Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Wangari Maathai Lesson Plan

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Wangari Maathai, and supports the standard of individuals’ achievements and contributions to environmental preservation. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Ask students:

  • How do you think the environment might impact the politics, economy, and lives of individuals in a region?
  • What might cause an environment to change? 


  • Read the description on the Wangari Maathai topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Assign Related Reading. Have students read one of the following articles: “In Depth,” “Way Back When,” or “Mother Nature.” Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Assign Wangari Maathai Quiz, prompting students to apply essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about Wangari Maathai while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce a news report announcing Wangari Maathai’s election to parliament. Describe how her activism led to political change in Kenya.  
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map identifying the effects of the Green Belt Movement on the environment, women, the Kenyan government, and Maathai herself. 
  • Creative Coding: Code a flag representing Wangaari Maathai’s legacy.

More to Explore

Sortify: World Changing Women: This game challenges players to sort influential women by attributes, such as when they lived, their professions, and more.  

Famous Scientists Unit: Continue to build understanding around individuals’ contributions to society by exploring more BrainPOP biographies.

Teacher Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments