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Body Systems, Citizenship, Movement & Play


3rd, 4th, 5th




60 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Air Pollution and PE Lesson for Elementary

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
May 23, 2024
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Students learn how climate change impacts cardiorespiratory health and explore ways they can expand their actionable responses to climate change. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students warm up, look over the diagram of the cardiorespiratory system, and consider the questions “What might cause harm to my cardiorespiratory system?” and “How does the quality of the air I breathe impact my lungs and my health?”

Step 2 - Investigate: Students play the "Catch Your Breath Game" and analyze how air quality impacts the cardiorespiratory system.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students consider how New Jersey organizations and stakeholders can work collaboratively to minimize impacts of air pollution and climate change on their own health and the health of future generations.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson incorporates play and fun into learning about air quality and how it relates to the cardiorespiratory system.
  • Students will draw direct connections between health and climate.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers should have access to a play space large enough to accommodate the “Catch Your Breath Game."
  • Teachers should have access to balls or objects that students can throw or catch.
  • Teachers should be familiar with facilitating a Socratic seminar style discussion.


  • Students can write an analysis on why they think the game is called “Catch Your Breath.”
  • Teachers can assign the groups to strategically place students who need support in certain areas with students who can provide that support.
  • Teachers can print out the cardiorespiratory system diagram for students who would benefit from a hard copy.
  • Other resources related to this lesson include this video about a nonprofit detecting deforestation and this resource to determine the tree equity score of your city or neighborhood.
Scientist Notes

This lesson teaches students about what is in the air we breathe, how trees are important to keeping the air clean, air pollution, and how to solve some of the big global problems. Links to local New Jersey organizations are provided. The TedEd video also links to more resources about air pollution. This lesson also includes some movement and a game to help students visualize how pollutants can be removed for the air. The videos contain accurate and thought-provoking information. This resource is recommended for teaching.


Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to New Jersey standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on the New Jersey Climate Education Hub.
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