Taking Care of the Earth

K, 1, 2

Learners define stewardship and exhibit responsibility by helping to care for our “small world.” They will respond to the story The Earth and I by Frank Asch by creating watercolor illustrations of themselves acting as environmental stewards. They will decide on a class service project, plan, take action and reflect on their service experience.

Lesson Rating 
One 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • create a watercolor picture of one example of taking care of the Earth.
  • brainstorm ideas for an Earth Day project.
  • define philanthropy as giving time, talent and treasure for the common good and recognize environmental stewardship as a philanthropic act.
  • plan, take action, reflect on an environmental service project.
  • A globe or map
  • The Earth and I by Frank Asch (Asch, Frank. The Earth And I. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1994: ISBN: 0-590-89752-7)
  • Watercolor paints and brushes
  • White paper appropriate for painting
  • common Good: what is best for all
  • service: contribution to the welfare of others
  • philanthropy: giving time, talent, and treasure and taking action for the common good
  • environmental stewardship: the responsible maintenance and care of the earth and its environment
  • Are we doing something that keeps the world in top shape for the future families?
  • What did you discover about caring for the world? Your community? Yourself?
  • Who cares about environmental issues locally and globally? How might you get others to care about and act on this issue?



Pictures of the Earth from Space http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=2429 

The Earth and I by Frank Asch (Asch, Frank. The Earth And I. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1994: ISBN: 0-590-89752-7)



  1. Anticipatory Set

    Refer to the globe and/or the pictures of earth from space. Ask the students what features they notice.Point out amazing features of the Earth, such as mountains, oceans, and other landforms. Name some of the continents and countries and describe the different climates and beautiful regional characteristics. Tellthe studentsthat although we live in different places, do different things, and dress differently, we all have the Earth in common.

  2. Ask: Whose responsibility is it to take care of the earth?Challenge them to state why they asnswer as they do.

  3. Remindthe students that themaintenance and care of the earth and its environment is called environmental stewardship.

  4. Introduce the book The Earth and I by Frank Asch by saying that it is a book about environmental stewardship. The child in the story takes the reader on an exploration of what the Earth has to offer and how we can help preserve its resources. Ask them to listen for ideas about what they can do themselves to be environmental stewards as you read the book.

  5. After reading the story, brainstorm with the group a list of ways the child in the story was able to help care for the Earth. Tell them that these are examples of stewardship of the Earth (planting, raking, picking up trash, etc.).

  6. Define actions of service by using the word philanthropy as giving time, talent and treasure for the common good. Tell youth that an act of stewardship is an example of philanthropy. When they give their time to pick up trash or plant trees, they are doing it for the common good of everyone in the world.

  7. Frank Asch used watercolor to create the illustrations in The Earth and I. Look back through the story and talk about the illustrations and techniques with the group. Provide watercolor paints. Ask the studentsto think about what they might be able to do to care for the Earth and to illustrate themselves taking care of the Earth. During the discussion, encourage students to think beyond picking up trash and planting flowers by asking open ended questions like: What could youand your familydo to use less water, to let others know about being environmental stewards, to keep the water and air clean?

  8. Helpthem write a sentence to describe the actions in their pictures. Allow time for learners to share their finished work with the group. The finished products (paintings with sentences) may be displayed in public areas at school and in the community.

  9. List some of their ideas of stewardship on a display board. Ask the students if they would like to do one of the ideas listed. Lead the class in coming to consensus on an environmental service project.

  10. After planning and implementing a service project, with students leading the decision making as appropriate to the grade level, use the "Reflection" activityin this lesson to help students identify the outcomes of the service for themselves and for the Earth.


Assess students on their participation in the class discussion including use of the vocabulary words learned during the unit. Assess their ability to explain their illustration and brainstorming actions that the class can take to enhance or preserve the environment.

Cross Curriculum 

Take action to make sure we are good stewards of the resources we share globally. The following are some project ideas, but the facilitator should solicit ideas from youth:

Learn about local invasive species and how they affect the natural habitat. Organize a nature walk in which the students remove invasive species from public areas. They may also raise awareness with school families about what invasive species to watch for and avoid planting.
Create a backyard or schoolyard wildlife habitat:
Establish recycling or composting in an area where people are still throwing away too much garbage. Raise awareness locally about using reusable water bottles rather than buying bottled water.
Produce a class presentation for other students in the school and or families/community member. Perform the Song "It's a Small World" and other songs about the environment and nature, display their watercolor pictures of being environmental stewards, and have students write a class story about why they think it's important to care for the environment.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.5 Recognize the wise use of resources as <i>stewardship</i>.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Define stewardship and give examples.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.

Academic Standards

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