Photo credit: Blue Marble
Just when spring fever hits hard in classrooms across the country, Earth Day 2016 appears as a welcome friend on the horizon.
How will you and your students celebrate Earth Day this Friday, April 22nd? Read more about the history of this important event before you decide.
Why Earth Day?After a Wisconsin senator witnessed firsthand the toxic effects of a Santa Barbara, CA oil spill in 1969, he knew it was time to rally the public, inspiring all to protect the earth's environment.
On April 22, 1970, the first-annual Earth Day was born.
At the time, over 20 million people across America rallied for a cleaner environment. Year by year, participation increased and Earth Day events became more popular.
When Earth Day went global in 1990, it was celebrated by over 200 million people worldwide.
Each year, many important changes occur because of Earth Day celebrations. For example:
- Politicians create new laws that protect the environment.
- Community groups plant trees as a way to beautify the world and promote cleaner air.
- Industries create environmentally friendly products.
- Families learn to recycle materials and use natural resources wisely.
Make a PlanA clean, beautiful environment benefits us all. Even small activities and changes can help protect our earth. But any activity requires a little planning.
So, if you want to involve your students in Earth Day this year, you'll need a few minutes to brainstorm. Next, write out your plans:
- Consider location first. Check the forecast so you know if weather conditions are appropriate for an outdoor activity. If not, create an indoor 'plan B.'
- Contact helpers. Enlist the aid of PTA members, other educators, friends, relatives, and/or anyone else who might teach or supervise students.
- Merge activities with curriculum. Find ways to incorporate earth-day activities into current lesson plans on language, reading, science, math, and more.
- Ask local companies for help. Contact your grocer for paper bags kids can decorate. Ask a recycler to talk to the class. Use your ingenuity!
- Plan ahead for next year. If a larger project is beyond you this year, be realistic. You can still do something small and plan ahead for next year's Earth Day.
Choose Kid-Friendly Earth Day ActivitiesNow you're ready to act! Use the following list as a starting point and adapt to your own circumstances.
- Ask students to contribute "found" items from home (pebbles, leaves, seashells, cardboard, small ceramic containers, and other natural craft items) for an art project.
- Discuss how trees are the "lungs" of the earth. Plant a tree on your school ground if approved to do so.
- Learn about green-waste or composting bins. Ask administrators if such options could work at your school (particularly if you want to create a school garden).
- Use eco-friendly paints, recycled papers, and other natural materials to decorate bicycles for an earth day parade.
- Read this Earth Day recycling story in class, and then plan a related recycling activity for your class--or for the entire school.
- Create special shopping bags that help reduce the need for plastic bags. Collect paper or canvas bags for students to decorate and return to grocery stores.
- Find out if you can initiate a "no-idle" zone in front of your school. If so, let students create signs and flyers to educate drivers on your initiative.
- Invite a member of the city council to visit your class. Let students prepare questions ahead of time on city planning, recycling, or another environment-related topic.
What did you do for Earth Day? Please share stories and photos with us in the comments below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages!