Plastic trash washed up on a beach

Lesson Plans on Land Pollution

By: Emily Rogers

Jul 27, 2022 | 11 minute read

Pollution is a problem that plagues urban, suburban, and rural communities. It causes health problems, destroys ecosystems, and depletes natural resources. The problem is so big that it can be difficult to know how to incorporate it into your curriculum; SubjectToClimate can help! Teachers can find dozens of resources on land pollution to incorporate into the lessons that you already teach. Check out these videos to get you started!  

If you are like most teachers, you don’t have time to create land pollution lessons from scratch. Luckily, SubjectToClimate has put together a list of the best lesson plans on land pollution. These standards-aligned lesson plans provide teachers with videos, articles, worksheets, images, graphs, and activities to engage students of all ages. These lesson plans require little to no teacher preparation;  teachers can simply read through the plans and be ready to deliver an impactful lesson!

3 Reasons to Teach High Schoolers About E-Waste and Ideas on How to Do It

Grade: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Civics, Justice, Health, Climate Action

Resource Type: Article, Video, Lesson Plan

This resource outlines the importance of teaching teenagers about electronics waste (e-waste), responsible e-recycling, and how to take personal action. The e-waste lesson includes bell-ringers, discussion questions, a PBS video about an undercover investigation of e-waste, a case study about e-waste in Ghana, and extension ideas.

This is a land pollution topic that most students will be able to relate to easily because we are all surrounded by electronic devices! Teenagers know that technology is always growing and changing and that electronic devices are constantly being replaced, but they may not have spent much time considering where the old devices go. Those that are aware of the problem may be surprised to learn how e-waste in wealthier countries deeply impacts less wealthy countries. Students will learn how complicated it is to recycle technology and how disassembling electronic devices can release dangerous substances that pose serious health risks for workers and the land.

This resource provides follow-up activities, pre-scripted questions, and links to interactive media, news stories, and responsible e-waste recyclers. Cross-curricular connections could be made in science and social studies classes as students look at issues such as the local and global impacts of e-waste and the environmental and health problems associated with e-waste. Students can also consider the ethical problems associated with consumer culture and planned obsolescence.

Plastic World (Art for the Earth #3)

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th

Subjects: Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Art

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

This well-designed SubjectToClimate lesson plan will help students think about the global problem of plastic pollution and how it impacts people and the environment. The lesson includes a Google Slides presentation with a KWL chart, photographs, a video and artwork, as well as printable question cards, vocabulary cards and an art critique star.

This comprehensive lesson plan provides teachers with everything they need to deliver an engaging lesson on plastic pollution. The lesson is aligned to both Australian and American standards and uses the inquire, investigate, inspire framework. Unlike most lessons on pollution, this lesson gives students a chance to use their emotional intelligence and art critiquing skills as they learn about what plastic is doing to the environment. Students will view modern Aboriginal artwork from Australia, a large-scale plastic installation in Singapore, and a performance art piece in San Francisco.

Plastic World is the third of six lessons that make up the Art for the Earth unit. If students have not completed other lessons in the unit, teachers may want to begin this lesson by going over the Art for the Earth vocabulary cards with students. The vocabulary cards can be posted in the classroom or distributed to students digitally. Teachers can pick and choose parts of this lesson to use, but the entire lesson is designed to fit easily into a 60-minute class period. Explore this unit plan further in our Climate Change Art Project Ideas blog!  

Teachers can project the Google Slides for the class or share the slides with students digitally. Similarly, teachers could print and cut out the Artwork Critiquing Question Cards before the lesson, or project the Google doc on the board. The questions can be used for whole-class discussions, small group discussions, or partner talks.  As an extension, students could create their own artwork to bring attention to the problem of plastic pollution.

“Belleville” Coal Ash Dumping

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Biology, Civics, English Language Arts, Justice, Health

Resource Type: Lesson Plan, Activity, Video, Worksheet

This problem-based learning activity introduces students to the dangers of coal ash and how it affects people in nearby communities. Students will watch a video, read an article, brainstorm solutions, and take part in a group activity where they present their concerns about coal ash from the perspective of a certain member of the community.

Teachers will appreciate how this well-organized lesson plan provides a chart detailing each part of the lesson, including how much time each section should take. The student worksheets, which are available as Google Docs and PDF files, are easy to follow and provide ample room for answers. The lesson hooks students with a video featuring a youth activist whose small town is a coal ash dumping site. The problem-based learning activity that follows will get students thinking creatively and deepen their understanding of the topic. The final activity will give students a chance to role-play as citizens of a town affected by coal ash.

The Belleville Coal Ash Dumping lesson is designed for two class periods. Teachers may want to assign parts of the lesson such as reading the article or writing the reflection as homework, so that class time can be used for the parts of the lesson that require student interaction. 

Getting Started

This lesson encompasses several academic subjects.

Teachers can assign a thought-provoking research project.

Instead of spending valuable classroom time showing the video, teachers couldassign this video and activity for homework ahead of a lesson, or use the resource as a bellringer.

Science Classes

Teachers can use the resource for lessons on bioaccumulation, environmental toxins, pollution, genetics, or environmental science.

Social Studies

Teachers can use this resource when discussing income inequality, environmental justice, environmental regulations, and the risks of living, working, or going to school near sources of pollution. 

Green Transportation: Electric Cars vs. Bicycles

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Economics, English Language Arts

Resource Type: Activity, Lesson Plan, Worksheet

In this media literacy activity, students will analyze the messages in two article excerpts about electric cars. The lesson plan provides several thought-provoking questions that can be used for discussions in social studies, English language arts, media literacy, and science classes.

This unique lesson plan uses the topic of electric cars and bicycles to get students to analyze the author’s points. The first article presents somewhat standard information about why electric vehicles are better than gasoline-powered vehicles, but the second article’s stance may surprise students. Instead of lauding the benefits of electric cars, the second article suggests that bicycles are even better than electric vehicles both economically and environmentally. Juxtaposing these articles will get students to think critically about the purpose and intention of the information they encounter.

The questions on the lesson plan do not appear on the student handout, so teachers will have to select a few questions from the lesson plan to write on the board or to share digitally with students. Teachers could start the lesson by asking students if electric vehicles are better for the environment. After completing the lesson, students could look back on their answers and think about how the lesson changed their opinions or thought processes. Students could make a list of other environmental questions that might seem to have simple answers and then explain why the answers might be more nuanced than expected. Check out our Green Transportation unit plan and blog for further exploration on this topic!

Life Above and Below Soil

Grade: 4th, 5th, 6th

Subjects: Science, Biology, Art

Resource Type: Lesson Plan, Activity

This lesson plan and activity from ClimateScience teaches students about the important role of soil in healthy ecosystems. Students will create posters to show the ways that plants and animals live above and below the soil, showing how the soil is important to their way of life. 

This activity is perfect for upper elementary students who are ready to do research but are not ready to find reliable sources independently. The student handout provides students with some background information about soil, as well as links to reliable sources for further reading. Students, who enjoy creative work will appreciate the chance to combine art and science as they design their soil habitat posters.

This activity can be completed in groups, pairs, or individually. Teachers can assign the activity for homework, classwork, or as a project for early-finishers. If students do not have access to computers, teachers could print the linked articles for students. As a fun extension, students could create a comic strip featuring their poster organisms to explain the role that soil plays in storing carbon, helping crops grow, and providing habitats.

Food Waste: What’s the Problem? What’s the Solution?

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects: Social Studies, Justice

Resource Type: Activity, Lesson Plan, Video

In this media literacy activity, students will watch,  analyze, and compare three videos on food waste problems and solutions. The lesson plan provides discussion questions that help students to synthesize the information from the three videos. Even though the videos focus on the topic of food waste, this lesson plan could be used in science, social studies, English language arts, or media literacy classes. Teachers who do not have reliable Internet access in the classroom can download the video MP4 files ahead of time. 

The discussion questions could be used for whole-class discussions, small group discussions, or individual writing reflections. After completing the activity, teachers could challenge students to keep a food waste journal to record the amount of food they waste in a week. Students could discuss whether the activity made them more mindful of throwing food away. 

Pollution is a huge topic to tackle in the classroom, but these lesson plans on land pollution make it easy. Whether they are learning about the health risks of coal ash dumping, the enormous amount of wasted food rotting in landfills, or the upsetting truth behind the electronic industry, your students will be aware of the problem of land pollution and the available solutions. These lessons will leave your students feeling empowered, capable, and ready to make the world a cleaner, healthier place. For more land pollution resources check out this curated search

About the Author

Emily has a bachelor’s degree in English and French and a master’s degree in library and information science. She spent seven years teaching information evaluation and research skills as a school librarian in K-8 public schools. As a lifelong resident of Southern Louisiana, Emily has a particular interest in how climate change affects coastal regions. She hopes to connect educators with resources that will help them to teach their students about the disproportionately adverse effects of climate change on historically marginalized communities.