Thursday, April 24, 2014

Adventures in Earth Day

One of the best things about working with children as an SLP is the unlimited supply of themes. You can find a theme to address just about anything you want in a way that will motivate children. This year is the first that I have tried my hand at Earth Day. I guess that makes me really bad, but it's one theme that had me really intimidated as the teachers at my school tend to be really creative with this one. I decided to keep my lessons simple. 

My formula for tackling Earth Day

1) Brain Pop Jr. video clips. I showed all of my students the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle episode. The older ones also watched the clip on Natural Resources

2) Trash vs. Recycle. In the video clip, Moby and Annie talk about the things you can put into a recycling bin. My room is blessed with a recycling bin and trash can. We talked about the difference of how the two look (mostly the recycle symbol) and how they are used in the classrooms around my school. My students really got a good kick out of me waving around the two bins as I talked. Once we were clear on what we use them for at school, I took out my Jeepers Peepers cards for some sorting practice. My students had to hold the card over the bin that they would the actual object. (You could use pictures of the two bins instead.) I was very impressed by how quickly they picked up on the paper, plastic, metal concept. 

3) Multi-sensory "field trip" for Natural Resources- I pulled out the EET and we went outside to talk about what we saw. The big theme of the day was identifying materials that are natural vs. human made for our Green Group. My 3-5th grade groups went through the entire EET to describe the objects that we saw. My 1-2nd groups focused mostly on the first 4 strands. Sometimes we could even compare two of the things like grass vs. sidewalk. My students really loved being outside and it really contextualized this concept in a way that pictures can't.

4) Earth Talk- I won a set of Earth Talk cards at the NCSHLA convention. This was what initially propelled me to tackle Earth Day this year. This set does a wonderful job of targeting language goals. Every card asks for the main idea and open ended questions. The harder level cards also work on wh- questions. I stuck with the easier level after realizing that the harder level perplexed my older students. I think the second level is probably better for middle school students. Either way, my students really enjoyed learning the new vocabulary words. I would suggest showing students actual pictures of some of the things mentioned in the cards because the illustrations don't always match up. (There's nothing bad about the illustrations in this deck. I did activities with just those as well, but it's hard to draw a really good picture of air pollution.) If you are really passionate about using an Earth Day theme, these aren't a bad investment.

The best part of this adventure was seeing the smiles. I was worried for nothing. I love that children can appreciate the simple things just as well as the fancy ones. April 22, 2015 better be ready for lots of Earth Day fun.


  1. Something I like to do is teach the vocabulary- reduce/reuse/recycle. They can come up with ideas and write a sentence for each one. Then they make an individual or group poster (with the recycle symbol) and write a sentence on each arrow. These words are also good for speech (for /r/ or /s/ kids!). Another idea is a scavenger hunt to find the recycle symbol on different items. We even found it on the bottom of our hand sanitizer bottle! Target bags are great because they have a list on the side of their bags with 10 ideas to reuse them!

    1. Those are great ideas! Thank you for sharing. I'll definitely have to try the scavenger hunt. My students LOVE them.