Engaging Earth Day Activities for Big Kids

Engaging Earth Day Activities for Big Kids

Earth Day with intermediate students can be so much fun! They are passionate, aware, and ready to do whatever they can to protect our Earth. These activities and ideas will help you integrate Earth Day throughout your week. (Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make a  purchase through these links.)


While the weather may not always cooperate, I love getting outside with my students when we're celebrating Earth Day. Here are a couple of tried and true favorite ideas. 

1. Playground Pick-Up

This would be a great tradition to start with your grade level. I don't know about your school, but our playground is often littered with snack wrappers, juice boxes, and other random pieces of garbage. One year, my students came up with the idea to clean up the playground for Earth Day. My team asked parents for donations of disposable gloves, or we just bought them ourselves since they're fairly inexpensive. We gave groups of four to five students a garbage bag to share, and let them go to town on the playground! Our custodial crew was very appreciative, and the playground looked great!

You could also have students make signs for the playground after the big clean-up to remind other students to take care of their school environment. Another idea would be to sort the trash into recyclables and waste!

2. Minute to Win It {Earth Day Edition}

I LOVE playing Minute to Win It games with my big kids. They let their too-cool-for-school attitudes fall away and enjoy being KIDS for a little while. Last year, we used several of these ideas from Musings of an Average Mom to spark some fun at recess. It worked out perfectly as a HUGE rainstorm forced us inside for the day!

Some of our favorites were: 
  • Pop It To the Sky (make sure to ask for CLEAN and empty soda cans)
  • Newspaper Airplane
  • Pyramid Stack (we used recyclable Solo cups!)


I love to weave holidays and special events throughout our curriculum whenever I can. I know, it's nerdy, but if it makes math or test prep or language arts a little more fun for the day then count me in! 

Michael Recycle + Writer's Workshop

I love using any of the Michael Recycle books during Earth Day. One of my favorites is Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug

Litterbug Doug is lazy, messy, and gross. He hates to recycle! His neighbors are suffering from the stench of his trash piles. Even the army of rats that accompany him are growing weary of His Grossness. Michael Recycle to save the day!

We follow this up with a writer's workshop on Hero stories. Students design their own environmental hero and develop a story in which they are needed to save the day! We use DC Kids' Super Hero Me to design our heroes and go from there!

Make Connections Across Content Areas

Last year, I found Here Comes the Garbage Barge and had a burst of creativity. We made it our mentor text for the week and had a blast learning all about what happens to our garbage once it leaves our homes. One of the reasons I really love this book is that it's a part of Storyline Online's library! So if I don't feel like rereading the book, or if more than one student needs to use the text we have an easy way to get around that!

We ended up with so many activities that I put them together in a unit that's perfect for Earth Day, or any time of year that you're studying pollution and conservation! I'm even sharing my favorite lesson and a close reading passage with you!

I was working on the close reading activity from my unit with some fourth-grade friends, and had an "A-HA!" moment in the middle of our work. They were having trouble understanding all of the steps involved in transporting garbage to its final destination. Then I remembered the final scenes from Toy Story 3.

I started pulling up individual clips, starting with the moment the toys fall into the dumpster. We broke it up into segments and suddenly everything in our close reading passage clicked into place! In hindsight, I wish I'd watched the clips and built their background knowledge first. That's the way I ended up writing the lesson, but if you're in a time crunch it could work to do it as you read.  

If you're super curious now, make sure you sign up for your FREE copy of the close reading passage and introductory lesson.

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    I'm challenging you to work at least one of these ideas into your plans for Earth Day. Bring in a little more than a crossword puzzle or word search. Your students will love the memories they'll make with you, and you'll have fun too! 

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