The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22nd. Intended as a day to celebrate and support our environment, it’s a great day to introduce and explore nature concepts with children. There are plenty of ways to do this, even with social distancing, and we’ve collected some ideas to help you pay tribute to the world we live in and love.
Nature-themed Scavenger Hunt: A plain old walk can get boring, so liven it up with a scavenger hunt. Even if you’re just walking around your neighborhood or backyard, there are still plenty of things to observe. You can find a printable list here, but simply looking outside to see what you see can be enough to help you create your own list.
Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeder: This is the perfect time to bring nature to you! This easy craft uses items you likely have around the house including an old toilet paper tube, peanut butter, and twine, as well as bird seed. This craft is appropriate for all ages. Once it’s set up, kids can watch to see just who shows up for a snack!
Tree Bark Rubbings: Every tree is different, so the project will come out different every time. Attach paper to a tree (or simply hold it up) and use crayons to rub over it. Use different color crayons, reposition the paper, or move to another tree. Use the project as a way to learn about various trees and how the bark differs.
Coffee Filter Earth Craft: This all-ages activity is easy and inexpensive. By coloring a coffee filter with blue and green markers, then spraying it water, kids can create a beautiful planet Earth. Once it’s dry, take it a step further by adding a love note to nature or drawings.
Paper Plate Sundial: The Earth just wouldn’t be the same without the sun and this simple STEM activity is a fun way for kids to observe the effects of the Earth’s rotation. Kids will check on the sundial hourly, making this an all-day activity. Include some discussion about the relationship between the Earth and sun and predict where the sundial’s shadow will be cast, and you have a full science lesson here.
DIY Recycled Paper: Many kids are familiar with recycling, but they probably don’t really know how it works. With this activity, they can recycle paper they find at home. You’ll also need a cardboard egg carton, some popsicle sticks, and a rolling pin. Kids can repeat the craft with different kinds of paper to explore how the results differ. And once the paper is dry, it can be used for any craft project your child wishes!
Eggshell Garden: Kids can build a mini garden of their own using eggshells. This activity can also be used to observe what happens to the seeds as they begin to grow by opening shells on different days to see what’s changed. This is also a great tie-in to a discussion about the life cycle of a seed and where our fruits and vegetables come from.
Water Pollution Experiment: This activity helps kids truly understand how harmful water pollution can be and just how hard it is to undo it. It’s easy enough that it’s appropriate for most children and utilizes items from around the house. Essentially, you take clean water, add some “pollution,” and then work to see what can be removed and what can’t.
Earth Day Exploration: Here’s another activity that involves heading outdoors to collect nature. Gathering up examples of what you find, including leaves, dirt, sticks, rocks, seeds, pinecone, and more, can kickstart many conversations with kids. Learn where each item comes from and what its role is in the world or explore how similar items differ and why (like leaves, for example). Ask kids questions about what they see and let them ask you questions, too! Once you have your collection of items, you can conduct a variety of experiments with them to keep the fun and learning going.
Earth Day Crayons: What better way to recycle old crayons than to turn them into Earth Day Crayons? Breathe new life into broken and used crayons by melting them down into fun shapes. Place the bits of crayons into silicone molds or cupcake tins, then simply bake them until they melt. By combining different colors, you can create interesting and fun designs. Try selecting, blues, greens and whites and melting them in a circular mold to create to create mini Earths! Take the whole experiment a step further by using solar power to melt the crayons.