Each year Earth Day raises our consciousness and provides an opportunity for us to teach our kids about the planet we live on, the need for conserving precious resources, developing an appreciation for nature, and helping them understand their role in protecting the planet. Even though it is only one day out of the year, lessons learned and practices put in place can continue throughout the year to help make a big difference over time. Here are some fun family friendly ways to teach kids about the Earth in honor of Earth Day on April 22.
Take a color walk
One of the best ways for kids to learn how to be good stewards of the environment is to go outside. Before setting out for your local park, have kids pick their 10 favorite colors from a box of crayons, draw circles with each color on a piece of paper and write down the name of the color. Take the list with you on your walk and see if the kids can find each of the colors in nature. Can they find naturally occurring colors such as periwinkle blue or marigold? If you need new ideas of outdoor areas to visit, The National Wildlife Foundation can assist you in finding more green spaces in your area.
Visit your local water treatment plant, recycling facility or landfill
We love our local recycling center because it provides a fascinating look at how the many recyclables we toss in our bin are sorted and reused. Many water treatment and waste facilities around the country organize tours and feature designated visitor centers or educational services that provide lessons on protecting our water supplies and reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills through memorable experiences for kids.
Plant a bee garden.
Our kids love to dig, plant seeds, and watch them grow so put your children to work helping plant beautiful flowers to learn about bees and the important job they do. Without pollinators such as bees, plants wouldn’t be able to produce the fruits and nuts we enjoy. If you don’t have a garden, a window container or rooftop can become an inviting oasis for bees. If you’re not sure what plants in your area attract the most bees,contact your nearest botanic garden for advice.
Teach kids to be energy conscious.
Turning off the lights when leaving the room to putting your family computers to sleep are energy conscious moves that can help your family save money in the long run. In fact, a recent study by Iolo Technologies found that when users put their computers to sleep before they turn in for the night, rather than keeping them running, they can save up to $2/month. While it may not seem like a lot at first, over the course of the year, that amount adds up!
Read books that teach kids about the Earth
In our home, we love any of the titles by National Geographic because of the gorgeous pictures, kid friendly layout, and nonfiction text that provides kids with the opportunity to read for information, regardless of their age and reading level, about topics that get kids thinking about conservation and taking care of our planet. Younger kids will enjoy books like those in the Little Kids First Big series such as Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean or First Big Book of Animals. National Geographic Readers like Weird Sea Creatures, Caterpillar to Butterfly, and Dolphins are perfect for more confident readers in grades K-2. My 4th grade daughter loves more meaty books like National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia or the annual Kids’ Almanac which is a must-have every year! Another great book is the classic tale of The Lorax.Speaking on behalf of the Truffula Trees who don’t have their own voice, The Lorax provides an important lesson about the consequences of deforestation. Check out a copy from the library or download Oceanhouse Media’s digital version of The Lorax currently on sale for $0.99 until April 22.
Learn some new Earth themed vocabulary with Word Girl
Word Girl fans will be treated to a special Earth Day-themed episode on PBS stations from coast-to-coast (check local listings) on April 22. In this episode, Birthday Girl learns that the Earth is having a celebration on her birthday and decides to teach the Earth a lesson but it’s up to WordGirl to foil the Birthday Girl and save the environmental holiday before it’s too late.
Work with a scientist
Get kids involved in a citizen scientist project that benefits wildlife and the environment. Since kids are naturally curious, let them use their observation skills to help scientists learn more about the natural world. From counting monarch butterflies or frogs, to planting sunflowers to taking pictures of the sky to monitor air visibility, there are endless options. Learn more about some cool projects you can do together from Scientific American.
Share your personal Earth Day wish
After exploring the above activities, kids can use what they learned to create a video with their personal Earth Day message. The Weizmann Institute’s Care, Share, Repair project is a web-based platform made up of stories from people all over the world expressing their vision for a better future. It’s an easy and fun way for kids to share their hopes for the planet with family and friends and join a movement larger than themselves.
I am a National Geographic Kids Insider and PBS Very Important Parent and receive information and review materials as part of my voluntary participation in the programs. Some information in this post was provided by The Weizmann Institute but no compensation was received and all opinions are my own. Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.