Environment & Conservation: Your Earth Day Lesson Plan
The Classroom

Environment & Conservation: Your Earth Day Lesson Plan

Newsela Editorial
Apr 8, 2024

Created in 1970, we celebrate Earth Day each year on April 22 as a way to remind people to support the planet and protect our environment from harmful habits, behaviors, and patterns like pollution and climate change. We’ve curated a collection of videos, articles, and other interactive activities to help you create an Earth Day lesson plan to teach students the value of saving and caring for their planet:

Science lessons for Earth Day

Share the importance of Earth Day with your students all month long using Newsela’s Earth Month science lessons:

Earth Day, April 22

Though it’s been around for over 50 years, students may not know the history and significance of Earth Day. Give them an introduction to this climate-conscious holiday by:

  • Sharing an interactive video or article about the origins of Earth Day and discovering why people went “climate crazy” in the 1970s.

  • Busting five myths about recycling, like the idea that products made of more than one kind of material can’t be recycled.

  • Discovering ways to rebuild and repair lost soils in urban communities and how doing so can protect a healthy ecosystem for the planet.

Environmental issues on Earth

Earth Day and Earth Month are the perfect times to focus on environmental issues in the classroom. Use these text sets to teach your students about the beauty on Earth and the most important threats our planet faces today:

Our amazing Earth

Before we can save the Earth, we need to understand what it’s made of. Use this lesson to explore the wonders of Earth, the beauty of nature, and the ecosystems that sustain life as we know it:

  • Use infographics to explore facts about the Earth, such as its water distribution, biomes, and spheres.

  • Discover what natural resources are and what we can do to protect them.

  • Learn more about ecosystems and how different ones help carry out different functions of life on Earth.

Environmentalism and conservation

Environmentalism and conservation are two important words we bring up during Earth Month. Do students really know what they mean? Provide more information about these two topics and the scientists that research them with resources like:

  • Discover how cities dimming their lights at night could make it safer for birds to fly in urban areas.

  • See how building wooden skyscrapers in cities could make them more sustainable.

  • Learn about “stealth microplastics” that pollute the oceans, and what students can do to avoid them.

The solution to pollution

Reducing pollution can play a big role in helping to save the planet. Help students learn what pollution is and where we see some of the most pollution on Earth:

  • Discuss how life-saving tools during the COVID-19 pandemic, like disposable masks and gloves, led to an increase in pollution.

  • Consider if reusable plastic bottles are safe by reading about how they release pollutants into water.

  • Think about pollutants outside of Earth and discover how to keep outer space clean.

Snack attack! Packaging and our planet

Packaging is one of the biggest culprits of pollution on our planet. Get students thinking about how their favorite foods could be hurting the environment by:

  • Exploring how Pringles cans are one of the most difficult snack packages to recycle and what inventors are doing to stop them from filling landfills.

  • Reading about some of the biggest snack brand plastic polluters like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and what environmentalists have to say about their business practices.

  • Discovering which pollutants you’re most likely to find on the beach, like plastic food wrappers.

Renewable and nonrenewable energy 

We use energy every day to power our buildings, our transportation, and our bodies! Teach your students about two different kinds of energy, renewable and nonrenewable, and what they mean for our planet:

  • Explore what renewable energy is and the types that exist in our world, like solar energy and wind energy.

  • Compare renewable energy sources to nonrenewable energy sources like coal and natural gas, and why these types of energy can hurt the environment.

  • Learn fun facts about energy and debunk some myths about energy conservation, like learning if it’s always necessary to turn off the lights when you leave a room.

Exploring data about the Earth 

STEM teachers know your experiments are only as good as your data. Give students the data they need to understand the state of our Planet so they can come up with innovative ways to save it:

Air pollution

Land and water aren’t the only parts of the planet that can get polluted. Use data to show students how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors air quality across the United States:

  • Read an article to explore the effects of air pollution on the planet and our health, too.

  • Use drag-and-drop cards to compare levels of different pollutants in the air like Carbon Dioxide and Ozone from 1980 to 2015.

  • Explore different types of charts and graphs, like pie charts and line graphs, to compare how air pollution changed based on the population of the world from 1980 to 2015.

Plastic waste

What’s wrong with plastics? Use data to teach your students about plastic waste and recycling in the United States:

  • Drag-and-drop data cards to compare the number of plastic bottles sold in the United States to those recycled from 1995 to 2018.

  • Explore the same data about plastic bottles by viewing them as dot, line, or bar graphs.

  • Discover why the movement to ban single-use plastic straws and silverware has been successful in some parts of the world and a challenge in others.

People and planet Earth

Earth Day is a reminder to all of us that we are responsible for preserving Earth and its resources for generations to come. Use these science lessons to get your students thinking about the role humans play in keeping the earth clean and healthy:

Our changing planet

Earth changes every day. Some changes happen naturally and others are the result of people and their actions. Help students consider how we affect the state of the planet by:

  • Watching an interactive video about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and why it exists.

  • Reading about how artificial light across Earth creates light pollution and disrupts things like sleep cycles and stargazing.

  • Discovering how snow in the Arctic includes small plastic particles, even though many people don’t visit the Arctic each year.


What does environmental sustainability mean? Introduce your students to the concept of preserving resources for future generations with resources like:

  • A video to share three safe ways to fight climate change, like encouraging seaweed growth in the oceans to fight CO2 pollution.

  • An article that explores the different types of materials you can recycle, and why you should do it.

  • An article that explores the different ways to live a sustainable lifestyle, like becoming a vegetarian or cutting down on long-distance travel, and exploring if these are realistic ways to save the planet.

Activists and Earth heroes

Anyone can be an environmental activist. Teach students about the people working to save our planet every day:

  • Learn about the concept of citizen science and how involving the general public in research can help battle climate change.

  • Read a variety of articles about students working to fight and live with climate change with inventions that monitor global temperatures, wind, and shrinking glaciers.

  • Discover why Indigenous people have a strong connection to environmental activism and what certain groups are doing to bring awareness to environmental issues.

Shadow a scientist: Glaciologist

Help students discover jobs that work to save the planet every day. Explore the job of a Glaciologist to learn:

  • What glaciers are and how they flow from place to place.

  • What areas of the world have the most glaciers, like Antarctica, and if they’re always white, or if they can also be blue or green.

  • If glaciers have also existed on other planets, like Mars, and what the absence of them on those planets now could mean for Earth’s future.

Seasonal STEAM activities: Earth Day seed balls

One STEAM activity can help save the earth! Explore how to make Earth Day seed balls with your class:

  • Build background knowledge for the activity by exploring plant anatomy and how seeds grow into different types of plants.

  • Create biodegradable seed balls that look like Earth with water, recycled blue and green colored paper, and seeds of your choice.

  • Encourage students to plant the seed balls in their communities, or coordinate with your school to find a place to plant them on school grounds and start a school garden.

ELA resources for Earth Day

Science class isn’t the only place students can celebrate Earth Day. You can add even more themed activities to your ELA classes with Newsela ELA:

Earth Day debates

Make your students take a stand and pick a stance by adding some Earth Day debates to the classroom. Some topics you can cover include:

Hold an in-class debate on these topics or encourage students to share their ideas with a piece of argumentative writing.

ELA in the real world: Communication skills inspire activism

Can students inspire change if they speak up about things they believe in? Help students consider what it means to be an activist by exploring a real-world activist situation:

  • Read about 11-year-old climate activist Licypriya Kangujam and how she used social media to start a campaign to make people listen.

  • Read about 24-year-old climate activist Vanessa Nakate and how her experience at the Youth4Climate meeting helped draft a document for the 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties.

  • Compare the two articles and discuss how each activist used a different form of communication to make their thoughts and ideas heard.

Earth Day poetry

Discover how poets talk about the world around us with poems specifically for Earth Day, like:

  • Earth’s Rhythms” by Victor Malesky

  • Earth Changing” by Kaitlyn Schlipf

  • Earth” by Avery Fisher

April is also National Poetry Month, so extend your Earth Day poetry lesson by inviting students to write their own poems about the Earth or climate change using these selections as a model.

Earth Day novel and book studies

Add novel and book studies that include articles, videos, and activities about Earth Day and environmentalism to your lesson plans. Build background knowledge about the planet and its creatures to pair with books like:

There’s more to explore with Newsela

Earth Day comes once a year, but teaching students about our planet, the environment, and conservation happens every day. With Newsela Science, you can explore these and other great resources any time during the school year. Not a Newsela Science customer yet? Sign up for Newsela Lite to explore premium differentiated content, engaging formative assessments, and real-time data. Plus, as a Newsela Lite member, you can sign up for a free trial of Newsela’s premium products to try them out!

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