We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.
The most important thing we can do this Earth Day is to pass along our knowledge of how to care for the planet to our children. Take some time to talk about changes you can make at home and what impact even the smallest actions can have on the environment. Here are just a few ways you can draw inspiration and celebrate with your family!
Read a book (recommended for all ages)
Better yet, read a book outside (weather permitting). These stories build awareness about environmental issues and guide children to reflect on how they can help. Pick out some new books at the library for inspiration and start problem solving together!
Some nature-themed books to look for:
The Earth Book by Todd Parr
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
Bug Butts by Dawn Cusick
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
How Does a Plant Grow? By Lawrence F. Lowery
Nature Recycles, How About You by Michelle Lord
We will also be hosting a very special story time this Saturday at 11 am, come join us!
Go on a nature scavenger hunt (recommended for all ages)
Spending time outdoors benefits kids and grownups alike. By participating in a scavenger hunt, your child will be gaining critical observation and investigative skills that will lead to a better understanding of the world around them.
To begin, create a list of items that are commonly found in your area and decide how you will document your findings. I recommend a camera or sketchbook and a hand lens for deeper investigation. (remember- leave no trace).
Here are some ideas to get you started
- Roll a pinecone between your hands
- Find two rocks that feel different
- Touch a moss-covered tree trunk
- Smell a flower
- Smell a mud puddle
- Listen to the wind blow through the trees
- Listen for a bird call
- Watch the clouds float by
- Feel the bumpy leaves of a fern
- Watch a bug crawl, hop, or fly
After finding each item, encourage your child to describe the experience. What does it feel like? Why do you think that is happening? Can you find two that are the same, two that are different? These questions can be adjusted for any age and can be used over and over again!
Create with upcycled materials
In addition to your regular trash and recycle bins, why not set up an “upcycle” bin to collect materials that can be repurposed? By reusing what you already have instead of buying something new, you will be saving money while reducing energy use, too! At KidsQuest, we are always collecting common items for the “Recycle, Rebuild” classroom, including plastic bottles and caps, egg cartons, and paper towel tubes.
Here are three quick tutorials to get you started:
Cardboard Binoculars (recommended 2+)
Creating with recycled materials is fun for all ages and has infinite possibilities. One of my go-to guided projects is making a pair of binoculars, especially if you have plans to go on a scavenger hunt!
- Cardboard tubes
- Hole punch
- Stickers and/or stamps
- Any other decorative materials
What it looks like:
Once you’re done, put them to use and go on a household safari or outdoor scavenger hunt. What will you discover?
Newspaper Fort (recommended for 5+)
Upcycle old newspapers for an afternoon of engineering and fun! Begin by rolling and taping newspaper sheets to figure out what works best. Once you have this down, you will need to build a base. Talk about shapes and which ones might be stronger than others for your structure. (I recommend triangles and squares) Then allow you child to explore upwards and outwards!
What it looks like:
After open ended building, offer a challenge to keep you child focused and entertained. Can you build a freestanding structure that is as tall as _____? That you can fit inside? That a book can rest on? For more inspiration, look at local buildings and structures to see what shapes they incorporate.
Melted Sculpture Art (recommended 6+)
Do you have a bunch of plastic bottles or cups lying around? Turn them into works of art in three easy steps: color, cut, and melt into glass-like sculptures! This one takes practice, patience, and some supervision.
- Plastic bottles or cups
- Heat gun or oven
- Clothes pin or needle nose pliers
- OR a cookie sheet and foil for the oven method
What it looks like:
These upcycled sculptures are challenging because the melting process is a bit unpredictable so make sure you have plenty of plastic to work with! If you are using a heat gun, hold the bottle with pliers or a clothes pin and pay close attention as you apply heat on each side. If you are using the oven method, turn on the light and watch so you can take it out as soon as it is melted to your liking. It’s that easy!
How will you celebrate our planet? Tag us on Facebook or Instagram to show off your contributions and creations for Earth Day 2017! And if you are still looking for ideas, stop by KidsQuest for a very special story time at 11 am and staff-lead activities going on all day.
Contributed by Andi Koller