The Way We Live

...and how our choices impact our environment

Educator Resources 

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Find educational resources easily. The full list of resources is available in alphabetical order by title. You may also search by grade levels, subjects and topics. To search for multiple grades, subjects or topics, press and hold the CTRL key (Windows) or Command key (Mac) on your keyboard then click to select the materials you need. Many of the educational resources can be downloaded from the website.
 



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Educator Resources Materials Available Grade Level Content Areas Topic
72 hours

72 Hours Lesson Plan (PDF)

In the process of collecting their personal "trash" for a consecutive 72-hour period, students develop an understanding for the need for waste reduction.

Activity 3-5, 6-8 Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles, Recycle/Reuse/Compost, Waste/Pollution
A Life Like Mine (UNICEF)

Check your library or store for this resource.

This 128-page book beautifully profiles 18 children from around the world and addresses survival, development, protection and participation.

   2005: DK Children 0-75661-803-7 (128 pgs. Nonfiction)

Book/Reading PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8 Social Studies Global Studies
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic DVD (by de Graaf, John and Vivia Boe )

Check your library or store for this resource.

This 56-minute video, hosted by National Public Radio's Scott Simon, looks at overconsumption and materialism. Clips appropriate for 5th grade- adults

  1997: KCTS Television (56 min., DVD or VHS )

Videos 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Arts, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption
Agatha's Feather Bed (by Agra Deedy, Carmen)

Agatha' Feather Bed lesson plan (PDF)

This lesson is based on the book, Agatha's Feather Bed, in which Agatha explains that "everything comes from something"--wool from sheep, linen from flax, cotton from cotton bolls.

Students explore this concept, as well as learn about community recycling programs and idioms. Here is an alternative activity, done as a skit. Related activities include the K-1 Matching Match (page 29) and grades 5-6 activity is Sources of Resources (page 17).

For another activity idea, see Everything Comes from Something. [This is a large file and may take some time to load].

Activity, Book/Reading PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8 Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Citizenship/Service, Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles, Recycle/Reuse/Compost
Bag It! DVD and Curriculum

This DVD allows students to explore the effects of their everyday behavior on the environment, their health and well being.

Check your Area Education Agency to access the DVD.

Activity, Videos 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 Arts, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Citizenship/Service, Reduction/Consumption, Recycle/Reuse/Compost, Waste/Pollution
Bay vs. The Bag

See Bay vs. The Bag Video Here

This is a 2-minute video that uses stop-motion graphics to communicate the need to stop polluting the San Francisco Bay with plastic bags. A teenage girl is the character, so easy for kids to relate to if they have ever been to an ocean.

Videos 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Recycle/Reuse/Compost
Business Behind the Scenes Pollution Prevention Games

See Business Behind the Scenes Pollution Prevention Game Here

The Clean Scene, Rev it Up and Fine Print are three, real-life simulation games in which students make business decisions. Then they play board games where they reap benefits and suffer consequences of their decisions. The lesson introduces students to small business decision-making, entrepreneurship, pollution prevention, economics and finance. 

Activity 6-8, 9-12 Math, Science Waste/Pollution
Butterfly House (by Bunting, Eve)

Check your library or store for this resource.

After saving a caterpillar, a young girl and her grandfather build a butterfly house. The child decides to bring outdoor beauty into the box by painting a colorful “garden” on the insides of the box, and a blue sky on the inner lid. The caterpillar undergoes the metamorphosis and is set free by the tearful girl. In her older years, the “girl” (who narrates the story) enjoys the many butterflies in her own garden. A touching story. 

  1999: Scholastic Press 0-59084-884-4 (Illustrated picture book).

Book/Reading PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8 Arts, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Natural Resources/Life Cycles
Buy, Use, Toss

Access Buy, Use, Toss Unit Plan Here

Some concepts just naturally engage students' curiosity.  consumption--how we "buy, use, and toss"--is one of those. Because consumption is current, relevant, and real, it is an ideal context for teaching core subject matter and 21st century skills such as critical thinking and collaboration.

Facing the Future describes their Workshop as follows:

Buy, Use, Toss? is a free interdisciplinary unit that includes ten fully-planned lessons. This unit is correlated with national science and social studies standards and will lead your students through an exploration of the system of producing and consuming goods that is called the materials economy. Students will learn about the five major steps of the materials economy; Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption, and Disposal. They will also be asked to analyze the sustainability of these steps, determining how consumption can benefit people, economies, and environments. 

  • Grades: 9-12
  • Subjects: Science, Social Studies
Book/Reading 9-12 Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies Citizenship/Service, Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles, Recycle/Reuse/Compost
Carbon Calculator

Access the Zero Footprint Youth Calculator Here

This quiz helps students to learn how they can make changes to help the environment.

World Wildlife Fund Carbon Calculator

From the UK branch of the organization, this allows individuals to take the 'challenge' to improve their footprint (after taking an initial quiz).

Activity, Other 3-5, 6-8 Math, Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles, Population, Waste/Pollution
Center for a New American Dream

See here for more information about Center for a New American Dream

This organization is a leader in rethinking consumption in America. They occasionally have curriculum materials available, but even when they don't, they have a load of great resources for most ages.

Other 9-12, Post-secondary Language Arts, Social Studies, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Living Well
Chattanooga Sludge (by Bang, Molly )

Check your library or store for this resource.

This 47-page nonfiction book challenges students to be problem-solvers by telling them about a man who tried to clean poisons from the Chattanooga Creek.

  1996: Harcourt Brace & Co., Orlando , FL 0-15-216345-X

Book/Reading 6-8, 9-12 Science Citizenship/Service, Waste/Pollution
Closing the Loop curricula (California Integrated Waste Management Board)

See Closing the Loop Unit Lesson Plans (K-3 and 4-6) Here.

This curriculum is designed to introduce K-3 and 4-6 grade students to waste issues, including household hazardous waste.

K-3 module [23 lessons targeting integrated waste management concepts] - includes:  Unit 1: Conserving Natural Resources.  Unit 2: Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling.  Unit 3:  Vermicomposting.  Unit 4:  Proper Disposal of Waste.  Unit 5:  Proper Management of Household Hazardous Waste.  

4-6 Module [27 lessons targeting integrated waste management concepts] - includes:  Unit 1:  Managing and Conserving Natural Resources.  Unit 2:  Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling.  Unit 3: Composting.  Unit 4:  Proper Management of Household Hazardous Waste.

Activity PreK-2, 3-5 Arts, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Recycle/Reuse/Compost, Waste/Pollution
Common Ground: The Water, Earth and Air We Share (by Bang, Molly )

Check your library or store for this resource.

This parable about sheep and the Commons where they graze demonstrates impacts of daily actions and the value of working together to preserve common ground. (Illustrated picture book )

    1997: Blue Sky Press, an Imprint of Scholastic Inc.: NY , NY 0-590-10056-4

Book/Reading 3-5, 6-8 Language Arts, Science, 21st Century Citizenship/Service, Living Well
Compost, by Gosh! (by Portman, Michelle Eva)

Check your library or store for this resource.

This simple, rhyming book explains the process of worms eating leftover food and creating fertilizer. The book’s instructions for creating compost is easy and step-by-step. Check out Worms: Nature’s Recyclers to learn one way to use this in the classroom.

   2002: Flower Press 0-942250616-1 (42 pgs. Illustrated picture book)

Book/Reading PreK-2 Science Recycle/Reuse/Compost
Consumerism, Values, and What Really Matters: An Interview with Tim Kasser

See book/reading here:  Consumerism, Values, and What Really Matters:  An Interview with Tim Kasser

In this article, Professor of Psychology Tim Kasser talks about intrinsic and extrinsic values. The article also mentions Kasser's “Alternatives to Consumerism” class, where he asks his students to write a “consumerography,” or a biography of their lives as consumers. "It is really remarkable how many of them see how empty that lifestyle is and how much they really want to figure out a different pattern of life for themselves and their kids one day. I have hope that they can, given how much energy, caring, and intelligence they show."

Book/Reading 9-12, Post-secondary Science, Social Studies Living Well
Consumption and Waste: Shoes

See Consumption and Waste:  Shoes Activities/Lesson Plan Here.

Students break into five groups and, for about 25 minutes, study an issue around "shoes."  One group studies life cycles, another does math problems related to how many shoes students own, another looks at economics issues, yet another looks at cultural and global issues.  A fifth group looks at the good news that some shoes are reused and recycled. After the small group work, the students learn what the other groups studied.

Review another "shoe" lesson plan developed by two middle school teachers titled, In Your Shoes.

Note:  this lesson plan could also be developed into separate lessons, either standalone or as part of a unit.  Interdisciplinary opportunities about with these activities.

Activity 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Arts, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles
Cost of Cool (by Tobias, Michael)

Check your library or store for this resource.

This production addresses the environmental cost of "cool." It focuses on teenagers' buying patterns and needs versus wants. Teenagers are interviewed, the life cycle of a t-shirt is shown.

 2001: Population Communications International and Cognizant Media Ltd. (26 min., DVD)

Videos 6-8, 9-12 Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles
Crafts--Watching Your Waste at the Holidays and Other Recycled Craft Ideas

See Recycled Holiday Craft Ideas Here.

The South Central Iowa Solid Waste Agency website includes how-tos for making recycled crafts, including a booklet (in pdf form) with patterns for holiday gift bags, ornaments, cards and other items.

Activity, Other PreK-2, 3-5 Arts, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Recycle/Reuse/Compost
Defining Happiness

Find Lesson Plan Defining Happiness Here (Lesson #7)  (Note:  You may be required to login for your free curriculum download)

Students determine what positively contributes to their lives, and think about their progress toward a better quality of life. They also consider how their personal consumption enhances or detracts from their quality of life. Because consumption is current, relevant, and real, it is an ideal context for teaching core subject matter and 21st century skills such as critical thinking and collaboration.

 

Activity, Book/Reading PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 Arts, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies Citizenship/Service, Reduction/Consumption, Living Well, Natural Resources/Life Cycles, Population, Recycle/Reuse/Compost

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