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Earth Month Exploration: Environmental Education in Your Curriculum

6 projects that will expand young learner’s understanding of the world and its inhabitants

We are well into the swing of spring and this time of year often causes us to turn our attention and thinking to outdoor activities and learning. Educating young scholars about animals, habitats, life cycles and even how things work when it comes to the weather. Exploring our environment and how humans and animals interact and impact one another is something we are becoming more aware of and sharing how we can positively explore our world is something that will potentially help create a more successful future for our Earth. 

1. Insect Life Cycles

Life cycles are fascinating things to teach students. They love to learn how the process of how living creatures go through different forms of metamorphosis. This year in my class we highlighted life cycles of chickens, frogs and butterflies and my students loved to learn about butterflies the most. I got to thinking about how fun it would be to allow them to explore an insect like a dragonfly and then to create the insect and write facts on their wings. They could then present their facts to the class. For this project you would need your MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine you will also need to use Dragonfly #2 Die Cut. Cut out the dragonflies with white cardstock and let the students then paint their bugs. Once they are dried give them a sharpie or marker and allow them time to write 2-4 facts they learned while researching this insect. You could also expand this to having students explore other insects by using the Insects Die Cut set.

2. Up in the Clouds

Another fun thing for students to learn about new things about how the weather works. Research is a great way for students about how the world works while also promoting the use of technology. The Up in the Clouds activity is to have students explore facts about the world, how things happen in the weather and even how manmade items like planes, parachutes and hot air balloons are able to fly. Once again you will take out your  MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine and then you will need to use the Hot Air Balloon Die Cut and cut out different colors of cardstock. Your learners can write different facts about their research on the balloons and clouds. If your students are learning about how things are able to fly in the sky you can have them write the process on the balloon flaps. If you are wanting them to share different facts they are learning about in nature you can have them write 2-3 facts about their learning on the balloons. All of these options will allow kids to explore and share their understanding while also getting to create something of their own. They can decorate the balloons and clouds and you can assemble all of them into a 3-D mural to put on display as well.

3. Planting Knowledge 

This activity will get your young learners thinking through the impact and importance of planting more plant life and helping things grow as a way to improve the world around them. You can spend some time doing some read alouds, go on a nature walk and look at the different plant life, learn some new facts about how flowers don’t just look beautiful but they also are needed for other living things to survive. Once you have spent time learning about plants and flowers allow students to get hands-on experience by having them create their own. You will start with your  MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine and you will also need to use the Build A Flower Die Cut. You can use white or colored cardstock and then allow kids to color in their own designs or create their own using the colored paper. You can also have students label the parts of the plant. This will spark so much creativity in your students and also keep them talking about what they learned about plant life.

4. Celebrating the Seasons

Kids love talking about the different seasons that they get to experience. Sharing how the Earth cycles through the seasons is another great way to teach scholars about how our environment works and how living things adapt to things like weather and the length of sunlight in a day. For this extension craft you will need to get our your  MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine. Next you will need to have access to the Four Seasons Set Die Cut. Cut out a set of each for students, you can then have students write the first day of summer on the sun, the first day of fall on the leaf, the first day of winter on the snowflake and the first day of spring on the flower. Then pass out a piece of poster paper for each student, they will need to use a marker to create 4 equal rectangles on the paper. Then each child will need to paste a cut out on each of the four sections. They can then write facts about each season under their pasted symbols. 

5. Bee an Aware Citizen 

This is a super fun way to have students think about ways they can take care of the world around them. Young people have a special way of seeing that the world is something we are responsible for taking care of. So many times I have had students come up to me and share ways they saw an issue like litter near their home or on our playground and they helped to create a solution by clearing the trash, something that many adults would just walk right on past. For this project take some time to read a book about being environmentally responsible. Then give scholars time to talk with partners or in groups about ways they could work together to help make the Earth a better place. After they have brainstormed and had time to hear and share ideas with others they will now have examples of how they can be an aware citizen. To prepare you will need to use your MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine as well as use the Bee #3 Die Cut to cut out bee’s ahead of time. Pass out a bee to each student, give them time to decorate their bees and then they will write what they think is the best way for them to help make the world a better place and they will write what they can do either on the yellow lines or the wings of the bee. They can then share their plan or idea with the rest of the class as the wrap up for this project.

6. The Water Cycle 

The water cycle is something that is often introduced in the early primary grades. This activity will be a review of the water cycle. You will need paper plates, string, markers, and you will use the MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine and the Raindrop Die Cut. Before the activity you will cut the paper plates in half and also cut out 5 strings, 3 longer than the other 2. You will also need to cut out 5 raindrops for each student. Tie the strings to the plate and attach them to each of the drops. Pass out these supplies and allow students time to color their rainbows. They will then label the first drop “The Water Cycle,” then tell them to label the next drops as precipitation, evaporation, condensation and groundwater. On the back of each drop they will write a description of each of those elements of the cycle.   

These different activities and projects will create ways for students to explore the environment and ways they can understand, help and impact the world around them. These projects will inspire conversation and collaboration that can cause our scholars to become lifelong earth conscious citizens.

 

Written by Amy Pinegar.