Oil + Water + Students= Knowledge

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is to heighten the awareness of the public about oil spills and the environmental issues they can cause.  Learners will actively participate in an advertising campaign advocating for legislation to protect wildlife from human caused disasters like oil spills.

PrintTwo forty-five minute class periods

The learner will:

  • increase their ability to influence others.
  • present their ideas and opinions in a clear and simple way.
  • share their knowledge of how humans can impact the environment.
  • advocate for legislation to protect the environment against human caused disasters.
  • create an advertising campaign.

Paper shopping bags, Markers (permanent, not washable) Scrap paper- newsprint Handout One, Shopping Bag Billboard Assessment Rubric Handout Two, Opinion Essay Rubric


  1. Teacher Note: Advance preparation - the teacher should go to the local grocery store and tell the store manager that your class would like to decorate paper shopping bags with environmental messages. Ask them for paper grocery bags. Tell the manager you will be returning the bags after they are decorated for them to use for customers. Anticipatory Set: Show the learners a grocery bag. Ask: What do you think we are going to do with these bags that will help the environment. Accept all reasonable answers. Tell them that they are going to create environmental advertisements on the bags to share the knowledge that they have gained during this unit of study about oil spills and habitats.

  2. Brainstorm ideas of things that would be appropriate to put on the bags to create advertisements. Remind them that advertisement needs to be concise and still convey the message.

  3. List some of their suggestions on the board for their future reference.

  4. Have the learners make a rough draft of their advertisement. Remind the learners that the bags must include a philanthropy theme.

  5. For example, demonstrating people volunteering to help to clean up the oil, people writing letters to members of Congress, etc.

  6. Check rough drafts for incorrect grammar and spelling errors.

  7. Give each learner at least one bag for their advertisement.

  8. Teacher’s Note: This may be a homework assignment if time is an issue.

  9. After the bags are completed, have the learners share their advertisements with the rest of the class.

  10. Return the grocery bags to the store.


Learners will write an “Opinion Essay” to send to a local newspaper advocating for legislation to protect environments from human caused disasters like oil spills. They will also reflect on this unit and what they think they could do to further help protect the environment. Use the Opinion Essay Rubric (See Handout Two) to evaluate the letter.

Cross Curriculum 

Learners will create advertisements on grocery bags advocating for legislation for the protection of habitats from human-caused disasters like oil spills. Learners will write an opinion essay for publication in a local newspaper encouraging people to write to members of Congress asking for legislation that will better protect the oceans against oil spills and holding those that cause such devastation of wildlife and their habitats responsible.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.9 Recognize problems different communities encounter using a "commons" and possible solutions.