Igniting Critical and Creative Thinking

The Best Way to Celebrate Earth Day

April is one of my favorite months of the year! The weather is beautiful and summer is near. Plus, there’s so much to celebrate. The school year is winding down, and our time with our students is limited. It’s time to have a little fun and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished all year long. What better way to do that than with Earth Day? Today I’m going to share the best way to celebrate Earth Day with you.

Picture Books

If you’ve been around for a little while, you know I love to incorporate picture books into my lessons whenever possible. Earth Day is no exception. 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 faraway 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 afterward, 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.

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 in the Classroom

Anchor Charts

The book opens itself up to so many activities for the classroom. It really is an amazing way to celebrate Earth Day with your students. After reading the book, I like to have an open discussion about 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. It’s so great to hear all of the ideas they come up with. I like to share the students’ ideas on an anchor chart.


Every lesson is more fun with a craft! There are two great craftivities that I use to celebrate Earth Day with Miss Rumphius. The first is to make thumbprint lupines.

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.

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

After we have brainstormed all of the ways we can make 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. Grab this FREE resource HERE. 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.

More Ideas to Celebrate Earth Day with Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius provides the opportunity to get your students to think critically and creatively through a variety of lessons. My literature Guide includes everything you need and more. The following skills are addressed such as:

Students will work on a variety of reading and vocabulary skills with the Miss Rumphius literature guide.
  • comprehension
  • vocabulary
  • compare & contrast
  • fact & opinion
  • character traits
  • theme
  • writing
  • sequencing
  • summarization
  • parts of speech

This ready-to-use, low prep resource has over 35 different activities to choose from. They all help develop critical thinking skills and allow students to analyze and interpret literature.

The Literature Guide is equipped with graphic organizers, discussion questions, writing prompts, informational texts, and center activities. They are perfect for whole group instruction, small groups, literature circles, and centers.

I know you and your students will love every minute of studying and learning with Miss Rumphius.

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I'm Susan!

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

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