Lesson plans and books about Earth Day to get any grade level to celebrate the wonderful planet that we live on and discuss ways that we can keep it clean, healthy, and harmonious with all living beings.
Earth Day Books for Pre-K through 3rd grade
Nibi’s Water Song by Sunshine Tenascoe
This is a new book that deals with the need for clean water. In the story, Nibi goes from home to home searching for clean water, until she mobilizes her entire community to fight for clean water resources. There is a repetitive part in the book about needing clean water, which inspired me to write a mini song that students can do at that point in the book. Here it is:
I have students accompany themselves on frame drums while singing this song. Then, I ask the following questions after we have read the book:
- Why is clean water important?
- How can we get clean water? What are some steps we can take to have a cleaner water supply?
Once students have learned the song, I have them walk around in a circle playing the frame drums and singing the song and freezing at the end of each phrase. Ask a student for suggestions on a pose to freeze in. Continue until all students who wish to participate have had a turn.
The drumming and movement can be a gym class activity as well and can be used as a warmup or transition activity.
Pout Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean by Deborah Diesen
There are many books in the Pout Pout Fish series but this one deals specifically with cleaning up the ocean. I love the rhyming text that students can keep the steady beat to while listening. In addition, I have created lyrics that can be sung or chanted at a specific point in the book. Here they are:
This can be chanted or sung. Here is the song version of this tune:
Teach the chanted or sung version to your students first. Once students have learned this, have them sing it after every time you come across the quote in the book that says “A big…big…mess”.
After you have finished this, students can talk about what it means to reuse, reduce, recycle and depending on their ages, complete the following worksheet which can be done in science class as an extension of this lesson.
Earth Day Books for Grades 3 – 6
Drum City by Thea Guidone
I love this book because it shows children that musical instruments can be made out of anything, including many household objects. I love to read this to my students while giving them an instrument to drum on in school. If my students are virtual, I often have them find something to drum on at home, which makes this book a great read for a virtual lesson. When we read the word “drum”, I have the students drum and then gesture for them to stop and continue reading. Before reading the book here are some questions that I ask them:
What everyday objects can be used as drums?
What objects would make a drum louder or softer?
What other percussion instruments can you make out of household objects?
What objects cannot be used at all as instruments?
Once we finish the book, I would assign them to find a household object that is no longer needed by their parents which works as a drum, decorate it and create an instrument out of it.
As another extension activity, I would show them excerpts from the show “Stomp!” so that students can see this done in real life. This is my favorite:
Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood
This is a wonderful book that is the true story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay. It details the story of Ada Rios, a young girl who receives music lessons on a violin made out of recycled materials in her village of Cateura. The book details how this orchestra came to be under the direction of Fabio Chavez and how he got the idea to make instruments out of materials found in the trash. I follow this book up with a video about this orchestra so they can see the real Ada Rios, Fabio Chavez as well as other students at the school.
What I love about this book is that it segues perfectly into discussing how to create something out of nothing, which makes for a great integration between science and music. Here are some questions I love to ask the students:
- What are the instruments made of?
- Why is it necessary to have instruments made of recycled materials in that section of Paraguay?
- Do you have other observations about the way that these children live? What could learning music do for them in this kind of circumstance?
Then, I assign students to make their own instruments at home. I provide Youtube videos for them to watch for ideas. Here is a list of potential videos to watch:
Students can make their own instruments and design them in art class as an extension activity. Or students can make instruments in science class by exploring various sonorities made by objects. For example, if one is building a string instrument, they can experiment with a tissue box and rubber bands, and see what length of rubber bands they would need to make a sound, all perfect activities for a science classroom!
Hope these ideas can help you celebrate Earth month creatively!
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