Free Lesson Plans for Teachers
Simplify the Holidays Bonus!
We chose the following five art lesson plans and came up with a Simplify the Holidays sheet that includes ideas for how to turn these projects into festive, earth-friendly activities for the holidays! For example, Endangered Species Light Catchers can be used as a gift tag, an ornament, or a holiday-themed bookmark. Remember, you can adapt these projects for different grade levels. The five projects are:
- Endangered Species Light Catchers (Pre-K)
- Cork Sailboats (Grades K-2)
- Book Diorama (Grades 3-5)
- My Autobiography (Grades 3-5)
- Reminder Cards (Grades 3-5)
The creation of the lesson plans below was generously sponsored by the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, founded by Jack and Kim Johnson to support environmental, art, and music education now and into the future.
Endangered Species Light Catchers: Choose and study an endangered species and then draw your creature or plant on a clear sheet of plastic to create a light catcher. Related academic subject: Science
Focusing Binoculars: Create and decorate a fun pair of “binoculars” that will help young children focus on the natural world around them. Related academic subject: Language Arts
`Olapa Onomatopoeia: Learn about the concept of onomatopoeia while studying the native `olapa tree. Use your artwork to mimic the sounds of the tree. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Butterfly Symmetry: Explore and create the Kamehameha butterfly (pulelehua) using bottle caps to learn about colors and patterns. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Striped Snails: Create a Hawaiian tree snail collage out of fabric and/or paper scraps, then share your project with your classmates. Related academic subject: Science
Describing Humpback Whales: Learn about humpback whales and listen to their songs. Think about what words you would use to describe a humpback whale, then create a whale puppet. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Natural Patterns: Study green sea turtles and their colors and patterns. Create your own sea turtle collage using bottle caps. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Eel Tubes: Use paper towel rolls to recreate your favorite eel, complete with stripes, dots, teeth and more! Related academic subject: Science
Rethinking Caps: Sort bottle caps of various sizes and colors, then use them to create an ocean creature collage. Related academic subjects: Mathematics, Language Arts
Yarn Stamps: Create your own unique stamps and make your mark while learning about colors, patterns and shapes. Related academic subjects: Mathematics, Language Arts
Community Helpers: Firefighters, doctors, construction workers & more! Learn about all the important people in our community who help us every day. Related academic subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies
Shape Printers: Use toilet paper and paper towel rolls to help kids learn shapes in a fun and memorable way! Related academic subject: Mathematics
Color Sorting: Explore math skills and colors by counting and sorting bottle caps, create patterns. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Watch It Grow: (*New!) Decorate an empty CD case and watch a seed grow underneath the plastic. Related academic subject: Science.
Mini Watering Can: Create and decorate a mini watering can that really works (!) out of plastic items we normally throw away. Use it to take care of plants in your home and community. Related academic subject: Science
Outdoor Art Kit: Make your own mini art kit that will allow you to transport your art supplies to various locations and field trips. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Trash Grabber: Design your own trash grabber that will allow you to pick up litter safely! Then use your invention to help pick up and sort trash in your community. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Describing Lava Flows: Study different types of lava flows and create a model of `a`a and pahoehoe using newspaper. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Counting `Ohi`a: Study the issue of Rapid `Ohi`a Death and its effect on trees on Hawai`i Island. Make stamps to represent healthy and unhealthy lehua blossoms and use them to better understand how many trees are being affected. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Native or Not?: Use foam trays to create stamps of various native and non-native flowers. Try out your own and friends’ stamps and explore which ones are native and which ones aren’t. Related academic subject: Science
Baby Honu Race: Learn about Hawai`i’s own honu (green sea turtles) and the challenges they face once they are born. Make your own baby honu and create a racing game to play with friends. Related academic subjects: Science
Counting Sea Stars: Draw sea stars on bottle caps and use them to solve mathematical equations. Related academic subjects: Mathematics
What’s in a Name: Learn about a newly discovered species of octopus: the ghost octopus. Create an octopus out of a toilet paper roll, and think of a name for your octopus. Introduce your octopus to your classmates. Related academic subjects: Language Arts
You Are What You Eat: Learn about Hawaii’s fish and the impact of plastic debris on ocean food chains with this fun catch-the-caps game. Related academic subjects: Science, Language Arts
Sort It Out: Figure out which plastic items can be reduced, reused, or recycled, then try your hand at upcycling. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Cork Sailboats: Will it sink or will it float? Make a boat out of used corks and let your imagination take you away! Related academic subjects: Mathematics, Science
Fabric Bowls: Design a beautiful bowl out of old fabric scraps. Related academic subjects: Language Arts, Science
Rainsticks: Create rain sticks that make great sounds! Related academic subjects: Mathematics, Science
Paper Chain Caterpillar: Create a paper chain caterpillar. Related academic subjects: Mathematics, Science
Color Sense Poem: This color collage activity is a great exercise for kids. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Circle Murals: Learn about the artist Wassily Kandinsky and create your own circle art pieces out of bottle caps. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Marine Debris Snow Globe: Take plastic marine debris off our beaches and use it to create a whimsical snow globe. For younger children you can also cut chipboard (like cereal boxes) into shapes and have your students create a marine debris mosaic. Related academic subject: Science
Dinosaur Feet: Create and decorate your very own dinosaur feet and stomp around in them, all while learning about shapes, colors, dinosaurs and more! Related academic subject: Mathematics
Royal Crown: Make and decorate a crown while learning about royal kingdoms including Hawaii. Related academic subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies
Poetry Book: Practice writing while making a special poetry book out of used cereal boxes and magazines, then share your book with your friends. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Poet’s Garden: This project is similar to the Poetry Book above and allows children to create a plant or garden with words and poems. Related academic subjects: Language Arts and Science
Bottle Cap Math: Use colorful bottle caps to practice equations, create patterns, learn place value, put numbers in order and more. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Diamond Kite: Make a kite from used plastic bags and cardboard while learning about shapes, wind and flight. Related academic subject: Science
Pattern Lei: Create lei using paper (try it with used magazines!). Children will learn about shapes, patterns, and can also learn about lei making traditions and plants. Download flower templates here. Related academic subject: Mathematics
No-Sew T-Shirt Apron: (*New!) Create a no-sew apron for you to use when making art, cooking, and gardening! Related academic subject: Mathematics.
Ahupua`a Structural Puzzle: Create your own puzzle out of cereal boxes while learning about the ahupua`a land division. Related academic subject: Mathematics.
Moving Mountain Waterfall: Learn about the water cycle and create a waterfall representation out of reused items that actually moves! Related academic subjects: Physical, Earth and Space Sciences
Reminder Cards: Design handy reminder cards to post in places where you will see them to remind you about simple tasks you can complete to help our planet. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Healing Plants: Study Native Hawaiian medicinal plants. Create a booklet of information and artwork to share what you have learned. Related academic subject: Language Arts
How Many Feathers Does It Take?: Research the beautiful Hawaiian feather cape, `ahu`ula, and its patterns, how many feathers it takes to make one, etc. Design a feather cape of your own and recreate it using fabric or paper scraps. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Wallabies of Kalihi Valley: Research the wallaby population of Kalihi Valley, then create your own adorable wallaby out of a used tennis ball can! Related academic subject: Science
Hide and Seek: Learn about the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid and its amazing ability to camouflage itself. Draw your own Bobtail Squid and blend it into a magazine or other image. Related academic subject: Science
Seal Protection Campaign: Learn about Hawaiian Monk Seals and apply mathematical concepts to learn about their protected status as endangered animals. Create a sign that educates the public on protecting monk seals. Related academic subjects: Mathematics, Language Arts
Your Choice for Hawai’i’s State Fish: Learn how our state fish was chosen, and study other fish in Hawai`i. Think about what you would choose if you could decide on Hawai`i’s State Fish. Explain why. Use found items to create a replica of your fish and share three interesting facts. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Clean and Green: Create your own hand soap with natural exfoliating materials instead of problematic plastic microbeads. Related academic subjects: Science, Mathematics, Language Arts
Bag It Up: Design and create your own funky bag using plastic six-pack rings. Related academic subjects: Mathematics, Language Arts
Water Bottle Holder: Design your own custom water bottle holder out of soda rings. Related academic subjects: Mathematics, Language Arts, Science
My Autobiography: Go on a voyage of creativity and self-discovery with these handmade autobiographies. Related academic subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies
Flying Koi: Make koi for Boys’/Children’s Day and end with a koi classroom parade! Related academic subjects: Language Arts, Science, Social Studies
Family Flag: Create a unique flag in honor of your family that you can share with your classmates. Related academic subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies
Book Diorama: Make a cereal box diorama to illustrate and share a fiction or non-fiction book you have read. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Poetry Box: Create a special box that incorporates words, poems and images, and relates to whatever you are studying in class. Related academic subject: Language Arts
No-Sew T-Shirt Apron: (*New!) Create a no-sew apron for you to use when making art, cooking, and gardening! Related academic subject: Mathematics.
In the Year 20__: Create a unique time capsule to document various facts and issues that are prevalent in Hawaii in the current year. Related academic subject: Mathematics.
Memory Box: Research an important site in Hawaii then create an essay and memory box that provides an artistic representation of what you have learned. Related academic subject: Language Arts.
To Hunt or Not to Hunt: Study the impacts of feral pigs on Hawaii’s environment and invent a way to prevent pigs from negatively impacting our trees and forests. Related academic subject: Life & Environmental Sciences
How Much Is Too Much?: Research the issue of the Thirty Meter Telescope and Mauna Kea. Decide where you stand, then create a poster that shares your research and opinions. Study and incorporate a constellation into your poster. Related academic subject: Language Arts.
Creating Change: With the current Kilauea eruption, some communities on Hawai`i Island are experiencing devastating upheaval. Design and make greeting cards to sell and use the funds to purchase items needed by those communities. Related academic subject: Mathematics
To Eat or Not To Eat: Study edible plants of Hawai`i and choose one of them as an ingredient. As a group, work together to create a line of menu items using your ingredient, then share your menu with your classmates. Related academic subject: Science
Deadly Diet: Learn about tiger sharks and some of the crazy things found in their stomachs. Make a collage that shows what should be part of the shark’s diet and what shouldn’t. Related academic subject: Science
Defeating Stings: Have you ever been stung by a jellyfish and wondered what to do? Learn about different kinds of stings and create your own product to help feel better faster. Related academic subject: Language Arts
Protecting Ocean Cities: Apply mathematical concepts to the study of coral bleaching. Create a diorama that represents an accurate mathematical model of healthy and bleached coral in Hanauma Bay. Related academic subject: Mathematics
Sifter Design Challenge: Help keep Hawaii’s beaches clean by crafting a sifter that can be used to separate plastic marine debris from sand. Related academic subjects: Science, Language Art
Other Helpful Teacher Resources
Art Lesson Plans from Manoa Heritage Center: Manoa Heritage Center posted four art project ideas on their web site that they developed for local educators. They are: Observing Your Place in the Sun, Native Leaf Rubbing Mini Journal, Hana Kapala Printmaking Activity, and Hana Lei Activity.
Get Funding to Help Pay For a Field Trip to Art Explorium: Kokua Hawaii Foundation has funds available to help cover environmental field trip costs for public school students. You can bring your students in to Art Explorium for a fun and educational field trip. Get more information on our Field Trip Program.
Department of Environmental Services Educational Tools Web Site: This site includes some awesome downloadable classroom workbooks, including coloring activity books and a Recycled Art Project Guide. For more information or to get copies of materials, please contact Michael O’Keefe, email@example.com.
Hanahau`oli School’s Professional Development Center offers a variety of workshops for public and private school teachers in Hawaii. Topics include making connections with art and technology, learning more about thematic instruction, and more. Download their flyer here.
Instructions for No-Sew T-Shirt Aprons – download these step-by-step instructions for making t-shirt aprons with your students! Works best with regular crew-neck t-shirts.
Ocean Commotion Coloring Book – This adorable coloring book was created by a former Punahou School student Marisa Nagata for her senior service project. It’s a fun and creative way for children to learn more about what they can do to protect our oceans. Feel free to download and use in your classroom.