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Lesson Plan

Protecting Our Precious Planet: Sharing the Message of Earth Day

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Protecting Our Precious Planet: Sharing the Message of Earth Day

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time 30- to 45-minute sessions and an optional field trip
Lesson Author

Melissa Weimer

Waterford, Michigan


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • Chart paper and markers

  • Paper grocery bags

  • Art materials

  • Computers with Internet access

  • A camera (preferably digital)

  • LCD projector (optional)

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1. The Earth Day Groceries Project is a free environmental-awareness project in which students decorate paper grocery bags with messages for Earth Day. One of the oldest and largest educational projects on the Internet, it is managed by Mark Ahlness, a third-grade teacher at Arbor Heights Elementary School in Seattle, Washington. Thousands of schools from all over the world have participated in the project since its inception in 1993. Photos and reports about individual classroom or school projects can be posted on the website.

Read an online interview with Mark Ahlness to learn more.

2. Review the Earth Day Groceries Project. The following pages are particularly useful for getting started:

If possible, arrange to use an LCD projector to share this website with your students during Session 1 (see Steps 4 and 6); alternatively you could print out relevant pages from the site and copy them for students to review. You should also look at pictures of other students' grocery bags, add this page to the Favorites list on your classroom or lab computers, and select and print one or two examples that you find exceptionally good (see Session 3, Step 2).

3. Arrange with a local grocery store to participate in the project with your class. You may want to share some information from the project website to provide them with details and examples of the bags.

4. Plan the sessions of this lesson so they will be completed prior to Earth Day on April 22nd. Decide if it is feasible to take your class or a small group of students on a field trip to the grocery store on Earth Day to distribute the bags. If this is possible, make the necessary arrangements. If you are unable to take the field trip, arrange for the grocery bags to be at the grocery store by April 21st at the latest.

5. Obtain a picture or poster of the planet Earth. The NSSDC Photo Gallery: Earth is a good resource; a particularly good photo of Earth was taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts.

6. Decide how to break students into groups for brainstorming in Session 2. Depending on the ages and abilities of your students, you may want to have at least one advanced student in each group who can do the writing. Make one copy of the Brainstorming Ideas for Earth Day Messages worksheet for every group. Make one copy of My Earth Day Grocery Bag Plan for each student in your class.

7. Gather paper grocery bags for students to decorate and materials to decorate them with. You will need at least one bag per student and may want some extras. If you find it difficult to locate paper bags, you might have students create bookmarks or fliers to distribute. Read the last question in the FAQs section of the Earth Day Groceries Project website for more information about this issue.

8. Arrange to have a camera (preferably a digital camera) available for use during Session 5. Read about the project's privacy policies. Get permission from parents or guardians to post photographs of students' work on the Internet. The Earth Day Groceries Project website will assume that any photos linked to from their site have been cleared by you for publication. No names are used on the website.
9. The Earth Day Groceries Project website does not accept photos uploaded directly to the site but will link to external sites. Create a place to put your pictures on the Internet (like Flickr, on your school website, a blog, or a wiki). Another option is to upload your pictures to the website's Flickr group.

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