The Importance of Teaching Eco-Friendly Lessons in Elementary and Lower Secondary Classes

In an era marked by increasing environmental concerns and the pressing need for sustainable living, incorporating eco-friendly lessons into the curriculum of elementary and lower secondary classes has become paramount. As educators, we hold the power to shape the future by instilling in our young learners a strong sense of environmental responsibility and awareness. This article explores the significance of teaching eco-friendly lessons to students at these crucial stages of their development.

Early Awareness and Habits Formation

Elementary and lower secondary school years are the formative stages of a child’s life. During this time, they are highly impressionable and open to learning new concepts and behaviors. By introducing eco-friendly lessons at this stage, we can help children develop a lifelong appreciation for the environment. Teaching them about concepts such as recycling, energy conservation, and responsible resource usage can lay the foundation for sustainable habits that they will carry into adulthood.

Fostering Environmental Consciousness

One of the primary goals of education is to create responsible citizens who are aware of their impact on the world around them. Incorporating eco-friendly lessons provides a platform to instill a sense of environmental consciousness in students. They learn about the consequences of their actions on the planet, helping them understand that their choices matter and can contribute to either the well-being or degradation of the environment.

Real-World Relevance

Eco-friendly lessons provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world application. By engaging students in hands-on activities such as creating compost, participating in community clean-up projects, or even designing sustainable solutions for everyday problems, they can see the tangible impact of their efforts. This not only enhances their learning experience but also equips them with practical skills that can make a positive difference.

Interdisciplinary Learning

The beauty of eco-friendly lessons lies in their interdisciplinary nature. These lessons can be seamlessly integrated into various subjects such as science, geography, mathematics, and even language arts. For instance, students can learn about ecosystems in science class, calculate their carbon footprint in math class, write essays on environmental issues in language arts, and explore sustainable architecture in design and technology classes. This approach not only enhances the relevance of these subjects but also reinforces the importance of sustainable living across different areas of knowledge.

Encouraging Critical Thinking

Eco-friendly lessons encourage students to think critically about complex environmental issues. They are exposed to various perspectives, allowing them to evaluate the pros and cons of different choices. By engaging in discussions and debates about topics such as climate change, deforestation, and pollution, students develop essential skills in analyzing information, forming opinions, and advocating for responsible environmental practices.

Teaching eco-friendly lessons in elementary and lower secondary classes is more than just an academic endeavor—it is a moral obligation to equip the next generation with the tools they need to create a more sustainable world. By nurturing environmental awareness, fostering responsible habits, and promoting critical thinking, educators play a pivotal role in shaping environmentally conscious individuals who will drive positive change. As we continue to address global challenges, incorporating eco-friendly lessons becomes an indispensable part of education, guiding students towards a brighter, greener future.

Eco-Friendly STEAM Lesson Plan: Exploring the story „Jack and the Beanstalk”

By blending the classic tale of „Jack and the Beanstalk” with eco-friendly STEAM activities, students not only gain a deeper understanding of the story but also develop critical thinking skills, creative problem-solving abilities, and a heightened awareness of their role in preserving the environment. Through hands-on experiences, outdoor exploration, and interdisciplinary learning, this lesson plan fosters a sense of environmental responsibility and empowers students to become active stewards of the planet.

Grade Level: Lower Secondary (7th and 8th grades)

Duration: 1-2 weeks (adjustable based on the pacing of activities) Subject Areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics

Objective: to engage students in a creative and eco-friendly exploration of the story „Jack and the Beanstalk” through STEAM activities that promote environmental awareness and critical thinking, and English language skills.

Week 1: Plant Life and Sustainability and Engineering and Design

Day 1: Introduction to „Jack and the Beanstalk”
● Begin by reading and discussing the story „Jack and the Beanstalk” to set the context for the lesson.
● Highlight the themes of growth, nature, and resourcefulness in the story.
● Have students identify the main events and characters in the story.
Day 2: Plant Life Cycle Exploration
● Introduce the concept of plant life cycles and their importance for the environment through reading materials and discussion
● Conduct a hands-on activity where students observe and document the growth stages of different plants.
● Assign English language exercises, such as writing short paragraphs explaining the stages of a plant’s life cycle.
Day 3: Outdoor Nature Walk – Descriptive Writing
● Take students on a nature walk around the school premises to observe local plant life.
● Discuss the role of plants in maintaining ecological balance and provide insight into the value of green spaces.
● Instruct students to write descriptive paragraphs about the plants they observed during the walk.
Day 4: Bean Sprout Investigation – Vocabulary Building
● Provide each student with a bean or seed to plant in a small container.
● Have students document the growth of their bean sprouts, measuring and recording their progress regularly.
● Provide students with a list of plant-related vocabulary words from the story.
● Have them use these words to write sentences describing their bean sprouts growth. Day 5: Imaginative STEM Structures – Oral Presentations
● Challenge students to design and build structures using recycled materials (cardboard, plastic bottles, etc.) inspired by the beanstalk in the story.
● Encourage creativity and collaboration in the design process.
● Have students present their STEM structures to the class, describing their designs and explaining how they relate to the beanstalk concept.
● Encourage them to use descriptive language and persuasive techniques in their presentations.

Week 2: Engineering and Design and Math and Art Integration

Day 1: Field Trip: Botanical Garden or Local Farm – Journal Entries
● Organize a visit to a botanical garden or a local farm to expose students to diverse plant species and sustainable farming practices.
● After the field trip, ask students to write journal entries detailing their experiences and lessons learned.
● Have them incorporate new vocabulary words related to plants and sustainability.
● Have students reflect on the importance of preserving biodiversity.
Day 2: Measurement and Growth Data Analysis – Written Analysis
● Use the growth data collected from the bean sprout activity to engage students in measurement, data analysis, and graphing.
● Discuss concepts of height, time, and growth rates.
● Instruct students to analyze the growth data collected from the bean sprout activity.
● Ask them to write short essays discussing the patterns they observed and the mathematical concepts involved.
Day 3: Eco-Friendly Artwork – Art Critique and Description
● Challenge students to create eco-friendly artwork using natural materials (leaves, twigs, etc.) or recycled items and then exchange their art with a partner.
● In pairs, students should describe each other’s artwork using descriptive language and adjectives.
● Encourage them to convey environmental messages through their art. Day 4: Culminating Project: Sustainable Fairy Tale – Writing and Presenting
● In groups, have students re-imagine the story „Jack and the Beanstalk” with an eco-friendly twist.
● Each group should incorporate sustainable practices and solutions into their retelling of the story.
● Assign each group member a specific role, such as narrator, character dialogue writer, or description enhancer.
Day 5: Assessment and Reflection
● Project Presentation: Evaluate group presentations based on creativity, incorporation of eco-friendly elements, and ability to communicate environmental messages effectively.
● Reflection Journals: Have students maintain reflection journals throughout the lesson. Encourage them to record their thoughts, insights, and newfound understanding of environmental sustainability. Review students’ reflection journals to assess their ability to articulate their thoughts, insights, and language development over the course of the lesson.
● Class Discussion: Wrap up the lesson with a class discussion where students share their reflections, insights, and the changes they can make in their daily lives to contribute to a more eco-friendly world.
● Language Use and Vocabulary: Evaluate students’ written exercises, presentations, and journal entries for correct usage of vocabulary words and appropriate language structures.
● Participation and Collaboration: Assess students’ engagement in group activities, their ability to collaborate effectively, and their contributions to discussions and presentations.

Interdisciplinary Learning and Eco-Friendly Lessons:
1. Sterling, S. (2001). Sustainable Education: Re-Visioning Learning and Change. Schumacher Briefings.
2. Rickinson, M., & Dillon, J. (2013). Sustainable Schooling: The Way Forward. Routledge. Critical thinking and Environmental Awareness:
3. Bybee, R. W. (1997). Achieving Scientific Literacy: From Purposes to Practices. Heinemann.
4. McKeown, R., & Hopkins, C. (2000). Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors in Children in an Irish Coastal Town. Environmental Education Research, 6(2), 169-185.


prof. Monika Bandi

Școala Gimnazială Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Baia Mare (Maramureş) , România
Profil iTeach:

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