Earth Day is my favorite holiday and I am always looking for new ways to celebrate it with my kids. To make learning about the environment more enjoyable and meaningful, consider throwing an Earth Day party or play date, or organize one as a community service project.
I brought my daughter along to a very special event in which I spoke to a group of middle school girls who are part of an after school program called One Love One Community. This truly amazing organization provides school-based youth programs and community outreach events free of charge to underserved students and schools in our area. I was honored to be their special guest speaker to address environmental issues.
Although the environment is not at the top of their daily concerns given their other challenges, I wanted them to understand how a clean environment impacts their health and happiness. I spoke about how I was inspired in high school to make the environment my passion when I cleaned up a local river. That moment led me on a path of earning college and graduate degrees in environmental policy, and working in the field of environmental communications. I still focus on environmental issues through my writing and volunteer work. I also wanted these girls to understand that they have the power to make a difference in this world no matter what their passion is.
We first talked about some small steps they can take to protect our planet:
- Turn off electronics like the television when they are done with them.
- Turn off lights when they leave a room.
- Do not let the water run when they brush their teeth.
- Use less paper.
- Clean up after themselves and pick up trash from the ground.
- Avoid using so much plastic like straws and bags.
- Choose organic food that does not contain pesticides.
Then we discussed the importance of recycling and played a really adorable recycling game using Learn To Recycle Activity Boxes. Each of the six boxes was labeled with a different type of recyclable material–paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum, glass, and compost. The set came with 48 pictures of items that need to be recycled. Students had a blast figuring out which box each item went into. The boxes all contain some helpful factoids as well to explain that material, what it is used for, and why it is helpful to recycle it.
Creativity is an effective way to teach children about any topic. This group really enjoyed making these cute Earth Day beaded necklaces, which would be a fun craft to do at your Earth Day party as well. It gives each child a reminder to care about the earth all year long.
We also focused on how to reuse what we already have to create something special. They decorated blank wooden frames with leftover art supplies. This idea can be used for any kids’ activity by using materials like ribbon or wrapping paper from gifts received, buttons, scraps of fabric from old clothes, packaging materials like bubble wrap, or parts from old toys like puzzle pieces. You can also make it a nature frame by taking a walk outdoors to collect sticks, leaves, flower pedals, rocks, and shells.
Finally, I asked each student to think about what they learned and to fill out their own Earth Day Pledge to remind them about their commitment to helping the planet on Earth Day and all year long.
All of the supplies we used were from Oriental Trading’s Earth Day page, which is filled with so many other ideas to make your Earth Day or nature-themed party a memorable event for your kids and all those involved. Here are some other great ideas you can do:
- Read the book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss and give out Truffula tree pens and recycle-themed bookmarks.
- Plant your own seeds using DIY Watch It Grown Seed Pots, Watch It Grow Plant Viewer, or Color Your Own Earth Day Flower Pots.
- Make your own recycled paper beads with this great kit.
- Get creative with these fabulous art projects: Nature Print Sun-Sensitive Paper, Earth Mobile Craft Kit, and Color Your Own Recycling Wheels.
The most important thing to remember is that Earth Day is really every single day. If we all chip in and do a little bit each day, we can help protect the planet for future generations.
How will you celebrate Earth Day with your kids?
* This post was sponsored by Oriental Trading in the the form of donated materials.