Kathleen Rodríguez

Earth Day Lessons for Middle School Students

The first time I ever celebrated Earth Day was in 2nd grade. On a Saturday at the park, a group of friends and I gathered some fallen tree branches and stomped around the basketball court, waving them in the air yelling, “Mother Nature!” I didn’t know who had determined this seemingly arbitrary holiday but figured it was as good a day as any for an impromptu parade.

It wasn’t until years later when I saw firsthand the impacts of climate change that I came to understand why the Earth is worth paying attention to. As a native Californian, wildfire season became a yearly routine, complete with “fire days” when school was canceled and the bad air quality kept us locked indoors. Our local estuary was often closed due to water contamination from a nearby sewage system. California seemed to be in a perpetual drought. Things I’d always taken for granted– clean air, clean water, rain — were no longer guaranteed, and I became personally invested in teaching sustainability and environmentalism in schools.

Ready-made, Free Digital Lessons For Earth Day

This Earth Day, students can move beyond its mere recognition by learning what they can do to build a sustainable future. EVERFI offers ready-made, free earth day classroom activities aligned to Next Generation Science Standards at no cost for teachers to use.

Free Lesson Plans On Our Environment

In the first module of Plants, Animals, and Our World, students learn the life-cycle of everyday products, the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources, and then move through scenarios where they make choices about their own consumption. They see how systems such as land, air, and water intersect and will recognize that every resource has its limits.

In another module of Plants, Animals, and Our World, (my personal favorite), students explore the plants and creatures that make up the biodiversity of our world. Every ecosystem is interdependent, every living thing connected, and what we do (or don’t do) has an impact on that delicate balance and the ability of each living being to survive.

Students will also learn the impacts of climate change and the actions they can take to combat it on a personal, local, and global level.

Additional Resources for Earth Day Lessons and Beyond

Teaching sustainability in schools can be a year-round affair with EVERFI’s free resources. EVERFI’s Free Sustainability Foundations course helps students understand that they must live within the physical laws that govern Earth and have a responsibility to one another. Feel free to use these as your lesson plan on environmental issues where learners can explore how social contracts help us maintain balance in our world, and support sustainable communities and environments.

Register Your Classroom for Plants, Animals, and Our World

After taking Sustainability Foundations: Plants, Animals, and Our World, students will walk away with an understanding that every choice we make impacts others.

Kathleen Rodríguez is a Schools Manager on the K-12 team who supports educators across Northern California and Hawaii. As a former middle school teacher who has spent her career working in public education, both in the US and abroad in Colombia, she loves strategizing with teachers to create a fun, productive learning environment.