Saturday, April 17, 2010

Earth Day turns 40: ways to celebrate with your children

It's time to celebrate Earth Day's 40th birthday and help children of all ages learn the importance of this special day. Below are several activity ideas, crafts and resources that can help you do just that, both on Earth Day itself and throughout the year.

Here’s a list of fun activities you can do with your kids to teach them about the environment (from

  • Pull out invasive plants and replace them with native species.

  • Ride bikes, walk or take public transit.

  • Volunteer at a local Earth Day event.

  • Write a letter to a local policymaker.

  • Start a family garden and grow healthy food. Start a compost pile and use a rain barrel.

  • Switch out light bulbs for energy- efficient CFLs.

  • Learn about the history of the environmental movement. Use activity ideas from Earth Day Network lesson plans.

  • Paint an eco- mural. Use green art supplies.
    Make art from recycled objects.

  • Play educational games Environmental Jeopardy.

  • Use the interactive online Ecological Footprint quiz.

  • View and discuss films on Earth Day TV.

  • Clean up your playground , schoolyard, walking paths or watershed.

There are even more on their website.

More fun activities:

  • Create the Earth. Eco-friendly coffee filters make great miniature earths. In two separate cups, use food coloring to make blue and green colored water. Then allow the children to use eyedroppers to drop the colors on their Earth (coffee filter). When the colored water is dropped on the filter it spreads a bit and the children can create land and water shapes on their “little earths.”

  • Lights Out, Flashlights On. Play “I Spy” in the dark. Have the children use flashlights to locate objects they can use to become more “green,” such as a light switch or recycle bins.

  • Go for a Nature Walk. Place tape, sticky side out, on the children’s wrists and take them outside to collect things in nature. You could also decorate a sack and go around the neighborhood picking up litter.

  • Dress It Up! Hold a fashion show using old newspapers as the runway. Create vests by using grocery sacks decorated with recycled supplies such as used yogurt cups, etc. Glue recycled materials to the vests and decorate with paint. Then let your kids show off the “beauty of recyclables” while learning what items can be recycled.

  • Make Rain sticks. Recycle old paper towel rolls by making rain sticks. Have the children close the bottom of the stick with paper and tape. Then fill with beans or rice. You can also crumple up some aluminum foil to make a louder sound. Let the children decorate the rain sticks with construction paper. Use this activity to talk about the importance of clean water and water conservation.

Website resources for even more activities:

  • You can find TONS of fun activities (which include crafts, games, projects, activities, etc.) on

  • The National Wildlife Federation also lists many great activities for celebrating Earth Day. Check them out here. In addition, they also have a great activity for your toddler or preschooler to learn about the world around them using their five sennses to "hunt" for natural treasures. Check that out here. And through their "Be Out There" program, they have even more fun activies for families that celebrate nature. You can find the "Be Out There" activity ideas here.

Earth Day crafts: has some great craft ideas which use recycled materials from around your house or promote recycling of some sort. One of my favorites is the decorate a compost bin (both a fun craft, a great lesson to teach and also wonderful for the environment).

Green books for children:

Read books from the Little Green Book series, from Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, to your children. This is a super cute line of eco-friendly books that teach children the benefits of going green. In addition, the books are printed on recycled materials with vegetable or soy inks, so it's eco-friendly the entire way around! (We have some of these, I really like them and so do the kids.)

CMOTC Earth Day activity:

And don't forget to celebrate Earth Day with CMOTC at the zoo on Wednesday April 21st. The zoo has put together a special scavenger hunt for our little ones. Pack a lunch and meet everyone at the main entrance at 9:30 a.m. Please RSVP Denae G. by Monday so she can provide a head count to the zoo. If needed, the informational flyer is in the document library on the CMOTC website.

How about you CMOTC MOMs, what fun activities are you planning to celebrate with and educate your children on Earth Day?


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