Climate Change Lesson Ideas

Climate Change Lesson Ideas

Teaching about climate change is arguably one of the most important topics to teach this Earth Day. According to the IPCC, the impacts of the climate crisis are why we must act now to address the growing risks and understand the need for bold action. SubjectToClimate has provided climate change lesson ideas to help students navigate climate change.  Let’s celebrate Earth Day every day!

"The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats, and biodiversity... that's all there is. That's the whole economy. That's where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world," Senator Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day. 

"Dear Future Generations: Sorry"

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, English Language Arts, Art, Justice, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Type: Video, Artwork

In this powerful video activist and artist, Prince EA explains that ending deforestation is one of the best solutions for addressing global climate change. The video inspires students to take charge of their actions, but also helps them to see how important it is to work together as an ‘Earth Family.’

Differentiation Tips

Students can work in small groups to design a model, solution, or strategic plan for one of the environmental threats.

Groups can look at plans by governments, NGOs, and individual citizens to see how these groups are addressing environmental threats.

Ask students to write down what inspires them most in this video.

Ask visual learners to create a graphic organizer or concept map that explains this video.

Students should be familiar with the following terms: deforestation and climate change.

Climate Visuals Gallery

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Art, Justice, Health, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Type: Artwork

Visual images are a great teaching tool as they capture the impacts that climate change has on real people and communities around the globe.  The Climate Visuals Gallery resource is a site that contains a large library of powerful images related to a wide variety of climate change-related topics. It is a fantastic resource that can aid in science projects or make research papers come alive. 

Each image contains information about the picture along with suggestions for how it can be applied. Additionally, these images can be used in art lessons as references for paintings, inspiration for photography assignments, or for explaining composition (foreground, mid-ground, and background). The images are well organized and tagged according to Climate Outreach's "Seven Climate Visual Principles,” a research-based framework for selecting images to fully communicate about climate change. 

Differentiation Tips

A great resource to use to find visuals for research papers or science projects.

Easily incorporated into art lessons. 


Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, History, Art, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Type: Video, Article, Lesson Plan

Let your students experience the journey that astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission in 1968 went through with this amazing video from the Global Oneness Project. Earthrise is a power-packed film that tells the story of the famous photo of Earth taken by Bill Anders.

This resource also includes an in-depth article and a discussion guide that can be downloaded as a PDF. In science class, teachers can use this resource to kickstart the first day of school with a unit on Earth systems or students can watch Amanda Gorman perform her poem, “Earthrise.” There are a variety of ways to utilize this lesson plan!

Differentiation Tips

This film can be used in art class, English class, or science class.

This film would be great for the first day in science class when you begin a unit on Earth systems.

Middle school English teachers can implement this poetry lesson plan where students analyze Amanda Gorman's poem and write their own poems.

Turbine in the Wind

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type: Activity, Worksheet, Lesson Plan, Video

It’s time to build! This resource provides instructions for building and testing a Savonius turbine out of cardboard. Students can work in small teams to experience this engineering design opportunity. 

The goal is to design a turbine that gives the most rotation within a specified amount of time. Students must use Design Thinking and reflect on why their turbine worked.  They can connect their observations to energy consumption obtained through prevalent energy sources like coal and natural gas and their impact on climate change. Teachers will need to create a free account to access this lesson. To simplify the materials required, substituting paperboard or construction paper for the cardboard and pencils for the dowels can be helpful. 

Differentiation Tips

The questions on the Google Doc can be adjusted to ensure all students are challenged to work at their level. 

Students could research wind farms in their area and/or research different designs of wind turbines before completing this activity.

› Other resources related to wind energy include an e-book,  interactive data resource, a video, and this interactive table.

Sharing Your Climate Story

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Justice, Health, Social-Emotional Learning, Climate Action

Resource Type: Lesson Plan, Worksheet, Video

By wielding the power of storytelling and crafting compelling narratives, students can help foster values like empathy and resilience. In this interdisciplinary lesson plan, students write a personal narrative about climate change that they can send to their government representative. 

The lesson plan is very detailed and well structured to follow the inquiry 5E Instructional model in which students engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate, and possibly extend. Teachers should scaffold the writing as necessary for students. 

Differentiation Tips

The lesson plan was written with high school in mind, but it could easily be used in middle school as well.

Science classes could use this lesson to improve their communication skills regarding scientific topics by including an additional paragraph about the scientific evidence. 

Whether it is Earth Day or not, these climate change lesson ideas can help you integrate climate change into your daily lessons. Check out this curated climate change lesson plan search for more amazing lessons on climate change!

About the Author

Ratika is a Middle School Science teacher who is currently based in India.  She holds a Master's Degree in Biomedical Science from the University of Nottingham. Her passion has always been to help students to become curious learners.