Make a celebration of Earth Day last a whole week with an Earth Week Spirit Week. Students and staff will love themed days that help remind them and educate them on ways to take care of the Earth.
At my school, I run an environmental club with a coworker for third and fourth graders. We figured that Earth Day needed to be our club’s main day. It seemed like the perfect day for us to get the whole school involved in going green. We brainstormed with the students to see how they wanted to help others get involved. We soon realized that there are so many ways to help the Earth, we couldn’t stick to just one day. Instead, we wanted to celebrate the whole week!
Earth Week Spirit Week
What better way to get people excited than having a spirit week. We matched different ways to help the Earth with different colors that could represent them. Each morning, I encourage students to think about helping the planet while getting ready for school and picking out their outfits. Spirit week was a double win for us teachers, because it also meant jeans everyday, and teachers will get behind just about anything for a jeans day.
These are some of the topics we discussed for our spirit week: water conservation, energy conservation, reusing, gardening, carpooling or walking, recycling, reducing, and packing a waste free lunch.
Knowledge + Action = A Happy Planet
We realized wearing a certain color or dressing a certain way, wouldn’t be enough. Instead, our club members needed to get to work researching each theme. Students researched different facts and different action steps students could take. Without knowledge, students wouldn’t know why different Earth week themes mattered, and without action, students wouldn’t know what they could do to help.
The club members took their research and turned them into morning announcements. This way, each day, they could teach their classmates about the different topics. During the announcements, the other students wrote down what they learned on a daily recording sheet. For younger students, they drew a picture of something they could do to help, and older students wrote down one fact and one action step. Students’ announcements were also sent to the teachers so that teachers and their classes could look over the information more carefully.
Measurable Student Engagement for Earth Week Spirit Week
Each year, we try to get the school involved with something that we can measure and celebrate. These measurable engagement activities can connect to one of the daily themes. For management sake, I would recommend picking only one each year. This will also give you a chance to make the week a little different the following year, too.
One year, we had a battery drive during the week. We shared how many pounds of batteries we collected that would be recycled instead of thrown away. (Here is a pro tip to anyone wanting to do a battery drive, make sure to check with the city first so you have somewhere to drop them off. Many places only allow for households to drop off batteries and something special needs to be arranged for a large quantity).
Another year, we had the janitors help us weigh our garbage after a normal lunch. The next day, we promoted a waste free lunch and weighed the trash again. With a little bit of math, we were able to see how much waste we prevented from going into the landfill.
Another engaging idea is to have students complete an energy audit both in their classrooms and at their homes. This energy search allowed students to see the different ways they were using electricity and make changes. There is even a follow up activity that allows students to complete the audit again at the end of the school year to track growth.
It is great to weave the daily theme into the curriculum, too. This helps give students more exposure to the theme and allows them to interact with the topics in different ways. For example, a reading comprehension page lets students read about the given theme. They can reflect and relate back to the character of the story to visualize how they can make a difference, too.
Solving math problems about the theme can provide students with more knowledge about a theme. They can also start to see the impact they have when they compare numbers about how much water is wasted during certain activities or how much space can be saved in the landfill by recycling.
For older students, you can have them write their own passages and math problems. This is a great way for them to engage with the content on a deeper level.
Already Made for You Earth Week
As part of our environment club, students took on the planning for Earth Week. However, if you are looking for a way to celebrate Earth Week with your Upper Elementary students, you can grab the already made packet here.
Inside, you will find an Earth Day schedule, a daily recording sheet for the week for knowledge and action steps, premade facts and action steps for each daily theme, a reading comprehension page for each daily theme, and word problems for each day. These pages are targeted for third or fourth graders.
Other Ways to Celebrate The Earth
There are so many great ways to celebrate the Earth, both on Earth Day and everyday. Here is a link to some of my other favorite ways to incorporate taking care of the Earth into your classroom.
I would love to hear about your favorite way you celebrate Earth in your classroom. Comment below! The first 3 people to comment will get a copy of my Earth Week Spirit Week packet for free. (Just send me an email after you comment: firstname.lastname@example.org )