Teacher resources

The Sustainability Teachers’ Academy team is committed to creating and providing curricular resources that span a diverse range of topics—including food systems sustainability, quality of life and well-being, decision-making for sustainability, and much more. Our lessons are applicable for grades 6-9 with variations presented that will enable you to tailor the activity for a younger or older audience.

Sustainability is an interdisciplinary topic, hence our lessons can be used across all class subjects. The resources provided here are part of the broader suite of resources and support that teachers receive when participating in the National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy.

School Gardener’s Almanacs

Echoing The Old Farmer’s Almanac, School Gardener’s Almanacs are a collection of recipes, calendars, activities, local stories and gardening guides that invite K-12 students and their families to explore their neighborhoods with love and appreciation.


Bell Ringers

Have a few minutes at the beginning of your class?
Use these mini-activities to jumpstart critical thinking for sustainability.


Use these lessons to promote critical debate skills among students considering the three pillars of sustainability: environment, society and economy.


Should the city expand public transportation? Could it improve our environment, our society and our economy? This lesson focuses on Phoenix, but can be used as a prompt for research into local public transportation options.
Keywords: urban planning, public transportation

Lesson plan
Fact sheets

National parks

How is our current use of our shared natural areas affecting the land? Should we limit visitation to our National Parks?
Keywords: tourism, conservation, sustainability

Lesson plan

Life cycle analysis

Scientists around the world are using life cycle analyses to determine the true impact of our products. Use these lessons to begin exploring the life cycle of everyday products and their influence on our environment, society and economy.

The chicken nugget

Using system diagrams, explore a chicken nugget as the window to our food systems web. How does a chicken nugget impact our environment, our society and our economy? How do our food decisions impact the lives of people and the planet?
Grades: 5-10
Keywords: food systems, agriculture, waste

Lesson plan
Image cards

Tap vs. bottle

Printed cards encourage students to consider and compare the ways we get our drinking water. Can we use LCAs to help us to make more sustainable decisions?
Grades: 6-8
Keywords: water systems, natural resources, waste

Lesson plan
Images for LCA

1-2-3 Presentations

Use these prompts to spark creative presentations about relevant sustainability issues.


Defining sustainability

What is sustainability? How does it relate to our human needs? Use this lesson to help students define and understand sustainability.
Keywords: introduction, sustainability definitions, basic needs

Lesson plan

A closer look at our human footprint

How do we measure our impact on the earth? Use various global trends and graphs to explore our current epoch, the Anthropocene.
Grades: 11-12
Keywords: Anthropocene, climate change, human impact

A locust story

How destructive can one insect be? Are we helpless against this environmental force? The answers might surprise you. Explore the latest scientific research on the global impact of locusts on our environment, society and economy through this two-day activity.
Grades: 7-10
Keywords: food systems, global sustainability, policy, entomology

Future of a vacant lot

Can we improve a whole community by improving a vacant lot? Analyze issues related to public spaces, understand how local stakeholders are affected and propose possible solutions for a sustainable community space.
Grades: 9-10
Keywords: stakeholder engagement, socio-economic sustainability, community development

Identifying and analyzing sustainability problems

The problems we face are a new class of problems: wicked problems. Use this multi-day unit to begin unraveling sustainability issues and create action steps for a better future.
Grades: 9-12
Keywords: sustainability introduction, sustainability competencies, sustainable development goals, wicked problems, electronic waste

How to analyze sustainability problems – Food deserts

‘Food desert’ is a term for urban areas where access to fresh, healthy food is limited. Explore this systemic issue and identify ways to make a difference.
Keywords: problem-solving, unintended consequences, food systems

Our cities

Redlining: Past, present and future

Using an online tool, explore how the history of our neighborhoods is part of a larger system of oppression, socio-economically and environmentally.
Grades: 7-12
Keywords: redlining, systemic oppression, path dependence, urban planning

Lesson plan
Supplemental slides – Empathy building 101
Map prompts

BYOEC: Build your own equitable city

How do we build a more equitable city? Design your own sustainable city.
Grades: 7-12
Keywords: environmental racism, equity, path dependence, urban planning

Lesson Plan
Teacher script

Visualizing sustainability: PhotoVoice

Encourage students of all ages to explore their thoughts on sustainability through the lens of their own experience. Students take and share photos to discuss their own experiences with sustainability in their community.
Grades: 2-12
Keywords: community development, photography


Sense and sustainability

Where does data come from? Use your oldest data collection tool to understand the roots of science and sustainability.
Grades: 4-8
Keywords: data, introduction, mindfulness

You are here

Discover and reflect on how your identity and location are intertwined.
Grades: 9-12
Keywords: sense of place, identity, sustainability

Lesson plans

Choosing sustainability

How do we make sustainable decisions? Explore the everyday decisions we face.
Keywords: decision-making, human impact

A: Sustainable grocery bags

Lesson plan
Exit ticket

B: Sustainable salsa

Lesson plan
Triangle graphs

Measuring your eco footprint

What is our impact on the planet? Use this lesson to help students understand their ecological footprint and how we can change our impact.

Neighborhoods for happiness

Is there a relationship between sustainability and happiness? What does a sustainable neighborhood look like to you?

Envision a Sustainable Neighborhood

Lesson Plan

Zero food waste challenge

Nearly 40% of all food in the United States is wasted. Work together to create a sustainable solution.

Food systems are dynamic

Nearly 40% of all food in the United States is wasted. Work together to create a sustainable solution.

Teaching sustainability with flash fiction

Stories connect us to each other and to the world around us. Use these data-informed fiction prompts to promote creative science writing.
Keywords: creative writing, climate change, data