5 Earth Day Activities for Kids

April 22nd is Earth Day, a day to celebrate nature, get outside, purposely do something “green,” and it's a great opportunity to teach children how they can do their part to help preserve and protect our planet. And while crafts can be a fun way to learn about Earth Day, getting your children involved (and outside) is even more fun!

earth day activities for kids

Plant a tree

When my daughter was one we started an apple tree from seed. We nurtured it indoors until it was ready to be planted outside and now it’s the same height as her. There is nothing more educational or rewarding then watching a tree sprout and grow from seed or seedling. If you plant a tree, take the time to explain to your children why trees are so important (their ability to absorb carbon dioxide), and let them know it will grow up just as they do. My daughter loves measure herself against our little apple tree.

Build a bat house

I got the idea to build a bat house from the Wild Kratts, but I love it because it gets kids closer to a creature some may find scary. Building a bat house is not hard (here is a link to the bat house mentioned in the Wild Kratts). As with tree planting, building a bat house is a great opportunity to teach kids where bats fit into our ecosystem and why they are important. They eat insects and in many parts of the world they are also plant pollinators.

Collect garbage

Grab some garbage bags, put on some gloves and head to your local parks and trails and start cleaning up! The windy winter always leaves a lot of garbage behind—Earth Day is a great opportunity to get outside and clean up the neighbourhood. While picking up garbage you can explain how garbage can be damaging to wildlife, including how they can get stuck in plastic containers or cut themselves on glass.

Plant a monarch butterfly garden

Monarch butterflies are endangered, so why not plant a monarch butterfly garden and teach kids what plants they are attracted to and why butterflies are important! Plant some milkweed so the monarch butterfly can lay its eggs on it and so their caterpillars have something to eat (did you know they only like milkweed? Luckily, many garden centres now sell this once hard to find plant seed). Like bees, butterflies are pollinators, so their existence is very important to the survival and success of our own food sources.

Have an earth day scavenger hunt

This is a great activity for younger kids. Create a scavenger hunt based on things found in nature, such as pinecones, rocks, flowers, and leaves. A nature-based scavenger hunt is a good way to help younger children learn more about nature as well as get them outside! Another idea is to go to your local library and find a bird watching book, then go for a hike and see how many kinds of birds you can spot and make a list!

There are many ways to get your children involved in learning about, appreciating, and protecting our earth. It can be as easy as religiously recycling, using reusable bags and making a conscious effort to conserve water. By taking the time to teach them now, they will hopefully carry this knowledge with them and share it for generations to come.

How do you celebrate nature and make Earth Day fun and educational for your kids?

Earth Day for Every Day

I know it's hard to change - trust me, there are so many ways I struggle with changing my behaviour! Individual level change is impacted by many factors, including socio-economic status, life stressors, personality and motivation. Despite our individual differences, we all share one thing in common - every living creature depends on this earth for our survival. We all have to drink water, we all have to eat, we all need oxygen to breathe, and we all must find somewhere safe (and warm) to live.

And so we are ALL responsible for making changes to the way we treat our home. Celebrating Earth Day is a great place to start, but the positive changes we make must translate into permanent change - for the days, weeks, months and years to come.

Join me all this week as I share the little ways our family works to save this glorious planet for our future generations. You won't hear any preaching from me, but you will hear some great ideas. I'll also share the ways in which I neglect my eco-duties, and areas where I hope to make some of my own positive change.

Will you join me?


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Easter Weekend Roundup

I've been hearing about several great events coming up for both Easter and Earth Day, so I thought I'd share them here! Easter and Earth Day go together quite well, don't you think? Spring is here, the bunnies are multiplying, and the Earth is....well...a bit muddy. Place D'Orleans Easter activities - photo spots with the Easter bunny are all booked up, but there will be free face painting and crafts! Thursday April 17th, 10am - 2pm

Proulx Sugar Bush and Berry Farm: Good Friday and Easter Sunday, 11am - 2pm. An egg hunt, face painting and clue hunt!

Earth Day at Terra20: Saturday April 19th, 12 - 4pm. Lots of kid-friendly activities!

The Canada Agriculture Museum is open every single day this weekend!

The Cumberland Heritage Village Museum has an Easter egg hunt with Curious Cottontail!

Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush - maple syrup...pancakes....say no more!

Stay tuned later this week for some super yummy craft/snack ideas for Easter!



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Earth Day in the Capital

Every day should be Earth Day, no? I really enjoyed this recent opinion piece in The Globe and Mail, in which Margaret Wente argues that the way we talk about climate change is unhelpful. "I no longer think climate change is a hopeless problem. I just think the way we currently talk about it is hopeless." We're relying on people to change their behaviour by giving them doomsday scenarios, as opposed to finding ways to truly motivate and empower individuals. Although I strongly feel that governments need to take a much greater role in dealing with climate change, I also realize that change can be small. We can start with our own children and families, and work our way out from there. I heard a quote recently, and it really resonated:

"If you can't do great things, do small things in a great way" - Napoleon Hill

So I compiled a little list of ideas for you and your family this coming Earth Day:

1) Tim Hortons' Cleaning the Capital- choose a local park and register with the City of Ottawa for all the cleaning supplies you'll need!

2) Adopt an animal- every time my husband turns on a nature show, I have to leave the room. Inevitably, there will be a shot of a polar bear swimming and swimming (and drowning) because he can not find any ice. Why not consider donating money to "adopt" an animal and support conservation work?

3) 24 hour Earth Hour - I'm not an Earth Hour participant. I totally understand the event and its significance. I just try to conserve energy every day, by turning off lights when I don't need them, shutting down my computer, and unplugging unused appliances. But why not try a day-long electronics cleanse? Shut off your TV, Iphones/pads, and computer for one whole day and see what happens (no, the world will not collapse in on itself ;) )

4) Foraging - ok, let's pray that the snow has melted by Earth Day. If it has, you may see lots of edible plants popping up from the muddy ground. You may have to wait a few more weeks before you can actually collect and eat them, but educate yourself on how to spot yummy spring edibles such as watercress, ramps, dandelion, clover and wild strawberries. This YouTube video is a great start!

5) How about a visit to the museum? We're so lucky here in Ottawa to have the Agriculture Museum! What better way to teach our children about animals and habitats? And of course, spring baby lambs have got to be the cutest things in the world!!

baby lamb
baby lamb

How will you be celebrating Earth Day?

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Make It Earth Day Every Day

by Gwen
Earth Day 2012 has come and gone, but just because it is over, does not mean you can’t continue to be earth friendly every day of the year.
The Earth Day Network website is available year round and is filled with valuable information and activities (aimed at both adults and children) to get you thinking about how each little thing you do impacts the earth. Check out the Ecological Footprint Calculator designed to calculate your impact on the planet.
There is also the Billion Acts of Green section of the site which is packed with green acts you can do all year round from the very small (using cloth bags at the grocery store) to larger scale green acts such as making your home solar powered. Take a look through the site for some inspiration.

Here are some more eco-friendly things you can do with your family year round, from the Nayla Natural Care Pinterest Boards:

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Recipe - So it's not quite "chalk" it's more of a paint, but the kids will love it just the same. The best part? You can make it with 3 simple ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen: water, cornstarch and food colouring.  Image credit: Smashed Peas and Carrots Blog

Homemade, Non Toxic Gunk Remover Recipe - Sticker residue and miscellaneous gunk that a regular cleaner will not remove has met its eco-friendly match. The commercial counterpart to this mixture is highly toxic, flammable and has ridiculous fumes. Not something you or your children should be inhaling. Image credit: rosy blu handmade

Vegetarian Taco Salad Recipe - I made this taco salad a few days ago and it was a huge hit, even with the kids. It's quick to put together, it's healthy and it's delicious. Take it 1 step further and make it vegan by replacing the cheese with a cheese alternative such as Daiya Pepperjack Style Shreds. Finish it off with avocado chocolate pudding and everyone will be smiling. Image credit: Eating Well

Celebrating the earth every day is a great way to teach kids the importance of being environmentally conscious. What things do you do with your kids to encourage them to be more green?

Gwen is a mom of 2 and owns/operates Nayla Natural Care, an online store that specializes in carrying the best organic, natural and eco-friendly products.