Fun Earth Day Activities for Kids
BY: Emily Anderson
Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970, when its founder -- Gaylord Nelson -- witnessed a devastating oil spill off the coast of California. As a result, Nelson felt compelled to do something to raise awareness of environmental issues.
This year, you can make a difference by transforming Earth Day into a day of educating and inspiring your family into planet-friendly actions. Try these ideas for ways to entertain and empower everyone.
Take a Hike
More than 100 years ago, the U.S. government started the National Park Service. Now we have more than 110 million protected lands available for our enjoyment! Earth Day is a great time to go hiking as a family. In celebration of the holiday, the National Park Service hosts National Park Week, with special events and education opportunities. For more information, visit the National Park Service website.
Plant a Tree
For kids, watching a tree they planted grow right outside their window is a special way to see nature in action. Trees also have a long-term impact on your family’s energy use: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” See which trees are best for your area at ArborDay.org.
As every parent knows, kids’ art supplies need to be replenished frequently, which gets pricey and leads to lots of packaging waste. Instead of shopping for craft supplies, celebrate Earth Day by making your own paint and play dough from scratch!
Making things at home is an excellent way to teach your kids that not everything has to come from the store. Try these two simple recipes from The Toddler’s Busy Book: 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your 1 1/2- to 3-Year-Old Busy by Trish Kuffner:
1 tablespoon clear liquid detergent per paint container
2 teaspoons powdered tempera paint per paint container, various colors
Several small jars
In each small container, mix together 1 tablespoon liquid detergent and 2 teaspoons powdered tempera paint. Each batch makes enough for one painting session.
Oatmeal Play Dough
1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 cups oatmeal
Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well and knead until smooth. Store in the refrigerator. This play dough isn’t meant to be eaten, but it’s perfectly safe if your kids decide to do a taste test!
Park Your Car
Every week, the average American family uses about 15 gallons of gasoline, which adds up to 2 billion gallons nationwide! Given the fact that Earth Day was inspired by an oil spill, reducing your oil consumption is a fitting way to celebrate. Try ditching the car for a week. Warmer spring days mean it’s the perfect time for your family to get around by walking, riding bikes or taking public transportation. You’ll be amazed at how carefree car-free living can be.
Skip the Bath
On average, families use up to 400 gallons of water every day. The easiest way to curb your water usage and save some money? Turn off the tap. When brushing your teeth, don’t let the water run. And whenever possible, choose showers (which use 10-25 gallons of water) over baths (which use 70!). Faulty pipes and outdated appliances are also water-wasting culprits. On Earth Day, take your kids on a water-efficiency tour of your home. Outfit each “inspector” with a pen and clipboard. Check for leaky faucets and dripping pipes, and designate a “water inspector” each week to remind everyone to watch their water usage. Pretty soon your family will be running a tight -- and water efficient -- ship.