Tools for Teachers

Check out the following resources for lesson plans and material, lab ideas, and more.


Teacher-Reviewed Curriculum Resources


Center for Environmental Education

CEE works with K-12 schools to address climate change issues and to cultivate healthy lifestyles. In addition to Blueprint for a Green School, an online resource for addressing environmental health and lowering carbon emissions, CEE offers a Curriculum Library that hosts a searchable collection of reviewed curriculum. All of the entries have been evaluated by trained educators and mapped onto the North American Association for Environmental Education's Guideline for Excellence.

Teachers can take advantage of this resource as a teaching tool in two ways. Primarily, the Curriculum offers a search engine that allows teachers to search by Subject Area, Grade Level and Scope. The search then yields a list of curricula that fit your specifications. The second use this resource offers is the abundance of subject information on a range of Environmental subjects (see right side panel). Teachers might use this for background or detailed information, ideas for taking action, as well as links to other related resources.

What teachers think: This site has been popular for the wealth of information it offers and the "scope" aspect of its curriculum search engine. While some teachers criticized the organization and rigidity of the site, all found the Center for Environmental Education's Curriculum Library to be a useful teaching tool.

"When I'm looking for a lesson plan...I want a quick synopsis of ideas, which is what the CEE provides. To me, that's the best design." Chris Sipe, 8th Grade Science


Environmental Literacy Council
The Environmental Literacy Council is an independent, non-profit made up of scientists, economists, and educators striving to connect teachers and students to science-based information on environmental issues. Their website offers background information and resources on environmental topics, along with curricular materials, and textbook reviews.

In addition to the endless detailed information about any imaginable environmental science topic, ELC offers a section just for teachers, where they host lesson plans and labs, tips and handouts from experienced teachers, and expert reviews of textbooks.

What teachers think: Some teachers were overwhelmed with information; others found the extensive material to be valuable for building lesson plans and offering additional depth into a range of levels and details within each topic. Other highlights teachers found valuable were the textbook review and lesson plan sections.

"I really liked this site for its simple topical tabs and accompanying information and resources. This site has more of what I want in a way that I can get to it...The Environmental Literacy Council site is my favorite because it is topic based and I can see they have what I'm looking for." Maggie Favretti 9-12th grade History


Resources for Rethinking

Resources for Rethinking is a project developed by Learning for a Sustainable Future. It provides teachers access to lesson plans, worksheets and other teaching resources that integrate environmental, social and economic spheres through learning that is interdisciplinary and action-oriented.

R4R offers a library of resources that have been reviewed by an experienced classroom teacher and matched to relevant curriculum outcomes. An especially useful aspect for Canadian teachers is the library's localization of resources by Canadian jurisdiction.

Teachers might refer to this website for background information on Education for Sustainable Development, as well as classroom resources and ideas for action and funding.

What teachers think: Most teachers found this resource to be aesthetically pleasing and well organized, making it easy to navigate. The "Take Action" section was particularly appreciated by those looking to connect action with curriculum. However, some also expressed a desire for more material for each subject and possible confusion by an overwhelming amount of information and links.

"The search feature was the most user-friendly because of all its search components, enabling me to narrow or broaden my search." Kami Wright, 9-12th Grade History


Comprehensive & Interdisciplinary Curriculum Resources

Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation
Provides consulting services, professional development and educational programs. CELF programs use sustainability as an integrating context for teaching and learning, decision-making, civic engagement, community partnerships, and campus practices. Uses sustainability as a lens to transform curriculum, school operations, the physical surroundings, and school-community activities to foster the creation of responsible citizens.

Beyond Benign
A non-profit organization that promotes sustainable science in order to create an environmentally, socially and economically prosperous world. Driven by the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, a universal sustainable approach to any science; Beyond Benign creates tools, opportunities and partnerships to support the implementation of community involvement initiatives, workplace training, cooperative programs and K-12 education resources.

Center for Ecoliteracy
California-based organization focused on curriculum integration and cross-discipline teaching strategies; development of hands-on teaching and learning projects; food as an organizing principle for encouraging ecological understanding; and gardens and the campus as learning environments.

Creative Change Educational Solutions
A nonprofit organization focused on sustainability education. Creative Change serves leading educators who understand the ethical need to educate for a greener economy, revitalized communities and a more equitable society.

DoRight Enterprises
Youth Action Network and interdisciplinary curricular program for middle and high school students. The DLC integrates core academics with community-based project work in entrepreneurship, 21st century skills and sustainability through three action departments.

Earth Day Network
Curriculum and activities for all grades and learning situations.

Educating for Sustainability
A resource sharing database to support teachers who are exploring issues of sustainability in their classrooms.

Edible Schoolyard NYC
Edible Schoolyard NYC is a nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to build gardens and kitchen classrooms where children can engage in hands-on learning.Edible Schoolyard NYC is currently accepting applications from Title 1 elementary schools in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island that would like to become the next Edible Schoolyard NYC Showcase School. To learn more about becoming a Showcase School and to download an application, please visit

Facing the Future
Curriculum and teacher training on Sustainability Education topics. Offers Teaching Global Sustainability in the Primary Grades: A K-4 Curriculum Guide.

Green Teacher
Comprehensive environmental literacy/sustainability resource. A periodical, publishing house, & website.

Shelburne Farms Sustainable Schools Project
Shelburne Farms' education programs, which take place both on- and off-site, are designed to share with learners of all ages the wonders and workings of the natural and agricultural world. Their Sustainable Schools Project works with schools to cultivate responsible, informed citizens, engaged in building sustainable communities. Explore their extensive site, including Designing Curriculum & Assessments with the Lens of Sustainability then review their curriculum, materials and case studies, including the SSP EfS UbD template.

United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
Developed National Standards for K-12 Education for Sustainability across disciplines.

Environmental Literacy

Project WET, Project WILD, Project Learning Tree
The “blue chip” standards in basic environmental education about forests, ecosystems, and oceans. Inquiry-based, designed to work in a variety of classroom situations, pegged to standards, teacher-tested. You must attend a very low-cost workshop to get the massive curriculum guide.

Webquests: many “webquests” available on the Internet on environmental topics for elementary grades– inquiry-based and scenario-based explorations of topics. See for example the “Environmental Health Webquest” at

Rainforest Alliance Curriculum and resources for teachers on rainforests.

Journey North: A Global Study of Wildlife Migration
The site includes teacher materials, background information, and a forum for sharing data that students have collected.

National Geographic Wild World
Features interactive NGS Wild World maps, adding profiles and photos of more than 1,000 ecoregions, multimedia features, and more. (K-12 Geography/Maps).

Roots and Shoots
This site from theJane Goodall Institute includes resources for service-learning with networking for project shairing and ideas for inspiration.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
This site offers a wealth of sample activities and investigations, as well as opportunities for professional development.

Science and Solutions

Biomimicry Institute
Promotes learning from and then emulating natural forms, processes, and ecosystems to create more sustainable and healthier human technologies and designs.

The Carbon Mitigation Initiative

The Cary Institute
A private, not-for-profit environmental research and education organization in Millbrook, N.Y. For more than twenty-five years, Cary Institute scientists have been investigating the complex interactions that govern the natural world.

CELF Water Guide
Explore water-related issues from multiple perspectives. Introduce humanitarian design as a viable and necessary solution for a more sustainable future.

Eath Hour
Hundreds of millions of people, businesses and governments around the world unite each year to support the largest environmental event in history – Earth Hour.

The Encyclopedia of Earth
The Earth Portal and Encyclopedia of Earth are dedicated to expanding and enhancing opportunities for education on environmental topics. Explore the many resources available including: Initiatives of the Environmental Information Coalition, Readers and Online Courses, and more useful links.

James Dyson Foundation
To solve the 21st Century challenges of sustainability, housing and an aging population we need more engineers. James Dyson set up the Foundation in 2002 to support design and engineering education. The James Dyson Foundation aims to inspire young people to study engineering and become engineers. As the Foundation grows, we are expanding our education work internationally. We will also continue to support medical and scientific research, through partnerships, with charities across the world.

The Global Footprint Network
An international think tank working to advance sustainability through use of the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use and who uses what. By making ecological limits central to decision-making, we are working to end Overshoot and create a society where all people can live well, within the means of one planet.

Google Science Fair
The Google Science Fair is an online science competition seeking curious minds from the four corners of the globe. Anybody and everybody between 13 and 18 can enter. All you need is an idea. Geniuses are not always A-grade students. We welcome all mavericks, square-pegs and everybody who likes to ask questions.

ICLEI Global

National Council For Science and the Environment

Natural Step
Works with organizations to pioneer sustainable solutions by integrating sustainability principles into their core strategies, decisions, operations - and bottom line. Provide municipalities and other organizations with the tools to make the most of limited resources and move towards successful and sustainable futures.

Redefining Progress

Rio + 20
Road to Rio+20 aims to motivate, inspire, engage and support young people to take action on issues of sustainable development and influence the outcomes of Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Created at MIT, Sourcemap is a free, online tool for educators to explore and teach supply chain and life cycle assessment.

The Sustainability Institute - Donella Meadows Institute

U.S. Green Building Council

ZERI (Zero Emissions Research Initiatives)

Sustainability in Higher Education

Association for Advancing Sustainability in Higher Education
An association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. Our mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation.
Provides extensive resources and list of degree programs related to sustainability.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University
The Earth Institute’s overarching goal is to help achieve sustainable development primarily by expanding the world’s understanding of Earth as one integrated system. We work toward this goal through scientific research, education and the practical application of research for solving real-world challenges. With 850 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, staff and students working in and across more than 30 Columbia University research centers, the Earth Institute is helping to advance nine interconnected global issues: climate and society, water, energy, poverty, ecosystems, public health, food and nutrition, hazards and urbanization.

Second Nature
Since 1993, Second Nature has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at more than 500 colleges and universities to help make the principles of sustainability fundamental to every aspect of higher education.




For NYC schools...

As referenced at the 2011 annual K12 Facilities Summit, CELF is a resource for EfS teacher training in New York City Public Schools. CLICK HERE to download and read conference speaker, John Shea's (CEO of School Facilities at the NYC Department of Education) presentation, "Creating a Culture of Sustainability Through Staff and Faculty Training Programs."

Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation
Provides consulting services, professional development and educational programs. CELF programs use sustainability as an integrating context for teaching and learning, decision-making, civic engagement, community partnerships, and campus practices.

NYC DoE Sustainability Education Application: 2013-2014 School Year
Application available Jan 2014

Columbia University: CERC
A consortium of five world renowned scientific institutions based in New York City: Columbia University, the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, the Wildlife Conservation Society and EcoHealth Alliance (formerly known as Wildlife Trust). CERC aims to protect biological diversity and cultivate leadership to address the ecological challenges of the 21st century.

Edible Schoolyard NYC
A nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to build gardens and kitchen classrooms where children can engage in hands-on learning. Accepting applications from Title 1 elementary schools in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. To learn more about becoming a Showcase School and to download an application, please click here.


Hands-on environmental education programs that get kids involved by teaching them how to plant trees, build gardens, grow vegetables, cook with solar ovens, and teach fellow students the hows and whats of recycling and healthy eating.

Grow to Learn NYC
Founded by the Mayor's Fund and GrowNYC to inspire, facilitate and promote the creation of a sustainable school garden in each and every public school
across New York City.
CLICK to view comprehensive step-by-step School Garden Guide.


Junior Energy
Junior Energy's mission is to work in classrooms and schools to help children discover how they can positively impact the planet by engaging their parents, family, friends and neighbors in small, simple actions. Junior Energy has developed original, standards-based lesson plans for students in grades K–4, but we have ideas and resources for all K–12 students.


NFW Eco-Schools
An internationally acclaimed program that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum. Through school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers, Eco-Schools USA combines effective "green" management of the school grounds, the facilities and the curriculum."

Solar One
In-school, education, job training, outreach and cultural programs. Short-term enrichment classes focused on energy, design and the East River estuary. Long-term programsinclue the Green Design Lab.

MS 88, Park Slope
Principal Aleine Altman Mitchell

MS88 exemplifies the use partnership building, utilitzing many of the above resources to make their school a model of sustainability education. With administrative support, teachers strive to develop effective hands-on inquiry that involves a series of steps that builds students’ investigative skills. Teachers integrate literacy and mathematical skills into science curriculum.
Visitors ALL welcome for a tour!


Copyright 2014. Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation. All Rights Reserved. CELF-taught is a Service Mark of CELF.