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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Environmental Education: K-6

Guide to environmental education resources and curricula for teachers and teachers in training. Includes subject specific resources.


Air, Land & Water : Activity Book and Teachers' Manual (Springfield, IL: Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Public Information, 1997.) [372. 357 A298.]
Activities for 5th and 6th grades.

All "Trashed" Out : An Activity Guide to Solid Waste Management for Grades K-6 (Springfield, IL: Illinois Dept. of Energy and Natural Resources, Office of Recycling and Waste Reduction, [1992]) [ILENR RR 92/02.]
Classroom activities for students in grades K-6.

Consider the Earth: Environmental Activities for Grades 4-8 by Julie M. Gates (Teacher Ideas Press, 1999. ISBN: 1563087251)
Activities cover a wide range of environmental topics including water, soil, wildlife, plants, ecosystems, weather, environmental problems, and oceans. Each chapter begins with an explanation of the topic, followed by lesson plans for activities, supplementary and alternative activities, vocabulary definitions, and discussion questions that enhance student understanding of key concepts.

Counting on People: Elementary Population and Environmental Activities by Pamela Wasserman and Anne Scullard (Washington, DC : Zero Population Growth Inc., 1994. ISBN: 0945219040)
Serves as a primer on population dynamics and environmental impacts and fosters respect for the needs of others and stresses the importance of using cooperative strategies to promote a high quality of life for all that share our planet.

Dig In!: Hands-on Soil Investigations by NSTA Press and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NSTA Press, 2001. ISBN: 0873551893)
Twelve activities and two original stories help students learn about soil formation, habitats and land use, animals that depend on soil, plants that grow in soil, soil science, and soil conservation. For grades K-4.

Drop Swap and Roll : The Game of Reuse and Recycling (Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, [1998])
[EPA 530 E-98 003.]
Board game for grades 4-6. Students must get rid of their "trash" cards by dropping off items at appropriate bins (e.g., recycling, composting, or reuse bins) stationed on the playing board. Students learn facts about waste management as they move around the board.

Earth Child 2000 with Teacher's Guide: Early Science for Young Children by Kathryn Sheehan & Mary Waidner (San Francisco, CA: Council Oak Books, 1997. ISBN: 1571780548)
For ages 4-8.

Eco-Fun: Great Projects, Experiments, and Games for a Greener Earth by David Suzuki and Kathy Vanderlinden (Douglas & McIntyre, 2001. ISBN: 1550548239)
Projects cover a range of difficulty and include a mix of scientific experiments to do at home or school. Activities include building a solar panel, making recycled paper, building a worm composter and creating a forest ecosystem in a jar. For ages 8-11.

Eco-Inquiry : A Guide to Ecological Learning Experiences for the Upper Elementary/Middle Grades by Kathleen Hogan (Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1994. ISBN: 0840395841) [577. 071 H714e.]
Offers 3 modules, each with a different ecological challenge for students. The modules can stand alone or can be used in sequence at one or several grade levels. Each module contains from 7 to 10 lessons and requires from 4 to 7 weeks for completion.

Environmental Awareness Activities for Librarians and Teachers: 20 Interdisciplinary Units for Use in Grades 2-8 by Martha Seif Simpson (McFarland & Co., 1995. ISBN: 0786400641)
20 divided into three broad categories (Our Planet’s Resources, Our Planet’s Natural Habitats, and Preserving Our Planet). Each unit gives specific activities in library skills, arts and crafts, spelling and vocabulary, geography, math, music and theater arts, English composition, science, history and sociology, and other topics for discussion. Suggested resources, additional reading lists and a list of addresses to write to for further information conclude each environmental unit.

Environmental Detectives by Kevin Beals with Carolyn Willard (Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science, 2001. ISBN: 0924886234)
Provides students the opportunity to grapple with a complex, interdisciplinary scientific problem. They hear statements of various "suspects" in the crime. They study and discuss reference materials, including records, newspaper articles, charts, graphs, and even "secret documents," and integrate all of this information with their own test results. For grades 5-8.

Exploring the Environment through Children's Literature: An Integrated Approach by Carol M. Butzow (Teacher's Idea Press, 1999. ISBN: 1563086506)
Help students learn about nature and the environment through quality contemporary and classic literature. Hands-on activities span the curriculum and support environmental themes and principles. Puzzles, word searches, suggestions for computer usage, and library connections are also given in each of the 15 chapters.

The Great Lakes in my World : An Activities Workbook for Grades K-8 (Chicago, IL: Lake Michigan Federation, 1989. Available from the Lake Michigan Federation for $25.00.)
[372. 8977 G786.]
This 160-page manual provides information and activities that are designed to fit into regular curriculum units in the subject areas of science, social studies, math, and language arts. While some of the activities are linked, most are designed for independent use, or to be sequenced at the discretion of the teacher. Activities include role plays, board games, demonstrations, data analysis, and experiments, some of which require innovative problem solving.

Ideas for Environmental Education: In the Elementary Classroom by Kath Murdoch (Heinemann, 1994. ISBN: 0435083473)
Guide to designing and implementing environmental education at the classroom and whole-school levels. It offers teachers practical ideas to help children investigate, understand, and celebrate their local and global environments. Detailed activity plans for across all curriculum areas include unit outlines, ideas for assessment and evaluation, and a list of resources.

Junior Environmental Activities on File (New York, NY: Facts on File, 1997. ISBN: 081603208)
Reference book of activities that illustrates ecological knowledge and environmental studies. It offers step-by-step instructions to more than 90 exercises ranging from hands-on projects, worksheets, and paper-and-pencil work to outdoor activities and games. For grades 4-6.

Language Arts and Environmental Awareness: 100+ Integrated Books and Activities for Children by Patricia L. Roberts (Shoe String Press, 1998. ISBN: 0208024271)
Annotated bibliography complete with integrated home and school activities. The chapters are organized according to language-arts areas, focusing on involving children in language, listening, folk literature, reading, and speaking. Divided by age level (5-8 and 9-14), each section lists several books that foster environmental awareness along with plot summaries and related activities. The names and addresses of environmental organizations and a list of periodicals that publish children's work are included.

Municipal Solid Waste and the 3Rs Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : An Illinois Elementary School Teacher's Guide (Springfield, IL : Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, Bureau of Energy and Recycling, 2002.) [363. 7282 M9665e]
Developed using the investigation skills methodology, which helps students develop the skills to investigate, evaluate, and resolve issues. It also correlates to Illinois Learning Standards.

Paint, Paint Everywhere (Champaign, IL: [Illinois Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center], 1994. Available from the WMRC Clearinghouse at no charge (publication SCH-011).)
[667.6 P1481.]
An interdisciplinary study of paint for grades 4-6 which incorporates language arts, history, mathematics, art, science, and environmental lesson plans.

Toxics in my Home? You Bet! : Learning Activities on Household Toxics for Grades K-3 and 4-6 (Sacramento, CA: Golden Empire Health Planning Center, 1984.) [371.3 078 T755.]
One-week school curriculum on chemical hazards in the home for grades 7-8. Offers step-by-step teaching instructions and masters for student worksheets/handouts. Innovative and activity oriented. Discusses safe use, disposal, and safer substitutes for common household products containing toxic substances. Also has modules for grades 7-8 and 9-12.

Understanding Garbage and Our Environment by Andrea J. Nolan (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, c1999. ISBN: 0070647607) [628.44 N787u.]
Includes activities and research on such subjects as recycling, waste-related illness, source reduction, and more. Includes eight lessons and 20 hands-on investigations in this book incorporating cross-curricular extensions, safety tips, and resources for further study. Every lesson includes references to the National Science Education Standards. Appropriate for grades 5-8.

Windows on Waste (Columbus, OH: Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, 1999.) [363. 7282 W7656.]
Interdisciplinary activity guidebook for grades 3-6. Features 14 chapters with topics ranging from the composition of Ohio's municipal solid waste stream, composting and alternatives to household hazardous wastes to papermaking, lifecycle analysis and litter prevention.

Worms Eat Our Garbage : Classroom Activities for a Better Environment by Mary Appelhof (Kalamazoo, MI: Flower Press, c1993. ISBN: 0942256050) [595. 146 A646.]
This curriculum uses over 150 worm-related classroom or home activities to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in children grades 4-8. Activities integrate science, mathematics, language arts, biology, solid waste issues, ecology, and the environment.

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