Earth Day ESL: Learning English through arts and crafts


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.


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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