Of course, every day is Earth Day, but this annual international observance gives us a great excuse to do a little something extra, and have some fun with our children. We've rounded up some creative ways to celebrate Earth Day with your child: From sensory-related activities to opportunities to learn about your carbon footprint (and even reduce your energy bills), these ideas are the perfect way to occupy a Sunday afternoon and show our planet a little TLC.
- Create a garden. Though it may difficult for those of us experiencing 35° April days, this is one of the best ways to both celebrate Earth Day and bond with your child. Choose fruits and vegetables for a lesson on cutting down consumption, or plant perennials for a gift that keeps giving. For those of us with no backyards, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce greens and herbs of all kinds grow well indoors.
- Immerse yourselves in nature. Weather permitting, Earth Day offers a great opportunity to engage with the natural world around you. Take a hike in a local forest preserve and collect fallen leaves and pinecones, bring a camera along to capture the beauty, and brainstorm ways you can help protect your local wildlife.
- Natural crafting. Using backyard findings or things you collected on your hike, create artwork for your home, bird feeders and other easy-to-make crafts. If you lack sufficient supplies, a twist on this idea is a recycling creativity challenge: Have your children use household odds and ends destined for the trash to create unique works of art.
- Volunteer in your community. A simple way to give back to your planet and your community is finding outdoor volunteer opportunities. Look up your local gardening or environmental organization to see if they need help planting trees or tending to local gardens. Also, many communities (such as the Cradle's!) plan clean-up events for Earth Day.
- Environmentally-friendly dinner. With your child, plan an environmentally-conscious dinner. Look for vegetarian or vegan recipes and buy organic and sustainable ingredients. Take it one step further and decorate with your child’s natural crafts as well as potted plants. Be sure to use cloth napkins and stay away from throw-away table settings..
- Read and watch environmentally-themed books and movies. A great place to start is Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (both the book and movie), though you can find many other suggestions on the internet such as this movie list and this book list.
- Cut down on your energy usage. Plan a dark hour where you turn off all electricity and play games by candlelight, or step up your game and work to spend the day using as little electricity as possible.
- Plan a neighborhood clean-up game. Include your neighbors and your child's friends in a little healthy Earth Day competition. Challenge teams to pick up as much trash as possible from around your neighborhood in a set amount of time and weigh garbage bags at the end to declare a winner!
- Spring cleaning. This is not only Earth Day appropriate, but also an easy way to involve children in household chores. Clear out what you don't use anymore: Bring clothes and old toys to charity or second-hand stores and dispose of used batteries and old electronics correctly. When scrubbing your house down, use homemade or green cleaners.