There’s so much nature to celebrate in April—and so many ways to incorporate environmental education into your classroom.
Mark your calendar this month for these five holidays celebrating conservation and stewardship. Links are included to download lesson plans to help engage your students with fun and educational activities. Visit NEEF’s K-12 education hub for more hands-on, place-based education resources.
National Park Week
Date: April 22-30
About: Parks across the country host special programs and digital experiences in conjunction with this annual holiday. This year's National Park Week theme is "What's Your Park Story?" Entrance fees are waived on April 22 to kick off National Park Week and encourage everyone to enjoy their national parks.
Ways to Celebrate: National Park Week is a time to explore amazing places, discover history and culture, volunteer, and find your park.
Environmental Education Resources: National parks are America's largest classrooms. The National Park Service website provides an extensive collection of lesson plans and teaching resources. For example, one online activity for grades 3-5 explores the relationship between locations and rock types, helping students compare geology from national parks ranging all the way from Acadia to Yosemite.
Date: April 22
About: Created in 1970, Earth Day mobilizes millions of Americans in support of living in harmony with nature. This year’s theme is “Invest In Our Planet” in recognition of how important it is for all of us to work together to take action on climate change.
Ways to Celebrate: Make every day Earth Day by following these 52 actions and tips from EarthDay.org to make a difference every day of the year. You can also join in on The Great Global Cleanup, an annual initiative that aims to coordinate cleanups in 192 countries around the world to reduce waste and pollution and improve habitats. Search the map for nearby cleanups or create your own.
Environmental Education Resources: Explore a wide range of lessons and activities from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to engage students in grades K-12 on Earth Day. A variety of science and engineering projects help kids better understand the planet we call home. For example, students can complete an experiment to explore how changing water temperatures contribute to rising sea levels.
Date: April 28
About: Held annually on the last Friday in April, Arbor Day is a good time to recognize the value that trees provide to both our health and our environment. What started as a Nebraska tree planting holiday in 1872 has grown to a celebration of trees in all 50 states.
Ways to Celebrate: Find an Arbor Day event in your state using the Arbor Day Foundation’s interactive map.
Environmental Education Resources: Download Penn State’s forestry and natural resource lesson plans for grades K-12 for a variety of activities focused on forest stewardship. A three-part lesson on tree and leaf identification gets students outside to discover trees near them.
City Nature Challenge
Date: April 28-May 1, May 2-7
About: The City Nature Challenge (CNC) is an example of a BioBlitz—a type of citizen science project where the goal is to observe and document as many species as possible within a defined location and time limit. Data collected during the CNC are freely available to anyone interested in learning about wildlife and have been used in hundreds of scientific publications.
The contest takes place in two phases: participants first take photos of wild plants and animals and then identify what was found. In 2021, nearly 53,000 people got involved to record more than 1.2 million observations of more than 45,000 species.
Environmental Education Resources: The CNC education toolkit was compiled by a group of educators at institutions around the world for students in Grades K-12 and beyond. For example, the “Looking at Lawns” activity allows students to observe and compare the biodiversity of a maintained lawn with a portion of taller grass.
EE in Focus
About: For over 16 years, NEEF has brought EE Week to life with events, projects, resources, and stories that help inform and celebrate the critical work educators are doing across the country to instill a passion for science and the environment in their students.
Starting this year, we decided to expand our EE offerings throughout the year instead of packing all of our educational resources and events into a handful of days in late April. Now, NEEF is able to share high-quality materials and align our EE offerings with a traditional school year schedule—making it more intuitive for educators to incorporate environmental education into their lesson plans.
Ways to Celebrate: Register for EE In Focus, our monthly environmental education newsletter, to receive special benefits including first knowledge about EE grants, EE stories, and event updates. Sign up today!
Environmental Education Resources: NEEF offers an extensive collection of environmental education resources for all ages designed to help you integrate environmental education into your classroom. If you have other questions or are interested in collaborating, please contact our team.