Teachers can help organize school projects to help students learn the importance of respecting the earth's natural resources. Stress the idea that every effort to help save the earth matters and participation is important. You might incorporate "saving the earth" school projects into your science, math or social studies curricula so students can learn about environmental awareness as they actively support green efforts at school. Projects should focus on conservation, recycling and stewardship.
Water Conservation Week
Encourage students to be good stewards of the earth's natural resources by hosting a water conservation week. Older students can analyze how water is wasted in drinking fountains by researching how much goes down the drain without being consumed. Younger students can observe drinking fountain waste, such as individuals who hold the button long before they actually start drinking or play in the water. Announce that your class will be sponsoring a "no drinking fountain" policy for one week and instruct them to bring empty, clean plastic water bottles or lidded cups to school every day. You must have pitchers of clean tap water available and clean cups for those who might forget to bring them. Involve the entire school by asking your students to create water conservation posters to hang above every drinking fountain at school.
Classroom Energy Audit
Organize an energy audit so students can assess how resources are being wasted at school. Older students can research how much energy is needed to heat or cool the cubic space in a classroom or the gymnasium and how they might conserve energy by turning off the lights when the room isn't in use. Or, they can research the benefits of turning off all classroom and library computers and lowering the room temperature at night. Younger students can brainstorm ways to prevent drafts around windows and reduce paper waste. Have your students create end-of-the-day checklists to hang around the school, reminding students and staff of important energy-saving tips. You might host a "lights off" hour once a week to raise awareness, recommends Tree Hugger, a leading media outlet dedicated to sustainability. Encourage your students to follow the same practices at home.
Reusability and Thrift Store Donations
Host a donation drive to support a local thrift store. Ask older students to research how reusability -- clothing, furniture, appliances and electronics -- reduces waste. Help them create a flier to give to all students and staff to gain school-wide support for the donation drive. Encourage students to sort through their desks, backpacks and rooms at home for quality items they no longer want or need, such as clothing or toys they've outgrown. Send a note home to parents or include the event in your school newsletter so everyone is aware of your "saving the earth" donation project. Have your class sort the items into categories and box them up. Instruct your students to write short letters -- addressed to the organization that's receiving the donations -- expressing their support of thrift stores as a valuable way to avoid waste while helping others in need. You might ask older students to help deliver the donations and letters and report back the organization's appreciative response.
Tree Planting Ceremony
Organize a tree-planting project at your school -- a small bush will work if you don't have the funds or the space for a tree. Students can research the amount of oxygen a single tree produces and how it contributes to the well-being of humans and the environment. They also can examine how trees planted near classroom windows provide needed shade, especially in warmer climates, aiding in energy conservation. Discuss the tree-planting project with your principal to secure a location that's well-suited to the needs of the school. Instruct students to wear work gloves and casual clothes on planting day. If you're planting a large tree, ask the outdoor maintenance staff if they'll help you dig the hole and secure the tree in advance. Have the entire school vote on a name for the tree. Ask students in your class to write a poem about the experience to read during a school-wide, informal tree dedication ceremony.
- Keeping Our Earth Green; Nancy F. Castaldo
- Briargrove Elementary PTO: Kids for Saving Earth
- Education World: Reduce Waste, Recycle, and Teach Green Habits in One Fell Swoop
- 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth: Kids Can Save the Earth
- Tree Hugger: How to Bring Green Into the Classroom
- Environmental Protection Agency: Students -- Project Ideas and Activities
- Andres Arango/Demand Media