Happy Earth Day! I couldn’t wait to share these 10 Earth Day read-alouds and activities that your class will love with you! Let’s kick off this day of loving on our magnificent planet with Earth Day read-alouds and activities that will remind us of how delicate our Earth is and how greatly she depends on us to keep her well. Can you believe that we are having been celebrating this holiday since 1970? Earth Day is one of those holidays that is smaller in stature but is so greatly needed.
It seems like every day when I leave my home I encounter another area where they are cutting down trees and putting more restaurants and buildings. And I don’t just mean a handful of trees. Sadly, I am talking about an entire forest! The Lorax would cry himself to sleep if he could see what is happening! More than ever, we need to rally around our sweet Earth and teach our children how to nurture her. These 10 Earth Day read-alouds and activities may be just the support that Mother Earth needs.
Earth Day Read-Alouds and Activities
- Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty
You might recall how obsessed I am with Stacy McAnulty! She is the author of two of my all-time favorite children’s books- Beautiful and Brave. Her writing is great and she seems to always choose the BEST illustrators to bring her words to life.
2. Earth Day Dirt Cups
These are an oldie but a forever-goodie! They may take a little extra work to make, but they are so fun and the kids absolutely love them.
Ingredients that you will need:
- box of instant chocolate pudding
- family-size package of Oreo cookies
- tub(s) of Cool Whip
- clear plastic cups (smaller cup size)
- Gummy Worms
- a rolling pin or something to crush the Oreo cookies with
This part me be a little trial and error because I have never made them for a class of students. I don’t know the exact amounts of each. But, I do think that it will be fairly easy to figure out as you go. In essence, you will layer the “mud” (pudding) and “dirt” (crushed cookies). Then, place 3-4 Gummy Worms on top. Yum! This might be the tastiest of the 10 Earth Day read-alouds and activities!
Teacher tip: Make a few extra cups- for yourself! I can eat 2 or 3 of these myself.
3. What a Waste by Jess French
This is a Nonfiction text that has text features that you have/will teach your class about. It’s engaging and filled with facts and photographs that will keep your students’ attention. I love that different types of waste are shared through this text. You could teach one to a few topics throughout the day. It’s illustrations and simplified explanations make this book a wonderful fit to teach more about protecting the Earth.
4. Earth Day Recycled Crayons
This might just be the answer to THE question of what to do with those small, broken, dull-pointed crayons. I always feel so guilty throwing them away. I’ll try to give them away to my students and everything. To make it less taxing, grab your sweet littles and invite them to peel the paper off of the crayons.
Now, this is an activity that the students can’t quite help you with, but it’s a real-life experience with recycling. Also, you can allow your students to explore their new-again crayons on recycled paper. Pull out all of those corners and leftovers and let them go to town. How fun would it be to have Earth tone crayons, land and water colored crayons, and shades of _______ (purples, reds, etc…) crayons? Out of all of the Earth Day read-alouds and activities, your kids might be most excited about this one!
Items you will need:
- broken/old crayons
- a metal muffin pan
- cupcake liners
Making your crayons:
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees
- break the crayons into smaller pieces
- 6-8 (give or take) pieces should work well
- line the metal muffin pan with the cupcake liners
- place the crayon fragments into the muffin pan
- put the pan into the oven
- watch the crayons throughout the process
- remove the crayons from the oven once they have melted
- set the crayons aside to cool and solidify
Can you just see your sweet students’ faces when they see their “new crayons”?
5 More Earth Day Read-Alouds and Activities
5. Learn about Water Pollution and the Importance of Keeping Our Water Supply Clean
I was going to right a little introduction but found that this website, One Time Through, did a very detailed post about this topic. Your students will really enjoy the information and activities that are shared. This is absolutely one of the Earth Day activities that students will happily dive in to.
Fair warning- a portion of one of the activities that they share may be a big undertaking. Consider asking another teacher (like one of the Enrichment/Gifted Teachers) to help with setting this up. An Instructional Coach or anyone that just loves to teach Science may be just who you need. This came to mind because our current Gifted teacher used to teach 5th Grade Science and he would just jump all over a project like this!
6. Earth Day Black Glue Craft
I found this idea on the Messy Little Monster website. You can click here to see this really cute creativity for your kids. Black glue? It’s cool and super easy to make. They will create a craft of the Earth, using the black glue to outline each section. How fun and it’s really pretty, too!
7. STEM/STEAM Mystery Bags
Take all of those items that you have been saving for the recycle bin, divvy them up into brown paper bags, and give your students a challenge task cards. I found these cards on the Buggy and Buddy website. You can challenge them to use the mystery materials in their bags to create the items described on their task card. Here is a link to the cards. If you want to make it even more simple, grab an index card or sticky note and write down an object for students to create (eg. a bridge, a chair, a fence…).
8. The Earth and I by Frank Ash
This sweet story has a way of speaking about our relationship with the Earth. Providing a sense of connection will really help students buy-in (even more) to the thought that they truly have the power to protect and preserve our beautiful planet.
With this text being created with these lovely watercolors, you could have students use watercolors to create a painting about how they interact with Mother Earth. Using recycled paper would make this even more Earth-friendly.
9. Take a Virtual Tour of a National Park!
I love nature. She is beautiful, breath-taking, and awe-inspiring. Technology has made it so that places that were once out of reach are completely accessible. Showing children the glory of our Earth will definitely take us that much closer to building their desire to protect and preserve her.
Visit this link, Virtual Tours- Yellowstone National Park, to see short, virtual videos of different parks.
Google Arts & Culture is another magnificent site!
10. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Honestly, I would be remiss if I did not include this book on the list. I wrestled with including this story because you know how important cultural diversity and inclusion are to me. You likely also know that this author did not embrace these beliefs within himself or within his stories. Yet, the Lorax is a story that teaches this concept in a way that simply sticks to your heart and mind. It teaches the lesson well and your students won’t soon forget it!
Bonus Earth Day Read-Alouds and Activities
Create Earth Day Tree Treats
- pretzel sticks (one per student)
- small to medium sized marshmallows (one per student)
- Oreo cookies (Family Size package)
- An object to crush the cookies
- green cupcake holders/liners (If you get the metallic/tin liners, they will be sturdier and more able to hold up your trees.)
- green, sugar sprinkles or food coloring
Creating Your Earth Day Trees
- Crush the Oreo Cookies (You will have to gauge how many you need for the number of students that you have.)
- Place the crushed cookies in the bottom of the cupcake liners. You can fill the liner almost to the top.
- Take a marshmallow and dip into it some water (You just want to dampen it so that the sprinkles stick.)
- Dip the moist marshmallow into the green sprinkles. If you don’t want to use sprinkles, you can use food coloring to dye the marshmallows green.
- Place the marshmallow onto the pretzel stick. Then, place the other end of the pretzel into the “dirt” (crushed Oreo cookies).
- What Does It Mean to be Green?: A Picture Book About Making Eco-Friendly Choices and Saving the Planet by Rana Diorio
- My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan
- Learn More About Solar Energy
- Challenge students and their families to join our efforts right in their community: Can you recycle?Create a compost at home? Pick up trash (while wearing gloves or with a tool) that you see lying around?
Bonus Earth Day Resources
I have a few resources in my store that you and your students may enjoy! These are bonus Earth Day
- Earth Day ABC Order and Vocabulary Match Freebie
- NonFiction Reading Comprehension Passages: Love the Earth Edition (Appropriate for Second to Third Grade)
- Earth Day Skip Counting Puzzles (Appropriate for K to First Grade)
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