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Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Social Studies, Biology

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom, 20-30 minutes
  • Activity - Outdoors, 20-30 minutes
  • Artwork

Regional Focus




What's the Big Idea

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  • These activities encourage students to identify the big ideas of sustainability from a poster, think about them on a deeper level, and apply these ideas to their surroundings.
  • Students will complete an indoor activity that involves categorizing things into the various ideas, an outdoor activity where they walk around their neighborhood or school to identify things, and a classroom discussion that reflects on the big ideas of sustainability.
Teaching Tips


  • The poster that's embedded in this resource encourages students to take an active role in making their communities more eco-friendly.
  • These activities are interactive and include going outside.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There is no link for the big idea picture cards or the slideshow, so the teacher must create these items.
  • The outdoor activity requires groups of 4-6 students.
  • It may be helpful if students already have a basic understanding of sustainability and why it's important.


  • For some classes, a walk around campus may be more manageable than a neighborhood walk.
  • These activities can accompany a brainstorming session where students consider how they can advocate for increased sustainability within their community.
  • These activities can support a lesson on sustainable energy sources, why they're important, and how much they're being utilized around the world.
  • These activities can enhance a classroom discussion on the obstacles that keep societies from becoming more sustainable, and how these obstacles can be overcome.
Scientist Notes
With this resource, students will learn about sustainability within their environment and community. The lesson touches on ideas of equity, balance, and the idea that all parts of a community are connected. Climate justice and climate solutions are not mentioned specifically but can easily be woven into the conversation because many of the concepts and ideas overlap with sustainability. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • CCC.Patterns: Observed patterns in nature guide organization and classification and prompt questions about relationships and causes underlying them.
      • 3-5-CCC-Patterns.2. Patterns of change can be used to make predictions.
      • MS-CCC-Patterns.3. Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
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