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Lesson Plans for K-5 Green Teams

Scribner Road Elementary School has had an Environmental Club for 25-30 3rd and 4th graders since 2022. We meet for an hour 1x/month after school.

 

PhilosophyWe have focused on love of nature, composting, reducing waste, etc.; and intentionally stayed away from heavier topics. According to the author of Beyond EcoPhobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education, while children in late elementary school and beyond can learn about concepts like extinction, habitat loss, and climate change and have a creative, call-to-action response; children in early to mid-elementary will essentially shut down.  Instead, we build a foundation of love, wonder, and appreciation for the natural world.

You'll find the lesson plans for the club meetings on this page. These were developed by a veteran 4th grade teacher and a former high school science teacher.

  • We Will Protect What We Love - nature walk bingo

  • The Circle of Life - build a home composting bin

  • Nature's Gifts '22 - build a pinecone bird feeder

  • Nature's Gifts '23 - gift bag with native flower seeds 

  • Tree of Hope: Strong Foundation, Big Dreams - New Year's Green Resolutions

  • Trash to Treasure - upcycling to create lanterns

  • Find Your Voice - Earth Month school announcements

  • Save the Bees! - DIY mason bee home

  • Growing a Better World - create a native pollinator garden on campus supporting wildlife all year

 

We encourage you to use whatever is helpful in your own clubs/classes/camps! 

Scribner garden plant list 23
Scribner garden plan 23
Garden plan

We Will Protect What We Love

Nature Walk Bingo

Introductions, ice breaker question: 

  • What is your real life superpower? 

    • Organizer

    • Leader

    • Public speaker

    • Sportsmanship/Kindness

    • Creativity

 

Intro to Jane Goodall and Roots and Shoots  

We will protect what we love - But we have to experience something to love it! One of the world’s heroes is Jane Goodall who helped us all experience the amazing intelligence and complex social behavior of Chimpanzees. She has gone on to be a leader in the protection of our natural world.

Play all (3:26) of video 1

Start at 2:24 for video 2

We used the "Naturally Curious Jane Journal" through several of our meetings.

Main Project/Gross motor activity 

  • Nature Walk Bingo (Naturally Curious Jane Journal, page 10), find something you love, something miraculous, or beautiful. Have the teacher take a picture!

Hiking through forest

The Circle of Life

Build a home composting bin

Introduction: Circle of Life (5 min)

  • Water cycle

    • rain/snow → rivers/ocean → evaporation → beginning

  • Trees

    • Winter dormancy → spring re-growth → summer seed dispersal → fall nutrient absorption, leaves fall → beginning

 

Outside activity (15 min)

 

Main activity  (25 min)

  • Read Jack’s Pumpkin

  • Set up pumpkin experiment - medium size carved pumpkin placed in tall plastic container. Snack left overs, leaves from rubbings thrown in around it. 

  • Presentation: nutrient cycle: plants grow → animals eat plants → animals eat animals → plants and animals die → decomposers break down plants and animals to nutrients → plants absorb nutrients → plants grow

  • A lot of people have broken the nutrient cycle and turned it into a road with a dead end. Composting is a way to fix it! 

    • Composting for Kids video

      • What is compost? 

      • Why compost? Healthier soil, Healthier water: reduce toxins leaching from landfills, Healthier air: reduce methane going into atmosphere

  • How to reduce food waste:

    • 1st, Only buy what you’ll eat, eat it before it goes bad

    • 2nd, donate food - feed people, feed animals. 

    • 3rd, compost. 


Table Talk, flyer to take home to discuss with families on reducing food waste

Jack-O'-Lantern_edited.jpg

Nature's Gifts 2022

“What does it mean that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live?”

― Mary Oliver, Long Life: Essays and Other Writings

 

Create a DIY Bird Feeder

 

Night Tree video, book by Eve Bunting (5:34) 

 

Presentation: Habitats

  • Deforestation video (3:12)

    • Discussion: 

      • What gifts do a healthy, whole ecosystem give to us? 

      • What gifts do wild animals get from their habitat? 

      • Where do you see natural areas where we live? (brainstorm on page 2 of the Naturally Curious Jane Journal.)

 

Main Activity: birdseed covered pinecones

  • Materials: crisco, knives, bowls, pinecones (2/student), yarn, birdseed, containers to roll the pinecones, butcher paper, paper towels, bags to take them home. 

  • Create hanging bird feeders

  • Time permitting, walk outside to hang pinecone bird feeders

Table talk: Wild space is important, habitat destruction hurts ecosystems, plant native plants to support local wildlife - native perennials will be less work, need less water and fertilizers, and will attract birds, bees, butterflies.

Birds on Frozen Grass

Nature's Gifts 2023

Gift of Native Seed Packets for Local Wildlife and Gardeners

Discussion of Botany, Entomology, Wildlife Ecologist, Need to support birds and insects, Homegrown National Forests

 

Create gifts for gardeners in students’ lives

  • Materials needed: 

    • ​Coin envelopes

    • White lunch bags

    • Ribbon

    • Crayons

    • Half sheet of instructions

    • Six species of flowers’ seeds: 

      • New England Aster

      • Black Eyed Susans

      • Butterfly Weed

      • Foxglove Beardtongue

      • Rose Milkweed

      • Side Oats Grama

  • Students will harvest about 30 seeds from one species, place in coin envelope (labeled by student). Seeds on trays will rotate through each group of students. Repeat for each species. 

  • Each student will get a white lunch bag to decorate with crayons. Students will put the 6 seed packets into the bag along with the half sheet of instructions

  • Bags get sealed with ribbon. ​

Butterfly

Tree of Hope: Strong Foundation, Big Dreams

Green New Years Resolutions

Main Activity: Tree of Hope from Roots and Shoots. (~40min)

1:11 min video

Materials needed: paper, crayons, markers

 

Students draw individual trees - First, think about what kind of tree you will draw and why. Next, fill in your tree's roots with the people and things that inspire and support you. Last, fill in your tree's shoots with your aspirations and passions.

Bulletin board in hallway with large tree trunk and branches - students put New Year "Green Resolutions" on leaves and attach to the bulletin board. 

Table talk: New Year’s Green Resolutions

Planting a Tree

Trash to Treasure

Upcycling

Main Activity: upcycling lanterns

Materials:

  • Tin can lanterns: previously collected soup cans, also prepared by banging holes with a nail in different designs. Tempura paint, paint brushes, LED mini lights , butcher paper 

  • Plastic jar lanterns: tissue paper strips of multiple colors, mod podge, paint brushes, butcher paper, LED mini lights

Students pick which lantern they want to make. 

  • Tin can lanterns: choose a can, paint/decorate the outside, set aside to dry. Place LED light in bottom. 

  • Jar lanterns: use mod podge to attach small squares of tissue paper. Cover the jar in this way. Paint mod podge over whole jar. Set aside to dry. Place LED light in bottom. 

Bottle cap mural

Materials:

  • We've been collecting colorful plastic bottle caps in classrooms for weeks. They were sorted by color. Large piece of cardboard with simple design. Rubber cement or other fast drying glue. 

Glue bottle caps to the cardboard to fill in the design

Table talk: Upcycling tips

Tin Cans

Find Your Voice!

Green Tips for Morning Announcements

Main Activity: 

  • Earth Month Plan - the school does morning announcements and has offered to have students say a "Green Tip" of the day through April. Here's 10 tips to get you started.

    • Announcements (April 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, 27)

      • What to say - Green Tips for students

      • How to say it (lean into the mic!) 

      • Sign ups

    • Plan our table at Earth Day Festival 

 

Quick hike outside to end the club meeting

Microphone Closeup

Save the Bees!

Build a DIY Mason Bee Home

 

Video: importance of bees in ecosystems

 

Main Activities: 

  • Mason Bees, presentation

  • Materials: 

    • Cans with hole on bottom near one edge (pre-nailed, widened with screwdriver), yarn, masking tape

    • rectangles of scrap paper or packing paper ~4”x8”, pencils, glue stick

    • hollow Reeds - collected locally or ordered from Crown Bees to supplement the bee house tubes (optional)

  •  Build a DIY mason bee home

    • Carefully pull yarn through the hole in the can. Tie a knot so that it will hang on it's side from a tree branch. Place masking tape over the sharp edge of the can to prevent the yarn from being sliced when the can blows in the wind. 

    • wrap the paper around the pencil to create a tube. Secure with glue. Place paper tube in can. Tubes should be shorter than the height of the can to keep them dry. Repeat to fill can. Can supplement with reeds. 

    • Hang outside in a location facing south and near flowers and a source of mud. 

    • Mason bees are active in early-mid spring and require nests, food, and mud during this time. Adults will die by summer and larvae develop in the tubes through early fall.  Keep the tubes in a cold, protected space through the winter if possible. Learn more with Crown Bees.

 ​

“Save the Bees” Table Talk

Echinacea Coneflowers

Growing a Better World

Building a Native Pollinator Garden on Campus

 

Main Activities: 

  • Group 1: 

    • Plant the Pollinator Garden! 

  • Group 2: 

    • Paint rocks for border

  • Switch 1/2 way through

 

Materials needed: trowels, compost, water - lots of water!, garden gloves, Top soil, mulch, river rocks, paint, cups, brushes

We got approval to install a native pollinator garden around a tree in one of the courtyards. These plants were chosen to provide blossoms for pollinating insects as long as possible - early spring through late fall and provide seeds for birds and mammals in the winter. They are native to the north east US and will thrive with no fertilizers and virtually no watering after the first summer. (We watered only a handful of times after installation in summer '23 because it was unusually wet).

To prep the area, we laid down one layer of cardboard and put topsoil on top. We got that very wet and waited a couple of weeks for the cardboard to start breaking down a bit so the kids could cut through it with trowels. 

For the day of the planting, kids got into 12 groups and each group took a segment of the garden to plant. See plans on the left. Kids were instructed to dig holes in the approximate location of their segment, fill them with water, add a scoop of compost, drop in the plants, press in dirt, add more water, circle with mulch. 

Plants - 6 of each: 

  • Jacob's Ladder

  • Butterfly Weed

  • Shooting Star

  • Aster

  • Zigzag Goldenrod

  • Foxglove Beardtongue

  • Bloodroot

  • Golden Ragwort

  • False Solomon's Seal

  • Mountain Mint

  • Great Blue Lobelia

  • Purple Coneflower

We planned to water the garden every 5-7 days throughout the summer but it was unusually wet.  Besides occasional weeding, the garden will be self-sufficient in the future. 

KR's garden.png
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