Earth Day opens the door to some more in-depth exploration and discussion about human impact on the environment. These classroom products and lesson plan ideas can get your students in the Earth Day spirit, while teaching them about the history of oil spills and how they impact nature.
Environment Books for Your Classroom Library
There are lots of great books out there for students to read while learning about the environment. From recycling and using chemical-free cleaning products, to saving animals from life-threatening natural disasters like oil spills, these books are a timely addition to any classroom library.
Hands-On Oil Spill Cleanup Activity
Start the discussion with sharing information about historical oil spills, like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (or BP oil spill) in 2010. Show images of the animals affected and how the oil impacted the landscape. After showing students how damaging these disasters are, have them try to clean up their own oil spill with this hands-on activity.
What You’ll Need:
- Deep clear containers (one per group)
- Vegetable oil
- Cocoa powder
- Blue food coloring
- Rocks & stones
- Cotton balls
- Paper towels
- Dawn dish soap
Activity Guide & Steps
- Give each student group a deep, clear container with 3-4 inches of food-colored water in it, and a bottle of “crude oil” made from a mixture of vegetable oil and cocoa powder. Instruct students to add the oil to the water, followed by the rocks and feathers.
- The rocks represent the land and the feathers represent the marine life. Tell students that their goal will be to use the tools provided (cotton balls, sponge, spoon, dish soap) to try and rid the water, wildlife, and land of oil.
- Give students 5-10 minutes to try and remove as much oil as they can.
- Once students have removed some of the oil (and most likely have run out of innovative ideas), end the activity.
Follow-Up Classroom Discussion:
- Ask students what made it difficult to remove the oil?
- Which tools worked the best for removing the oil?
- Considering the size and severity of real-life oil spill disasters, would the classroom clean-up tools be a realistic solution?
Find more details and steps for completing an Oil Spill STEM Challenge here.
Classroom Decor and Cleaning Supplies
Earth Day is a great reason to give your classroom a décor refresh, or add some manipulatives and earth-oriented supplies to the space. Check out these Earth Day products and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
Check out our other posts related to the celebrations and seasons going on in your classroom space. From décor ideas to learning activities, School Specialty has you covered. Also be sure to head over to the online store and explore thousands of Teacher Favorite products for every lesson plan and activity.