Concept: Economic demands can lead to excessive use of natural resources, and population growth can add to environmental stress.

Objective: Students analyze the interdependencies demonstrated in a fictional story of rapid development in a formerly undisturbed environment.

Grade Level: Lower and upper elementary

Subjects: Science, social studies, language arts

Skills:  Reading comprehension, story analysis

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (book or video}. The video version of The Lorax is available for rent at many video stores. It can be purchased from ecol-o-kids, 3146 SW Shadow Lane, Topeka, KS 66604; (913} 232-4747. The Lorax book is available in the children's section of most major bookstores and libraries.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (Random House, @1971) is the story of a beautiful woodland’s destruction as economic demands lead to excessive use of its natural resources and rapid population growth adds to the environmental stress.  You can use this story to introduce students to a variety of concepts related to population growth in a most entertaining way.

First, read The Lorax to your class or show them the animated, musical video. Then discuss the following questions related to the story with your students:

  1. Why did the Once-Ier make so many thneeds?
  2. How were the animals and birds affected when the truffula trees were cut down?
  3. Why did so many more Once-Iers move to the area?
  4. How did the rapid population growth affect the environment?
  5. Think about the imaginary land in The Lorax, as it was before the Once-Ier arrived. Did it remind you of any real place you have seen? Now think about how it looked after the population explosion changed the environment. Did it remind you of any real place you have seen?
  6. What could the Once-Ier have done that would have allowed him to make thneeds but not harm the environment so much?
  7. What could the other Once-Iers who moved there have done to keep it a nice place to live?
Follow-up Activity:
If your students enjoy The Lorax, recommend that they read The Wump World by Bill Peet (Houghton Mifflin Co., @1970). The Wumps lead a peaceful existence in the grassy meadows of Wump World until the Pollutians from Pollutus land on their world and begin changing their environment.  This is a classic appropriate for all ages.

@ 1994 ZPG