Earth Day Activities: Science Experiments, Crafts, Bulletin Board, Writing Prompts, Song

Earth Day gives us a great opportunity to introduce young children to the importance of taking care of our world and the harmful effects humans have and can have on

Oil Spill by Melvin Berger
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Oil Spill by Melvin Berger

Earth Day gives us a great opportunity to introduce young children to the importance of taking care of our world and the harmful effects humans have and can have on the environment. I have always felt it important to teach my young students about Earth Day. They are the future and it is crucial that they understand how to take care of our planet for generations to come.

In this post, I’m sharing the best Earth Day activities from my years of teaching. Click any of the links below to quickly jump to a specific activity or scroll down to see them all.

Earth Day Science Experiments
– Water Pollution Experiments
– Air Pollution Experiment
– Solar Oven S’mores Experiment
Earth Day Chart Activity
Earth Day Crafts
Earth Day Bulletin Board
Earth Day Song
Earth Day Awards
Earth Day Activities resource

Earth Day Science Experiments

These Earth Day science experiments not only grab students’ attention and get them engaged, but they also provide great visuals and demonstrations.

Water Pollution Experiments

These 2 experiments will demonstrate the effects of water pollution on animals and plants.

I have found these 2 YouTube videos to be helpful when introducing water pollution to my students. If you feel they are appropriate for your students, show them prior to doing the experiments.

Water Pollution for Kids: Learn How to Keep Our Water Clean

Water Pollution, Water Contamination for Kids

Oil Spill Science Experiment

The first experiment teaches students about the effects of an oil spill and how difficult an oil spill is to clean up.

A good book to read beforehand is Oil Spill by Melvin Berger.

Fill a large bowl with some water. Add a few drops of blue food coloring and stir.

Add some plastic sea animals to the water to resemble the ocean.

Earth day science experiment water pollution

Show students the clean, blue water. Ask them how they think the sea animals feel living in such nice, clean water.

Take the animals out of the water and allow the students to feel them. Encourage them to describe their texture.

oil spill Earth Day experiment clean water holding animal

Now it’s time for the oil spill. To make the oil easier for students to see, mix vegetable oil with a small amount of cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder mix.

You can either pour the oil directly into the water or place some of it in a small plastic boat and then dump it to resemble an oil tanker having a spill.

earth day science oil spill experiment

Have students describe the water.

Explain that you are going to try to remove the oil from the water. Have students predict what tool (plastic spoon, cotton ball, or sponge) they think will work best. I have them write their predictions on an Oil Spill Experiment science page.

earth day science experiment page

Have students try to remove the oil from the water with spoons, cotton balls, and sponges. They will discover that it is not easy and would take a looong time to get all of the oil removed as well as a lot of cotton balls and sponges!

Have them think about how difficult it is to clean up hundreds or millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the ocean.

Take the animals out of the oily water and allow the students to feel them and describe how different they feel. Ask them how they think the oil affects the animals. Discuss how the oil hurts their skin or feathers and makes them sick.

oil spill Earth Day experiment dirty water holding animal

Ask students what they think can be done to clean and help the animals.

Fill another bowl or container with water and dish soap. Add toothbrushes or scrub brushes. Have students scrub the plastic animals until the oily residue is removed. Tell them that Dawn dish soap is used to remove oil from marine animals because it is effective and gentle.

Place a feather in the oil to show how it affects animal feathers and fur. Place it in the soapy water to clean it.

earth day science experiment cleaning up oil spill

I like to have students draw what they observe because it helps them really focus on the experiment and look at details. I also like to have them draw conclusions and write what they learned.

Oil spill science experiment page

Water Pollution Earth Day Experiment

This Earth Day experiment demonstrates the effect of water pollution on plants.

This is a similar experiment to the one we do when learning about how plants “drink”. It will show the difference between a plant growing by clean water and a plant growing by polluted water.

Show students two containers of water, one with plain water and one with water and food coloring (you can also add some dirt and trash to make it more polluted).

Explain that one has clear, clean water and the other has polluted water.  Talk about the different ways water can get polluted (factories dumping chemicals, people littering, volcanoes, silt from floods, etc.).

earth day water pollution science experiment

Place a stalk of celery in the clean water and 2 stalks of celery in the polluted water.

water pollution earth day experiment

Ask students how they think the polluted water will affect the plant (celery) and what they think will happen.

I like to have them write their predictions on a Water Pollution Experiment recording page.

earth day water pollution science experiment page prediction

Observe the celery at the end of the school day.  You should see a little color in the stalk and the leaves. If there isn’t a lot of color yet, let them sit overnight and observe them again the next day and you should see color in the leaves and the leaves should begin to wilt.

earth day science experiment water pollution

Point out that the pollution has affected all parts of the plant.

I like to have students draw their observations.

earth day water pollution science experiment page observations

Next, ask students if they think they can help the polluted plants by placing them in the clean water. Take one of the celery stalks from the polluted water and place it in the container of clean water (remove the original stalk from the clean water).  Leave one of the stalks in the polluted water for comparison.

Check back the next day.  The stalk that was placed in the clean water should have perked up and some of the red “pollution” should be visible in the water (was removed from the plant). The leaves should look healthier than the ones left in the polluted water.

Discuss the importance of keeping our water clean and protecting it from pollution.

water pollution earth day science experiment

I like to have students write what they learned from the experiment (draw conclusions).

earth day water pollution science experiment page conclusion

Air Pollution Experiment

This experiment will help students see air pollution using air pollution catchers.

I have found these 2 YouTube videos to be helpful when introducing air pollution to my students. If you feel they are appropriate for your students, show them prior to doing the experiments.

Air Pollution Video for Kids: Causes, Effects, & Solutions

Air Pollution for Kids: Learn About the Causes & Effects

The book, Paula Helps Prevent Air Pollution by Claire Culliford, is a cute story about how a parrot helps clean the air in her forest. It can be read before or after you hang up your air pollution catchers.

Paula Helps Prevent Air Pollution Earth Day book

After discussing air pollution and explaining that there are tiny particles floating in the air called pollutants, tell students that you are going to make air pollution catchers that will test how dirty the air is in your environment. They will actually help clean the air and show how dirty the air is.

Spread petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on one side of a plastic lid or paper plate. Spread it all over one side of the lid or plate.

Punch a hole in the top, string a piece of yarn or string through.

wind experiment

Decide where you are going to hang your pollution catchers. It is best to have them up off the ground at least 3 feet. You can hang them in trees, on a fence, on a railing, from a window, etc. Choose locations where they can hang up for a week (or month) without being disturbed.

Have students brainstorm what locations they think will have the most pollutants. The least?

Optional: Write the location on each catcher if you are going to bring them indoors for observation.

Hang your pollution catchers. 

earth day wind air pollution experiment

Have students predict what they think they will observe and record their predictions.

earth day air pollution science experiment page prediction

Observe the air pollution catchers at the end of the school day with magnifying glasses to see if anything has been “caught”. Let them sit for up to a week and then observe them again. You should be able to see little black “pollutants” as well as some larger ones.

air pollution wind experiment

Compare the results from the different locations and have students draw conclusions about why some may have more or less pollutants than others. Explain that every pollutant they caught helped clean the air!

If you would like to continue the experiment, the petroleum jelly should stay sticky for up to a month. Take pictures of your observations after a week’s time and then compare them with your results after a month’s time.

I like to have students draw their observations and write what they learned.

earth day air pollution experiment page

Solar Oven S’mores Experiment

This experiment demonstrates solar energy and shows students how to trap the sun’s natural heat to make an oven.

You can choose to make one solar oven or several depending on how many snacks you wish to bake and how many students you have in the class. 

You will need an empty pizza box for each solar oven. You can order pizza and re-use the pizza box or call your local pizza shop and ask for donations or ask parents for donations.

Using a ruler and marker, measure in 1 inch from each edge of the pizza box lid except the side with the hinge.

Using a utility knife, cut all the way through the lid on those three sides of the square. Then fold the flap back slightly along the hinge side.

how to make a solar oven

Put some glue on the inside of the flap. Glue a piece of aluminum foil on the inside of the flap keeping it as smooth as possible. Fold the extra foil over the edges to help hold the foil in place. Smooth it out. This will reflect sunlight into the oven.

Open the lid and cover the opening in the lid with plastic wrap. Pull the plastic wrap taut and tape it to the box on all the edges. Make sure there are no holes in the plastic wrap and that it is completely sealed. It is important to have a tight seal. This “window” helps keep the sun’s heat in the box.

making a solar oven from a pizza box

Close the lid and cover the top side of the opening with plastic wrap. Pull the plastic wrap taut and tape it to the box on all 3 sides. Make sure there are no holes in the plastic wrap and that it is completely sealed. It is important to have a tight seal. Having an airtight seal is important in keeping the oven hot.

how to create a solar oven

Glue a layer of aluminum foil in the bottom of the pizza box for insulation.

Cover the foil with pieces of black construction paper and glue them in place. The black paper will absorb light and generate more heat inside the box.

making a solar oven experiment

Place the s’mores snacks on the black paper. To make each s’more, layer a graham cracker square, a piece of Hershey Bar, and half a large marshmallow or a few small marshmallows. Make sure they are directly below the plastic wrap window.

solar oven s'mores sun science experiment

On a bright, sunny day place the solar oven outside in direct sunlight. Adjust the foil flap to find the best angle for reflection.  Use a ruler or stick to keep the flap propped up in place.

Leave the solar oven in the sun for anywhere from a half hour to up to 2 hours depending on the outdoor temperature and how direct the sunlight. Check on the s’mores every 15 minutes to half an hour.

Allow students to observe the effect of the sun on the chocolate and marshmallows. When the chocolate and marshmallows are melted they are ready to eat.

While students are waiting for their solar s’mores, I like to have them draw the solar oven on recording pages and draw and/or write what they think will happen in the top box on the right side.

After observing the solar oven, discussing the results, and enjoying the solar s’mores snacks, I then have students complete the recording page by drawing and/or writing what actually happened and what they learned.

solar oven experiment page

Earth Day Chart Activity

Before doing our Earth Day craft and writing prompts, we complete this chart activity that helps students distinguish between things that are helpful and harmful to the earth.

I have students say actions that are helpful or harmful to the earth.

Students identify the action as helpful by clapping their hands or harmful by stomping their feet.

Then, I write the action under the correct heading. It’s so fun and the kids love it!

earth day chart activity

Earth Day Crafts & Writing Prompts

I love how these crafts reuse materials to create beautiful earth displays!

I have used 2 different earth crafts over the years. I usually set up 2 stations and allow students to choose which one they would like to create.

Earth Craft 1 – Newspaper

Materials Needed:

  • newspaper
  • blue paint
  • green paint

Cut newspaper into circles to represent the earth.

earth day craft

Give each student a circle plus 2 crumpled-up pieces of newspaper. Have them dip one crumpled piece of newspaper in the green paint and use it to dab on areas of land to their circle.  Then have them dip the other crumpled piece of newspaper in the blue paint and fill in the rest of the circle to represent the water.

earth day craft newspaper earth

Earth Craft 2 – Coffee Filter

Materials Needed:

  • coffee filters
  • washable markers
  • spray bottle filled with water

Have each student color a flattened coffee filter with green and blue washable markers to resemble the earth.

earth day craftivity

Then have them spray the middle with 2-3 squirts of water and watch the water spread and the colors run together.  It is important not to let them spray too much water!

earth day craft

Making the Universe

While the earth crafts are drying, students can make the universe.

Materials Needed:

  • black construction paper
  • white paint
  • toothbrushes

Splatter-paint pieces of black construction paper with white paint to represent a star-filled universe.  Have students dip the toothbrush in the white paint and run their thumbs over the bristles to splatter the paint onto the paper.

earth day craft

While the art projects are drying, have students complete writing prompts about the earth.  I have used the following with this craftivity:

I love the earth because…
I help the earth by…

If you would like the free printable Earth Day writing prompt pages click here. 

Glue the earth craft onto the black universe. (Optional) Have students glue a heart shape on the earth. Attach the writing prompt or hang it by their craft on your display.

earth day writing prompts & crafts

Earth Day Bulletin Board

The crafts and writing prompts can be used to create a meaningful classroom display. Hanging student-created displays in your classroom conveys to students that their work is valued and makes the message of the display more meaningful to them because they had a hand in designing it.

I have used this title in my displays as well as “The World is in Our Hands”.

Earth Day Bulletin Board Display with Writing Prompts Crafts

Earth Day Song

I have been singing this catchy tune with my students since the mid 90’s (yes, I’m THAT old lol) to help remind them to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Earth Day Song (sung to He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands)

We have to recycle all we can.
We have to recycle all we can.
We have to recycle all we can.
We have to take care of our earth.

We have to reduce all our trash.
We have to reduce all our trash.
We have to reduce all our trash.
We have to take care of our earth.

We have to reuse all we can.
We have to reuse all we can.
We have to reuse all we can.
We have to take care of our earth.

Earth Day Awards & Picnic

After our Earth Day unit is over, I like to hand out awards to students to recognize them for becoming Earth Day Experts. They have now learned many ways to take care of our earth and keep it healthy!

earth day award
earth day award

We have always culminated earth week with a school celebration at our local park (weather permitting).

First, we clean up any litter that we see. The students all wear gloves and we have a rule that the students can pick up paper only. If they see glass or cans, they tell an adult and the adult picks it up.

Then, after cleaning up, we enjoy a picnic in the park and playtime. It is a great way to enjoy our beautiful earth and something we all look forward to every year!

If you would like to use these ideas in your classroom, get everything you need for a fun Earth Day unit in my Earth Day Activities resource.

Earth Day Activities Science Bulletin Board Crafts Writing Prompts

Includes:

  • step by step instructions with photos for 4 Earth Day experiments
  • printable coordinating pages for each experiment that test students’ understanding
  • instructions for using the recording pages in the free app, Seesaw & links for easy tech integration if desired
  • 2 Earth Day crafts that use reusable materials (newspaper & coffee filters)
  • 2 different writing prompts
  • Bulletin board letters for 2 different titles
  • Earth Day chart activity with printable headers
  • song with printable song page
  • Printable earth day awards in both color and black & white
  • Bonus recycling activities

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Earth Day Activities (science, crafts, bulletin board, song, chart)

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