Environmental education curriculum
Our list of environmental education curriculum (PDF) is intended to help educators incorporate lessons and activities on environmental topics.
The guide includes both local and national resources on a variety of environmental topics, including climate change, composting, recycling, reducing waste, protecting land and water, and understanding ecosystems. Many of the resources are available for free, and some include low-cost training opportunities.
Hennepin County environmental education activity guides
The environmental education activity guides are intended to be used to engage audiences of all ages in learning about and taking action to protect the environment.
Activities are included on a variety of environmental topics. There are also a few general activities that could be applied to any environmental topic.
Each section includes background information to help educators and participants learn about the environmental issue. Each activity includes an introduction, recommended age group, estimated time requirement, outcomes and concepts to reinforce, supplies, preparation steps, procedure, discussion questions, additional activity ideas, and resources.
The activities have also been linked to state education standards. See the education standards matrix (PDF).
Download activities by section below, or download the entire activity guide package here (PDF).
Introduction and general activities
Learn how to use activity guides, tips for motivating behavior change and teaching outside, along with general environmental activities to do with your group.
Introduction and general activities (PDF)
Air, energy and climate change
Climate change is already noticeable in Minnesota. Animal and plant habitats are shifting, weather patterns are changing, and severe storms and droughts are becoming more common. If temperature readings and precipitation continue to increase within the next century, Minnesota might soon feel and look more like Missouri.
Background information and activities about air, energy and climate change (PDF)
Organics recycling involves collecting food scraps, non-recyclable paper and other compostable products to be recycled into compost at a large-scale composting facility. This process creates a nutrient-rich material that can be used in gardens and landscaping projects. Organics recycling is the best opportunity to reduce our trash – about 25 percent what we throw away is organic materials like food scraps and compostable paper. In order to be successful with organics recycling, it’s important to understand why it’s important, how it works, what is accepted, and how to get started.
Background information and activities about organics recycling (PDF)
Protecting land and water
Minnesota is known for its abundance of water and natural resources. Hennepin County has a diversity of landscapes and habitats ranging from formal gardens and urban parks to prairies, forests lakes, streams and wetlands. Natural resources provide critical habitat for wildlife, protect water quality, offer recreational opportunities and serve as the foundation to the region’s environmental well-being, economic prosperity and collective quality of life. Protecting the health of our natural resources is important for air and water quality, recreation, wildlife and tourism.
Background information and activities about protecting land and water (PDF)
When you total up all the paper, plastic, aluminum and glass, Hennepin County recycles 580,000 tons each year. All of that recycling makes a big difference. By choosing to recycle, we reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, create jobs, conserve natural resources and protect the environment. Plus, recycling is simple, convenient and something the entire family can help with.
Background information and activities about recycling (PDF)
More than one million tons of garbage is generated in Hennepin County every year. From packaging and junk mail to excess paint and food scraps – it takes a lot of time and money to deal with all of that waste. Waste reduction is any method used by a consumer or producer of a product to reduce the amount of solid waste that will require recycling, composting, incineration or disposal. In other words, if something is never created or you don’t buy it, you don’t have to decide how to reuse it or dispose of it.
Background information and activities about reducing waste (PDF)
Reducing food waste
As much as 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. for human consumption goes uneaten, and worldwide, one-third of food is wasted. About 36 million tons of food waste are generated in the United States each year. Food waste has increased significantly in recent years. Food waste per capita in the U.S. increased 50 percent from 1974 to 2009 according to the National Institute of Health.
Background information and activities about reducing food waste (PDF)
Toxicity and hazardous waste
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only a fraction of registered chemicals have gone through complete testing for human health concerns. Some chemicals have immediate toxic effects. Others are toxic to our bodies only after repeated, long-term exposure. In addition, many products we use in our homes contain heavy metals or other hazardous materials that can pollute the environment if improperly disposed of.
Background information and activities about toxicity and hazardous waste (PDF)