The environment is everything that is around us, including the air, soil, water, plants and animals. And we need a safe, healthy environment to maintain our health and well-being.

Unfortunately, there are more than 7.6 billion people living on Earth, and we’re taking natural resources faster than the planet can replenish them. We’re also using up more energy, producing more trash and releasing more pollution into the atmosphere. Not surprising, our actions are exasperating current environmental issues, like global warming, pollution and the depletion of non-renewable resources.

As educators, you can help create positive change by teaching students about the issues affecting the environment and how to protect it. And the good news is that students are actually more interested in learning about the environment than other subjects like science and history, according to a recent survey.

The findings show that two-thirds of the children surveyed wanted to learn more about wildlife and nature, and almost as many (62%) wanted to learn about “green” - or environmental - issues. Even more, almost all the children were at least a little worried about people damaging the planet.

Environmental Scrapbook: Teaching Students About Environmental Issues

Afterschool programs have a unique opportunity to tap into students’ curiosity and inform them about environmental issues through fun and engaging activities. In this collaborative activity, students will create a scrapbook of news articles, stories and other items pertaining to the environment. As they collect the items, they’ll learn about environmental issues affecting the world and possible ways they can help protect the environment.

Before starting the activity, discuss the various environmental issues and how they impact the earth’s natural resources as well as humans, animals and plants. You can also check out these kid-friendly environmental websites to empower students to protect the environment in a fun, creative way.

Materials:

  • A large scrapbook
  • Tape or glue
  • Old magazines and newspapers
  • Samples of articles, charts, pictures and other items concerning environmental issues
  • Items from nature to embellish the scrapbook, like leaves and pressed flowers

Instructions:

  1. Show students the scrapbook. Announce that the group will collect interesting items on the environment and put them in the scrapbook.
  2. Suggest that the students look for magazine and newspaper articles, download and print articles, graphs and charts from the internet and collect photographs and pictures.
  3. Have students use what they’ve learned from the articles and information gathered to create poetry, drawings and stories to include in the scrapbook. Encourage them to include good news about the environment along with the issues.
  4. List possible subject areas, including:
    1. Endangered species
    2. Air and water pollution
    3. Preservation of parks and open spaces
    4. Destruction of rainforests
    5. Oil spills
    6. Effects of population growth
    7. Recycling and reuse
    8. Global warming
  5. As students bring in items, discuss each one with the group before placing it in the scrapbook.
  6. Have students sort, arrange and paste the items into the scrapbook, adding headings and captions. Then have them use items from nature, such as pressed leaves and flowers, to enhance the visual appeal of the scrapbook.
  7. Encourage students to share their environmental scrapbooks with parents, friends and other program visitors. As they discuss the items they have included, it reinforces what they’ve learned about the environment.

Wrap up the activity with a few discussion questions. Which item in the scrapbook did students find most interesting? In what ways can they help the environment? What do they think is the most serious environmental issue we have, based on the articles and information collected?

The goal of this activity is to raise awareness of the environmental issues affecting the world and empower students to take action and effect change. For additional learning, check out our When I Grow Up STEM Series Environmental Scientist kit. This resource helps students learn to observe, study and protect the environment through hands-on experiments and learning activities like testing water samples and studying pollution.

This activity was adapted from After-School Explorations: Fun, Ready-to-Use Activities for Kids Ages 5-12.