The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
These discussion questions and activities teach students how humans create pollution, and its negative affect on our health and the planet’s health.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
Read the book, The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss and discuss the dangers of pollution to planet Earth and to human's personal health. Several activities are included so that you can pick and choose activities that best suit the needs of your students.
- Listen to the selected story to gather information to use in class discussion
- Participate in and contribute to class discussions
- Complete one or more of the suggested activities
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
- Student notebooks or loose leaf paper, pencils, glue, tape, crayons, markers, colored pencils, chart paper, construction paper
Set Up and Prepare
Have book and materials ready to use.
Step 1: Remind students of the things discussed in previous lessons about the environment, the importance of recycling and ways the land can get poisoned.
Step 2: Read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.
Step 3: Discuss some of the following questions using the Think-Pair-Share method.
- The Lorax says that the Once-ler is greedy. Greed is defined as a selfish desire for food, money, or possessions over and above what one needs. Can your student think of ways that the Once-ler proves his greed?
- The Once-ler says, "I biggered my money which everyone needs." Is it true that everyone needs money?
- How much money do people need?
- Is it right to make a ton of money while destroying the environment?
- Discuss the difference between a want and a need. Did people need Thneeds?
- What are some ways humans pollute the air? Fires, smoking, vehicle fumes (cars, airplanes, boats), household products (paint, aerosols, cleaners), wasting electricity
- What are some ways humans can care for the air? Riding a bike or walking to school, recycle, plant a tree, conserve energy, choose natural products.
- Discuss odors in the air around us. What are some smells you like and dislike? Are there certain odors that you associate with a place or event?
- Ask students "What is pollution?" Something in the environment that is harmful or poisonous. Discuss examples of pollution in The Lorax.
- Water Pollution: All the Gluppity-Glupp and all the Schloppity-Schlopp made by the machinery is being dumped into the pond. What happens to the fish when you put all of all of this pollution into the water? Can you think of some other problems this might cause? (no drinking water, no swimming)
- Air Pollution: The smogulous smoke being put in the air by the Thneed factory made the Lorax cough, whiff, sneeze, snuffle, snarggle, sniffle, and croak. The Swomee-Swans were no longer able to sing! The Lorax had to send the birds away to find some cleaner air to live in. Is air pollution only dangerous for birds? Where are our lungs? How do they work? Breathing dirty air damages our lungs and makes us sick.
Step 4: Have students complete some of the following activities alone and/or as a class:
- Dr. Seuss loved to make up his own words.Can your students write definitions for the following words from the story? Moof, gruvvulous, slupps, snergelly, rippulous, snargled, cruffulous, smogulous, biggering
- Throughout this story Dr. Seuss only lets us see parts of the Once-ler (his eyes and hands). Ask students what they imagine the rest of the Once-ler to look like? Brainstorm some ideas, and then have each student draw a picture of the Once-ler.
- List the ways we use water each day: brushing teeth, washing hands, drinking, taking a bath, washing the dishes, washing clothes, watering the garden or lawn, swimming etc. Discuss water conservation and some things we can do to conserve water? Don't take baths; a quick shower saves more water. Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Only wash full loads of clothes. Plant a yard with flowers, and plants that do not need a lot of water to grow.
- Conduct a quick demonstration to show how much water we waste when we don't shut off the faucet when brushing our teeth. Have a student brush their teeth while students fill up jug after jug of water they would use if the left the faucet running. Instead of wasting the water, have students carry their jugs of water outside to water your school garden.
- Discuss how to use less energy by making a list of household appliances that consume energy, such as a toaster, stove, microwave, blow dryer, blender, iron, television, dryer, air conditioner etc. Discuss what people did before these appliances were invented. Could students try some of these ways occasionally to help conserve energy?
- Ask students to brainstorm a list of nouns that relate to the environment and then brainstorm verbs that relate to those nouns. Verbs must end with -ing. Write several of the student's suggestions next to the nouns. Students then choose eight noun-verb pairs to write an 8-10 line Earth Day poem ending in a phrase such as "Save the Earth" or "We Love Our Planet." Print the poem out and give to each student to glue on a paper and illustrate. For example rivers rolling, trees swaying, skies sparkling, sun shining etc.
- Students work in groups to illustrate two large murals — one that shows a beautiful clean environment, and one that shows a dirty environment. Students can examine this issue in more depth by creating clean and dirty environments for air, land and water.
Supporting All Learners
All students are able to participate in class discussions and corresponding activities in corresponding to their level of understanding. Each student partners for think-pair-share and for post-reading discussion to listen to each other’s comments and ideas.
- Adopt a Spot: Promote having school classes adopt a section of the school to keep clean, plant plants, hang birdfeeders etc.
- Discuss noise pollution and distinguish between noises that can be controlled and those that cannot. What are pleasant noises that make you think of a healthy and clean environment? Have students illustrate pictures for each noise listed: ocean waves, morning birds, falling rain, whoosh of a Frisbee, crack of a bat, purr of a cat, whistle of the wind, silence of night, etc.
Discuss how pesticides, insecticides and household cleaners pollute the land air and water. Discuss alternatives to these chemicals and supply a list of natural alternatives for students to share with their parents.
This lesson provides activities to help students understand how humans create pollution, its negative affect on our health and the planet’s health. There are ideas for discussion and to share about how to care for our environment.
Any of the lessons suggested activities would create opportunities for authentic assessments on the concepts presented.