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Lesson Plans
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
3rd–5th Grade
Objectives Objectives
  • Students will match ecology vocabulary words to their corresponding definitions.
  • Students will actively research ecology terms and demonstrate hands-on understanding of a variety of environmental issues that impact their community.
Materials Materials Needed
Before You Begin
  1. Copy and cut out a set of Ecology Word and Meaning cards for each student.
  2. Make several copies of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! graphic organizer.

Introduction Introduction

As an introduction to Earth Day, read aloud Earth Book for Kids by Linda Schwartz.

Procedure Procedure

  1. Distribute a set of the Ecology Word and Meaning cards to each student.
  2. Give students a few minutes to try to pair each word with its corresponding definition.
  3. Display your set of word cards in the left-hand column of a pocket chart or bulletin board.
  4. Invite volunteers to guess which meaning cards belong with which word cards.
  5. As you discuss their responses, place the meaning cards next to the correct corresponding word cards on the chart.
  6. Reinforce the concepts by encouraging students to brainstorm ideas of how they can reduce, reuse, recycle and conserve our resources to help the environment. Tie in messages from the book to help apply these concepts.

Guided Practice Guided Practice
  1. Divide the class into small groups of four to five students and provide each group with a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! graphic organizer.
  2. Assign each group one of the ecology vocabulary words and challenge students to learn more about it. (You can use the ecology word cards or challenge students to think of additional terms.) Have students work together and use classroom resources (e.g., library books, textbooks, dictionary, computer, etc.) to research their term and how it impacts the community. For example, they can find out how recycling newspapers and bottles helps decrease the waste in landfills.
  3. Instruct students to fill out their graphic organizers as they find examples of their term and how it is used.
  4. Challenge students to create a rap or chant to teach the class about their ecology word. Have them write it on their organizer. Encourage students to add a visual prop. (For example, they can bring in a picture of a rain forest for “environment.”)
  5. At the end of the class period, invite each group to take turns presenting their rap!

Learning Extension Learning Extension

  1. Ask students to apply what they have learned about reducing, reusing and recycling to complete one of the following Earth Day projects. Encourage students to choose the project that is most interesting and appealing to them. (Students can complete the projects individually or in small groups.)
    • Decorate a T-shirt with a message about recycling or saving the planet.
    • Hold a recycling contest! Award a prize to the person who collects the most cans or newspapers. Find out where to take these items and complete an oral report about what happens at a recycling center.
    • Create something using only recycled material (e.g., a robot made from cans, a newspaper mask, a bottle mobile, etc.).
    • Make a list of 10 household items and explain two new ways that each item can be reused.
    • Research the conservation laws in your city or town and write a brief summary explaining how these laws help or hurt our planet.
    • Write a commercial jingle or skit that encourages people to conserve paper, water or another resource. Use a digital video camera to record the commercial and play it for the class.
  2. After a one- or two-week period, hold an Earth Day Fair and have students present their completed projects to the class!

the 3rd–5th Grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)
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