Hey folks! Earth Day will be upon us in a few short days. (Saturday, April 22nd) To be honest, we've never really done anything special to celebrate this particular day, but I feel like we do a lot of stuff year-round to honor the Earth. I am a fervent believer in celebrating Earth Day all year long and believe it is especially important to instill a respect of our planet in our children. But, let's be honest: It can be tricky trying to teach little ones about something that's mostly intangible with long-lasting effects, amiright? With that being said, I have compiled this list of ideas from the interwebs and our own regular activities on how we can teach our children to respect our planet all the year long and for decades to come!
*Recycle-This is probably the most obvious one. Anyone can recycle. If you are rural, it may take a little more effort on your part, but I personally feel like it is totally worth it! Recycling in our town is free, but we do have to take it to the facility ourselves since we live in the boonies. However, it reduces our amount of trash which actually saves us money!
*Gardening-There is something very inspiring about growing your own food! Even our 4 year old has gotten excited about growing whatever fruits or veggies she wants to pick out this year. You are more likely to eat something you've grown yourself and not let it go to waste. If you live in a city, be sure to see if there are plots at a local park you can rent out. This seems to be becoming a more and more popular option over the past few years!
*Composting-There are going to be times, especially with kids, where you have food waste. If you are able, composting is a great way to reduce waste. You can compost just about anything so long as it doesn't contain oils. (This is a generality. You can look up composting specifics in an online search for optimum conditions.) Bonus, of course, is that you can use your compost for your gardening endeavors!
*Plant Flowers for Wildlife-We're probably all aware by now that certain critters are on the decline due to habitat loss. It may not seem like it, but we can make a big difference just by planting certain things that they like, such as milkweed for Monarch butterflies. This has been a bit of a hot topic in recent years due to milkweed not being a native species to North America. If this concerns you, there are always other butterfly bushes you can grow easily or other plants you can grow to attract honeybees, birds, etc. This can be a great way to start a discussion on why we need certain critters, especially honeybees.
*Make Bird Feeders-This can be an especially fun project during the winter, when birds will benefit from the feeders the most. Pine cone, peanut butter, and bird seed feeders are a popular option for little ones.
*Leave Nature How You Found It-I'm kind of in the middle when it comes to this subject. I don't think the world will end if you take a few sticks, stones, pine cones, acorns, whatever. However, I feel like we should set some boundaries. We don't want an area to look totally decimated after playing there, do we? And we certainly want to teach our kids the dangers of clear-cutting areas of forests, grasslands, etc....But perhaps that's a lesson best taught when they're older?
*Put Wildlife Back-This kind of goes along with the previous point. I think it's a great idea to let kids study things found in nature. Otherwise they'll be like, “Who cares?!”, right? We took our bug-viewing container with us to the creek recently and got to check out a crawdad and darter fish up-close. Not that we were planning to keep them, but our 4 year old insisted we put them back after we were finished checking them out.
*Don't Squish Bugs-I'm not sure why I'm so weird about this, but I try to make it a point to reiterate to our 4 year old that bugs don't belong inside the house, but to leave them alone outside. John even trapped a bee that was in the house earlier and let it go outside. Lol If you really think about it, though, a lot of bugs serve a purpose (outside), so we should just leave them alone!
*Don't Litter-This can be a hard subject for young kids to comprehend, but it's worth mentioning. There have been several times when our 4 year old has wanted to throw something on the ground and we've had to explain why it's not ok. Pollution is still bad enough. Who wants to live somewhere covered in paper bags, cigarette butts, etc.?
I hope you have found some inspiration from this post (and it hasn't come off to preachy lol). What do you do to celebrate Earth Day year-round?