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Lesson Plan

Protecting Our Precious Planet: Sharing the Message of Earth Day

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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


Student Objectives

Session 1: Learning About the Earth Day Groceries Project

Session 2: Brainstorming Ideas

Session 3: Planning the Bags

Session 4: Decorating the Bags

Session 5: Sharing the Bags


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Learn about the environment and accurately identify environmental issues and solutions

  • Work collaboratively with classmates to determine what makes a powerful message and what information about the environment is most important to share with the community

  • Apply what they have learned by composing text and creating illustrations to convey messages related to Earth Day

  • Communicate and share their messages with classmates and with others in their community

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Session 1: Learning About the Earth Day Groceries Project

1. Show students a photo of Earth (see Preparation, Step 5). Ask them if they know what it is and who lives there. Then ask students if they know what the environment is and discuss their responses. You want them to understand that the environment is everything around us from the air we breathe, to the water we drink, to the trees in our yards, to the ground beneath our feet.

2. Ask students why they think it is important to protect the environment. Write their responses on a piece of chart paper.

3. Explain to students that when we think about ways the Earth needs to be protected, we are practicing environmental awareness. Tell them that a special day has been set aside each year on April 22nd to help us be more environmentally aware. It is called Earth Day, and it is a day to share messages about protecting our planet and its resources.

4. Share some background information about the Earth Day Groceries Project, such as how students from around the world design grocery bags to share messages related to Earth Day and how the projects can be included on the website (see Preparation, Step 2).

5. Tell students they will be creating their own Earth Day grocery bags that communicate important environmental-awareness messages. On Earth Day, their bags will be used by customers to hold groceries at a local supermarket. Tell them you will also be taking photos of their bags, which will be displayed on the Earth Day Groceries Project website.

6. Allow time for all the students to browse pictures of sample bags on the website and get an idea of what they will be working on.

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Session 2: Brainstorming Ideas

Note: The purpose of the brainstorming session in a large and small group is to assist students in generating possible ideas that could be used for creating an Earth Day message.

1. Tell students that they will be working to brainstorm ideas for their grocery bags. Draw three columns with the following headings on a piece of chart paper: Concern, Possible Message, Why the Message is Important.

2. Ask them to begin with the column titled Concern. What kinds of concerns or problems do they think we should have about the environment?

3. Once students have suggested several potential problems, ask them to consider some possible environmental-awareness messages that could be generated for their concerns. Explain that the messages should be short and to the point. Write responses in the Possible Message column next to the appropriate concerns.

4. As a final step, ask students why they think these messages are important to share with others. Write these in the third column next to the appropriate messages. Your finished sample chart might read as follows:

Concern Possible Message Why the Message Is Important
Pollution Keep Our Planet Clean Pollution can make people and animals sick.
Garbage Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle Garbage that is not recycled fills up our land.
Wildlife Save the Rainforests Animals like panthers need the rainforest to live or they could become extinct.

5. Ask students to share a few ideas that answer the question, "What do you want to tell other people about protecting the earth?" Answers might include "Recycle your newspapers" or "Use paper grocery bags instead of plastic."

6. Have students get into the groups you have previously selected (see Preparation, Step 6). Tell them they will be brainstorming ideas that answer the question you just discussed.

7. Pass out a copy of the Brainstorming Ideas for Earth Day Messages worksheet to each group. Give the groups 5 to 10 minutes to brainstorm and write down their ideas.

8. Once the groups are finished brainstorming, give them 10 minutes to select their favorite message, discuss why it is an important message to communicate to other people, and how the message might be illustrated on a grocery bag.

While students are working collaboratively, take time to circulate and observe their interactions. You may want to write down notes to assist you in scoring their collaborative efforts using the Earth Day Grocery Bags Project: Student Assessment Rubric. If any of the groups are finding it difficult to choose a message, offer suggestions to guide them in their selection such as, "Which message do you think would help people protect the planet?" or "Which message do you think you could illustrate?"

9. Bring the class back together and have each group share with the whole class their favorite message, why it's important, and how it could be illustrated.

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Session 3: Planning the Bags

1. Review the chart from Session 2 and talk about some of the ideas that were generated in the small groups.

2. Show pictures of the exceptional sample bags from the Earth Day Groceries Project website. Guide students in sharing what make these bags high quality. Some possible reasons include:

  • The message is important and is related to Earth Day.

  • The message is short but clear.

  • The message is written neatly and large enough to make it easy to read.

  • The illustration matches the message and is colorful.

  • The illustration and message take up the entire side of the bag.

  • The bag effectively communicates the importance of the message.


Emphasize to students that they will be striving to create bags that are the very best they can make because they are going to be communicating important messages with the community related to Earth Day.

3. Pass out a copy of the My Earth Day Grocery Bag Plan worksheets to each student. Go over how to complete the worksheet, noting that they only need to make a sketch of their illustration, not a complete drawing. Tell students they should select one of the ideas from their group brainstorm during Session 2 or come up with a new message of their own.

Note: Depending on the age and ability of your students, you may want to provide further direction about your expectations for the message. For example, you may want to require older students to write a title message and then a sentence about it. For younger students, a simple phrase or sentence may be all you require. Students with limited motor skills might be allowed to use clip art to decorate their bags, while creative students might be expected to show more details in their illustrations. Whatever your expectations, you should make them clear at this time and you should use them to assess students' work later.

4. Allow time for students to work on their plans offering assistance as needed.

5. When you have reviewed and approved a plan, check the box at the bottom of the worksheet. You may choose to do this during class time or you may collect them and hand them back at the beginning of Session 4.

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Session 4: Decorating the Bags

1. Gather students and quickly review the qualities that make an exceptional bag. Stress the importance of doing their very best work. Remind them that they are communicating important messages about Earth Day with people in the community.

2. Return the completed My Earth Day Grocery Bag Plan worksheets to students along with a grocery bag and art supplies.

3. While students work on their bags, circulate and offer feedback and advice as needed.

Note: Make sure that students do not write their names on their bags since they will be distributed to the public. Instead, have students staple or paper clip their names to the finished bags so that they can be easily removed.

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Session 5: Sharing the Bags

1. Gather students and give them the opportunity to share the bags they created with one another. Explain that as they share their bags they should answer the following questions:

  • What is my Earth Day message?

  • What is my illustration about?

  • Why is my message important?

  • Is there anything else I want to tell the class about my bag or message?
Use this time to gather further information that can be used to evaluate students' performance, along with the Earth Day Grocery Bags Project: Student Assessment Rubric.

2. After a student has finished sharing, select another student to ask a question about the bag or share something positive about the bag.

3. As each student finishes sharing, have him or her lay the bag on a table. Take a photo of the bag that clearly shows the image and the message.

4. Place the bags on tables or desks around the classroom and give students time to walk around and look at each one. Bring students back together and explain that you are planning to submit photos of the bags and a report about what you did to the Earth Day Groceries Project website.
5. Access the project website for information on how to link your pictures and how to send in your report; once they are compiled and published online, you can share the photo gallery with students.
6. If possible, take students on a field trip to the grocery store to deliver the bags (see Preparation, Step 4). If not, make sure the store has the bags before Earth Day and that students know which store will be using them. Try to have someone at the store to take photos as the bags are being shared with customers.

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  • Encourage other classrooms, the entire school, or school district to participate in the Earth Day Groceries Project!

  • Use the photos of the bags to create a slide show or movie. See the lesson "Taking Photos of Curious George: Exploring Character Through Images" for information about how to use software like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. Share the slide show or movie with other classes or with students' families.

  • Create an Earth Day page on your class or school website and post the photos of the students' grocery bags.

  • Inform the local media about your Earth Day Groceries Project and collaboration with the grocery store. There is a sample press release on the website.

  • Give students copies of The Happy Earth Day Activities Book, which can be downloaded for free from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This activity book has some good examples of things that students can do to help the environment. You might also have them access the Earth Day Network website to view some of Environmental Tips Video Series.

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