Beginning At Home

K, 1, 2

The purpose of this lesson is to allow learners the opportunity to participate in caring for our Earth by engaging in activities that focus on environmental stewardship.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • participate in a whole group discussion addressing setting, problem, and solution of the stories shared.
  • create environmental awareness posters.
  • participate in a neighborhood cleanup activity.
  • create a collection display to be shared with the class.
  • reflect on ways to be good stewards of the Earth by maintaining a cleaner community.
  • Large chart paper for drawing
  • Markers
  • Assorted classroom trash (paper, pencils, food wrappers, etc.)
  • The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden (see Bibliographical References)
  • White drawing paper (8x12)
  • Scissors
  • Pencils and crayons for students
  • “Clean up song”: to be chosen by teacher
  • The Great Trash Bash by Loreen Leedy (see Bibliographical References)
  • Poster board or large white paper
  • Student copies of Handout One: Family Letter
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: See Handout One: Family Letter. This should be sent home after day one lesson is presented. Student homework needs to be completed prior to day two instruction.


Leedy, Loreen. The Great Trash Bash. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1993: ISBN:0-590-45943-0

Madden, Don. The Wartville Wizard. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1986: ISBN:0-689-71667-7


  1. Day One: Anticipatory Set: Before beginning this lesson, the classroom should be littered with trash (paper, pencils, wrappers, etc.). Call the students to a story telling area to begin the lesson. As the students begin to come the teacher should be working on an illustration of the schoolyard on large chart paper. The schoolyard illustration is a representation of the actual schoolyard. Include several items out of place in the schoolyard. Examples of this would be trash on the ground, graffiti on the play equipment, broken toys, etc. The teacher should make several deliberate errors while illustrating and get a new piece of paper each time. The used chart paper should be crumpled up into a ball and thrown on the floor without regard. It may also be effective to tear the used paper into pieces and throw them on the floor. The objective is to create a mess. The students will begin to realize that the actions of the teacher are not appropriate. Once the teacher has generated enough student reaction from the activity, the teacher should quickly finish the illustration and sit down to begin the lesson.

  2. Read the story, The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden. In the story the old man gets very discouraged because the townspeople don’t seem to care about Wartville and throw trash everywhere. The old man is given the power over trash and helps the townspeople to see that they need to take action. As the teacher reads the story, talk to the children about the main character in the story. Allow the students time to talk about how the character progresses. How did the old man feel when the townspeople didn’t care about Wartville? What were some ways he tried to help his town? Was he successful? Can one person do it all? Setting, problem, and solution should also be reviewed throughout the reading of the story.

  3. Address the classroom cleanliness issue with the class. Allow for classroom reflection and discussion on some of the following questions.How did it make the students feel when you threw the paper on the floor and made the classroom a mess? What did they think about the mess that already existed in the classroom before the lesson began? Did they feel proud of their classroom? What would happen if we never cleaned it up? What problems may this cause?

  4. Have the students create a flip-book to represent the setting, plot, and solution of the story. The flip-books can be prepared by folding an 8x12 sheet of white paper in half. Divide the top section into three even parts and make two cuts to divide the sections. The students should write one word on the front of each section: setting-problem-solution. Have the students proceed by turning up each section and illustrate each of the story parts. Sentence dictation, labeling, or adding a describing sentence may also be appropriate depending on the abilities of the students.

  5. Classroom clean up: Find an upbeat song familiar to the student that has a play-time of about 3 minutes. If the song happens to be shorter it will need to be repeated. Tell the students that when the music starts they need to begin to clean up their room. The students may choose to sing or dance while they work. This creates a fun classroom activity while completing a necessary task. The students should be encouraged to pick up misplaced things throughout the room. This means that they need to help clean outside of their own personal space. Stress the point that “We all work together”. Remind the students that the old man in the story needed the townspeople’s help in order to keep Wartville clean. The classroom clean up should and students seatedby the time the song is completed.

  6. Allow the students time to reflect on the flip book activity and the classroom clean up activity in a small or a large group setting.

  7. Distribute Handout One: Family Letter. Read the letter aloud and explain the homework project to the students. Tell them they will be using the items they collect in the next lesson.

  8. Day Two: Anticipatory Set: Begin by having students display their trash collections around the room. Divide the students into small groups to share their collections. Students should talk about what they found. They should also talk about how they felt when the clean up was complete. Once the sharing has been completed, the teacher should call the students to a story telling area to begin the lesson.

  9. Read the story, The Great Trash Bash, by Loreen Leedy. This is another story that focuses on the idea of environmental responsibility. The people in the town realize that they need to start treating their town with respect and take care of the trash. The story also ends with a list of ways to cut down on trash.

  10. Initiate a classroom discussion about the ideas for cutting down trash in the story. The teacher may choose to brainstorm and additional list with the students.

  11. Have the students create posters to be displayed around the school that addresses the issue of trash disposal and cutting down on waste. Allow the students to create individualized posters that represent a number of different ideas discussed. You may want to brainstorm some catch phrases to help the students get started. When the posters are complete, allow the students the opportunity to display them around the school.


Assessment should occur through teacher observation of whole group discussion and evaluation of flip book activity. Students must be able to show that they understand setting, problem, and solution for the story represented.

Cross Curriculum 

Learners will be participating in an “at home” service learning activity. Learners will explain to their families the word stewardship and how to help take care of the Earth. Along with their families, they will be collecting trash from their home or neighborhoods. Learners will discuss with their families that they are working to clean the neighborhood and by doing so they are acting for the common good of everyone in the neighborhood. They are being good stewards of the Earth. Learners will create a sample display of their trash findings with the class. Encourage the learners to share what they have found as well as reflect upon why the items existed in their environment and how the clean up has helped.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Define stewardship and give examples.