Homeschooling Earth Day

Teaching the conservation curriculum

Most of us have been pressed into duty as classroom teachers – or at least assistants to the full-time professionals – over these past few weeks. And among the skills I’ve come to admire in my daughter’s teachers is the ability to keep the curriculum relevant.

So when I looked at the calendar and saw that Earth Day was here, it seemed like a natural. Homeschool mom/teacher Melissa Theberge has been doing it for years,

The Theberges – teachers, students and all.

(she provided us with some great insight and advice when this all began,) so I thought I’d turn to her to see how she brought Earth Day into her homeschool curriculum.

Turns out it’s more than a day for the Theberges, but it certainly played a role – and as is happily typical with this outstanding family, it led to a creative take on the traditional lesson plan.

“We are a recycle-focused family and everyone here knows I’m organic-only in the yard for the good of the earth and the wildlife,” she said. “This is less of a ‘lesson’ area and more of a ‘how we do life’ thing.”

“We used to do the town clean up days but that got hard as the kids got older.”

As part of the curriculum?

“Well that’s the tricky part,” she said. “There are some parts of homeschool that are both home and school and not separate. So sometimes I would just take everyone out and we’d do ‘life outdoors.’ We would plant or weed or go on nature walks and look at leaves and sometimes look up the names and find websites to identify trees by their leaf or bark. It was sort of a hodge-podge of outdoorsy stuff as a nature appreciation.”

Like what? Nature walks, sketch books, and fairy houses are all great ways to enjoy the outdoors in an earthy friendly way.

“Fairy houses are cool because it’s all nature and no plastics or other items, so you learn about that and about how to use what’s already fallen versus fresh-picked,” she said.

Theberge recommends “Fairy Houses” by Tracy Kane, as a great reference.

Blog Fairyhouses

“It’s a library favorite,” she says – and adds: “There’s an island in Maine full of these!”

“It’s kind of a different angle, but this was a favorite pastime especially for (daughter) Claire, and she would build these over several days when we were at the lake in Maine.”

Which brought up an interesting element to homeschooling: where does the teacher end and the mother begin?

“People ask me all the time how I switch from mom to teacher role, and the thing is that it’s not as simple as when you send your kid to a school. I’m both (mother and teacher) all the time, and sometimes there isn’t a curriculum for what we are learning and no place to track or note it as school.”

Beyond that, there are lesson plans available. Try’s Earth Day plan. It ranges from Wetlands to Earth Day itself, and provides lessons for every level – pre-K to third grade; fourth to sixth grade; and then seventh to 12th grade and teacher resources.


Categories: Dad on Bored