Pollution Solution!

By Sharon DiMarco, December 4, 2008

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Green Design

Subject Area

  • Science

Lesson Time

three thirty-minute lessons


Pollution is an environmental problem, people problem, and health hazard.  In my classroom we always compare our space and activities, even design our space, in relation to our inquiries about how a city works. Pollution, as a concept, is the first problem in a category of environmental problems I plan to introduce.  Students will be engaged in this activity as it enhances the city we are building with physical, visual, aesthetic sky elements (which hang from our ceiling) and is proof of their input into what they want to see in the sky within our city in the classroom.

National Standards


Students will:
  • practice fine motor movements as they use crayons on assorted objects and use different techniques
  • practice pencil pinching fat crayons as reinforcement of pencil grip
  • crush and crumble recycled paper for the stuffing of hanging objects
  • learn what causes pollution and the effects it has on living things
  • learn to interview guests using vocabulary they learn specific to pollution and environmental descriptors
  • create original inventions to keep their city safe from pollution as another way to practice transforming recyclables into new products




  • large roll of white paper
  • crayons
  • recyclables such as: paper, plastic, and cardboard
  • string
  • scissors
  • crayons


  • recycle: to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reus
  • air pollution: the introduction of harmful substances or products into the environment
  • reuse: To use again, especially after salvaging or special treatment or processing.
  • reduce: to bring down to a smaller extent, size, amount, number, etc.:
  • environment:  the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time.
  • transform: to change in condition, nature, or character; convert
  • smog:  smoke or other atmospheric pollutants combined with fog in an unhealthy or irritating mixture.
  • acid rain:  precipitation, as rain, snow, or sleet, containing relatively high concentrations of acid-forming chemicals, as the pollutants from coal smoke, chemical manufacturing, and smelting, that have been released into the atmosphere and combined with water vapor: harmful to the environment.


1. After reading the story "Clean Air, Dirty Air" by Lynne Patchett discuss the displayed pictures of water, air, and land pollution. Have students identify what is wrong in each of the pictures displayed. Write the students responses underneath each of the pictures. Remind the students that pollution is anything that harms our surroundings and that people cannot survive without clean air, water, and land. Stress that pollution is a responsibility and concern of all people in every community. Educate students about the different kinds of air pollution. Tell the children that the main types of air pollution are smog and acid rain. 2. Discuss how air pollution affects their bodies. Have students work in small groups with large sheets of paper. Tell the groups to draw a picture of a person. Ask students to surround the person with pictures of pollution. For example, they can draw black water representing acid rain or black clouds representing smog. Instruct students to draw lines from the pollutant to the part of the body affected by the pollutant. 3. Explain to students that we are going to be creating an object or machine in the sky that will be strictly be in charge of cleaning our city environment. Discuss with students that first we must create out city skyscape. Pair students off to color in the clouds, smog, rainbow, sun, and moon. Remind students to pencil pinch the crayon as they are coloring in their objects with their partners. (Hang dyads simply for display and to get the effect of the city problem.) 4. Break class into groups of five or less. Pitch the problem to students: What special machine can we make in our classroom to prevent pollution? Discuss with students possible answers. Tell students they are going to have a chance to create a special machine or object that will prevent pollution. Refer back to pictures discussed earlier of acid rain, smog, and pollution. 5. Assign roles to each student in the group. Writer, Presenter, Creator, etc. Explain these roles in detail. 6. Set out objects such as cardboard, tape, crayons, clay, popsicle sticks, buttons, assorted objects that can be found at your local hardware store. Enough of an assortment that students could easily manipulate and bind things together. 7. After students have worked cooperatively in groups, allow students to discuss their solution machine. Encourage questions amongst peers. Encourage teams to question one another and the reason for their design. 8. Discuss the process of design and the steps taken to try and solve the problem.


  • teacher observation
  • student self-assessment
  • teacher assessment

Enrichment Extension Activities

Invite experts to visit to explain pollution, identify parts or functions within a city that create air pollution, and reinforce introduced vocabulary. Have experts explain in detail ways to prevent pollution.

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