How can a seemingly wholesome holiday be such a sneaky little rascal? Earth Day has its way of sneaking up on me…which is why it's *critical* that I keep a go-to collection of Earth Day activities on hand every year.
I support all that it represents in building an eco-friendly world, but as a teacher, it always has its ways of rearing its green head when it's way too late to do cool Earth Day activities like the other teachers.
In order for this important day to not fly past you as well, I wanted to share with you simple Earth Day activities that take ten minutes or less. Because not only is it a sneaky holiday, but it falls under the science umbrella–if your school is anything like my past schools, the time allotted in our schedule for science is…tiny. So we must get creative! Here we go.
#1: The Earthies
Picture this: you spend all week observing students and taking note of what earth-friendly initiatives they are doing or promoting. On Friday (also the same day I like to do our FriYAY awards), hand out the Earthies—a tailor-made award for your students who take going green seriously.
▶︎ Quick tip: Get the students' families in on this one. Let grown-ups know ahead of time what you'll be focusing on this week and use at-home actions to hand out awards too!
Some possible ideas include:
- Rockin' Recycler
- Upcycle Master
- Top Trash Patrol
- Water Saver Superstar
- Going Green Queen
#2: Earth Day Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are a great way for students to apply information they've learned. Keep it simple–even one brief qustion a day can be a powerful way for students to reflect on concepts such as recycling, being eco-conscious at home, and so much more.
These are my favorite because–in the spirit of going green–these particular prompts are practically paperless. I say practically because all these prompts require is a projectable surface and student spiral notebooks–just add students! No more copying, making mad dashes to the teacher work room when you really should be checking your email or eating your lunch.
▶︎ Quick tip: To get you started, you can ask students these prompts:
Write 3 facts about recycling.
Would you rather plant flowers or trees?
How does planting trees help our earth?
Make a picture of a way you take care of the earth.
…Or get all these prompts and more here.
#3: Earth Day Activities for Sorting – “Which One Doesn't Belong?”
Line up 3 or more materials for students to view. Students will choose which material is the one that cannot be recycled.
Other questions to consider for sorting would be:
- Which one isn't plastic/paper/etc.?
- Which one is not compostable?
- Ask open-ended questions: what doesn't belong? See what the students notice–their answers will surprise you!
▶︎ Quick tip: For this one, get a copy of your local recycling guidelines–you might be surprised by how many restrictions there are on things that seem like they are okay to recycle.
♺ Alternative: Bring in a box of real materials (or have the kids bring them in) and do the same activity! You could assign 1/4 of your class plastic, 1/4 glass, and so on. Be sure to allow yourself time for washing the materials just in case, and be very mindful of allergens.
#4: Create a Watering Can From Water Bottles
When I first saw this idea I was more excited about the watering can than the fact that it was upcycled. This unique idea uses a plastic soda bottle (2L or 20 oz.), but you can use a water bottle too.
Here's the deal: this neat water bottle hack results in a watering can that is kid-friendly. The flow is slowed so students can water plants around the house without parents worried about over-watering or giant messes. Of course, I love it because it enforces taking care of plants and upcycling, but the pracicality of it all really takes the cake.
You can check out the original idea from @messforless here. I stumbled across it on Pinterest and knew I wanted to share with you guys!
#5: Earth Day-themed Knockout Games!
Ahh, my personal favorite. You know I'm all about the KO games over here, but the seasonal ones have a special place in my heart. If you're looking for Earth Day activities that are fun and educational, this one is where it's at.
(The designs are what *really* make this game one of our Earth Day activities, but the skills it enforces are relevant all year long. )
You can see what other Knockout games are included in addition to this one here.
The bottom line is: Earth Day doesn't have to pass you by this year. In fact, I recommend seeing how you can make your entire month about Earth Day–if not the year. After all, it's the only Earth we'll ever have. Make sure to bookmark this post so you have Earth Day activities on hand from here on out. Your future self (and the earth) will thank you!