Sharing the Planet & Earth Day

This is one of my favorite units of inquiry.  Sharing the Planet has a strong focus on our footprint, taking action, recycling, animal characteristics, and respect for living organisms.  I am going to share some of my favorites from this unit, along with lots of freebies to accompany the lessons.  

The first activity I love to use is a fun home-school connecting activity to jumpstart the unit.  The trash or treasure project is a great way to teach recycling with a focus on the importance of reusing.  The amount of products we waste as a society is insane and we dig deeper into this when we learn about our cities' landfill and how much of the trash we throw away is actually recyclable materials. My kiddos got super creative this year and created birdfeeders, binoculars, piggy banks, and pencil holders.  I always love to see what their imaginations can create. 

You can snag a copy of this parent letter to send home here.

The second activity that always makes a huge impact and sparks lots of interest is our sea turtle experience.  Did you know that only one turtle from the nest will make it to full maturity? They have so many obstacles, both natural and human causes that get in their way. We start of the lesson with a read-aloud, Turtle, Turtle Watch Out! I love this book because it gives a lot of examples throughout the story that makes the turtle's life difficult. After reading, the students are shown a pretend turtle next using sand and plastic Easter eggs.  Inside each egg is the fate of their hatchling. The kids take turns one-by-one opening up their eggs and all but one will not survive.  They have decided if their death was from natural causes (a shark ate you for a meal) or human causes (a little boy thought you would be a cool pet and decided to keep you). This is ALWAYS a class favorite! 

You can snag the printable card for the eggs here

Another activity that is a fun exploration is our inquiry into compost.  Many of our kids do not know what compost is, so this is always a great lesson.  I bring in a big compost bin and have the students come up a few at a time to take a peek inside.  They notice the smell right away, rotten food, worms, and more.  They return to their seats and complete a simple see, think, wonder page similar to this one. 

Afterward, we share out our wonders and noticing and then we go to PBS Kids and Watch an episode of Elinor Wonder Why.  If you have never used these episodes and teaching materials you are missing out! They are a must and so easy to follow.  This is the one I use and it has links to all the materials and pdf needed. 

We complete a student-created anchor chart to share what compost is through drawing and definition.  This hangs in our room as a reference and we create these for other words throughout the unit.  You can snag the anchor labels that can be used for any vocabulary words here
Another great read-aloud I use to accompany this is Save the Scraps.  This is an easy read with great illustrations.  You can snag it on Amazon here

Stay tuned for more activities next week. Our focus will be on living organisms and animal characteristics. Can't wait to share all the learning with you!


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