Help your kids appreciate the beauty of our planet (and teach them to take care of it) with these simple earth day activities for families.
Fun fact: In its lifetime, one reusable bag can prevent the use of 600 plastic bags. (source)
April 22 is Earth Day! It’s a great time to teach kids about the wonders and beauty of our planet…and what we can do to take care of it.
I grew up in family that spent our summers camping in the mountains, spent our weekends tending to our large vegetable garden, and learned early on in life the tenets of “leave no trace.”
I have fond memories of exploring the forests of the Sierra Nevada mountains with my family and digging for worms in my father’s compost piles.
Teaching our kids to take care of the environment is important, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Are you looking for some simple ways to celebrate Earth Day with kids this year?
Here are some meaningful (and fun!) ideas to teach kids of all ages about respecting nature, recycling, reducing, and enjoying this beautiful world we live on!
Earth Day Activities for Kids
Go for a hike
Teach kids about the 7 principles of “leave no trace”. Then, head out into nature and practice them along the way. Encourage kids to “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Want some ideas to make sure you end up with happy trails? Try these fun hiking games.
Related: 10 simple activities that will make hiking fun for kids
Pick up trash
Take a trip to your favorite park. Before you head for the swings, though, take five minutes to pick up trash in the area. (Make sure to bring gloves for everyone to keep things sanitary.)
Learn about recycling
Talk about what it means to recycle, and why it’s important (these recycling books might help). Then go on a scavenger hunt around your house to look for items that can be recycled. Or, put a bunch of items on the kitchen table and have kids help you sort them into piles (trash, paper, metal, plastic, etc.)
Are you planting a garden this year? Before you put those seeds in the ground, let your kids explore them! Use a snack tray (or even just a plate) to arrange seeds for your kids to observe. Let them guess what plant they think with grow from each seed, then show them the seed packets to find out the answers. What surprised them? Consider, do the biggest seeds always yield the biggest foods? (spoiler: NO!). If you don’t have seed packets on hand, try cutting up various fruits and veggies instead and see if you can find the seeds inside.
Go on a color scavenger hunt
The world is a rainbow with many different colors! How many colors of the rainbow can you find in your neighborhood? Take the kids on a walk around the block (or visit a local nursery or botanical garden) and see how many colors you can find among the flowers, leaves, rocks, animals and other nature that you see. Use this free printable rainbow scavenger hunt to make this activity even more fun!
Make a toilet paper roll bird feeder
Upcycle an empty toilet paper roll into a DIY bird feeder for your local feathered friends. It’s a super simple trash-to-treasure project that even young toddlers can help with, and kids will love watching out the window for the day when the birds discover the gift you’ve left for them.
At the beginning of last summer, my kids and I painted small terra cotta pots that I bought for a dollar. After they were dry, we took a trip to the garden center and I let them each pick a plant for their pots. They loved this activity and took great pride in their new plants.
Make upcycled arts & crafts
Raid your recycling bin, and give your kids free reign to use their imaginations to create something out of what others might consider “nothing.” Do your kids need a little prompting to spark their creativity. Encourage them to make a robot using all the loose parts! Recyclables like egg cartons, paper towel rolls and empty yogurt containers are perfect for stocking your very own inventor box!
Related: Why every child needs an inventor box + how to create one
Turn out the lights and have dinner by candlelight
Teach kids about conserving electricity in a fun way by having a “fancy” candlelit dinner. And don’t feel like the food needs to be fancy…chicken nuggets are just as good as cordon bleu in my kids’ eyes. Carry the fun over into the post-dinner activities by keeping things screen-free and playing board games by candlelight or telling stories in the dark.
Set tiny goals to help mother earth
Talk with your kids about the term “carbon footprint” and brainstorm some simple ideas of how to reduce the impact we have on our planet. Little changes can add up over time! Sometimes we expect our kids to know why these things matter, but it’s important to explicitly teach them. You don’t know until you know!
Super doable ideas for helping save the planet:
- Use a little less water in the bathtub, or bathe young kids together.
- Turn off lights when you leave the room.
- Keep reusable shopping bags in the car (remember to take them in the store!)
- Tell the store clerk you don’t need a bag if you’re just buying one or two items.
- Write/draw on both sides of the paper.
- Save construction paper scraps to use in future projects.
- Get each family member a reusable water bottle.
- Walk or ride bikes when traveling short distances.
- Always put trash in a garbage can. Say no to litter!
What other ideas can you think of?
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