Earth Day falls on Saturday 22nd April this year and what better time to get crafty with the kids and celebrate the wonder of the planet. Started in 1970, Earth Day aims to raise awareness of environmental issues and how can we can make a difference to improving the way we treat Mother Nature and all the amazing creatures that live on Earth.
What began as a movement in the United States, is now a global celebration about education and empowerment when it comes to climate change, endangered species and environmental protection. Here are some fantastic and fun ideas to engage your kids and help them learn about the importance of being eco-friendly.
Using recycled materials
What better way to teach children about protecting the Earth than by showing them that things can be reused and don’t have to be thrown away. Ideas include reusing baby food jars and turning them into pretty candle votives. All you will need is some jars, tissue paper, a paint brush, scissors, craft glue and glitter. Decorate to your heart’s content – your little ones will love making something totally unique and you can show them about the importance of not wasting things that can be given a new purpose in life.
A recycled trash sculpture is a lot of fun, just make sure everything is washed and safe before letting the kids loose. This is a great way to celebrate Earth Day – teaching the importance of upcycling. This is an activity where you and your kids can literally go crazy with imagination and make whatever you want out of whatever you had lying around. You’ll need some glue or a low heat glue gun, washable paint, brushes and plenty of trash – oh and tons of creative imagination.
There are tons of materials that can upcycled before they are recycled. Using the cardboard tubes from toilet rolls, you can create a cute choo choo train for your little ones to decorate. A milk carton can be made into a bright yellow school bus with bottle tops for wheels. Egg cartons can be cut up, painted and made into attractive flowers. All you need to make these are some paints, glue, string, beads and/or sequins, scissors and an empty cereal box. The individual egg sections will need to be cut out, the four sides folded down to make petals and then let your kids go wild with the decoration.
Do you have those awful six pack rings lying around? The ones that end up being washed out to sea and wrapping themselves around defenceless sea creatures in devastating ways. Don’t let yours end up in the trash as you and your family can turn them into interesting decorations for the Christmas holidays. You’ll need around 20 six pack beverage holder rings, 1 foot of fishing line, a stapler and some staples. Take 2 and lay them back to back so that they slightly curve away from each other. Staple them together on the top right and left and bottom right and left. Fold them to match up the staple marks and repeat on the back side. Repeat with another 2 rings and then attached the two sets with the stapler. Continue until you’ve used all 20 rings, then run the fishing line through one side. Pull the line taut to form a circle of rings and then staple at the join. You should end up with a fantastic Christmas Star decoration.
This next idea might require some forward planning as it involves collecting as many plastic bottle tops as you can. With all the different colored caps, you and your kids can create an exciting mosaic, maybe using blue and green to make the Earth itself. This is also a great idea for school art projects and would make an impressive community showpiece for celebrating Earth Day 2017.
Using natural materials
Making a play garden will be a big hit as kids love having their own space to dig and get their hands (and clothes) dirty! This provides a great opportunity to talk to them about the importance of soil, habitats and the dangers of pollution. Get your kids to paint some old flower pots for their mini garden which can be marked out with just a few stones or bricks. A bag of compost, some mini tools and a few low-cost plants are all you need. Take out an old cupcake baking mould and let them serve up some mud cakes too! Creating a mini-beast habitat is another way to get your kids thinking about the importance of all living things in the life cycle.
A simpler activity involves collecting stones and pebbles and painting them pretty colors or taking a sketch book outside and doing some leaf printing. Take a trip to the nearest area full of trees, spend some time collecting leaves and then using a stamp pad, press the leaf and print onto the paper. This is an ideal time to talk about the threats of deforestation and the crucial role that trees play in our environment.
If you want to celebrate Earth Day by bringing more nature into your yard, then here is an idea that will do just that and help you to recycle at the same time. A DIY bird feeder to attract the birds is a simple, effective idea that only requires minimal items and tools. You’ll need a couple old tin cans, some wire or string, beads, paint, a drill and some needle-nose pliers. You’ll find easy to follow instructions online on how to make the feeder, just add mealworms and encourage your children to do some bird watching and record who comes to visit their very own bird feeder.
Don’t have a garden or live in the city? You don’t have to miss out – a quick google search should find your nearest communal or rooftop garden that is probably crying out for volunteers to help. Gardening is a great way to teach your children about how much we depend on the Earth for our survival. Your kids will learn some valuable skills and you’ll get to meet other like-minded people. Plant a tree or volunteer for an environmental charity – there are so many ways you too can get involved in honoring the planet.