April 18, 2013

5 Earth Day activities for kids

4 minutes
Cultural exchange

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 each year, in order to inspire awareness of environmental issues.  More than 190 countries around the world participate in activities to help protect, preserve and promote the natural environment on Earth Day.  Here are 5 great ways to get your family and your au pair in the Earth Day spirit this year.
1.       Plant a tree
Who:  This activity is best for kids 5 and up who can follow instructions and are strong enough to dig with a shovel
What:  Find a tree (or trees!) that are native to your region and suitable for growing in your location.  You can buy trees at a local greenhouse, garden center or become a member of the Arbor Day Foundation for as little as $10 and they will send you 10 free trees that are suited to your area!
When:  Early spring is a good time to plant a tree in most regions as it give the tree a chance to root and build strength before the hot dry summer.  Fall is also a good time to plant a tree in most regions.
Where:  Find a location where you have permission to plant a tree, and make sure it is a safe place to dig (i.e. there are no pipes or wires running underground).  

How:  Watch this video for 8 steps to follow to show your kids how to plant a tree with love.

Why:  Did you know planting trees around your home can help conserve energy by keeping your home cooler in the summer, while letting the sun warm your home in the winter?  Trees also consume carbon dioxide and give off pure oxygen so you can breathe healthier air.
2.       Make a worm bin
Who: Children 3 and up.
What: Worm bins are a great way to convert your family’s food scraps into rich fertilizer for your garden or yard.
When: Any time of year!
Where: Worm bins should be stored in a cool dark location where the temperatures stay between 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit.  A basement or shaded shed is ideal.
How: See our recent blog post:  Earth day activity for kids: How to make a worm bin.

Why: Worms can eat half their weight in food scraps each day!  Your garden, indoor plants or yard will thank you for all the nutrients worm fertilizer can provide.
3.       Organize a clean-up party
Who:  Gather your family, friends and neighbors and get outside to clean up your community.  Fun for children 2+ as long as they are well supervised to make sure they don’t pick up anything sharp or put anything in their mouths.
What:  Trash and litter can accumulate in public places and in communities.  Get outside and help clean up!
When:  Any time of year, but spring is a great time to remove trash and beautify your community as people start to enjoy the warmer weather and more time outdoors.
Where:  Choose a local park, beach or just walk around your neighborhood and remove any trash that has accumulated over time.
How:  Provide trash bags, recycling bags and gloves for everyone, pick a date and time or just go out as a family for an afternoon’s activity.
Why:  Trash is not only an eyesore in nature, but it is harmful to the environment and wildlife.  Removing it and properly disposing of it will make the outdoors safer for everyone.  This activity will also teach your kids to respect the environment.
4.       Create a home recycling center:
Who:   Kids 2 and up can practice their sorting and help reduce waste.
What:  Reduce, reuse and recycle materials around the home.  This includes donating old clothing that no longer fits, turning trash into arts and crafts projects and properly disposing of hazardous waste.
When:  The sooner the better–you’ll use this every day!
Where:  Find an area that’s convenient to the kitchen, perhaps a mudroom or pantry where you can create a recycling station.
How:  If you don’t already know, find out what your city or town recycles and how.  Then get a plastic bin for each type of recycling that needs to be separately sorted.  Paper, plastic, metal, etc.  Have your kids design a sign for each bin so that they know what kind of materials go in which bin.  If they are too young to draw bottles and cans, you can cut out pictures of items from magazines and help them create a collage.
Why:  Involving your kids in creating the recycling center will make them feel more ownership of the project.  Don’t be surprised if they become the family recycling police!
5.       Collect rain water
Who:  Kids old enough to help water the garden or lawn.
What:  Set up a rainwater collection system to store the water from those April showers and turn them in to May flowers!
When:  Spring is a great time to do this since many areas get most of their annual rain in the spring.  Plus, you’ll need the water to keep your summer garden or lawn.
Where:  Find a location convenient to your garden or lawn where you can connect one of your gutter downspouts to the rain barrel.
How:  If you buy a rainwater collection system from a home and garden store, you will likely get instructions for setting up your new system.  Some towns and cities will offer discounted rain barrels, so check locally before you buy. If you want to customize your barrel, have your kids paint it with bright flowers or a bold design.  Or, if you’re a real DIY’er, you can make your own.  Read a more about setting up a rain collection system.

Why:  Water is one of our most precious resources, and capturing rain water can help to reduce waste and save you money on your water bill.  Plus, rain water is ideal for your plants since it doesn’t contain chemicals like chlorine and fluoride, generally found in municipally treated water.
Don’t stop these great activities after Earth Day.  Get your family, your au pair, your friends and community involved and help make the world a greener place for generations.  Comment below and tell us how you celebrate Earth Day.