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The Earth: Pollution

The second week of our Earth themed unit is focused on Pollution.  However, I did decide to introduce the kids to the very basics of recycling also, to prepare for next  week's theme of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  We've only had the new activities out on our shelves for a day and I'm relishing in all of the conversation and questions!
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I've divided up the activities based on subject content and then our "fun" shelf activities based on theme.  You'll notice very little "Pollution" in our language and math activities.  We've had quite a whirlwind of events in our home as we've celebrated Daddy's and Grandpa' birthday March 30th, Easter on March 31st, the adoption of our baby girl (17 months) on April 5th, General Conference on April 6th & 7th, my birthday coming tomorrow, April 9th, adoption festivities this coming weekend for our little Sunshine, and appointments for all of the kids with their developmental pediatrician (behavioralist) on April 16th.

To say the least I'm a little bit low on energy, so I just pulled some activities I've used before, and/or could easily make from printables on a moments notice.

Ending Sounds
We've used some of these cards before, but with our poke out letters.  This time I decided to include a writing tablet so the kiddos could practice writing their words.  I always worry I don't get enough writing in with them.  We do worksheets in the morning as part of our routine but it's something all of the kiddos struggle with, so I feel like I need to do more with them.

Source:  The free cards came from Montessori Print Shop.

Bossy "E" Words
Dinomite has been working on his bossy "e" words, so I decided this might be a fun activity for him.  I included the poke out letters to keep Bulldozer and Princess engaged, as they are not reading yet.  Hopefully I'll have the proper Montessori letters by the start of our new school year. For now though, these are working and were $1.

Source: The Bossy "E" Word Cards were free at Montessori Print Shop.

Compound Word Match Up
You might say Dinomite has a thing for compound words.  He loves them.  I love that he loves them, hence why I made sure to print out this activity when I found it.  The best part is, even though Bulldozer and Princess aren't quite reading yet, all of the cards have pictures and can be matched up by puzzle piece shape.  What a win win situation for everyone!

Source:  I found these for free at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Earth Day Themed Counting
Bulldozer and Princess do fabulous counting out objects to ten, however they really start to struggle past that point. I loved these cards because they use larger numbers, not just the typical 1-10.  Happy Counting for us!

Source: I found these cards as part of an Earth Day Pack at Royal Baloo.

More Than/Less Than Cards
There's something about more than and less than problems that works with Bulldozer.  Still in speech three times a week, he really struggles with a lot of concepts and word phrases, but more than and less than phrases he does not.  Add objects he can count out and voila!  Instant success.  It's in these happy moments I am so thankful we switched to using the Montessori Method.  He's SUCH a visual learner.

Source:  I found these free cards at Montessori Print Shop.

Fill in the Missing Numbers & Letters
These worksheets were placed in a sheet protector, hence why there's an erasable white board marker included.  The kiddos traced solid numbers and letters, dotted numbers and letters, and then wrote ones that were missing.

Source: I found these free printables as part of the Earth Day Pack at Royal Baloo.

Land,Water & Air Pollution
Our main focus of the week is pollution. I wanted to teach the kids that there are three main types of pollution and give them examples of each type.  After researching several sites, I figured I had enough examples they could understand at such an early age.  I tried to select pictures that gave hints as to the type of pollution they were creating.

I can not tell you how much discussion this activity initiated between the kids and how many questions they asked etc.  To date, it's probably one of my happiest memories so far this year. 

Source: I created these cards.  An updated version is available for free.  Click HERE.

No to Pollution!  Yes to a Solution!

Dinomite, Bulldozer and Princess are all anxiety ridden kiddos.  We're talking significant anxieties, so I KNEW I couldn't teach them about pollution, without giving them comfort in knowing there were things they could do about it.  So, I made several matching sets of cards.  The first card of the set shows a type of pollution. The second card shows a solution or alternative way of doing things that doesn't cause pollution.  I'll admit a couple were tricky, but Dinomite LOVED the process.  It definitely helped him feel more in control of his little world.

Once Dinomite finished the first part of the activity, he realized there were three more cards on the tray.  He was determined to finish everything.  I created land, water, and air cards so he could see what solutions helped different kinds of pollution.  Granted some cards could fit in two or more categories. Feel free to print extras to do so.  For him, just the basics were enough.  The activity was a HUGE success.

Source: I created this activity and have since updated it in order to provide others with the free printable.  There are some slight variations to the cards.  For your free copy, click HERE.


With the kiddos so young, I wasn't sure if they would know the difference between materials they could recycle:  metal, glass, plastic, and paper, so I tried to create a tray that specifically focused on each of the four categories.

Our metal tray was a lot of fun.  You'll notice a magnet attached to the mini cake pan.  The kiddos were asked to test out the magnet on all of the metal objects in the basket and separate them into two categories, ones that the magnet would stick to and ones that it wouldn't.

Contents in the basket included:  a mini cake pan, tomato paste can, hole punch, tweezers, spoon, dock cleat, foil, barrette, key, dime, penny, and wrench.  You could add many more, but that's what we found laying around the house.

Opening & Closing Plastic Containers

The kiddos really struggle with opening containers, so I figured it was time they start learning.  I collected several different sized plastic containers around the house and they went to town.  There were definitely some frustrating times, but huge cheers as they were successful.  Missing from the basket when I took the picture is a dish detergent container.

Pouring into Glass

We've done pouring activities several times before, but not using glass.  I found these child sized cups and pouring container at a second hand store for 29 cents each.  Instead of pouring water, I've been dying to find a way to incorporate water beads into our activities. What can I say?  They are so FUN!

And boy were they!  The kiddos did great pouring from container to cups, however pouring the beads back into the container proved to be really tricky.  The beads are bouncy and went everywhere.  Luckily, Mommy came to the rescue noticing the issue and introduced them to the funnel.  I had to use a larger one so the beads would fit through the spout.  This is by far Bulldozer's favorite activity of the week!  So much he's had to show his occupational therapist every day she comes.

Tearing Paper
My husband and I gathered together all types of paper-tissue paper, cardboard, poster board, magazine paper, construction paper, etc.  The kiddos were asked to tear the papers into tiny pieces, and using the glue and paint brush, make a beautiful torn paper recycling sign.

Little did we know just how difficult the task was going to be for Princess.  It had never occurred to us that she wouldn't know how to tear paper.  Daddy worked side by side with her to help her succeed.  By the end of the activity she was a pro! 

Air Pollution

I wanted to come up with a way for the kids to really SEE what each type of pollution looked like with their own eyes.  Before going further, this activity needs to be done with 100% adult supervision.  Lighting of candles needs to be handled by the supervising adult.

The kids were asked to make Mommy a birthday cake using play-doh, seeing it was Mommy's birthday coming.  Then they placed the candles provided into the cake.  (I love how this activity incorporated hand muscles and pinching grasps).

Once candles were in place and checked by Mommy or Daddy, one of us lit the candles for the kiddos.  They loved singing "Happy Birthday" before they tried to blow them out.  The blowing itself was great practice for Bulldozer who really struggles with that.  After they blew out the candles, they could see, smell, and at times cough because of the smoke.  I loved how much they understood the concept after actually seeing it.

Land Pollution

One could say this was a type of sensory bin.  Hidden in the dirt, rocks, etc. were several pieces of garbage the kids could retrieve.  They realized just how much they didn't like playing with "dirty" dirt.

Water Pollution

This activity was a HUGE hit! Although it's pretty smelly and yucky too.  But of course that's the goal.  I gave the kiddos a clean bin of water, along side it was a tray that held tongs, a strainer, oil (representing toxins), and several pieces of garbage.  The kiddos put all of the garbage and oil in the water.

I explained how the water was now polluted and that we needed to clean it up.  With the tongs and strainer the kiddos tried to clean the water, but realized there was no way they could make it clean again.
They repeated the activity over and over again.  I'm super excited they now know exactly how much damage water pollution can cause.

Source:  I found this idea at Along the Way.

We're getting excited for Earth Day here!


  1. Great lesson plans as always! I especially liked the pollution with solutions cards. I remember that when I was homeschooling my now adult trio that I minimized our study of the popular environmental doom and gloom because I remembered the fear of the atomic bomb scares when I was in school. Your cards are great as they allow your children to be aware of the problem, but gives them ways to help solve the problem.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Shirley. I'm so glad you enjoyed the cards!

  2. Impressive! you've covered a lot. Love the water cleaning activity. It looks disturbingly yucky (lol) but I've seen ocean water like this after a storm with the kids so I'm sure they'd be ok with making it better! :) I'll have to try that one next year! :)

    1. Thank you Valerie. The water cleaning activity was pretty yucky, but it was so great! The kiddos loved it. It taught them so much!

  3. I just love all the units you put together! So organized and comprehensive!

    1. Wanted to let you know you were featured on Mom's Library this week!

  4. It's so important that children learn respect for their environment as naturally as they do the alphabet and number! I enjoyed going through your post, to be honest, I felt a tad disappointed that my girls are too big for some of these activities...they're brilliant! Loved going through your blog via the Parenting pin-it party! x

  5. What an impressive collection of hands-on activities! I"ll be featuring them tomorrow for Family Fun Friday!

  6. I love the pollution activities you have set up! My son is too young for most of the activities you've shown, but I think we can give the pollution bins (or something like them) a try.

    Pinning :)

    1. I'm so glad you like the activities! Enjoy some fun with your son!

  7. What great lesson and activities! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

  8. Thanks for linking up with the Parenting Pin It Party x x

  9. I love that you explained the different types of pollution: land, water, and air and would have loved to hear those discussions! As always, your lessons are inspiring! Thanks for sharing at the After School Linky!

    1. Thank you so much for the compliments. The discussions were priceless!

  10. Awesome unit study for Earth Day! You are so creative and giving your children an amazing education!

  11. In time for Earth day! Thank you for sharing!