Depending on where you live, you’re likely spending a lot of time at home. Yet as the days get longer, the sun grows warmer, and new shoots spring forth from trees, it is a good time to bring your children outdoors and celebrate Earth Day.
This is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which began as a response to an environment in crisis. Even as we are confined indoors, the day still brings awareness to the importance of helping clean our planet and appreciate its wondrous beauty. Celebrate the planet and all its inhabitants this Earth Day with some simple activities you can do from home.
- Virtually Tour U.S. National Parks. Google Earth provides easy access for people at home to explore some the of the United States’ natural wonders. While there is no great substitute for the real thing, the photography is stunning and is sure to make you want to visit. After you’ve checked out a few parks, have a conversation with your learners about which ones they would like to visit someday. You can even create a bucket list of parks to visit.
- Discover Earth from Space. NASA has curated some amazing images of our beautiful planet. Explore different regions, cloud patterns, city lights and even the aurora borealis–from space!
- Explore the Messages of Earth Day Art Installations. Peruse the Earth Day website’s artist gallery, or look at a few of the pieces linked below. Ask your learners about what they see, what they wonder, and why the artists would use certain elements. Prompt them to think about the message each piece is trying to show by asking questions such as, “What is the artist’s point of view?” or “How does the artist feel about Earth?” Possibilities for conversation abound, and your children may be inspired to create some art of their own!
- Write a Letter to Earth. After your learners virtually explore Earth, challenge them to think of things they appreciate about the planet and write a Love Letter to the Earth. This is a great way for kids to practice their writing skills and think about what they appreciate most about the planet. Looking for more resources? Check out this Earth Day Bingo worksheet or other Education.com Earth Day worksheets and activities!
- Recycle and Reuse Materials. Simple, eco-friendly lifestyle changes can help the planet. Choose products with materials that can be recycled to help reduce waste. If something cannot be recycled, reuse it! If you can’t reuse the items, instead of throwing them away, share them with neighbors or donate them.
- Clean Up Your Yard and Neighborhood. I live in a fairly windy area, and every trash day, bits of paper and plastic blown about during the transfer from bin to truck litter the yard. Grab a bag and some gloves and take a walk with your children around the block to pick up any garbage you see. Do you know that most of the plastic in the ocean is blown there by the wind? Litter left on the ground can blow into rivers and streams that flow into the ocean.
- Enjoy the Great Outdoors. There are so many things your children can do outdoors, even if they’re just outside your front door:
- Trace your children’s shadow with chalk, and have your artists add details to create a character.
- Dance or do other physical workouts.
- Build a birdhouse or bird feeder.
- Bring the inside toys outside for a new playtime experience.
- Play yard games.
- Have storytime outside.
- Plant a garden or seed your grass.
However you choose to celebrate the planet this Earth Day, I hope your time is filled with learning, laughter, and family.
By Jennifer Sobalvarro, who has experience teaching in 3rd and 5th grade classrooms as well as ELL instruction.