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
Downsiders (by Shusterman, Neal )

Check your library or store for this resource.

In this novel, a world exists beneath the sewer grates of New York City. The residents are called "Downsiders," and are prohibited from entering the "Topside." Yet, a young girl and boy, one from the Topside and one from down under, meet and learn about each others' worlds.

  1999: Simon and Schuster  NY, NY (Fiction )

Book/Reading 3-5, 6-8 Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Recycle/Reuse/Compost, Waste/Pollution
Earth Day Groceries Project

See Earth Day Groceries Project here.

This site provides instructions for decorating bags for earth day.

Activity PreK-2, 3-5 Arts Recycle/Reuse/Compost
Economics of Happiness (by Gould, David)

See the article: The Economics of Happiness here.

This is a short, compelling, great-for-discussion and critical thinking op-ed piece. It summarizes research on happiness...including the fact that money, past what is required for modest comfort, does not increase happiness.  Gould also shares the author John Irving's writing technique--to start his novels by creating the last sentence. Every word of Irving's novels leads to that last sentence.

Extension: Explain Irving's writing technique and ask students, "If your life was framed in a similar manner, what would your last sentence be? How would that reshape the way you see your life and treat the world today?" (Credit: Dave Gould, Life Design, University of Iowa.)

Book/Reading 9-12, Post-secondary Language Arts, 21st Century Living Well
Education of Little Tree (by Carter, Forrest and Rennard Strickland )

Check your library or store for this resource.

Though classified as non-fiction in many libraries, critics confirm that this 216-page book is a novel. The book tells the story of a young, orphaned boy who is adopted by his Cherokee grandparents and lives in the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee . "Little Tree" learns to hunt and survive in the mountains and to respect nature.

  2003: University of New Mexico Press 0-8263-0879-1 (216 pgs. Fiction )

Book/Reading PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Arts, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption, Living Well, Natural Resources/Life Cycles
Electronic Gadgets

See PBS - Electronic Gadgets Video Here. (You must create an account or log in to access the video at this site, but it's well-worth the effort!)

In this 2-minute animated video from Public Broadcasting Service's LOOP SCOOPS, Oliver and his sister Gabby learn about Oliver's computer game. The kids discover that parts in the game device came from 18 different countries and traveled 228,000 miles; the device contains titanium, gold, and mercury; and that often these devices end up in landfills. After learning this, Oliver decides to not get a new game device, but to keep his. 

Videos PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8 Arts, Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles
Environmental Protection Agency Municipal Solid Waste

See Wastes Homepage US EPA for more information

This web site contains information on municipal solid waste (MSW), including facts, information about reducing, reusing and recycling, and state data about MSW. Click here for a list of curriculum materials available from the EPA.

Other 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Math, Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption, Recycle/Reuse/Compost, Waste/Pollution
Everything Comes from Something

Everything Comes from Something Teacher Kits Handout (PDF) (This file is large and may take time to download.)

Everything Comes from Something Teacher Kits Handout [no pictures] (PDF)

Create your own teacher kit to help students learn that the products we use all come from the earth. A sample of possible natural resources and products for an Everything Comes from Something kit is shown plus ideas for student activities. 

Making Linen from Flax (video - 5 min) - This resource shows the old-fashioned way of making linen, including references to to "men's work" and "women's work" to denote the culture of the day. 

Activity, Videos PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles
Everything Comes from Something - National Geographic

See Everything Comes from Something Lesson Plan

Students and their families use a multitude of products every day. These products are manufactured in part or entirely from natural resources. In this lesson students will learn about renewable and nonrenewable resources and trace resources' points of origin by constructing and analyzing a product map. While it this National Geographic curriculum says it is for K-2 students, it could be modified for all ages. Students will:

  • understand the characteristics of renewable and nonrenewable resources; and
  • know several examples of each.
Activity PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption, Natural Resources/Life Cycles
Food for Thought from Population Connection

See Food for Thought activity here.

A simulation where students populate "continents" drawn to scale in yarn on the classroom floor and discuss how people and resources are distributed worldwide.  The World Population Clock updates the world's population in real time.

The activity description states:  

"This simulation demonstrates the inequitable distribution of population and resources among the different regions of the world, and goes on to study the social effects of these inequities".  

Retrieved from http://www.populationeducation.org/sites/default/files/food_for_thought.pdf

Activity, Other 6-8, 9-12 Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Global Studies, Natural Resources/Life Cycles, Population
From "Managing Wastes" to "Managing Materials"--Oregon's 2050 Materials Management Vision and Framework for Action

by David Allaway

See here for David Alloway's PowerPoint Presentation:  From "Managing Wastes" to "Managing Materials"

This ppt presentation was shared by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's David Allaway, a policy analyst, at the 2013 Midwest Environmental Education Conference in Coralville, Iowa. Includes slides that argue for materials management in addition to waste management.

Other 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption, Recycle/Reuse/Compost, Waste/Pollution
Gift of Nothing (by McDonnell, Patrick)

Check your library or store for this resource.

Drawn in cartoon style, McDonnell sketches Mooch, a cat, and Earl, a dog. Mooch wants to get the perfect gift for Earl, who already has everything. So he searches high and low for “nothing.” Yet, he can’t find “nothing” in the stores or on TV or in the other places he searches. Mooch resolves the problem and at the same time reminds people of all ages that the greatest gift is friendship, not things. Expect clever wordplay and lovable characters in this charming 56-page book.

  2005: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 978-0316114882 (56 pgs. Illustrated picture book)

Book/Reading PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 Arts, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Living Well
Goat in the Rug (by Blood, Charles L. and Martin Link)

Check your library or store for this resource.

Geraldine is a goat and Glenmae, a Navajo weaver. This is a story about the time Glenmae decided to weave Geraldine’s coat into a rug. Check out Agatha's Feather Bed Lesson Book & Lesson Plan  and The EPA's Natural Resources Activities to view complementary resources and lesson plans. 

  1990:  Aladdin Paperbacks, NY, NY 978-0-689-71418-4 (Illustrated picture book)

Book/Reading 3-5, 6-8 Arts, Language Arts, Social Studies Natural Resources/Life Cycles
Good life

See The Good Life video here.

"The Good Life" takes you to a chance meeting between an MBA and a fisherman on a small island. As the MBA tries to teach the fisherman about business, the fisherman teaches him about life.

Videos 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 Arts, Language Arts, 21st Century Living Well
Gospel According to Larry (by Tashjian, Janet )

Check your library or store for this resource.

A 227-page, first-person narrative from a 17-year boy's perspective. "Larry" wants to make a positive difference in the world, and he uses tools such as the web to accomplish his mission.

  2001: Henry Holt & Co. (227 pgs. Fiction )

Book/Reading 6-8, 9-12 Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Reduction/Consumption
Gratitude letter

See here for more information about writing a Gratitude Letter.

Show your thanks, and teach your students how to show and share their gratitude.  Being grateful enhances well-being and deepens one’s sense of meaning. Authors Martin Seligman and Tal Ben-Sharar suggest writing to people who have positively impacted your life.

See Gratitude Letter as a Gift,  in the UNI Reclaim Your Holidays Program for more information and ideas.

Other 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Language Arts, 21st Century Other
Great Places: Turning from Stuff to Happiness (by Roberts, David: Grist magazine)

See the article by David Roberts:  Great Places:  Turning from Stuff to Happiness

Grist writer David Roberts talks about how, once basic needs are met, happiness comes from social connections, personal autonomy and recognition.  Article includes links to other articles about happiness research.

Book/Reading 9-12, Post-secondary Language Arts, Social Studies, 21st Century Living Well
Green Ninja — Footprint Renovation

See  Green Ninja - Footpring Renovation Video here.

This light, humorous, and inspiring 2:49 minute video shows how to transform a home to reduce ecological footprint.

Videos 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Arts, Science, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Recycle/Reuse/Compost
Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment

Check your library or store for this resource.

192 page book by Tal Ben-Shahar with three parts: What is Happiness, Happiness Applied, and Meditations on Happiness.

Book/Reading 9-12, Post-secondary Language Arts, 21st Century Living Well
Happiness video

by Public Broadcasting Systems

See Loops Scoops Happiness Store Video Here

This two-minute online video gets kids to think about happiness as it relates to stuff. The moral of the video:  "One small thing you love can make you happier than a ton of stuff."  Appropriate for 1st-3rd grades, and possibly other ages.

 

Videos PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 Language Arts, Social Studies, 21st Century Reduction/Consumption, Living Well, Natural Resources/Life Cycles, Waste/Pollution
Helping Iowans live what they really love
Helping Iowans live what they really love
 
We love stuff, but most of us love family & friends, experiences and skill-building more.  In a fun and non-threatening way, these graphics remind us of this. These are great for use in handouts, presentations, and posters.
 

 

Other PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Post-secondary Arts, 21st Century Living Well

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