Earth day often brings to mind planting trees and going green, but how can you teach kids more about being Earth friendly, especially if you are renting and can’t plant a tree? In this article we’ll look at a few learning opportunities, crafts and activities that you can use to have fun with your kids while teaching them things about the Earth and being green.
If you rent you may not be able to plant a tree, however you can still teach your kids about the benefits of trees. Take your kids to the park or even the back yard and show them what animals use the trees. Ants, birds, squirrels all need trees for their homes, food or shelter. Teach them about how tree roots keep the land from eroding away and leaves provide shelter from the sun. Beyond that trees can also be healthy for humans! A white pine holds five times more vitamin c (comparable area) then a lemon does. A long time ago people used to use the inner bark of white pines as an additive to flour to make it last longer and get the health benefits. If you remove a small bundle of needles from a white pine (white pines are characterized by groups of five needles) and break off the ends and suck on the needles you can get some of the vitamins and it tastes sweet! Sassafras trees (characterized by three different leaf designs) can taste and smell good and is an ingredient in root-beer.
After you have taught your kids about the benefits of trees you can enjoy a root-beer drink and color a tree picture or make your own picture by placing a leaf under a plain white paper and coloring over it with crayons. This will bring out the ridges of the leaf onto your paper and make a neat picture.
Do you have some paper plates around that you feel a bit bad about using then just throwing them away? Make them into a craft project. On a white paper plate let your kids have fun coloring any wild pretty colors they want, afterwards start along the outside and cut in with a spiral to create a spinner that the kids can hang in their rooms to add color and fun.
You can also make Earth day crafts with your kids that reuse old items. Many old plastic container can be reused to make candles, however depending on the age of your kids you may need to pour the hot wax for them. If you have old milk cartons you can cut off the top and have your kids fill the carton with ice cubes then pour candle wax over the ice to create an ice candle.
Old plastic containers can also be reused to plant seeds in to grow flowers or grass, even in an apartment.
An empty milk carton can be reused to make a bird feeder to hang from your porch or a tree. Cut out a square in the side of the carton and bend the lower edges down a bit to make an area for the birds to stand on then fill the bottom with bird seed and attach a string to the top to hang it in your back yard.
Another craft that reuses old items is to make bugs out of egg cartons. There are two ways to make egg carton bugs. Each starts off by you cutting the holder part out of a carton, the first bug requires one holder piece, the second method requires two. Once you have cut these out for your kids, lay down paper for your kids to work on and let them paint the outside of the egg holder. You will also need pipe cleaners, glue and paper, you can use wiggle eyes or you could draw on eyes, string can be used to hang the finished product where you want.
The first egg carton bug needs one painted egg holder. Red makes a great ladybug, yellow a bee or any color for a butterfly. Once the paint dries you can stick short lengths on pipe cleaner into the top front for antenna and some in the bottom for legs. Cut wings out of paper and glue to the back, then punch a hole into the top to run the string through to hang it with.
The second bug requires two egg holders, once painted cut out wings and glue them between the two holders where they open. Add antennae and hang.
Earth day is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy nature. Check for Earth day events in your area or make your own plans. A nature walk to see the flowers, trees and animals is a great idea. You could also look for camping opportunities in your area. Camping provides a wonderful opportunity to fully experience nature and appreciate our Earth.
Also you can try taking up a hobby like geocaching or letterboxing. Both can take you to beautiful locations to enjoy nature and some even include learning about the Earth and things that happen with it.
You can also plan a cleaning event. Find a road where the speed limits are low and head out with trash bags to fill with trash and recyclables. You might even be able to make some pocket change by turning in the cans or bottles you find. And recycling one aluminum can could be equal to running a television for as much as four hours! If you know of an area that really needs cleaning consider organizing a clean up day. Invite friends and neighbors and provide trash bags. You can often find gatherings like this held by geocachers. Depending on your child’s age will depend on how much you can do. A very young kid may not be safe cleaning up the side of a road or may need to be closely supervised so that they don’t pick up something dangerous.
There are so many things to do to celebrate Earth day with your kids and teach them about our planet. Teach them about animals at the zoo, plants in nature, about how to recycle and reuse items and the benefits it creates for the Earth. It is important to teach your kids now the benefits of being “green” and Earth friendly so that it stays with them as they grow older.