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Earth Day – 22 April 2024

Earth Day is celebrated every year on 22 April. 

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is "Planet vs. Plastics".

About Earth Day 

Earth Day is a global event where people honour the natural environment and raise awareness of environmental issues.

This page is a portal of resources and stories that support both Earth Day and education for sustainability throughout the school year.

Curriculum connections

The theme of sustainability is evident throughout The New Zealand Curriculum. It is integral to the vision, principles, values, and key competencies, and provides relevant and authentic contexts across the eight learning areas. More detailed information on how education for sustainability links to the curriculum can be found in our education for sustainability support package.

How can you get involved?

Bridal Veil Fall.

Some ideas for you to engage your students in online learning:

Research climate change
Encourage your students to research climate change and explore these key questions:

  • What is climate change?
  • What steps can we take to reduce and adapt to it? 

Students could discuss their findings with each other in an online meeting or make a video or slideshow to raise awareness of climate change. Explore climate change resources on the NZAEE website.

Go on a LEARNZ virtual field trip
Select a LEARNZ virtual field trip to use with your class. Many of the trips have a sustainability theme. Each field trip has its own dedicated website with curated curriculum links and support for teachers, plus relevant reading and interactive quizzes for students. The experience of a field trip is also captured using daily videos, diaries, and recorded web conferences that you can view retrospectively. LEARNZ have also developed a selection of at-home activities for you to use. 

Attract bird life to your local environment
Ask your students to observe bird life in their garden and local environment. What native birds can they see? Encourage your students to use the ideas from the Department of Conservation to attract more native birds to their gardens. They could video or photograph the bird life that they are attracting to share with the class. 

Quiz time 
Challenge your students to complete an online Earth Day quiz. You could use the Department of Conservation daily quiz with your students or make up your own quiz using the online tool Kahoot. You could challenge your students to create their own Earth Day quizzes to share with each other. 

Plastic free challenge
Read the text called The Plastic Free Challenge and encourage your students to think of ways that they can live with less plastic at home. You could read the text together in an online meeting or have your students read it independently or with their families at home. 

Read the text called Designed for Good to follow the process of developing an effective and humane trap to reduce pest populations in New Zealand. You could set up an online challenge where students invent something to improve their local environment. 

Clean up your garden or local area 
Encourage students to help their whānau take care of their garden. They could pull weeds, trim trees and hedges, and learn what steps they need to take to grow and care for plants. As they go for a daily walk around their local area students could collect rubbish from the streets or green areas. Remind your students to wear rubber gloves and wash their hands thoroughly afterwards. 

Instructional Series 

Incorporate Earth Day into your literacy programme. By reading a range of texts from the Instructional Series on Tāhūangi and building up a fact wall students could share learning about environmental issues and sustainability. 

Search for Instructional Series material on Tāhūrangi. 

Sea Science: Connected 2019 Level 2 – Wild Discoveries
This article describes a citizen science project carried out by three schools on Aotea Great Barrier Island. Concerned by the amount of marine debris washing up on their beaches, the students partnered with scientists from the University of Auckland to investigate what was happening and to take action to bring about change.

What now for the Rena?: Connected 2016 Level 4 – Getting the Message
In 2011, the MV Rena struck Astrolabe Reef and caused an environmental disaster. What factors were considered when making the decision on the future of the Rena wreck?

Rising Seas: Connected 2014 level 3 – Why Is That?
This article explores the relationship between global warming and rising sea levels. Scientists investigate what is happening and use the evidence to suggest how we might adapt to the changes.

A Grin From Ear to Ear: School Journal Level 2, October 2011
This story sees A boy and his koro enjoy a day fishing together. When the boy reels in the biggest fish he has ever caught, Koro tells him to release the fish. By explaining that it will go on to produce more in the future, Koro shares his values and traditions about sustainability with his moko.

After the Spill: Connected 2013 Level 4 – Are You Sure?
This book explores what would happen if an oil spill occurred on your local beach. How would it affect you now and in the future?

School stories

Find out how schools are designing their curriculum to include connections to sustainability.

Students set up new homes for penguins at Oakura School
Students from Oakura School have been working with the Department of Conservation to encourage little blue penguins to return to the area to nest.

Cashmere High School a finalist in global energy competition 
A team from Christchurch’s Cashmere High School made the shortlist finals in a prestigious global energy sustainability competition, after helping cut electricity usage at their school by almost one third.

Useful resources

Education for sustainability
This package helps teachers engage students in learning about sustainability. It makes connections between the learning areas, vision, principles, values, and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools
This is the online version of Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools, published in 1999 for the Ministry of Education by Learning Media Limited.

Education for sustainability teaching and learning guide
This senior secondary guide has been designed to help teachers create quality teaching and learning programmes in education for sustainability for students in years 11–13.

Future focus principle
This section draws together research, digital resources, and examples to support teachers as they consider the future focus principle. Sustainability is included as a suggested context for future-focused learning.

Figure It Out – Sustainability
Teachers notes for this Level 3 book from the Figure It Out series. This book uses sustainability as a context for learning in science and mathematics and statistics.

Education for enterprise units
These education for enterprise units use sustainability as a context for learning. You can adapt the ideas to meet the needs of your students, school, and community.

Unit plans Suggested learning areas

PDF icon. Eco warriors (PDF, 70 KB)

In this level 2 unit, students explore how human actions can affect the natural environment, and take an active role in becoming an eco-friendly citizen.


PDF icon. Electricity usage (PDF, 29 KB)

In this level 5–7 unit, students investigate electricity usage in the school.


PDF icon. Energy audit (PDF, 32 KB)

In this level 4-7 unit, students do energy audits of their own home, identifying potential areas of efficiency concerns.


PDF icon. Waste in New Zealand (PDF, 35 KB)

In this level 4-6 unit, students learn about waste in New Zealand and take action in their own community.

Social sciences

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Sustainability video collection on Technology Online
This video collection on Technology Online shows how schools are exploring sustainability through the technology learning area.

Updated on: 02 Feb 2021