Celebrating Earth Day and the environment is a great way to bring students and teachers together, and discuss cause and effect. In my classroom I also use it as a way to challenge students as problem solvers, and to see the world through a new perspective. I start the day by asking them to define themselves . They often say things like I am a friend. I then ask them to put their name in the center of a circle and draw lines to create a web showing their relationships with others. I use my own personal relationships as an example. They are amazed to discover that they can quickly list 7-10 personal relationships. We then talk about how one action that they took would impact these people. We then do a little multiplication, and find out what this effect would be if there were 10 or 100 or 1000 people in their relationship web. That always helps students put this type of cause and effect relationship in perspective.
I also bring in a clear bowl and some pebbles, and have students drop a pebble into the water. We talk about ripple effects. With the recent tsunamis, students seem to understand this type of phenomena, and how one action, an earthquake, can set off a chain of events that impacts the whole world. We could then read a book such as “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss or the poem the “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. I discuss how authors often use the environment and the theme of giving to explore human nature and our relationship to the world around us. As a homework assignment, I ask students to look for small ways to make a difference. I am always amazed by the creativity of their ideas.
It is also a good idea to collaborate with other teachers in the school to find cross-curricular ways to cover Earth Day. For example, students could work on a research project on an endangered species, or create charts and graphs showing environmental information. These activities can reinforce learning and help students explore the forces impacting our environment at the same time. What follows are "The Lorax" lesson plans that can help students learn about environmental issues.
Lorax Lesson Plans:
Students read Dr. Seuss’s "The Lorax" and then discuss the story's message. They then examine recycling misconceptions and talk about how recycling effects the environment.
In this lesson, students unwittingly cause the extinction of a species of plants because they aren’t aware of certain conservation themes contained in Dr. Seuss’s book. They are asked to write a letter and illustrate. This is a good lesson plan because teachers are given an article with background information, and the website is clearly outlined and easy to follow.
Students read and analyze Dr. Seuss's story "The Lorax." They then study real-life events impacting the brown pelican and draw conclusions between the two. There are simple to follow instructions included for teachers.