“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon
Saturday, April 22 is the 47th Earth Day.
As a former early childhood teacher, current daycare provider, and mom of young children, anytime I use Google or Pinterest to find crafts and activities that coincide with upcoming holidays or seasons, I quickly find myself overwhelmed!
This year I decided to try coming up with activities we could do without spending a lot of extra money, accumulating more “stuff”, or being so busy making something that we miss the point! Below are some activities that have been really fun for my family and daycare children to do during the month of April as we look forward to celebrating Earth Day.
- Walk the Talk & RECYCLE: In January I made a note with my resolutions to take the plunge and start recycling! Month after month I’m amazed at the amount of garbage I was throwing away that really could be recycled. After reading the book 7: an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker, I decided to commit to leaving a smaller footprint even though it takes more time & thought. Hatmaker’s book devotes chapter 5 entirely to the excessive waste we produce and how we can take small steps to address it. Even though my daughters are too young to understand the WHY behind recycling, I want them to grow up knowing it is a priority for our family. I have been very happy with Stone Sanitation and they were so helpful (and quick!) to help me get started recycling.
- Sort the Stuff: Classifying & sorting is a great skill for any age child, and can be built upon and varied to match the abilities of your children. At our house we practiced sorting pictures from advertisements and magazines into things that were made of cardboard, plastic, glass and tin. Sorting “stuff” can also carry over into spring cleaning; sort possessions into piles of “get rid of”, “donate”, “keep”, and “throw away” as you clean your house.
- Go Green!: The generation we are raising and working with will ALWAYS hear the phrases of “Go green” “Be Green”, but will they really understand the meaning? One visual that could help is by making a “green” collage. One of my favorite ways to reuse materials is using magazines and newspapers to create collages. Making a “green” collage could mean literally looking for all things green–especially plants, trees, grass–and put it somewhere in the house that would remind you to live more consciously; turning off light switches, not running water, recycling instead of putting in the garbage, etc… To make it more challenging for older children you could create a…
- A Green Box: Using (or reusing) a shoebox or other container, write down activities on some slips of paper or notecards to put in the box. Make them be things that are doable for your family, not something that would add too much stress. Pick what works for you–pull them out as often as you want. Most importantly, explain and include your children on talking about WHY you are doing these things and what importance it is for our earth to all make changes. Some ideas we used are:
- Turn off all lights/electronics for ____ minutes/hour per day
- Walk or bike somewhere you usually drive
- Take all reusable bags to get groceries
- Plant something new in your yard or neighborhood
- Play “beat the clock” with a timer–set it for ten minutes and see who can find the most items to recycle in your house. Sort them together and see if any can be reused or repurposed in your home before recycling
- Practice brushing teeth without letting the water run the whole time
- Watch a movie/documentary/episode about Earth Day or related topics
- Do a “Family Random Act of Kindness” in Marshalltown and pick a park or public place to pick up trash and litter. Remember gloves!
- Make Visuals: Out of sight, out of mind is so true for young children! Some of these crafts do take materials, but are fun to display as reminders to take better care of our earth. Making these visuals also led into some discussion about the green parts of our earth and the blue parts, and how important it is to keep BOTH parts of our world clean!
- Earth Plates: Use paper plates and be creative! Practice tearing or cutting shades of blues and greens and glue them on, use paint, crayons, markers, pastels, use old maps to glue on continents and oceans, the options are endless! Supply them with materials and see how they turn out!
- Earth Coffee Filters: Use green and blue markers to color on a coffee filter. Spray with water and open and hang in a window to let the light in.
- Paint in a Bag with paper plates: for high-chair sitters, put blue and green paint on a paper plate and slide it inside a plastic bag. Let them slide the colors around to make their own “earth”. Tip: tape the bag to the high chair so most of their hand movements are spreading the paint, not the plate!
- Enjoy these resources:
I hope you can use some of these ideas to prioritize what is most important and doable for your family! Remember that more than anything, children learn what they see us DO, not what we SAY to do! –Mama M