Earth Day activities – the maths of plastic bags

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PDF lesson plan

Key Stage



Years 3-6


Earth Day activities for children

Earth Day is back on 22nd April. So, why not take the opportunity explore our world in terms of numbers and data?

This lesson will help you to look at important issues affecting the Earth right now – such as single-use plastics – whilst covering key aspects of the maths curriculum in a practical real-world way.

It will also get kids thinking about issues that can affect their everyday lives. Ask questions like ‘how many plastic do we use each year?’.

So, without further ado, delve into real data and test out their numeracy skills in context…

Starter activity

Begin by explaining that we use plastic every day, and that it is all around us.

Encourage pupils to look around the classroom and see how many items they can find that are made from plastic.

Explain that some items, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles and straws, we often only use once and then throw away. These are called single-use plastics.

Next, discuss the fact that plastic doesn’t naturally decompose. So, when we throw it away it fills up landfills, litters the Earth and even ends up washed into the ocean.

Approximately 80 million tons of plastic are currently destroying our oceans! Animals can become tangled in plastic or swallow it.

What they’ll learn

  • To analyse real-life data
  • To create bar graphs and pie charts
  • Investigate how many plastic bags we use each year
  • Find out how much money people spend on plastic bags
  • Learn what happens to the money made on purchasing plastic bags

Use this lesson plan to help explore Earth Day activities with your children, and develop their maths skills at the same time.

Catherine Casey is a former teacher, and is currently a freelance educational resource writer. Follow her on Twitter @cathcasey21 and see more of her work at

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Earth Day activities – the maths of plastic bags

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