Earth Day ESL: Learning English through arts and crafts

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When I walked into my main school the Wednesday before Earth Day, I didn’t expect that I would do an Earth Day lesson that afternoon with my after school kids. I also didn’t know that it would become a two-part lesson, or that my students (even the sixth grade boys!) would have as much fun as they did.

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You see, I’d already prepared something else for that day but it felt uninspired and I felt tired just thinking about teaching it. So that morning I quickly threw together a PowerPoint presentation and a worksheet and got ready to teach a kick-ass environmental-themed lesson.

To summarise, we learned some new words about saving the Earth, did a word search puzzle, wrote sentences and drew a picture about what we can do to save the Earth.

Yet, something was amiss. I wasn’t ready to let go of the Earth Day theme just yet.

So, the next week we embarked on a project. I gave the students a quick worksheet to review the new words they learned in the previous lesson and then … We made art!

The students used cardboard, paper, plastic and whatever leftover stickers and scraps I had lying around to make fantastic craft projects. My painfully shy students came out of their shells, my too-cool-for-school sixth grade boys were laughing and enjoying themselves and my girls … oh my girls just stun me with their creativity and maturity. (One girl reprimanded me for bringing my pasta sauce jars to the class: “Glass is dangerous, Teacher.”)

We made robots, piggy banks, pencil holders and a hat that later became a raincoat, and the students didn’t even notice that they were telling me about their creations in English.

Have a look at my students’ wondrous recycling projects:

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