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4th/5th Grade

Can we save the Earth with art?

Art Activism with an Environmental Message


This unit introduces the idea that art can be used to support an important message and to promote activism.


Climate change and environmental protection are important topics, and humans have been made aware of the impact we have on this planet and how we can become more eco-conscious. While the recycling movement has made big strides in accessibility, I want to push the idea even further to introduce the idea of using single-use materials as a resource for artmaking.


Through this unit, I will demonstrate how art can be and has been, used to help bring awareness to the need to protect the Earth. “Talking with your kids about climate change is a key to preparing them for the future and also helping them manage their anxiety, says Harriet Shugarman, executive director of the education and advocacy group ClimateMama” (Brosbe, 2023). Studies have shown that anxiety is on the rise among youth when thinking about their futures in relation to climate change. Since this issue can feel giant and overwhelming, it is best to start with small steps, and this unit is my way to connect environmental concerns with my students’ day-to-day lives.


“As the demographic with the most to lose to climate change, it would be a massive disservice not to teach students today about the threat of the climate crisis—and to empower them with the education and tools they need to fight it” — Rep. Barbara Lee (Schools for Climate Action, 2023).

  • 4.1 CR Discover and solve problems of personal relevance and interest when developing artmaking ideas

  • 4.1 PE Engage and persist in artistic risk-taking

  • 4.2 PE Select and vary materials, tools, and processes to achieve innovative outcomes

  • 4.1 RE Identify qualities that contribute to the design and meanings of works
    of art

  • 4.2 CO Explore universal themes expressed across arts disciplines

Essential Questions:

  • Can art communicate the need for conservation? Can art inspire climate consciousness?

  • Can we additionally utilize single-use items? Can they become tools and materials for art making?

  • Can artists be environmentally conscious in their art practice?

Teaching images — Easthaven Elementary School, Columbus

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