Earth Day and Endangered Animals

Happy Sunday! This month has been all about spring and Earth Day in my classroom. I have a few favorite books for Earth Day that I love to read, and some go-to activities that I pull out every year. We are usually not in school on Earth Day (spring break!) so I do most of my Earth Day activities the week before.

Earthdance, by Joanne Ryder is one of my favorite books for Earth Day. It's the perfect book for a read aloud and to work on visualizing. I like to read it out loud first, showing the pictures, then read it again, asking students to draw what they see. We point out the use of strong verbs, similes and figurative language. After we've read it a couple time, I put on some piano-type music and read it again - this time having students move to the words. They start small, growing with the text. We talk about how the word choice helps us to know exactly how to move. I also encourage my kiddos to draw and write about what they "see" when they hear the words and phrases.

My kiddos this year have been OBSESSED with animals of every kind. Second graders usually do like animals, but these guys have taken it to a whole new level. I knew that I needed to pull out some endangered animal texts this time around. A great one to use is Almost Gone, by Steve Jenkins (from the Let's Read and Find Out series). There is information about all kinds of endangered animals, from ones my kiddos already know, to some unusual animals they might not be familiar with.

I use this opportunity to build on their interests by doing a "walk the room" search for different animals. I have 8 different endangered animal fact pages around the room. Students need to search the room to find them, and use the text to answer the question hanging nearby. Again, some of these animals are familiar, and some are a bit different.

After our animal research has been done, we sit down and talk about what we've learned. I created a flip book for them to use to highlight interesting information abut each animal. Before completing the flip book, we work together to complete a chart synthesizing information from all the animals. I divide my kiddos into groups, making each group an "expert" about an animal from the fact cards. This way, everyone contributes.
Besides endangered animals, I also like to make sure my students understand that everyday activities are important in taking care of the earth - it's not just Earth Day for one day! We read Earth Day Every Day, by Lisa Bullard to get a brief understanding of what Earth Day is and how we can make a difference. Then we brainstorm all the ways we can think of to help the earth. I like to use Miss DeCarbo's Earth Day resource for this. It's a great way to use QR codes to find information and we use what we have learned to write about ways we can be planet protectors.

Finally, I always make sure to find out a little more about my kiddos with a "Find a Friend" activity. This is perfect for starting a lesson or a quick activity at the end of the day. Each student has a copy of the grid and walks around trying to find the names of other students who do the things listed.
You can grab a copy of the Find-a-Friend activity and the Earthdance sheet by clicking HERE (or on the images above. The endangered animals resource is in my store - click HERE to check it out.)

Earth Day is every day, and this is the perfect time to get kids interested in what they can do to help protect the earth. What are some of your favorite Earth Day activities?

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