Happy Earth Day!
Today is a day that I have always loved and looked forward to! As a school teacher, it is one of my favourite days to celebrate with students. I see it as an opportunity to instill a love of nature and the planet in today's youth and teach them to be care takers of the Earth.
Here are some fun ways for you and your children to celebrate Earth Day and inspire your future environmental activists!
Read books about nature and our human impact.
One of the greatest ways for children to learn is through story-telling. Any lesson that I teach, I love to use what's called an "anchor book" to introduce to topic or concept. It allows for an easy way for kids to make connections between themselves and what is being taught.
Here are some of my favourite books that I have used for Earth Day lessons and possible discussion topics:
"The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss
- How trees support us by producing oxygen for us to breathe
- Excessive logging + protecting our forests
- Giving back what we take and only taking what we need
2. "The Earth Book" by Todd Parr
- Helps kids think about small actions they can do to make a big difference
- Brainstorm what positive actions you can make as a family and why
3. "My Friend Earth" by Patricia Machlachlan
- Make a list of all the ways the Earth takes care of us
- Write a thank you letter to the Earth
- Discuss ways you can express gratitude for what we are given.
2. Go on a Nature Walk
I believe that the best way to inspire a love of nature, is to get kids INTO nature. It's a no-brainer, that when children are exposed to experiences in nature at an ear
ly age, they create deep connections to it and a natural instinct to take care of the world around them.
3. Trash Clean-Up
After discussing the importance of taking care of the planet, offer opportunities for your children to actually take action. Kids LOVE solving problems and being given responsibility. A trash clean-up experience will solidify the conversations you have at home, by giving them an experience for them to create a personal connection to. It is these real-life connections that help kids to understand the bigger concepts in a meaningful way.
There may be organized trash clean-ups in your community but if there aren't that doesn't mean you can't still do it! Pick a local park, beach or playground.
Obviously, make sure to talk to your kids about what is safe to pick up and what is not. Use gloves and bring some hand sanitizer!
4. Make a Promise to the Earth Craft
During my first teaching practicum, I was in a Kindergarten class. On Earth Day, we read "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss and had discussions about how the Earth loves and supports us and how it is our responsibility to take care of the Earth too. We made lists of ways we could help the planet and then we did this fun and easy craft! Find the materials needed and instructions below!
- 1 sheet of black construction paper (or any colour)
- 1 sheet of blue construction paper
- Green paint
- Paper plate
- Piece of regular white paper
Depending on your child's age, either pre-cut the blue construction paper into a large circle (for the Earth) or have them cut it themselves with kid-safe scissors.
Next, glue the Earth circle to the black construction paper, leaving enough space at the bottom to write your child's promise.
Then, put green paint in a paper plate and have child stick one hand in it, then stick their hand on the blue circle to make a hand-print.
Set aside to dry
While the Earth dries, take the white piece of paper and help your child write their promise to the earth. At the Kindergarten age, I had "I promise to...." already written out and left a few lines for them to fill in as best they could. If you have an older child, they could write the whole sentence themselves.
Once the Earth circle is dry, you can glue the promise to the bottom of the black sheet. And voila! You have made a promise to the Earth!
Hang in child's room or on the fridge to remind them of their promise!
5. Kid-Friendly Documentaries
This one is more for children who are a little bit older, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I love showing videos in class, either to introduce a topic or to help create deeper connections to the conversations we are already having.
There are so many kid-friendly documentaries on climate change on streaming services such as Netflix. Some of my favourites include:
- Our Planet narrated by David Attenborough
- Our Great National Parks narrated by Barack Obama
- A Life On Our Planet narrated by David Attenborough
- My Octopus Teacher
- Life in Colour with David Attenborough
I hope that this has maybe given you some ideas for things you can do with your kids today and everyday to celebrate the Earth! The biggest thing we can do as teachers and parents is to model what taking care of the planet looks like, because our littles are always watching and learning from what we do.
Be kind to the planet and have fun!