Who was the Lorax, who "spoke for the trees," and why was he banned for his "saw dusty sneeze"? This activity uses a childhood classic as a catalyst to learning that "all materials, energy, and fuels that humans use are derived from natural sources, and their use affects the environment in multiple ways" as stated by A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas (NRC 2012). The children's book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (Geisel 1971) connects science to language arts while serving as a natural introduction to an activity addressing this theme. Now that The Lorax is a hit movie, use this opportunity to engage students in a rich exploration of renewable and non-renewable resources.
The hook I use is to mention to the students that this book is banned in some schools in the United States. The Lorax was banned in the Laytonville, California School District for being an allegorical political commentary that "criminalizes the forestry industry" (Jacobs 2008). This interesting fact yields opportunities to explore why different points of view exist with respect to tree harvesting practices, a useful complement to the book's content, which is rich in environmental themes.
Geisel, T. 1971. The Lorax. New York: Random House.
Jacobs, B. 2008. The Lorax--Bonnie's Review. Banned books (blog). http://bannedbookschallenge.blogspot.com/2008/02/lorax-by-dr-seuss.html.
National Research Council (NRC). 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
About.com: Censorship: Challenged and banned children's books http://childrensbooks.about.com/cs/censorship/a/challenged.htm
Journey Through Books (blog): The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (A late banned book review) http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/the-lorax-by-dr-seuss-a-late-banned-book-review
University of West Virginia Extension Service: The Clearcutting Controversy: Myths and Facts www.wvu.edu/~agexten/forestry/clrcut.htm
Robert Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an associate professor at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.
Classic classroom activities that emphasize science-process skills