Free Earth Day Unit Study

April 4, 2024
Written by:
Naomi White

Are you a “Green Goddess” or a “Trash it Tom”? Recycling is an important thing we can all do to help preserve our environment. No doubt, you’ve heard the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but have you ever given much thought to what that phrase means? Earth Day is a wonderful time to practice eco-friendly habits! 

The History of Earth Day

Earth Day began as the result of a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA that led to environmentally conscious individuals taking a stand. The oil spill occurred on January 28, 1969, and was so massive that it wiped out over 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, and sea lions. On that day, over three million gallons of oil spilled. As a result, environmentalists decided to create environmentally-focused education, and Earth Day was established.

Following the oil spill, Senator Gaylord Nelson became inspired. With the anti-war movement in full swing, it only seemed natural for an environmentally-conscious movement to follow suit. Initially, Senator Nelson announced the idea for a national “teach-in” focused on the environment. The date, April 22nd, fell between Spring Break and final exams.

A Timeline of Earth Day Celebrations

The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. On that day, 20 million Americans went to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to rally for environmental education.Earth Day Activities Printables Many colleges and universities also took part in the celebration. Suddenly, groups who had been protesting against oil spills and other environmentally destructive practices began to realize that they shared common ground. At the end of that year, the Environmental Protection Agency was created to ensure environmental awareness continuously.

By 1990, another wave of environmental awareness took place and the new holiday actually went global. This time, 200 million people in over 140 countries joined forces to speak out about environmental awareness. Earth Day 1990 resulted in President Clinton honoring Senator Nelson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a president can award a civilian.

Today, activists have many more ways of spreading the word about environmental conscientiousness. Namely, social media plays a pivotal role in reaching millennials and making them aware of ways they can cut down on things harming the environment. It also helps promote togetherness and awareness. Earth Day 2000 relied heavily on the internet to transpose messages and activism. These days, activists continue fighting for a cleaner environment and promoting awareness. Earth Day 2020 marked 50 years of Earth Day celebrations and was expected to help shape the way 21st-century individuals view our planet.  

Suggested Products

Earth Day Activities for Homeschoolers

Now that you know a bit more, you’ll be fully prepared to do a well-rounded unit study with your children. Here are some additional resources to complement your studies:

  • Language Arts
  • Math
    • Looking for STEAM Earth Day activities? We’ve done the busy work for you!
    • This list of Earth Day math activities is full of creative ideas you’ll enjoy doing with your children.
    • If you have older kids learning to graph, here is a fun Earth Day graphing activity!
    • Grab these Earth Day math grid sheets to use with your littles to reinforce math facts.
    • Practice measurements with your kids by making Earth Day pancakes for breakfast! Simply take your favorite pancake mix (I like Krusteaz) and followearth day food ideas the directions. Next, separate 2/3 of the mix into one bowl, and 1/3 of the mix in another. In the larger bowl add blue food coloring.  Add green food coloring to the smaller bowl. You will want a piping bag, or if you don’t have one on hand (I didn’t), then you can make a temporary one yourself. You will need some wax paper, which you should fold in half, and roll it into a cone. Tape the sides and you’re done. Load the green batter into the bag. Then pour the blue batter onto your greased skillet, making sure it makes more of a circular shape than an oval one. Next, take your piping bag and pipe green batter in the shape of the continents (or as close as you can manage). Finish the pancakes the way you regularly would. Serve and enjoy!
  • Science
    • Recycling is practically a science all its own! Teach your kids how to make crafts out of recyclable materials with these Earth Day science activities.
    • What’s better than combining holidays and science in the kitchen?! Use this opportunity to make these Earth Day Solar Cookies!
    • What better way to retain information than with hands-on projects? Make an impact on your kids by learning about oil spills and the necessary cleanup with this experiment.
    • Get outside, make a pizza box solar oven, and bake some smores!
    • Learning with food is always a fun time. Learn about the layers of the earth by making these pudding cups!Tips for Earth Day
  • Social Studies
    • For social studies, talk to your children about the history of Earth Day. Do they have any predictions about what Earth Day this year will be like? How do they feel Earth Day is different today than it was upon its inception?
    • National Geographic has lots of ideas and lessons for Earth Day for all ages and learning levels.
  • Art and More
    • Earth Day is the perfect time to repurpose items you have around the house! These eco-friendly activities from Time4Learning will give new meaning to some of your old materials.
    • 9 Activities to Celebrate Earth Day is a fun way to kick things off and have a great time while learning to be eco-friendly.
    • Grab some acrylic paint, cookie cutters, newspapers, scissors, and twine to make some recycled garland to decorate your homeschool space for Earth Day!
    • Bring the outside in by making flower suncatchers!
    • End the day snuggled up on the couch and watch Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax for family movie night!

Earth Day Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers

  • One of the best ways to celebrate Earth Day with your kids is to visit a farm and let them see the results of the earth in action! See where the food grows, where and what the animals we eat eat, and learn how we can best care for the land!
  • Visit a nature reserve and learn how we can protect the earth around us.
  • Visit and tour a local recycling center to see what can be made with plastic bottles and why recycling is so important!
  • If you’re looking to stay home, take an earth-themed virtual field trip!

Download our FREE Earth Day Printables here!

Naomi White

Naomi White graduated with her B.S. in Christian Elementary Education and went on to earn her Early Childhood Education certification. She has taught preschool and elementary school in both Christian and public schools. She loves to read and write, is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom, and is eagerly awaiting the day her son is old enough for them to start their own homeschool journey. Originally a Georgia girl, Naomi currently lives in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with her family.