Instilling in children a love and appreciation of the outdoors, nature and the environment at a young age is something that they will take and incorporate throughout their lifetime; growing into the adults that will care for our planet. Earth Day is one of those events that not only brings focus to the importance of caring for our planet but is a great opportunity to involve kids. These Earth Day Activities for Children not only celebrate Earth Day, but are things that children can continue to do everyday.
Why do we celebrate Earth Day? I was asked this once by a small child (my own actually) who was inquisitively looking up at me with wonder in their eyes, waiting patiently for my answer. I paused, thinking how best to answer this child, a future ambassador of the planet, knowing how important it was that they not only understood what Earth Day was but why it was important for them to be part of it.
Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, is a worldwide event in over 193 countries to promote and support the protection of our environment and our planet. Even in 1970, when this event began, people recognized that we needed to protect and look after our environment in order for it to not only be sustainable, but healthy, for both the Earth and for us. This is why it is never too early to involve children in this annual event and teach them that it’s not only about celebrating one day, but about the actions that we should be taking all year long. The importance of looking after and caring for Earth.
Earth Day Activities for Children
Most kids naturally love to be outside. They are curious about the world around them and want to know more. Use these hands on experiences this Earth Day (and every other day) to deepen their appreciation for the natural world showing them the wonder and uniqueness of our environment.
- Place paper against the bark of the tree (smaller children may need help holding the paper).
- Gently rub crayon over the paper, the pattern of the bark will come through and create a unique design.
- Cover as much of the paper as you like, then remove the paper from the bark and admire your design
You can also do this with leaves. Gather a number of different leaves then on a flat surface place the leaves with your paper over top. Rub the crayon over the leaf and see the imprint come through. You can do more than one leaf on a page and change your crayons to make them different colors!
There are so many different colors in nature. Grab some paint chips from your local hardware store and take them outside.
- Give a paint chip to the child
- Go for a walk with them and find something in nature that matches the color on their paint chip.
- Once found, don’t pick it! either just notice what it is, take a picture of it, or draw your own picture
- Now choose a different color paint chip and let’s go again!
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of things to find outside and go on a hunt. Include things like leaves, sticks, pine cones. Have the children check them off as they find them. Remember, if it is alive and still growing we want it to stay that way, so don’t pick it.
For small children (ages 4 & under) make your list short 3-6 things and go with them on the hunt. For older children you can create a longer list and setting clear boundaries can send them out on their own or in small groups, to find the items. Regardless of their age, I always like to make sure I can see them at all times (and they can see me for safety).
This is a fun one that kids can get really creative with.
- Go on a nature walk
- Have children gather items in nature. These can be things like small rocks, stick, leaves
- Take the items home or to an area where you can sit down – flat area of grass, picnic table.
- On a piece of construction paper, glue your nature items on and create a collage or picture
Before you head out on your walk let children know that they only pick up things that are dead (not growing anymore), so leaves that have already fallen off the trees, or sticks that are on the ground. It is important to teach them one of the most important lessons in nature is to take only pictures, leave only footprints. This allows everything to flourish and grow and go through it’s natural cycle. Plus it leaves these beautiful things for others who come behind us to enjoy!
There are lots of outdoor activities you can do with children that are easy and fun! I recently discovered an idea about creating an outdoor mud pie kitchen! What a fabulous idea and so simple! Really, I think every child should have one, actually even adults would benefit. (You know I am going to make one right away…)
Teaching children to respect and appreciate our planet at an early age is an important value that they will carry into their adult lives. Not only should we participate in days such as Earth Day, it is important to do activities with kids in their daily lives that instill this love and respect for our planet.