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No-Idle K-5 Curricula

The following documents provide curricula for grades K-5 on how to teach students about idling facts and the importance of not idling.

Recommended Curricula K-5

Additional Lesson Plans


Supplemental Activities for Grade School Students

to see the full Supplemental list go here


Other Activities for Grade School Students

to see the full Other Activities list go here


Kindergarten - Wanted: Clean Air!

Students will demonstrate an understanding of why clean air is important after reading a short story and observing pictures. They will be able to identify some of the causes of air pollution, including solutions on how to prevent it. Curriculum developed by the Clean Air Campaign

Length of Lesson: Two 45-minute sessions

Performance Standards: The student gains meaning from orally presented text.

a. Listens to and reads a variety of literature (e.g. short stories and poems) and information text and materials to gain knowledge and for pleasure.
b. Makes predictions from pictures and titles.
c. Begins to distinguish fact from fiction in read-aloud text.
d. Connects life experience to read-aloud text.
e. Retells important facts in student’s own words.

Students will demonstrate an understanding of why clean air is important after reading a short story and observing pictures. They will be able to identify some of the causes of air pollution, including solutions on how to prevent it.


    • Vocabulary cards for word wall – air, bicycle, bus, cars, pollution, smoke, smokestack, walk, plus additional words that the students identify after reading the book
    • Blank cards to write additional words for the word wall
    • Air is All Around You by Franklyn M. Branley (ISBN 978-0-06-059415-2)
    • Why is the Air Dirty? By Isaac Asimov (ISBN 0-8368-0743-X)
    • Photographs of a city with air pollution and a city without air pollution
    • Large piece of butcher paper for each pair of students
    • Marker or crayons
    • “What You Can Do to Prevent Air Pollution: student worksheet
    • “Care About Our Air” song printed on the board or flipchart paper. (See end of the lessons for words and tune).


1. Begin the lesson by asking your students the following questions: What is air? What are some things you have noticed about air? How do people, animals or plants use air? Why do we need air?

2. Ask them to predict what the book is about after showing them the from cover. Have them read the title out loud with you. Depending on your students’ reading level you may wish to read Air is All Around You aloud to the class or have the students take turns.

3. Follow the story by leading a conversation that challenges them to think about what the book was about. Ask them if they would like to add to the answers they gave to the questions you asked earlier in step 1.

4. Ask your students: What is pollution? What is air pollution? Working together have them brainstorm a definition of air pollution, writing their responses as they formulate the definition. Prompt them and offer comments as needed. Have them share additional words they would like to add to their word wall.

5. Have you ever seen air pollution? How do you know? Have you seen smoke coming from the tailpipe of a car or a smokestack at a factory? Did you think this was air pollution?

6. Can you name some others ways that air becomes polluted? Why is clean air important? Do you think that people, animals and plants are affected by air pollution? It is important to understand the causes of air pollution, so we can come up with ways to have cleaner air.

7. Show them select photographs from the book Why is the Air Dirty? Ask the students to describe what they see. Display a picture of a city without any air pollution and ask the students to describe what they see. Next show them a picture of a city with air pollution and ask the students to describe what they see. Which place would they prefer to live? Why? How does each picture make them feel? What are some things we can do to help prevent air pollution?

8. Divide the students into pairs, so that they can work together on their drawing.

9. Provide each pair with a large piece of butcher paper. Each pair of students will draw a picture of a town, incorporating things they learned in this lesson that cause air pollution. On the other side, students will draw a picture of a town without air pollution, incorporating characteristics they learned in this lesson. Alternately, you can draw a lien down the middle of the paper and have them draw the polluted city on one side and the clean city on the other.

10. After the students have completed their project have them return to their seats to complete the “What You Can Do to Prevent Air Pollution” student worksheet.

11. Follow up the lesson by having the students share what they have learned, including suggestions on how they can help prevent air pollution.

12. End by singing the “Care About Our Air” song.

Students will be assessed on classroom participation and “What You Can Do to Prevent Air Pollution” student worksheet.

After you have taught this lesson, please tell the Clean Air Schools program about your efforts in a brief, 60 second online survey here. You can also rate this lesson plan at that link. Your feedback is invaluable in helping this non-profit education program direct its resources to enhancing these lesson plans and creating new programs and materials for your students. Thanks!

Some Resources for Clean Air/Dirty Air Pictures

Best and worst cities are on this website:

printable version Kindergarten Curricula

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Grade 1 – Ready, Set, Stop Idling

Students will gain background knowledge regarding what is good for the air and what is bad for the air through class discussion and watching a short video clip. They will participate in an activity, sorting cards that illustrate examples that are good and bad for the Earth and an activity acting out cars idling and not idling to gain an understanding of what idling is and how it pollutes the air. Students will make a drawing and write sentences on the topic of idling.

Grade 1 Lesson Plan

Grade 2 – Make a Good Choice: Choose No Idling!

Students will read the book, The Lorax, to gain understanding on how one person can impact the environment. Students will explore how making good choices can help the environment while bad choices do the opposite. Students will gain an understanding of idling and how it can negatively affect our air quality. Students will create posters to illustrate good choice (no idling) vs. bad choice (idling) and T-shirts that communicate the message of no idling. Students will display posters and T-shirts in the hallways of the school to promote no-idling.

Grade 2 Lesson Plan

Grades 3-5 (Science, Writing) – Please Do Not Make Us Cough, Turn Your Engine Off

Using background information gathered from websites, students will complete a graphic organizer related to the six pollutants and how idling contributes to pollution. From the information, they will create a persuasive writing organizer. Students will write a 5 paragraph essay creating education and awareness about the harmful effects of idling and try to persuade others to stop idling.

Grade 3-5 Science, Writing Lesson Plan

Grade 3-5 (Science, Math) – Idlers: Please Stop Your Engines!

* At least one class per school needs to use this curriculum, as it ties in to the data collection.

Students will read background information on the main air pollutants and complete a graphic organizer illustrating that information. Students will collect idling data from the school’s parking lot or car line for one week. Students will compile the data to create 4 types of graphs illustrating the data. Students will create slogans for mock bumper stickers to encourage no-idling in the car rider line and will display graphs and “bumper stickers” in the hallways of the school to promote no-idling.

Grade 3-5 Science, Math Lesson Plan

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Earth Week Variation

If you are implementing the No Idle campaign in conjunction with Earth Day, you may prefer to incorporate curricula on idling and air pollution into all subjects. Please see the supplemental activities and curricula in the appendix for more detailed information.


Math and Science Curricula: As provided in recommended curricula, or as supplemental curricula

Music: In Kindergarten curricula - No Idle song to the tune of Wheels on the Bus.

Art: Poster or bumper sticker designs.

Language Arts: Books and discussion (please see book lists) or persuasive essay on why drivers should turn off their cars.

PE – Games, such as the Red Light/Green Light style game

printable version of Earth Week Variation

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Curricula for ages 4-6

This guide offers four modules that support the teaching of concepts found in the Clean School Bus USA Idle-Reduction Campaign Literature. The Modules include Health, Science, Social Studies and Math and are intended to be teaching tools and suggestions that you can choose from based on your needs.

For the EPA Curricula click here.

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Supplemental Activities for Grade School Students

Introductory Learning Activity on Idling


Students will gain background knowledge about activities that are good for the climate and those that are bad for the climate through class discussion and by watching a short video. They will then participate in a learning activity to create and sort cards that illustrate activities that are good and bad for our climate. 


    • Cue cards
    • Pencils, crayons, markers
    • Computer to view video

Previous Knowledge Requirements:

This learning activity is intended to introduce students to the concept of climate change and the greenhouse effect. This will give students a better understanding of how actions such as driving fuel efficiently and avoiding idling can help the environment.

To prepare for this learning activity, teachers may want to visit:
1) Global Climate Change: What is the greenhouse effect?
2) Canada’s Action on Climate Change: Climate Change 101
3) Climate Change Kids Site

Learning Activity:

Show the quick video clip (9 minutes) about idling from the following this website.


Questions to ask students to get them thinking about climate change:

    • What is a greenhouse?
    • How is our planet like a greenhouse?
    • What will happen if our planet – as a greenhouse – becomes too warm?
    • Why is Earth getting warmer?
    • What does carbon dioxide have to do with Earth getting warmer?
    • What can happen across Canada if the climate starts to change?
    • What are some things that people do that contribute to this problem?
    • What can we do to help slow down the warming effect?

Brainstorm a list on the blackboard

Ask students to identify activities that have positive and negative impacts on climate change, and create a list on the blackboard. Once the list is completed, have each student draw a different activity on a cue card. Gather the cue cards and, as a class, sort them into activities that are good for our environment and activities that are bad for our environment.

Teach students about idling

Use these questions and answers to lead a class discussion and teach students about idling.

What is idling?

    • Vehicle is parked while the engine is running

Where are some common places you see idling?

    • Outside school, where parents are waiting to pick-up students
    • Parking lots
    • Areas where school buses pick-up students
    • Drive-thrus
    • Outside arenas, community centers, soccer fields, etc.

Why do drivers idle?

    • To keep warm in winter and cool in summer
    • Out of habit
    • To defrost windows and warm up the engine
    • They believe it’s good for the vehicle
    • They don't understand how it affects the environment and/or the vehicle

What’s the problem with idling?

For Gas Vehicles:

  • Idling wastes fuel and money! Idling vehicles release carbon dioxide (CO2) – a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere and contributes to changes to our climate.
  • Climate change will affect our environment, our communities and our health.


For Diesel Vehicles:

  • Diesel emissions affect our health and the environment. Diesel-powered vehicles release tiny particles that are suspended in the air. These particles cause smog, which affects our air quality and health.
  • Diesel vehicles also generate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Unnecessary idling means unnecessary emissions.

What are some solutions?

  • Tell your parents to turn off the engine if they are going to be parked for more than 60 seconds. Unnecessary idling wastes money and fuel and produces greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
  • When in park, turn off the spark! (Explain to students that gasoline engines have "spark plugs" that ignite the fuel.)

Source: Natural Resources Canada

printable version Introductory Learning

back to full Supplemental list

Green Light, Traffic Circle, Idle, Park!


The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the concept of idling and its impacts on our environment and health. At the end of this activity, students will be able to explain the concept of idling.



Previous Knowledge Requirements:

None – this activity is intended to introduce students to the concept of vehicle idling.

Learning Activity:

This game is a variation of “Red light/Green light.” The teacher plays the role of traffic director, and students must follow the teacher's instructions:

  • “Green light” – Students run around the gym/field area
  • “Traffic circle” – Students run in a circle
  • “Idle” – Students stop running as soon as they can but continue to run on the spot
  • “Park” – Students sit down as fast as they can and pretend to turn off the key in their vehicle


The teacher should ensure at least one instance when the students are required to “idle” for 60 seconds. At the end of the activity, ask a few questions:

  • Did the students feel that “idling” was a waste of their energy?
  • Did they feel that it would have been better or easier to “park”?
  • Are there any places at school where someone would be sitting in their car for more than a minute idling? (If students do not know, lead a discussion that leads them to realize that the drop-off/pick-up areas at the school are places where a high volume of idling occurs.)
  • Do the students feel that idling is good or bad for the environment at their school?
  • What ideas do the students have to encourage people to reduce idling?



In addition to mimicking cars, students can pretend to be a bus that runs around picking up the other students. This game is very similar to blob tag. Two students start as the bus: they have to lock their arms together and cannot come apart. Once the bus (blob) tags someone, that student gets added to the end of the bus (blob). The bus becomes bigger and bigger as more students get picked up.  Throughout this game, the teacher gives the same instructions as above (green light, traffic circle, idle and park). An additional instruction – "unload" – can be introduced, which means the bus (blob) has to break into two so that there are now two buses picking up students.

At the end of the activity, ask a few questions about buses:

  • How many students take the bus to school?
  • Do the students think it takes a long time for everyone to get on/off the bus?
  • How long do the students think it takes to load and unload a bus?
  • Is the bus idling when it is parked at the school and unloading students in the morning?
  • Is the bus idling when it is parked at the school and loading students in the afternoon?

Source: Natural Resources Canada

printable version Green Light Activity

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Poster-Making Activity


Posters can be an exciting way for students to artistically express an idea.  The purpose of this activity is to engage students in understanding ways to encourage drivers to reduce their idling.


  • Paper, pens, markers
  • Poster paper
  • Computers, if available

Previous Knowledge Requirements:

Students will have been introduced to the impacts of idling and the science of climate change.

Learning Activity:

1. The teacher facilitates a class discussion about the role of posters (i.e., to inform, to educate, to entertain).

2. The teacher then leads the class in a discussion about the type of poster that would be most effective in communicating the message about the need to reduce unnecessary idling.

3. The teacher hands out project materials and students use the remaining time to create an idling reduction poster. Note: All posters must include: (a) an image of an idling vehicle; (b) a fact about the impacts of idling; (c) an image or phrase that indicates that unnecessary idling must be reduced.

4. Teachers and students are encouraged to share the posters, first in their classrooms and then by placing them around the school.

Source: Natural Resources Canada

printable version Poster Activity

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Idle-Free Word Search

Idle Free Word Search Activity

courtesy Natural Resources Canada

Idle-Free Maze

Idle Free Maze Activity

Courtesy Natural Resources Canada

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Role Playing

After modeling, have students participate in role playing discussions with their parents, bus drivers and a school official concerning the idling by cars and/or buses in the school’s pick up and drop off zone.

Materials needed:

20-30 minutes

back to full Supplemental list

Four Paper Experiment

Collecting particulate matter from various areas around school campus will allow students to visibly analyze where/why accumulation is greatest.

How to:
Coat each paper with Vaseline. Hang one near bus parking area, place the second near the parent pick-up and drop-off zone, place the third in the school, and put the fourth in a drawer or closet. After a specified time, remove the papers and compare them with magnifying glasses. Prior to the experiment, have the class predict outcomes.

Materials needed:
Four pieces of heavy white paper (with location marked on each piece), Vaseline, string or duct tape, magnifying glasses.

20-30 minutes

printable version Four Paper Experiment

Created by Darcy Smith, Curriculum intern and the North Star Student Group’s Curriculum Action Team

back to full Supplemental list

Suggested Books

The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss

The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up

Scholastic (out of print)

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge

By Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

What's So Bad about Gasoline? Fossil Fuels and What They Do

By Anne F. Rockwell

What Can We Do About Air Pollution?

By Suzanne Slade

Air Pollution (True Books: Environment)

By Rhonda Lucas Donald

Conservation (True Books)

By Christine Petersen

A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids: Understanding Climate Change and What You Can Do About It

By Julie Hall

For older children, more research-oriented

Protecting Earth's Air Quality

By Valerie Rapp

Air Pollution: Our impact on the Planet

By Matthew Chapman and Rob Bowden

Journey for the Planet: A Kids's Five Week Adventure to Create an Earth-Friendly Life

By David Gershon

printable version of suggested book list

back to full Supplemental list

Other Activities

Thanks to and

  • Teach another class what you have learned about idling
  • Research and interview students with asthma
  • Study lost dollars from asthma-related absenteeism
  • Write to decision-makers or your local newspaper
  • Create a display for your school in which you package (x) ounces of simulated pollution-like material to show how much particulate matter vehicles generated by idling (“This is what your child is breathing when you idle at pick-up or drop-off”).
  • Assign students a project to log the individual destination trips and idling time for their family. They could even become “Idle detectives” making note of their parents’ idling habits (draw bridges, drive thrus, etc. and for how long.)
  • Create an informational card with a matrix showing (for an average car) how much a car pollutes in a certain amount of time and how much money would be saved if the car wasn’t idling for the same amount of time. Variation: How much money was wasted by burning unnecessary gas?

printable version of Supplemental and Other Activities here

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