This Earth Day music lesson has been a success with my second graders year after year. It always results in meaningful conversations about environmental and socioeconomic issues, recycling and finding creative solutions.
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Are you familiar with the story of Ada Ríos? It’s a true story! Ada’s story begins in her hometown of Cateura, a landfill outside of Asuncion, Paraguay. Ada’s grandmother enthusiastically signs her up for free music lessons taught by Favio Chávez. Unfortunately, too many children sign-up and poor Favio doesn’t have enough instruments to go around! The community comes together to craft instruments from recycled materials recovered from the landfill. It’s a fascinating true story which shows the power of the arts. My students always really enjoy this nonfiction picture book by Susan Hood. It’s a great addition to your music story library! If you don’t have this story in your collection, you can snag it on Amazon here.
FREE Earth Day Music Lesson
You can download this resource for FREE from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Click here to download it now! Don’t forget to leave a review if you love this freebie! It helps me out a lot! Okay, here’s how I teach my lesson. I normally teach this lesson to second graders but feel free to tweak to use with older or younger learners!
My Earth Day Music Lesson begins with a question to spark some discussion among my students. That opening question might be something like…
“Do you know what holiday is celebrated this week?”
“Why do you think we celebrate Earth Day?”
“Do you think it’s important to take care of our planet? Why or why not?”
After a bit of discussion, I’ll introduce the students to The Landfill Harmonic, the country of Paraguay, and the story’s main setting – Cateura which can be found on slide 2 of the freebie resource. I’ll also ask them the questions on slide 3 before reading the story to students. The questions ask, “Do you recycle?” and “Have you ever found a use for something someone else has thrown away?” After that, I’ll read the picture book by Susan Hood (which they love!)
After the story, there are some follow-up and extension questions to spark more discussion on slides 5-6. Then (my favorite part), I reveal the exciting part – it’s based on a true story! The students are always so amazed when I reveal this after the story! From there, students learn more about Ada and Favio Chávez, there is a video about the Landfill Philharmonic and some critical thinking questions to conclude this easy, no-prep lesson! Try this lesson out with your students and drop a comment to let me know how it goes!
Looking for a follow-up after reading the Ada’s story to students? I usually save the movie as a special treat that they have to earn. I keep it in my Prime Video library for classes that do a great job during the initial lesson. This documentary is not rated so please tread carefully and watch it through yourself before showing it to your students. I personally love showing the film as a follow-up. It really brings the lesson to life and drives the overall message of this story.
Are you doing any special music activities for Earth Day? I’d love to hear what you’re doing in your classroom! Drop a comment below to share your favorite lesson!