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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Environmental Education: Middle School

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


Acid Rain by Colin Hocking, Jacqueline Barber & Jan Coonrod (Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science, 1999. ISBN: 0924886145)

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.

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 units 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.

Environmental Science Activities Kit: Lessons, Labs and Worksheets for Secondary Students by Michael L. Roach & Ginny Allen (Jossey-Bass, 1993. ISBN: 0876283040)
Provides 32 detailed, interdisciplinary environmental science lessons with complete directions for use, including summary, introduction, materials needed, preparation and step-by-step teaching directions plus worksheets and background sheets. For grades 7-12.

Global Warming & the Greenhouse Effect by Colin Hocking, Cary I. Sneider, John Erickson & Richard Golden (Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science, 2001. ISBN: 092488665X)
Students explore this powerful environmental topic in a wide variety of formats, from hands-on science activities and experiments to a simulation game, analysis of articles, a story about an island threatened by rising sea levels, and a world conference on global warming. For grades 7-8.

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.

Green Means 1,2, & 3 [Videorecording] (San Francisco, CA: KQED-San Francisco, no year given.)
Series of short programs about environmental concern and consciousness. The stories profile ordinary people, businesses and communities who are doing extraordinary things for the earth's sake. For grades 6 and up.

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.

The Life Cycle of Everyday Stuff by Mike Reeske and Shirley Watt Ireton (NSTA Press, 2001 ISBN: 0873551877)
Using common products like the telephone, this book helps students lean about the flow of energy and matter through the environment. Includes seven illustrated sections which can be used as standalone units or as a cumulative program. For grades 8-12.

Municipal Solid Waste and the 3Rs Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : An Illinois Middle School Teacher's Guide (Springfield, IL : Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, Bureau of Energy and Recycling, 2002. Available at no charge from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs Recycling Education Unit) [363. 7282 M9665m]
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.

Organics? A Wasted Resource! by Gerald R. Culen (Champaign, IL : Stipes Publishing, 2001. Student edition ISBN: 1588740463, Teacher edition ISBN: 1588740471)
This resource is an entire sequence of scientific information about composting and how to set up a composting operation at home as well as strategies for investigating and evaluating issues about organic waste management. For grades 6-12.

P2E2 Goes to School : A Pollution Prevention and Energy Efficiency Program for Middle School Students : Teacher's Manual (Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, [199?]. Online at [363.73 709748 P975.]
Designed to help middle school teachers integrate pollution prevention and energy efficiency concepts into their classrooms.

Resources for Teaching Middle School Science (National Academy Press, 1998. ISBN: 0309057817. Environmental Science chapter online at
Guide to curriculum materials and other resources for teaching science in grades six through eight. Entire book is online at

River Cutters by Cary I. Sneider and Katharine Barrett, with Kevin Beals, Lincoln Bergman, Jefferey S. Kaufmann, and Robert C. Knott (Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science, 2001. ISBN: 0924886323)
Creating river models using a dripper system and diatomaceous earth, students acquire geological terminology and begin to understand rivers as dynamic, ever-changing systems. They investigate the concepts of erosion, pollution, toxic waste, and human manipulation of rivers, and gain understanding of controlled experimentation.

Strong Medicine : Chemistry at the Pharmacy (Middletown, OH: Terrific Science Press, c1999. ISBN: 1883822106) [615.19 00712 S9239.]
Looks at chemistry in the pharmaceutical industry. Students get hands-on experience making aspirin and learning sophisticated chemical techniques like gel filtration. For grades 7-12.

Toxics in my Home? You Bet! : Learning Activities on Household Toxics for Grades 7-8 (Sacramento, CA: Golden Empire Health Planning Center, 1984. Available for purchase from the Local Government Commission.) [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 K-3, 4-6, 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.

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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