Earth Day Literacy and Scattergories

 How do you help your students learn about Earth Day?  In our classrooms we love to use picture books as often as we can, and Earth Day has so many books that will help get your students thinking about taking care of our planet!  We'll share two with you—AND we have a free resource to share, too!

First up - a FREE resource for you to use right now!  Our kids love playing Scattergories!  It is a fun word game that challenges students' vocabulary and thinking skills!  Grab your Earth Day Scattergories freebie by clicking here!

Now for the literacy activities!  We usually start by reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and follow up with the art activity shown below.

This simple yet powerful tale involves a boy and a tree, and follows their relationship as the boy grows up and has wants that outgrow his beloved tree.  

After reading about how giving the tree is with the boy in this classic picture book, we have some conversations about how we are giving with others, and how others are giving with us.  Students trace their hands and arm to create the tree trunk and branches, and then they add heart shaped leaves on which the write several ways they are giving.

Each one is a "work of heart," especially when we add in a few red hearts on which students share the names people who are giving with them.

Another wonderful book to get your Earth Day conversation started is Chris Van Allsburg's Just a Dream.  Walter, the main character in this haunting tale, isn't very interested in being a good steward of our planet, until a "dream" gives him some insight into just how humans are impacting the future of our planet (and ourselves).  The artwork in this book will have your students begging to examine the illustrations up close.  We like to do the book as a read-aloud first, but then you'll want to read it again and mirror the pictures using a document camera or iPad (we use our Hue document camera) so the students can see and discuss the memorable illustrations.

This book is perfect for working with any of a wide variety of comprehension skills after reading this book.

  • Your students will have much to consider if your focus is character traits. You could compare and contrast Walter at the beginning of the story with the new Walter at the conclusion of the tale.  
  • If sequence is the skill you're working on, have your students create a timeline to chronicle the events of the story.  
  • If you're working on inference, combine inferencing practice with a writing mini-lesson on "Show, Don't Tell."  Read the page with Walter eating his jelly donut and focus on his actions in this one tiny moment of the book.  Discuss what we learn about Walter based on his actions (inference) and draw particular attention to how we know this about him, and guide students to find the language the author uses to show us a glimpse of Walter's character.  Now have students practice writing their own tiny snippet to show/don't tell their own glimpse of a character they've read or written about.  Students might write about Walter and show/don't tell how he's changed by adding on the the ending of the original story.
Be sure to leave us a comment to let us know what classroom activities you use for Earth Day!

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