Go Green in Your Classroom: 16 Resources for Environmental Lessons

Take a walk through the woods or spend an evening soaking up the sight of the night sky. Planet Earth is chock full of gorgeous things, but the functionality of the planet depends on complex ecosystems that are suffering because of mankind’s abuse. How can you help your students love the environment and inspire them to contribute to building a sustainable, clean future for the planet? The following resources may fit the bill.

 

Resource Compilations and Lesson Plans to Get You Started

 

NASA Earth image

Image via Flickr by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

When you’re cultivating an interest in the environment, you battle a culture in which everything is disposable, even nonrenewable resources. One of the best weapons in that battle is a well-planned course that portrays the environment as more than just a background. The following resources contain a bounty of information and lesson plans that can serve as the right foundation for bringing the world to life for your students.

  • Earth Day rolls around every spring, but you don’t have to wait until the flowers bloom to use information about the holiday to get the ball rolling with your students. Edutopia provides a list of Earth Day lesson plans that connect to reading and science.
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s mission is to “protect human health and the environment.” As part of that mission, they compiled a list of teacher resources and lesson plans from both the EPA and external sources. Each lesson plan’s description contains a note about which grades it is best suited for.
  • Sustainable practices are the key to a cleaner future for the solar system’s green and blue rock, and passing on a sustainability mindset to kids will improve the planet’s prospects. Teach For America offers a list of lesson plans for grades K-12 that put green in the limelight. A couple of the included lesson titles are “Water in the Desert” and “Seeking Environmental Justice.”
  • Science Fair on the horizon? Even if your school doesn’t host one, your class can, and your students can use these environmental science project ideas from Population Education. The list does not provide details on how to bring each project to life, so you and your pupils have an opportunity for further research.

Instill a Love of the Planet and Inspire Thought

Planet Inspire butterfly

Image via Flickr by woodleywonderworks

Pointing your students’ compasses in the direction of environmentalism involves more than just feeding them the facts. To give the subject real meaning, you should use vivid examples and thought-provoking media. The following resources can help you get started.

  • There is an app for that — even for teaching kids about sustainability and the environment. Mother Nature Network provides a list of five such apps that explore the wonders and the troubles of the planet. One app helps identify birds, another puts the spotlight on litter, and one lets kids explore underwater marvels.
  • Whether your classroom is flipped or traditional, videos are a useful tool for capturing attention. The sustainability videos from Sustainability Illustrated are short tidbits that explain things like the sustainability gap and the connection between science and good business.
  • Sure, talking about taking action to go green is great, but is it really practical? This article from Sustainable Cities Collective introduces Vauban, a neighborhood in Germany that is almost the beau idéal of sustainability. The piece discusses how Vauban came to be and how it so successfully avoids waste.
  • The third rock from the sun is downright cool, and helping your kids to see that can wake up their imaginations and deepen their appreciation for the planet. The World Counts presents fascinating facts about Earth. The site even has a live counter that shows how many hectares of forest have been burned or cut down so far this year.
  • If your students are mature enough to sit through an entire documentary, check out this list of green films. The topics covered include things like oil spills, pesticides, and animal exploitation.
  • Maybe documentaries do not fit your class’s attention span. Entertaining movies might be more the right speed. Earth’s Friends presents a list of movies that bring attention to how important it is to safeguard humankind’s home.
  • Environmental issues are an issue of the now, and showing that to your students can get them turned toward change. Science Daily’s Environmental Science News page covers the freshest stories related to humankind’s interaction with its surroundings.

Spur Your Students to Action

Showing your students that the planet is in trouble is one thing; showing them how to act to save it is another. The following resources will help you and your students adopt practices that put a smile on Mother Nature’s face.

  • Start by instilling a love of the outdoors in your students. This article from Edutopia presents some ideas for taking class outside. While the ideas are not all centered on the environment itself, the simple fact that you’re outdoors can make a big difference.
  • Go green in your classroom. Doing so will teach your students habits that will benefit them — and the planet — for the rest of their lives. TreeHugger offers some simple ideas for bringing green to your school, such as by starting a zero-waste policy and growing a garden.
  • High school students on the cusp of adulthood are in a prime position to influence the world to do better when it comes to taking care of the planet. Sustainability Degrees provides a guide on student activism that you can share with members of your class who show a special interest in promoting environmentally sound practices.
  • One of the best ways to teach kids about sustainability is by setting the example. Of course, you can go further by organizing a volunteer project for your class and making it fun. This piece from EcoWatch offers more advice on how to teach kids about smart, sustainable practices.

The world should be a playground, not a garbage dump. By teaching your students about the environment and helping them to act on its behalf, you contribute to a future that is fresh, clean, and beautiful.