Key Takeaways:

  • Teach students how to enjoy nature while preserving its beauty.

  • Students can interact with the Scholastic News character Norbert Know-It-All to share their understanding of the text and build computing skills.

  • Upcycle old crayons to make Earth-shaped crayons.

As Earth Day approaches, you might wonder, “How do I teach first graders to care for our planet? After all, we only have one Earth!”
I loved the Scholastic News issue for grade 1, “Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints.” It offered the perfect way to reinforce the importance of being a good friend to the Earth.


    Beyond the issue, there are so many awesome resources and ideas for extending the conversation. Here are two engaging Earth Day activities. 

    Earth Day Activity One: Write a Letter to Norbert Know-It-All

    After reading through our Scholastic News Earth Day issue and discussing the content for understanding, students had the chance to write to Norbert Know-It-All. 

    Norbert thinks he knows all the facts from Scholastic News, but he always gets them wrong. Kids use text evidence from the issue to prove him wrong. 


    My kids couldn’t wait to write to Norbert and correct him. This was a great extension to gauge their comprehension of the text and practice handwriting and letter writing.

    Not only could my students write Norbert a letter, they could email him, too! To motivate my students to use their best handwriting, proper punctuation and best-guess spelling, I told them ahead of time that they would only be allowed to email Norbert if they tried their very best on the “sloppy copy” with pencil and paper. Of course, it worked!


    My students used their copies of Scholastic News to find three facts to share with Norbert about the Earth. 

    During our computer lab time, they wrote Norbert an email using their sloppy copy to help. While this did take a long time because their typing skills are slow, it was totally worth the effort! This would be a great activity to work on with big buddies who may be more comfortable with the computer. 


    It was also the perfect opportunity to teach some basic keyboarding skills.

    My students all have their own email addresses, but you can definitely make this a class activity and compose one email together. 

    Are you ready for the best part? Norbert wrote back!


    I may have squealed equally as loud as the students when the emails started coming back! 

    Earth Day Activity Two: Make Earth Day Crayons

    As part of our conversation of ways to re-use resources, we upcycled old crayons to make new Earth Day crayons! I love that this activity looped in science, too. 

    Every teacher has a bag of ‘previously loved’ crayons, right? Well, I pulled out that sack of crayons and we brainstormed as a class how we could reuse them. The answers ranged from packaging them up into new boxes for next year’s class to recycling them for art projects. 


    Finally, we decided to use them to make Earth Day crayons. We got the idea from Scholastic News which has directions for making Earth Day crayons and a printable for this activity on their website.

    We started the activity by soaking the wrappers off of the crayons. Students observed the crayons to determine their state of matter. Although we covered this topic earlier in the school year, this activity was a great way to review this important foundational scientific concept. 


Then, students broke these crayons into small pieces to fit them into the muffin tin.


    Tip: If possible, use a small muffin tin. I found that the large muffin tin required a lot of crayons, which may not be possible if you have a limited number of crayons to use. 

    As we worked through the steps of this activity, students checked in and recorded their answers on the included Scholastic News observations worksheet.


During our lunch break, I “baked” the crayons so they’d be ready after lunch. 


After letting the crayons cool in the fridge for a bit, I shared them with the students. The kids were THRILLED to see their creations! 


    This issue of Scholastic News is a fantastic resource to start (or continue) the conversation about taking care of our Earth!

    Happy Earth Day!

    —Molly Lynch teaches first grade in the San Francisco Bay area and writes the blog, LuckyToBeInFirst.com.

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