CSTA Classroom Science

Free environmental literacy resources for grades TK-12

Submitted by CASE Environmental Literacy Committee

Do you want your students to be environmentally literate but don’t know where to start or lack the time to prepare lessons? 

CASE is here to help! In March 2023 CASE invited inspiring speakers to share free environmental resources geared for teachers in grades K-12. If you were unable to attend, we are including those resources and contacts here to help you get started.

Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN)

The CLEAN collection contains 700+ free, online, peer-reviewed, NGSS aligned, and ready-to-use educational resources for teaching about climate and energy. These resources  include activities, lab demonstrations, visualizations, and videos which are easily searchable through various tags. CLEAN also provides pedagogical support for teaching climate and energy topics through background knowledge pages, a professional development toolkit, and a professional learning community to help educators with many aspects of bringing climate science into the classroom. 
Contact Brad Hoge:  BHoge@live.com.


Science departments have a unique need for up-to-date materials to support an ever-changing curriculum. Gale resources, available at no cost to California schools through the California K12 Online  Resources Program, go beyond providing support for student research and provide engaging content to support everyday classroom instruction.

Gale Presents: National Geographic Kids (Pre-K to Grade 7) will engage young students and support curriculum with reputable, authoritative, and age-appropriate content. Videos, books and photos are available in addition to the magazine content.

Resources from Gale In Context: Environmental Science (Grade 7 and above) supports students and teachers on environmental and sustainability issues across science, social studies, and the humanities. This is an ideal for inquiry projects and to support the California environmental literacy standards.

Gale Interactive: Science (Grades 7-12) is a virtual lab that gives students in middle and high school grades the power to see beyond static text and embrace learning outside of the classroom. This resource pairs high-quality digital content with interactive 3D models and empowers instructors to lead virtual science labs and lessons and assists with hands-on classwork. Some modules appropriate for younger grades with educator guidance such as the hydrologic cycle module and modules for various ecosystems.

These are paid for at the state level, so there’s no cost to your local school or district! Talk with your school librarian or visit the  California K12 Online Content Project  to find your school’s access information. Additional resources are available as well – see the California State Library’s entry.

Contact Stacey Knibloe: Stacey.knibloe@cengage.com 

Online Resources from the State Library – for environmental science, and so much more!

Did you know? The California State Library makes over a dozen school-library resources available to every school in the state through the K-12 Online Resources program. These are available through the computer and can be used by teachers to augment the curriculum, or by students participating in research and inquiry projects.

The content providers include Britannica, with Britannica School - content at three levels for all grades – and Britannica Escolar with entries in native Spanish. There’s TeachingBooks to connect literature and nonfiction to science learning and environmental heroes. ProQuest has multiple resources to support the social-science aspects of the environment- as well as a collection of over 1,600 PBS videos. The Gale company provides three resources specifically for science (see additional information from Gale).

All these resources are paid for at the state level, so districts and schools can add them to their learning management systems and single-sign-on systems at no cost. They are funding on an ongoing basis, so teachers can rely on the resources year to year. And the State Library provides free training and access to dozens of recorded webinars, too. 

Find out more at the California State Library website - California's K-12 Online Content Project 

Note:  The State Library is also providing free online tutoring for all of California through August 2024. Go to the California HelpNow  by Brainfuse info page, click “Get Started With a Live Tutoring Session,” select your local library from the list, and start a session!

Contact Marybeth Barber: marybeth.barber@library.ca.gov

The Energy Coalition

Are interested in energy and sustainability-focused hands-on STEAM lessons and supplies? Energy is Everything provides TK-12 grade educators across California with lessons and supplies at no cost. We have over 200 formal and informal standards-aligned, hands-on lesson plans and supplies to introduce students to environmental STEAM topics and clean energy careers. The topics covered include agriculture and greening, air and transportation, circuitry, climate literacy, electricity, electrification, nonrenewable and renewable resources, waste management, and the water-energy nexus. Check out the Energy is Everything website, or sign up for a virtual orientation training and get started!

Access Supplemental Resources 

Contact education@energycoalition.org

Strategic Energy Innovation (SEI)

SEI has a vast curriculum library from which teachers can request access for free by visiting Energize Schools A Program of SEI website.  SEI will also be hosting a People and Planet Challenge in fall and encourage teachers to participate. 

Contact Aneri Rodrigues: anerirodriguez@seiinc.org. 

Green Ninja

Green Ninja has created a free and open unit of easy-to-use lessons to help middle school teachers make climate change engaging and relevant for their students. The NGSS-based unit integrates content across multiple science disciplines and finishes with a solutions-oriented project to make science learning fun and meaningful. 

Contact Eugene Cordero: eugene@greenninja.org

San Diego Unified STEAM

SDUSD's STEAM curriculum integrates NGSS with other content areas to create project-based learning experiences for students. Their mission is to engage students as curious, creative, changemakers. Check out their projects that support environmental literacy: 

  • Kindergarten: Human Impact
  • Grade 1: ONE with Nature
  • Grade 2: The Power of Pollinators 
  • Grade 3: Loving Life
  • Grade 4: Tenacious Tidepools

Access the curriculum on the STEAM Website.  Click on the “Curriculum by Grade Level” tab at the top. 



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