Environmental Concerns Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Many young people today are very interested in learning more about the environment and what they can do to protect it. This lesson offers a series of activities that help middle school students learn about environmental concerns.

Teaching About the Environment

As a middle school science or social studies teacher, you may dedicate a portion of your curriculum to helping your students learn about the environment. By the time today's students get to middle school, they probably already know that the environment has many issues, and they may have even been involved in environmental activist projects in the past. At the middle school age, they are ready to take some of these topics to a deeper and more nuanced level.

To help your students get more interested in environmental concerns, you may want to incorporate some activities into your instruction. Activities give students a sense of agency and help them feel engaged. The activities in this lesson will encourage your students to learn more about environmental issues and concerns.

Visual Activities

In this section, you will find activities designed to appeal to visual learners, who benefit from work with images or graphic organizers.

Analyzing Pictures

This is a good activity for students to work on with partners. Give each pair a set of photographs showing environmental beauty, damage, or destruction. Ask them to discuss the images with each other, considering what each image shows.

Then, have them put their images together into a poster that they can use to share what they learned and discussed with their classmates. Leave time to share the posters and talk about commonalities and differences.

Environment Timeline

Making a timeline related to a specific environmental issue offers visual learners a useful graphic organizer. Break students into small groups, assigning each an issue like climate change, sea levels rising, pollution, the need for recycling, etc. Then, have them do research to pinpoint five to ten major events over the course of the history of this issue. They should put these events on a time line in chronological order, and then add an image or icon to go along with each event they have added.

Kinesthetic Activities

The activities in this section are more hands-on and keep students active as they learn about environmental concerns.

Sculpting Change

Students can work with partners for this activity as well. Ask each pair to focus on one region of the world, or a specific area in your local community. They should use clay to create two different models of the terrain: one model should show how the region looked 200 years ago, and one should show how it looks now. Then, they should label the sculptures to explain the changes that have occurred in the terrain and why.

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