In 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin created the first Earth Day. On April 22, approximately 20 million people nationwide attended the first Earth Day celebrations, bringing to light the fact that this planet’s resources are finite and will not last forever.
Marking the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day will be celebrated on Saturday, April 18th and comes during a pivotal time to protect the planet and ensure that world leaders address key issues facing the next generation.
Here are a few activities and ideas to teach your students about preserving our earth, while learning about our beautiful planet.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~ Native American proverb
Earth Day is Everyday
Earth Day is a reminder of what we should be doing all year long. As adults, it’s our job to teach our youth, to lead by example. Kids will follow in our footsteps once they understand the value in what they’re doing.
- Conserve. Remind kids to turn off lights or water faucets when they’re not in use, power down computers, turn off the TV when nobody’s watching, and resist lingering in front of the refrigerator with the door open. Program the thermostat to be more energy efficient. Replace regular light bulbs with energy-efficient ones.
- Hoof it. Reduce fuel emissions by walking or riding a bicycle whenever possible. Car pool or use public transportation if possible.
- Recharge. Buy rechargeable batteries for your kids’ electronics and toys and teach them how to care for and recharge them. This reduces garbage and keeps toxic metals, like mercury, out of landfills.
- Pass it on. Ask kids to gather toys, books, clothes, and other goods that they no longer use or want for donation to local charities. Have them ride along for the drop-off so they can see how groups such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army use donations to help others.
- Reuse & Repurpose. Don’t just toss it. Give thought to how items can be reused or re-purposed rather than using disposable items. Consider turning junk into art like a Bottle Cap Mural, for example.
- Recycle. Begin a recycling program in your home or school and take recyclable materials to a recycling center. Consider a field trip to learn more about the dos and don’ts of recycling. Use the trash can – don’t litter the environment.
What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. ~ Jane Goodall
Develop Environmental Awareness
It’s our responsibility to help kids become aware of the environmental fragility of this planet. Whenever possible help them to understand that what they do can make a difference. Look for teaching opportunities through the following learning experiences:
- Movies. The Disney film Earth, released on Earth Day 2009, celebrates the natural wonder and beauty of the planet. The BBC Planet Earth series narrated by David Attenborough is another great resource.
- Books. There are many books available that provide activity suggestions. Consider picking up a copy of Earth Day Is Every Day! by Heather Allen.
- Magazines. National Geographic frequently covers ecology topics. Consider a subscription to National Geographic KIDS magazine for younger kids.
- Spend time outdoors appreciating the beauty of nature. Consider beginning a nature journal to document your discoveries and observations. Follow my Pinterest board for inspiration, Nature Study & Journaling.
- Visit local zoos, wildlife preserves, and botanical gardens to learn more. These educational venues often have guest speakers and even workshops for families.
The greatest danger to our future is apathy. ~ Jane Goodall
Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to provide students with activities that focus their attention on the environment. Here are a few ideas for students to actively participate and make a difference:
- Use a recyclable water bottle and lunch bag
- Plant native plants to beautify your neighborhood and attract pollinators and wildlife
- Write a letter to congress in support of environmental legislation
- Interview local environmental organizations
- Adopt a highway or city park and clean up litter
- Create a fundraiser and donate all proceeds to environmental causes that touch your heart
- Make a bird house or a nesting box for mason bees and other pollinators
- Get involved in a local Roots & Shoots club
Most of all – TALK ABOUT IT! Family discussions about ecology will let kids know this is a topic important to you. For this reason, it will become important to them too.
Find more natural parenting resources by clicking on the image above! You can also find great posts on our Earth Day Is Every Day Pinterest board:
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