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5 Ways Students Can Celebrate Earth Day

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 12, 2014 6:00:00 AM

earth dayOn April 22, communities across the world will celebrate Earth Day. Students can seize this opportunity to raise awareness and educate their parents and friends about the importance of caring not only for the planet, but their local community as well. Here are some high-impact ideas for students to make a difference this Earth Day:

Plant a tree
Leaves trap and filter pollutants; they also provide cooling shade in hot urban environments. Here’s another fun fact: An acre of mature trees can potentially absorb the CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles!

Do you know a neighborhood in need of trees? If you live in the Detroit area like we do, you can help “green” your community by applying for The Greening of Detroit’s Community Tree Planting Program. If you live in another part of the country, visit sites like Arbor Day Now, Trees for the Future, or ForestNation for more information about planting a tree.  

Promote environmental responsibility through your student organization
Your student groups may not yet be environmentally conscious, but we’ve got a simple way to change that:

Encourage your student organizations to hold a tree kit fundraiser! Selling tree planting kits raises awareness, supports environmental efforts at home and around the globe, and raises money for school organizations at the same time. For every tree kit planted, another tree is planted elsewhere. This is made possible through a partnership between The Earth Day Network and ForestNation.

Buy in bulk—or better yet, skip the packaging altogether
Instead of purchasing individual packages, try to buy in bulk. Better yet, support a local organic garden and buy food without packaging. Purchasing fresh food not only decreases packaging, it keeps you healthy and reduces waste. Urban farms reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number of miles food must travel to make it to a grocery store thereby decreasing fuel consumption in the shipping process.

Take part in community spring clean-up efforts
This one is easy, free, and requires little equipment beyond a good pair of gloves. Snow is melting, revealing our long winter’s dirty secrets - trash. It’s everywhere. Go pick it up, even if it’s not yours. Check your community newspaper to find clean-up initiatives in your area.

Take care of your local wildlife
Birds are perfectly capable of building their own nests, so why should we build homes for them? It’s unfortunate, but as a result of deforestation and human development, animals are increasingly losing their homes. Helping birds find a new home is easier than you might think. All you need are a few supplies, most of which you’ll probably have lying around the house. Below you’ll find instructions for building your own birdhouse.

What you’ll need

  • One empty half-gallon cardboard milk carton
  • Scissors
  • Approximately two feet of wire—light enough to bend, strong enough to hold the weight of the birdhouse
  • Two nails and a hammer
  • Dried grass
  • Waterproof packing tape

What you’ll do

  • First, completely open up the top of the carton and wash it with soap
  • Take the scissors and cut a hole about the size of a doorknob in one side of the milk carton, a few inches below the top folds. This is the “door.”
  • On the other side of the carton, make two holes—one above the other with a nail. The top hole should be about 1/3 of the way down from the top. The bottom hole should be 1/3 of the way up from the bottom
  • Now put the wire through the top nail hole, along the inside of the carton and out the bottom hole
  • Make a bed for the birds by putting dried grass inside
  • Close the top of the carton and seal it with tape
  • Find a pole or tree outside that’s not surrounded by other trees, poles, or buildings
  • Bang the nails in with the hammer, about a foot apart, one above the other
  • Hang the birdhouse on the nails by wrapping one end of the wire around one nail, and the other end around the other nail. Make sure it’s good and tight so the carton will stay up!

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Photo credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Tags: science teachers, student engagement, earth day

3 Ways Students Can Help Save the Earth

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 3, 2014 3:55:00 PM

Earth DayIn case you forgot, Earth Day is just around the corner! To help you celebrate, we’re sharing three activities from a book we’ve been reading called The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth.

Pack a no-garbage lunch
You may not know it, but lunch trash is the second-largest source of waste in American schools! Every year, Americans discard 380 billion plastic bags and nearly 2.7 billion juice boxes—and just think about all of the other items that we turn into trash every day!

To cut down on waste, try packing a no-garbage lunch. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Use a brown paper bag. When you’re done with it, save and reuse for tomorrow’s lunch
  • Even better, pack your lunch in a lunchbox; you can reuse a lunchbox for years!
  • Carry a sandwich or other food in a reusable container
  • Save your zip-lock bags; these can be rinsed and reused
  • Buy snacks in large packages instead of individual ones. Not only do you get more food, you also get less packaging
  • Bring more natural snacks. When you eat apples and bananas, your “packaging” is always biodegradable
  • Bring your milk or juice in a reusable thermos
  • Instead of using paper napkins, bring a cloth napkin

Be a Water-Leak Detective
Even a tiny leak can waste a lot of water. For example, a leak that fills up a coffee cup in 10 minutes will waste 3,000 gallons of water in a year! Cutting down on water waste is not only good for the environment, but it can also be a useful learning activity at school.  

For example, students at the Homestead-Wakefield Elementary School in Bel Air, Maryland investigated their school to find leaks; then they analyzed how much water was being wasted by leaky faucets in their school. After crunching some numbers, the students all wrote letters explaining the problem and sent them to the faculty to find solutions.

Here’s a simple way to check toilets for leaks:

  • Take the top off the toilet tank. Now put about 12 drops of red or blue food coloring in the tank
  • Wait about 15 minutes. Guard the toilet so no one uses it while you’re waiting
  • Now look in the toilet. If colored water shows up in the bowl, you’ve found a leak!

Raise awareness about endangered species
When students hear about “endangered species,” many of them think about animals that are thousands of miles and many continents away. Unfortunately, there are many endangered species in our home states. In Michigan, where we live, the northern long-eared bat, the Kirtland’s warbler,  the Hine’s emerald dragonfly and the piping plover are all on the endangered species list—and these are only a few of the species listed! So what can students do about this?

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Tags: science teachers, earth day

Marygrove MAT's best of April

Posted by Marygrove MAT on May 7, 2013 9:22:00 AM

best of aprilWe’re always looking forward, but before we get too far into May, we want to look back on our most popular blogs in April. We like doing this for a couple of reasons. First, as avid blog readers ourselves, we know that we often miss out on great content, especially when our favorite sites are updated every day. Second, we’ve found that looking back on the content that was most popular with our readers is the best way to figure out what we should (or shouldn’t) be blogging about in the future. Happy May, everyone!

An awesome classroom management strategy you've never heard of
If you have a cell phone or landline in your classroom, you’ve got everything you need for your students to make “Brag Phone Calls.” Did a number of your students recently turn in exceptional work or demonstrate leadership? Brag Phone Calls give these students the opportunity to call home and brag to their parents about it.

Spark It: A free reading assessment tool for parents and teachers

It’s unfortunate, but every year we encounter struggling readers who have been lost in the shuffle or flown under the “reading radar” for years. So you can imagine how pleased we were to come across Spark it, a free reading assessment tool that not only evaluates readers’ skill level, but also offers recommendations for improvement and activities to develop their skills.

Text-Based Games: A cure for the common book?
When Bantam discontinued its popular Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book series in the late 90s, our students shed a few tears. Thankfully, Choice of Games—an online publisher who has been releasing “text-based games”—has picked up where Bantam left off. Did we mention that all of their books are completely free?

No More Poetry-Induced Groans: 2 unconventional Poetry Lessons
Robert Frost once said that free verse poetry is “like playing tennis with the nets down.” Mr. Frost may not approve, but we want to help you take down the proverbial nets and give your students two poetry lessons they’ll actually enjoy.

How to Make Earth Day Relevant to Students
Technically Earth Day falls on April 22 every year, but we know how important it is to commemorate the holiday every day. To help you do this, we put together a free downloadable guide that offers two student-friendly activities that will:

  • Help students visualize and understand how oil spills impact our planet
  • Give students the opportunity to use two methods currently used to clean up oil spills

    Summer 2013 Deadlines

Tags: reading assessment, Best of, reading comprehension, classroom management, reluctant readers, earth day

How to Make Earth Day Relevant to Students

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Apr 11, 2013 9:48:00 AM

Earth DayWe want to help you and your students celebrate Earth Day in ways that are not only engaging and enlightening, but also thematic and clearly-focused.

Our guide offers two student-friendly activities that will:

  • Help students visualize and understand how oil spills impact our planet
  • Give students the opportunity to use two methods currently used to clean up oil spills

In addition to these two activities, we refer teachers to one of our favorite resources, If It Were My Home. Using this website, students will be able to visualize the impact of the 2010 oil spill by seeing it physically overlaid onto a customizable map.

The last two sections are devoted to our favorite resources: five documentaries and five books that all relate to oil and our environment.

We hope that you and your students enjoy these activities.

Happy Earth Day!


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Tags: critical thinking, free guide, earth day

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