I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19. While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support. These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person. Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!
Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:
OLLI#1 (The Hike)
OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)
OLLIE#3 (Mother’s Day)
OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)
OLLI #5 – (WANTED: Criminals of the Animal Kingdom)
OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)
OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)
OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day)
OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!)
OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)
OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)
OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)
OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)
OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)
OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)
OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints)
OLLIE #17 (The Sounds of Snow) (This post is temporarily unavailable)
Earth Day is coming up this Thursday, so I thought it would be a great time to focus on extending our gratitude to Earth and all that it provides for us! It’s also a perfect topic to inspire some great writing!
YouTube Read Aloud HERE
While not a brand new book, this has been my “go to” book for Earth Day for many years. I love that the book is all about gratitude for all that the Earth gives us written in the form of a letter. Filled with stunning photography and lyrical rhythmic text makes it a perfect read-aloud. The end notes provide suggestions for ways we can help the environment. I also appreciated the detailed notes about the photographs – which are truly breath-taking. Great anchor to inspire “Thank you, Earth” writing and poetry and great mentor text for teaching alliteration.
- Ask students what special day is coming up on April 22nd. (Earth Day) Ask students “What is Earth Day”? “Why is Earth Day important?”
- Explain that the Earth is an amazing planet, but it needs our help to protect it! Earth Day is a day when people all over the world celebrate the Earth and take part in activities to help make our world a happier, healthier place to live.
- You may wish to brainstorm things that students could do this week to help the earth: turn off lights, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, recycle bottles and cans, pick up garbage, have a shorter shower, put your computer on “sleep” rather than on screen saver, bring re-usable containers for lunch, walk or ride a bike to school.
- Remind the students that the Earth gives us so much, we all need to work together to try to protect it. Every day is Earth Day!
- Ask: What are some of the things the Earth gives us? (water, air, trees, soil, animals, rocks, mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sunshine, clouds, plants, fruit, vegetables, etc.)
- Tell the students that if a person gave them so many amazing things every day, you would probably be thanking them! Ask them when was the last time they said “Thank you” to the Earth? Explain that it might feel strange to say “Thank you” to earth because Earth can’t really hear us and it’s not really alive. But what if we could say thank you to Earth? What would you thank Earth for?
- Show them the book “Thank You, Earth“. Tell them this book is someone saying thank you to the Earth for all that it gives us. Read or share the story on YouTube
- Invite the students to share their favorite photograph or page.
- Tell the students that you noticed even thought the book didn’t rhyme, there was a lovely sound and mood to some of the words when you read it out loud. Tell them you noticed several were several words that started with the same letter in the book. Explain that this is a technique writers sometimes use called “alliteration“. “Craggy caves” and “majestic mountains” are examples of alliteration because they are two words, close together, that start with the same sound.
- Read the book again, and invite students to listen for the alliteration. (ie – slippery seaweed and stone; mountains and minerals; bills and bones) They can give a “thumbs up” whenever they hear similar sounds.
- Tell the students that they are going to be writing “Thank you letters” to Earth, thanking it for all the amazing things. Tell them that you are going to think about using alliteration in your letter.
- Model this during a “write aloud” Invite the students to help you with your alliteration.
Thank you for the tall trees and the green grass.
Thank you for tiny turtles and giant giraffes.
Thank you for red raspberries and green grapes.
Thank you for lakes to swim in and rivers to follow.
Thank you for whooshing waterfalls and cool caves.
- Point out that you were trying to choose two things on each line that were connected in some way and also that you were trying to use alliteration. The alliteration makes the writing sound a bit like a poem, even though it doesn’t rhyme.
- Talk about an ending that let’s your reader know you are at the end. Tell the students you want to try to include something about protecting the Earth at the end of your letter. Invite students to make suggestions for the ending. And don’t forget to sign your name!
Earth, you give us so much and never ask us for anything
But if you could talk, you might say, “Please take care of me!”
I will, Earth. I will!
Love, Ms. Gear
- Students can do a Dear Earth draft in their Writer’s Notebook if you prefer.
- When they are ready, they can write their letter on fancy paper, or use one of the POSTCARD templates below. Students can use one side of the Postcard to write their message and the other side to draw and color a picture of their favorite thing that Earth gives us (forest, mountains, ocean, gardens, etc.)
More Earth Day Anchor Books (some with YouTube links)
The week leading up to Earth Day is a great opportunity to share a range of wonderful picture books to help start conversations about the importance of doing our part to care for the earth. While there are dozens to choose from, I have tried to highlight some old classics, new releases, and inspiring true stories.
Hello, Earth! – Poems to Our Planet – Joyce Sidman
Interview with Joyce Sidman as she talks about her book and reads some of her poems from this beautiful new book
My Friend Earth – Patricia MacLachlan
(YouTube read aloud HERE Note – start at 1.36 seconds)
A celebration of the natural world and an invitation for positive action for Planet Earth. Great opportunities to share life science concepts and amazing facts about the environment with children. Interactive text and lift the flap pictures. Patricia MacLachlan is one of my favorite authors!
YouTube Read aloud HERE
Is the Earth better off without us? What has human impact done to our Earth? What a great question and one that will certainly stimulate some great discussion from your students.
Does Earth Feel? 14 Questions for Humans – Marc Majewski
Does Earth feel calm?
Does Earth feel curious?
Does Earth feel hurt?
Does Earth feel heard?
A stunning picture book that asks 14 critical questions to encourage deep thinking and discussion about our one and only planet.
Earth Day Every Day – Lisa Bullard
(YouTube Read aloud HERE)
Not For Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green – Maria Godsey
YouTube Read Aloud HERE
One Earth – Eileen Spinelli
YouTube Read Aloud HERE
Lovely rhyming and counting book for younger readers. Readers can count reasons to love the planet and ways to protect it. Beautiful illustrations in this conservation-themed book.
The Earth Gives More – Sue Fliess
YouTube Read aloud – HERE
A lovely, rhyming story follows the change in seasons and illustrates how we can all be stewards of the Earth.
Our Big Home: An Earth Poem – Linda Glaser
Beautiful and inspiring. Not only could you use this book for Earth Day but also for acceptance and inclusion – no matter who you are, what race or culture you come from – we all share this world and are responsible for its care. This book is filled with joy and a sense of wonder at this “home” all humans share.
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World – Melanie Walsh
I think that one challenge of teaching about Earth Day is helping kids know practical ways they can take care of the earth, besides doing garbage duty at school. This book gives young readers clear examples of how they can help. From turning off the water while brushing their teeth, to using both sides of the paper while drawing, kids will enjoy learning simple ways they can care for the environment. I love the large size of this book, making it great for sharing. It’s visually appealing and cleverly designed with flaps and includes clear, simple language.
My Green Day – Melanie Walsh
A companion to 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World, this book outlines through picture, simple sentences and colourful illustrations how we can all try to be more environmentally friendly in our every day activities. Hidden pictures, flaps to lift and holes makes this a fun book for sharing and reading.
The Earth Book – Todd Parr
With simple language and his colorful signature illustrations, Todd Parr describes to young readers how they can do their part to help the environment. Great concrete examples showing how we can all do our part to make a difference. Use to inspire younger students create their own “Todd Parr” style Earth Day poster!
What Does It Mean to Be Green? – Rana DiOrio
A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be Green over the course of a day. They discover lots of amazing facts (like our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to be on our plate!) I like how DiOrio takes the buzzword “green” and explains it clearly to children, giving them lots of ideas for being “green” themselves.
What Matters – Alison Hughes
Great new book for Earth Day! This is a wonderful look at the ripple effect of how one small act – picking up garbage that isn’t yours – has repercussions to make the world cleaner and better. (Think Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed but for the earth!) I also think this book would be great for introducing the concept of the inter-connectedness of ecosystems.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Liam is a curious boy living in a drab, gray city. One day, he finds a few dying plants growing through an old railroad track. Liam waters and prunes the plants until they grow into a lush garden that overtakes the entire city. By the end of the book, greenery covers the rooftops and pops up in the most unexpected places. I LOVE this magical story and notice something new every time I read it. If you haven’t shared this with your class yet – it’s a MUST read!
The Lorax – Dr. Seuss
“UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
Way back in the 1960’s, long before “going green” was a mainstream concept, Dr. Seuss introduced young readers to the impacts of clear-cutting on the environment. Written and illustrated in classic Dr. Seuss style, but this book focuses on more serious themes of consumerism, economics, deforestation, and the environment. A great choice for older students that will stimulate some great discussions about environmental conservation.
The Wartville Wizard – Don Madden
This book was published in 1986 but its message will never be outdated. A cranky old man who spends his days cleaning up the litter left by his fellow townspeople. One day he receives “the power over trash,” which gives him the ability to send the garbage right back where it came from! When the townspeople find their garbage stuck to them, they learn a valuable lesson. Great pictures, great story! This book is lengthy so would make a great read-aloud for older students. (Warning – references to cigar butts and beer cans.)
The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales – Dawn Casey
This is a gorgeous anthology of seven traditional tales from around the world, each one promoting a sustainable lifestyle and living green. Readers learn about the ways that different cultures around the world try living in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of nature. Included are suggested activities to go along with each story including creating a a song-line painting, cooking “anything-goes soup”, making a cornhusk doll, and growing your own tomatoes. Love the link of Earth day and cultural diversity.
Thanks for stopping by! Please share this blog post with your teacher friends!
Happy Earth Day, everyone!