Basic Elementary Curriculum

Children of the Spills Curriculum

Elementary Age Students In Areas Affected By Oil Spills

Program Description: 2-3 hours, split into 2 sessions

Theme: People and places can heal after oil spills.


 I.               The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill occurred in Alaska in 1989 and had serious effects on the people and place.

 II.             The BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and continues to have serious effects on the people and place.

 III.           Young people in Alaska had many hopes for healing after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

 IV.            Young people in Louisiana can help heal themselves, their communities, and the wetlands.

Goal: Students will understand that many young people are affected by oil spills, and that they can do something help with the healing process.


I.               All students will know that major oil spills took place in Alaska more than 20 years ago and in the Gulf of Mexico about 2 years ago.

II.             50% of students will speak during short discussion of effects in their area.

III.           80% of students will complete a drawing or writing piece about how they hope the Gulf of Mexico will heal.

Materials needed:

Map that includes Alaska and Gulf of Mexico, drawings from Cordova, paper, crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils or pens

Program Outline

   DAY 1:

 I.               Background (15 minutes)

Have kids brainstorm ways that we use petroleum products, and point out things they are wearing/using that come from oil.  Present the facts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.  Show where they happened on the map.

II.             Drawings from other Students (30 minutes)

Share drawings and writing created by kids about hope for healing oceans after an oil spill.

III.           Discussion (30 minutes)

After a brief explanation of the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, we will discuss some of the impacts.  Students will first brainstorm to themselves some oil spill effects in their area and possible signs of healing, then they will share with partners, and finally we will have a large group discussion.

   Day 2:

IV.            Time to Create (45 minutes)

 Students will draw and write about the ways they know or will know the region is healing after the oil spill.

V.              Sharing and wrap-up (30 minutes)

Students will have an opportunity to share their drawings and ideas.   We will discuss ways that kids can help with this healing process and/or help themselves to heal.