- 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
- Where Does The Garbage Go? by Paul Showers
- Chart paper or whiteboard and markers
For Optional Activities
- Student notebooks or loose leaf paper
- Glue or tape
- Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
- Construction paper
- Poster paper
Decide which, if any, of the optional activities you want students to complete during class time or for homework.
Step 1: Share some of the following facts with your students:
- April 22nd is Earth Day. It began in 1970 with the message "Give Earth a chance."
- Every ton of recycled paper saves about 17 trees.
- Recycling one glass jar saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt light bulb on for 4 hours.
- Water covers 3/4ths of the earth's surface, and almost all of it is salt water.
- People in the United States use an average of 70 gallons of water every day.
- We throw away an average of four pounds of garbage a day, per person, in the United States.
- Americans use about 80 billion aluminum cans a year.
Step 2: Explain each fact in more detail by using visuals to show what a ton of paper or 70 gallons of water or four pounds of garbage might look like.
Step 3: Ask students to explain to you what "recycling" means.
Step 4: Ask students if they recycle at school or at home.
Step 5: Have students speculate what happens to trash once it leaves the classroom or home.
Step 6: Read Where Does The Garbage Go? by Paul Showers aloud to the class.
Step 7: Have students discuss the following questions using the think-pair-share method:
- If we don't cut back on the amount of trash that we send to landfills, will we run out of places to dispose of our trash?
- What would we do then?
- How would you like to visit a landfill?
- What would it look and smell like?
- Do you think the earth, under all of that trash, is clean and healthy?
- What happens to trash in landfills?
- Write a list of excuses to NOT take out the trash.
- Write a poem story about a family who wouldn't take out the garbage. (Did it fill up the house?)
- Brainstorm a list of words that rhyme with the word "junk" (bunk, dunk, funk, gunk, hunk, punk, sunk, chipmunk, chunk, clunk, drunk, flunk, plunk, spunk, stunk, slunk, trunk, shrunk, etc.). Create a class rhyming book or challenge your student to try and think of a sentence using the word junk and one of the rhymes.
- Write acrostic poems for garbage, recycle, environment, and other environment-themed words.
- Brainstorm recycling slogans to write and illustrate on a poster. Examples: Protect Our Planet; Recycle Today!; Clean and Green; Going Green; Earth Protector; Waste Not, Want Not; Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute; One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure.
Supporting All Learners
All students are able to participate in class discussions and corresponding activities in corresponding to their level of understanding. Each student also had a partner to think-pair-share for post-reading discussion. During think-pair-share, each student has time to share and to listen to each other's comments and ideas.
- Consider visiting a community landfill or invite a guest speaker from a waste management company to talk about the importance of recycling.
- Share one or more of the following books with your students:
- Recycle by Gail Gibbons
- Recycle Every Day! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
- Our Earth by Anne Rockwell
- An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
- Visit one of these educational websites about the environment and caring for the planet:
- The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has an excellent kid page with useful information.
- EekoWorld, from PBS Kids Go!, features animated videos about the environment, recycling, and the future.
- A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change, from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is better suited for older students, but may be useful for your own research or class activities.
- Students can keep track of how many bags of trash their family makes in one week. As a class, calculate how bags of trash each family makes in a month and in a year and then calculate how many bags for the entire class together. This can make an informative hallway display so the class can share what they have learned with the entire school.
- Encourage students to recycle toys by looking for a toy they no longer play with and bringing it in for a classroom toy swap.
This first lesson is laying the groundwork for several activities that will connect how caring for the environment improves the health of the planet and ourselves.
Any of the lesson's suggested activities would create opportunities for authentic assessments on the concepts presented.