lesson Ideas
Article By Laura Ketcham
Picture By EraPhernalia Vintage