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Educators Earthday Ideas from the LM_NET Library Listserve


  • We have had a book swap(recycling books) to celebrate Earth Day.
  • The junior high and high school had an all-afternoon clean-up day in town,too.If community members wanted their yards raked, minor painting, or the like, they called the school and groups were assigned to those projects.We also had "road crews" go and pick up trash in the local parks, along the highways, and the school.
  • We also had a mini-session day where community members would come in and talk about their project/interest for about 45-60 minutes two times a day. The students signed up for these sessions. Some of the sessions included wood carving, painting with feathers, making dream catchers, talking with nature writers, our local florist showed how to dry flowers and arrange them, and we had some students work on putting up a teepee that our science teacher had. I remember that the kindergarten and first graders would make pinecone birdfeeders where they'd take a pinecone, put some string through it at the top, put peanut butter on it and then roll it in birdseed. We'd have them put the feeder in a ziploc bag to transport it home.
  • We also had a mini-session day where community members would come in and talk about their project/interest for about 45-60 minutes two times a day. The students signed up for these sessions. Some of the sessions included wood carving, painting with feathers, making dream catchers, talking with nature writers, our local florist showed how to dry flowers and arrange them, and we had some students work on putting up a teepee that our science teacher had. I remember that the kindergarten and first graders would make pinecone birdfeeders where they'd take a pinecone, put some string through it at the top, put peanut butter on it and then roll it in birdseed. We'd have them put the feeder in a ziploc bag to transport it home.
  • We had a Zero Trash Day. Began the unit by reading The Wartville Wizard. Discussed recycling, etc. Students were challenged to pack lunches in re-usables, bring cloth napkins, etc. to generate the least amount of trash. Trash cans & lunch discards (non-compostables) were weighed, prizes going to the three rooms with the least amount of trash. Students & teachers really got into it. Another time we held a Water Olympics. Stations were set up in the gym with hands on activities to demonstrate the various properties of water. Classes visited throughout the day. We had activities from math , social studies & litelanguage arts, as well as science.



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School


Sponsor a Waste Free Lunch Day. First, measure and take pictures of the garbage produced at lunch on a typical day. Set a date during Earth Week for a waste free lunch day and encourage students to reduce the amount of trash they bring by using reusable canvass bags with reusable plastic containers and insulated juice jars. At the end of the day, measure and take pictures of the garbage, and report the results to the students. Students will see the difference they can make and hopefully they will change their usual brown-bagging habits.
Invite a speaker to your school to discuss environmental issues. Contact local environmental groups to find speakers willing to volunteer their time and speak to students during Earth Week. Then give teachers at your school the opportunity to select the speaker(s) that they feel would be most appropriate for their classes. Speakers can address a single classroom or a large, school-wide assembly.
Develop a wildlife habitat. A wildlife habitat is an area on or very near a school that is landscaped to provide food and shelter to wildlife. Wildlife habitats can range from simply planting flowers that attract butterflies (a butterfly garden) to creating a nature area in your school-yard by planting native trees and wildflowers. Projects such as these not only improve the environment but also provide a hands-on learning opportunity for the entire school.
Sponsor a junk art contest. Encourage students to be creative with items that they usually throw away. With trash from their homes and classrooms, students can create posters, sculptures, bird houses, games, puzzles, jewelry, puppets, etc. Display the art in the school during Earth Week and promote the importance of reusing items instead of throwing them away.
Get the Lead Out. Work with school officials to make your school environment as lead free as possible. Sources of lead inside a school include lead-based paint on walls and window frames and lead piping in the plumbing system. Check for chipping and peeling paint on playground equipment-this paint may contain lead and school officials should be aware of this hazard. For more information on lead, call the National Lead Information Center Hotline at (800) 532-3394


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Community


Create an Earth Week display. Ask for permission to set up displays during Earth Week in your local library, post office and/or town hall. In addition to providing information on the importance of a clean and safe environment, you can highlight and promote Earth Week events occurring in your school and community.
Recycle! If your community doesn't have a recycling program, work with the appropriate officials and agencies to start one. Even if a program exists, find out if there are recyclable materials that are not accepted by your community program. Your PTA can hold a "Recycled Saturday" where these materials are collected and then brought to a nearby community or recycling center that does accept them for recycling.
Hold a paint swap. Did you know that paint is considered a hazardous waste and shouldn't be thrown in the garbage or poured down the drain? During Earth Week, conduct a community paint exchange program for people to swap reusable, left-over paint. Old paint can also be donated to charity or theater groups in your community. Work with local hazardous waste officials to make sure that the paint is handled and disposed of properly.
Clean up your community. Spend a day during Earth Week cleaning up the beaches, parks, streams, and vacant lots in your community. Ask park officials if your PTA can assist with rebuilding signs, trails, and other areas that might need repair. You may even consider having your PTA adopt a area where you would clean it up on a regular basis throughout the year.
Conduct a "Green Wheel" day. Automobiles are one of the single biggest sources of air pollution. On a "Green Wheel" day, people are encouraged to use alternative means of transportation such as walking, bicycling, carpooling, and using mass transit. These measures can reduce air pollution and make your community a cleaner and safer place. A goal for a "Green Wheel" day could be to reduce the amount of cars in parking lots by 15 percent in your community.



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The EDF **Scorecard** http://www.scorecard.org/
site lets students enter their zip code and find out what pollutants are
being released into their community. Students also can learn about health
effects of chemical pollutants and send electronic mail or faxes to the
EPA or the companies causing the pollution.

**Environmental Education Lesson Plans**
http://www.stemworks.org/lessons.html#environment

Earth Day Resources
http://www.teachersfirst.com/earth_day.htm



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Great Sites for Teaching About ... Earth Day from Education World



**The Earth Day Groceries Project**
http://www.earthdaybags.org
Ask for brown paper grocery bags from a local supermarket, have your children decorate the bags with messages of ecological awareness, and then return the bags to the supermarket for use on Earth Day! This long-running online activity continues to grow each year. Civic involvement, environmental responsibility, and developmentally appropriate tasks all make this project a winner!

**Earth Day Network**
http://www.earthday.net
The Earth Day Network offers a comprehensive listing of Earth Day events, suggestions for Earth Day activities, discussions of environmental issues, and educational resources for parents and teachers. Volunteer! Change a habit! Send a "green" card! Teach a child! Visit one of the site's eco-friendly links.

**Planet Pals**
http://www.planetpals.com/earthday.html
PlanetPals provides lots of Earth Day arts and crafts activities and links to projects that elementary students can participate in as they prepare for and celebrate Earth Day. The site includes recycling and energy-saving tips and tricks. An environmental calendar lists other Earth related holidays and celebrations. Don't miss the four Earth Day recycling kits -- on recycling, pesticides, and saving energy -- ready to print out and use with your kids!

  • **Kid's Domain Earth Day Page**
    http://www.kidsdomain.com/holiday/earthday
    This awesome site provides Earth Day games, free downloads, cards, songs, activities, stories, crafts, recipes, and clip art. Click on PC Downloads for The Planet ARK Earth Disk, which includes an environmental dictionary, and Teaching Guides for a number of environmental topics. The "Adopt" a Rainforest Animal activity will help elementary students get involved by providing concrete examples of endangered species. The site also offers coloring books, word searches, and screensavers.
  • **Garbage: How Can My Community Reduce Waste?**
    http://www.learner.org/exhibits/garbage/intro.html
    This Annenberg/CPB Project exhibit explores the amount of solid waste, hazardous waste, and sewage people generate each day. The site includes discussion about possible solutions to the problem and a look at how people will deal with those problems in the future. Students may be shocked into action when they discover that they create 4 pounds of garbage every day!
  • **WWF International**
    http://www.panda.org/home.cfm
    This site, the online presence of the organization dedicated to protecting nature, offers information and resources about animals, plants, biomes, and Earth as a living macrocosm. The site is chock full of news and information, and the Cyberdodo/Just for Kidssection includes a Virtual Wildlife page that zooms in on animals and their habitats. The Canon Photo Gallery and Video Library combine to help make wildlife come to life for students.
  • **Earth Force**
    http://www.earthforce.org
    If you're looking for a way to spark activism in your students, this site may be just the ticket. Earth Force invites children to make a difference in the quality of the environment in their communities by making their communities "bike friendly," protecting rivers, and having a say in the upkeep of vacant lots and houses. Earth Force delivers the message that environmental responsibility begins at home.
  • **Earth History Resources**
    http://www.carlwozniak.com/earth/
    The photographs of dioramas, fossils, and models and computer-generated images and drawings at this site are designed for use in the development of either an Internet site or interactive multimedia project related to Earth history. Geologic Timelines is an exceptional tool for helping children link Earth's past with human history. The Mammoth Site, in South Dakota, is a virtual tour that helps students share in the amazement of physical archaeology.
  • **Earth's 911**
    http://www.earth911.org/master.asp
    If you want your students to "think globally but act locally," Earth's 911 is the site to see! Type in your ZIP code to find information about environmental programs, addresses for recycling facilities, and educational and news information -- right in your own backyard.

    Additional Earth Day Resources

    • Don't miss additional lessons, projects, resources, and more in Education World's Earth Day Archive.
    Article by Walter McKenzie
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2003 Education World
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