Earth Day

Learn about Earth Day celebrations in the United States


Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd in the United States. The first Earth Day event in 1970 was organized by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to draw attention to the negative effects of modern life on the environment. He was concerned about problems such as pollution and overuse of natural resources.

He called for a special day for lectures and discussions to encourage Americans to consider their impact on the earth. Nearly 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day by attending lectures and participating in peaceful demonstrations. Today many countries around the world celebrate Earth Day.

In the United States, Earth Day is not an official holiday, but it is still celebrated in many ways. Americans of all ages participate in events to increase public awareness of environmental concerns and to celebrate their respect for the environment. In schools around the United States, teachers often give lessons focusing on environmental themes. Citizens volunteer to clean up their city and sometimes city and school gardens are established on this day. Earth Day encourages everyone to recycle and live in a more environmentally friendly way.

Classroom Activities

Activity 1 (Intermediate Learners)

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change

After reading, divide the class into small groups. Assign each group a specific topic to read about that is found in one of the two articles below:

  1. The different observations of climate change from the web page “The Signs of Climate Change”;
  2. The impact on people, from the web page “The Effects on People and the Environment”.

Ask each group to make a list of the environmental problems, the cause of each problem, and its effect on plants, animals, and humans. Make a grid on the board, showing each of the signs of climate change (across the top) and each of the effects on people and environment (down the side). Next, have each of the groups who read about “The Signs of Climate Change” present their list about climate change, including the effects on people and the environment. Have students help check off the effects in the grid. After they present, the groups who read “The Effects on People and the Environment” can explain why and how that type of climate change affects people and the environment. Continue until the grid is complete and all groups have had a chance to speak. Finally, as a whole class, come up with suggestions for how to stop each of these environmental problems in your region.

Activity 2 (Advanced Learners)

English Teaching Forum - Renewable Energy

Have your students read the English Teaching Forum article Renewable Energy by Kent Markle. After reading, put students into six groups. Give one renewable energy source (discussed in the article) to each group. Tell students that their job is to convince their classmates that their renewable energy source is the best way to provide renewable energy for people. To do this, groups will need to prepare a brief presentation (1-2 minutes) based on the information provided in the article. After each presentation, allow a few minutes for any questions the class might have. Then, ask students to vote for the most persuasive presentation to determine the best and most sustainable source of energy.

Social Media Activities

  1. How are you celebrating Earth Day in your community?
  2. What are some specific ways you can reduce the impact you make on the environment?
  3. What are some of the signs of climate change in your country? How is it impacting people and the environment? What can you do to stop the effects of climate change?
  4. Post your answers on American English Facebook

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