Igniting Critical and Creative Thinking


Wow!  Can you believe it’s the middle of April already?  I can hardly believe Earth Day is almost here.  I wanted to do a quick post to share one of my favorite picture books and how you can use this book to celebrate Earth Day with your students.

Note:  Keep ’em Thinking is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program. I only promote books and materials that I feel are beneficial to teachers, students, and parents. You are not charged for the Affiliate Link.  I receive a small compensation which I use to support the upkeep of this blog.



Miss Rumphius by Barbara Clooney is an incredible story about giving back and making the world a more beautiful place.  It is the story of Alice Rumphius, a spinster, who grew up with her grandfather by the sea.  Alice tells her grandfather she wants to travel to faraway places and live by the sea.  Her grandfather assures Alice that she can accomplish all those things, but tells her she must also do a third thing – make the world a more beautiful place.

Alice does accomplish all of her goals.  She travels to far away places and has many exciting adventures before she returns home as an old lady and settles into her house by the sea.  She remembers what her grandfather had told her about making the world a more beautiful place, and she plants flowers in her garden.  Soon afterwards, Alice becomes ill and is confined to bed.  When spring comes, she sees the beautiful flowers blooming in her garden.  This gives her the inspiration to make the world a more beautiful place by planting lupine seeds all around the countryside.   When the lupines bloom the next spring, they are everywhere blanketing the countryside, and people begin calling Alice The Lupine Lady.  Years later, when Alice is very old,  she tells her niece she must also do something to make the world more beautiful, just like her grandfather had told her.  A wonderful surprise in the book comes at the end of the story when you discover the narrator is Alice’s niece.
This story of Miss Rumphius and her dreams and need to give something back to put her stamp on the world, is an inspiration to me and my students.  It goes to show that making the world more beautiful can include contributions as small as planting a seed.

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon by clicking on the book cover below:


Of course, after reading the book, I like to discuss what it means to make the world more beautiful. One of the things I like for students to discover is that it’s not always about cleaning up an ugly area, planting flowers, etc., but also about doing kindnesses for others. I like to share the students’ ideas on an anchor chart.

As part of this unit, there are two crafts I like to do with my students.  The first is to make thumbprint lupines. You can download a FREE resource outlining the activities at the end of the post!

To make these pictures, I have students use a watercolor wash and a very large brush to create the sky and then add the curved rolling hill.  Starting at the top, they dip their finger into the blue paint and begin making the shape of the lupine flower.  When the flower is dry, they then dip their finger into white paint to create the white accents.  Next, they use a paintbrush to draw the three stems, and then they cut the leaves out of green construction paper and glue them on top of the stems.  You can download the instructions and the template by clicking on the picture above.

The next activity we do is a short writing activity on how they can make the world a more beautiful place.

After we have brainstormed our ideas about making the world a more beautiful place,  I have the students write about their idea.  We make this little globe man activity to share out ideas.  You can get a FREE copy of the writing sheet and the templates for making the globe cartoon guy at the end of this post!

This is also the perfect time to plan a service project for the entire class for Earth Day.  Some project ideas are:

  • Recycling aluminum cans
  • Planting a classroom garden or a garden at a nursing home for the elderly to enjoy
  • Pick up litter at a park
  • Collect food, clothing, toys, school supplies, etc. for the needy
  • Make something for children in the hospital, or people in nursing homes
  • Make bird feeders – you can give them away to nursing homes or other places that have outdoor areas besides just the school
  • Donate used books to a children’s shelter
  • Walk the dog or take out the trash for a neighbor
  • Plant flower seeds in small pots and give them to friends or neighbors

If you want more ideas for service learning projects, check out my Service Learning Pinterest Board:

The two projects featured in this blog post are from my Miss Rumphius Literature Guide which is available for purchase in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  My students loved all the activities in this unit.  Click on the picture below to go to the product and see previews and a description of what is included.

Thank you for subscribing!

I hope you and your students enjoy using these activities and ideas to celebrate Earth Day.  That’s all for today!

Share it:

Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter

You might also like...

hey y'all

I'm Susan!

I’m Susan Morrow and I help overwhelmed teachers create thinking classrooms where students discover the joy in learning and achieving.

Search the Blog

Browse by Category

Join thousands of other subscribers to gain access to dozens of free resources.