March 2020

Animals & the Environment

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and, in the contemplation of her beauties, to know the sense of wonder and humility.

Rachel Carson

Featured Download

As we all know, we are facing some of the most concerning environmental disasters of our time. Climate change is a global crisis, and there are already ongoing debates about whether or not people can claim refugee status due to the effects of climate change in their communities. We have watched horrific fires blaze across California, where people and animal companions had to flee their homes, and more recently across Australia, where more than 1 billion wild animals have suffered and lost their lives. With an increase in floods in some areas, and droughts in others, it is unimaginable to talk about human justice and animal protection without discussing environmental conservation.

We can all work together to mitigate climate change and other environmental problems in an effort to preserve the planet and cultivate a healthy world for people and animals. As humane educators, we can support and contribute to the environmental movement by teaching programs that demonstrate the connection between our treatment of the environment and the impact that has on people and animals.

In our featured download, we highlight our lesson, The Consequences of Our Changing Climate, which challenges youth to work in small groups as “Climate Science Reporters,” gather information from their specific Rapid Climate Change Research Packets (which are provided), and then report their findings in a “newscast.” Youth will gain a better understanding of exactly what climate change is, its causes, the harm it is bringing to people and animals, and suggested ways to diminish its effects. (Please note that while this lesson was originally designed for grades 3 - 5, it can easily be taught to students up to 8th grade.)

HEART Webinar

Learn about a wide range of ways that you can foster reverence for the natural world, teach about pressing environmental issues, and empower youth to become change-makers. Throughout this webinar, we discuss activities and lessons that can be offered to students from K - 12.


Lessons & Activities

Respecting Our Animal Neighbors

Grades Pre-K to 2

Students think about why it is important to protect the natural world and to respect wildlife. They talk about how litter can harm animals, and they practice cleaning up their neighborhood by picking up “trash” around their classroom. Finally, they sing a song about caring for our planet.

Clean It Up!

Grades 3 to 5

Students are exposed to the detrimental impact that people are having on the ocean and its inhabitants. They participate in a service-learning project of cleaning up their community and logging the amount of plastic and non-plastic litter they find in a designated area. (Please note that this activity can easily be modified for upper grades.)

Water is Life

Grades 3 to 5

Youth learn about the impact that human activity has on our water supply, and how water scarcity is affecting both people and animals. They compare and contrast the use of both private and public water, and engage in a game to consider various ways to live more sustainably. (Please note that while this lesson was originally designed for students in grades 3-5, it can easily be taught to students up to 8th grade.)

Wildlife Under Fire

Grades 3 to 5

Working in small groups, students read a story about an animal and how that animal is affected by a specific environmental issue. The issues that are covered include: habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, poaching, and endangered species. Students consider ways to help protect these animals and the environment. (For a free digital version of this lesson, create a Nearpod account and visit HEART's page.)

Book Recommendations

Grades 2 and up

The Forever Forest book

The Forever Forest

By Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini, Rachel Crandel

Students follow the characters as they explore the beauty of El Bosque Eterno de los Ninos, also known as The Children’s Eternal Rainforest, in Costa Rica. They are witness to many of the amazing animals who live there. They also discover how children around the world are responsible for the preservation of this incredible land.

Grades 3 and up

I Am Farmer book

I Am Farmer

By Baptiste & Miranda Paul

Farmer Tantoh Nforba is an environmentalist from Cameroon who always felt connected to the natural world. He dedicates his life to farming, despite being teased for it. He brings healthy food and clean water to the people in his community. Then, he starts a nonprofit that brings safe, clean drinking water to other villages in Cameroon.

Grades 4 and up

Wangari's Trees of Peace book

Wangari's Trees of Peace

​By Jeannette Winter

Environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai is concerned when she sees how many trees have been cut down in her Kenyan village. She begins planting trees, and inspires women in Kenya and many other countries throughout Africa to do the same, thus improving the ecosystem and their lives.

Related Article

Climate Change Kids
This article is part of a series from The Climate Reality Project and National Geographic Kids that provides resources about climate change, and it explains how kids can take action.


Grades 9 - Adult

Some people believe that the Earth is in the midst of a sixth extinction. Use this video to explain how it is defined, what is causing it, and what it means for people, animals, and our natural world.

  •  A free network of support for your humane education programs
  • Providing animal shelters, sanctuaries, and rescue organizations with effective and engaging lessons, tips, and activities that help deliver high-quality humane education for all ages

HEART does not receive compensation from third parties for promoting books or other materials, nor do we receive compensation for the purchase of any suggested for-sale materials, unless specifically noted.

Copyright 2024 by HEART - Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers

Scroll to Top