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Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

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Climate Change, Visual Art Analysis


3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Visual and Performing Arts


60 minutes

Regional Focus

Global, Africa


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Deforestation and Habitat Destruction (Art for the Earth #2)

Created By Teachers:
Last Updated:
Feb 26, 2024
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In this lesson, students learn about deforestation, analyze paintings featuring deforestation themes, and then have the choice to learn about Wangari Maathai or design a climate action plan related to deforestation. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students activate background knowledge about deforestation, watch a timelapse video of deforestation, and learn the different parts of the word "deforestation."

Step 2 - Investigate: Students analyze and reflect upon two paintings featuring themes of deforestation.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students watch a video about climate activist Felix Finkbeiner and choose one of two options: learn more about Felix's inspiration Wangari Maathai or design a climate action plan related to deforestation.
Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • There is opportunity for a lot of peer and group discussion in this lesson.
  • Students share their own thoughts and feelings about Jill Pelto's art, validating how they feel about deforestation and climate change.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 2 of 6 in our 3rd-5th grade Art for the Earth unit.
  • A stable Internet connection is required to play the videos, especially the Google Earth timelapse video.
  • Students should have some background knowledge on Jill Pelto, which you can find in lesson 1 of our Art for the Earth unit.


  • This entire lesson lends itself to discussion. Group students accordingly so they can get the most out of this lesson.
  • The Google Earth timelapse video of deforestation can be emotional to watch. Students may react with anger, sadness, fear, or shock. Tell them that those feelings are normal and natural. You can also tell them that you are learning about deforestation and climate change in order to do something about it. Empowering your students is one of the most powerful gifts you can give them.
  • Some students may be eager to share their thoughts and feelings about Jill Pelto's art. Let them share with the class. Some students, however, may want to keep their feelings to themselves. That is OK too.
  • The Inspire section of this lesson features a lot of student agency. Some students may want to learn more about Wangari Maathai and then be "done" with the deforestation part of this unit. Other students may want to design an action plan for your school or community. Perhaps they'd like to plant more trees on your school grounds. Support these students appropriately, and perhaps their efforts will lead to a greener, healthier, calmer school environment.
Scientist Notes

The lesson allows students to explore the importance of reforestation to combat climate change. There are no scientific misconceptions in the lesson except for one instance in the Young Voices for the Planet video, which is embedded on slide 19 of the Teacher Slideshow. At 3 minutes, 35 seconds into the video, the boy Julian says, "We plant trees to help climate change." This is an error because we plant trees to fight climate change. All other materials are properly sourced. Thus, this lesson has passed our science credibility process.


Primary Standards

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceive and analyze artistic work.
      • VA:Re7.2.4a Analyze components in visual imagery that convey messages.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 11 - Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.
      • VA:Cn11.1.5a Identify how art is used to inform or change beliefs, values, or behaviors of an individual or society.
Art for the Earth Unit Lesson Plans


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