Call me hippie-dippie, call me Earth Momma, call me whatever, but I happen to think it’s kind of important to take care of this little planet we live on. And I think it’s incredibly important to teach our kids the same thing.
Like adults, kids totally tune out when you start lecturing them on the evils of littering or the dangers of water pollution. No one wants to be preached at. Instead, I like to fall back on the same rule of thumb I go by when it comes to teaching kids to be giving: make it fun and make it a normal part of their life.
If your kids see you throwing used bottles into the recycling bin regularly, they’ll start doing it too. If they watch you throw garbage out of your car window, they’ll do that instead. If you make a conscious effort to be environmentally friendly and to value nature and all of the little critters that live in it, your kids will be right there with you.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to model that behavior in a way that’s really fun. I put together a list of 20 kids activities to try out this Earth Day—or any day.
20 Earth Day Activities for Kids
- Upcycle old containers and use them as seed starters. These little yogurt containers are the perfect size to get seeds going—and they’re nice and easy to transport once the time comes to move them into bigger containers.
- Go on a trash-free picnic. This is especially great if you pay close attention to how much trash you create at lunch on a typical day and then compare the two.
- Make a plantable paper earth. This project is more in-depth than some of the others, but it would be fun for a free afternoon. Using water and a blender, you make seed paper and then shape it into a little earth.
- Here’s a great one for budding scientists: grow plants from food scraps. Some foods (like pineapples, avocados and green onions) can be regrown by putting the scraps in water.
- Put on some gloves, grab a garbage bag and pick up trash at a local park. Glamorous? Not quite, but kids will be proud of their work and will think twice before littering.
- Make a coffee filter earth. All you need is a coffee filter, washable markers, and a spray bottle of water. I can see stringing these up as a little banner once they’re dry!
- Make stationery out of junk mail by using templates to cut unwanted catalogs and flyers. The old mail becomes the envelope and you can use the template as a little note card.
- Recycle old crayon bits into new crayons. Silicone molds make this super easy and kids love the results—just be sure to keep them still until they’re fully cooled if you mix colors. If not, you’ll end up with a whole lot of brown crayons!
- Upcycle a can into a vase. Whether you wrap an old can in a sock, paste pictures from magazines on it, or paint it, kids love seeing their handiwork displayed.
- Put together a mason jar lid bird feeder. This project (which doesn’t involve peanut butter) is fun in itself, but it’s even more fun when you get to watch all of the little birds visit. Think your kids’ excitement if you positioned it near a window and left some binoculars and even a little notebook nearby.
- Repurpose paintings and drawings into wrapping paper. This is great if you’re having a tough time giving away all of the millions of pieces of artwork your kids create. You can have them help choose pieces to glue or tape together. It’s like giving a second gift!
- Conduct a water pollution experiment. Kids will love this because it’s hands-on and messy, but it also does a great job of showing them what pollution does to water. No matter how hard they try, they won’t be able to make their “polluted” water clean again.
- Make an indoor meadow. This super cute idea is a fun way to create an indoor fairy garden. Plant grass seeds in a tray or bin, watch them grow, and then you have a whole new world for kids to create and explore with their little figures.
- Start your own kids vegetable garden. Find a sunny spot, have the kids help choose what to plant, and watch them grow! If they’re anything like my girls, they’d love creating little journals that document what’s happening in their garden each week. Once your veggies are big enough, the kids can help harvest them and prepare them for meals.
- Find ways to repurpose things you might have thrown away. I’m big on saving things that might find new life: torn clothes are great for crafting, sturdy containers are fun to personalize and use for organization, and don’t get me started on all of the things we’ve done with empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls!
- Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt. Look for treasures and fun finds in nature while exploring a park or your own backyard.
- Make a few upcycled plastic cap necklaces. Instead of throwing plastic caps away, add some paint and jewels and turn them into personalized necklaces.
- Make recycled plastic art. This is a fun way to encourage kids to use their creativity. You can take anything—used plastic bags, bottles, caps, trays—and encourage your kids to create art out of them. Their imaginations will amaze you!
- Take an old shirt and recycle it into a new one. All you need is some paint, contact paper, and a sponge and you can completely transform an old shirt.
- Make an earthworm farm. Use a plastic salad container or other see-through bin and fill it with dirt, sand, worm food and lots of earthworms!
Interested in more posts about nature and being eco-friendly? Try these:
- Earth Day Books for Kids
- 9 Handmade Products That Will Help Your Family Produce Less Waste
- 7 Kids Books That Will Make You Crave Outdoor Adventures
- 50 Outdoor Activities for Kids
- DIY Green Cleaning Recipes