Free Earth Day Lesson Plan Middle School

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 when millions of Americans joined together to protest against environmental destruction.  After decades of drawing attention to the importance of preserving the planet, Earth Day is now a global event. Even though teaching students about Earth Day can take many forms, the ultimate goal is to increase awareness.  

The Earth Day lesson plan detailed below is designed to connect students with a relatable environmental issue.  Ideally, they will be able to take action in their own lives, making the lesson relevant and significant, two things that create a lasting and meaningful learning experience.   


1. Ask students to record five details about the photo shown below. After students record five details about the photo, tell them that the photo is a plastic bag floating in the ocean.

Earth Day Lesson Photograph

2. Next, have students respond to the following questions: 

  • How do you think the plastic bag ended up in the ocean?
  • Does the plastic bag look like a type of sea animal? If so, which one?
  • How might the plastic bag be harmful to plants and animals living in the ocean?
  • Is there anything we can do to prevent plastic bags from ending up in the ocean?

Guided Instruction

1. Read the following article about sea turtles and plastic bags from the World Wildlife Fund:

2. Have students answer the following text-based questions:

  • What do sea turtles prefer to eat? (List three items)
  • Why do sea turtles eat plastic bags? 
  • What happens to sea turtles if they eat plastic?

3. Discuss answers to the questions above.

Independent Analysis

1. Students create a bubble map of different things they can do to help keep plastic out of the ocean and away from sea turtles and other sea creatures.  

2. Students pick one thing from their bubble map that they feel they can start implementing today.  

3. Students create a three-step action plan for implementation using sequence words like first, next, finally.   

Extension Activity

-Students write a business letter to a local or state government official asking for their help in the fight against plastic pollution.  Click here to download a printable and digital business letter template from Literacy in Focus on TpT.

Extend your Earth Day lesson with a printable and digital writing activity! Click HERE for the student-centered Earth Day writing lesson. ⬇️

Earth Day Writing Activity for Kids

Earth Day Bubble Map
Earth Day Tree Map
Earth Day Outline
Earth Day Writing Paper
summary writing graphic organizers shop now
Summary Writing Graphic Organizers
A No-Prep Earth Day Lesson for Upper Elementary and Middle School