Earth Day (April 22) is the perfect time to do some fun activities with kids of all ages to celebrate planet Earth and learn about the importance of environmental protection.
What is Earth Day?
The first Earth Day was in 1970 and was created to annually commemorate the birth of the environmental movement. In 2023, Earth Day is observed by more than a billion people as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national, and local policy changes. The success of Earth Day is well documented. How can you use this inspiring day to bring Earth Day ideas into your classroom and your lesson plans?
Earth Day Activities
1. Discussion around carbon footprint
A large focus of Earth Day is trying to impact governmental policy changes to improve environmental protections. However, it’s important to assess the way we live our lives individually. We’ve collated some ideas about how we can clean up our act for planet Earth. You could also discuss the following with your students;
- Composting is nature’s way of recycling. Some kids might already have a composting system at home. Others would benefit from learning about an easy DIY recycling system they might be able to do at home if they have some outside space. This is a great chance to discuss the science behind composting and how it improves soil health and decreases the material sent to landfill. You can make your own compost which can be used for planting in the future.
- The Five Rs are Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, and Recycle.
- You can refuse the items we don’t need.
- If you reduce what you consume we can save the raw materials that would have been used to make those items.
- Reusing items means we save by sending things to landfill and items can be used for their full lifetime.
- By composting in little bins, we allot food waste to rot and let mother Earth recycle matter itself.
- In the end, if the other options are not suitable then recycling lessens the burden on planet Earth. You can upcycle unwanted items to give them new life or new items can be made from recycled materials. You could set up a recycling bin in the classroom to teach kids what they can and cannot recycle. Why not play this game to make this lesson even more fun?
- Planting trees is a way that your carbon footprint can be offset. This is an opportunity to discuss deforestation and the damage it causes, particularly in the Amazon.
At the end of the discussion ask the kids to fill in Kami’s worksheet about what they can achieve themselves and discuss what they can change in your school together.
2. Scavenger hunt
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to get outside and into nature? Take the kids to a local park and give them items to find on a worksheet to identify the natural world. This is great for sensory play for younger kids and good for older ones to develop analytical skills. If this is not possible in person, do it virtually. Some of the best national parks do tours virtually for the kids to enjoy for free on Earth day.
3. Check out the Smithsonian
The Learning Lab has a host of free activities and resources to design some fun Earth day ideas.
4. Grow your own
To educate the kids about where food comes from and how careful you must be not to waste it, grow some potatoes. These window bags will allow the kids to see the roots and all the development. Hopefully, by experiencing the whole process, they’ll no longer take fresh food for granted and will be careful not to waste it.
5. Choose a book
Earth Day books would be great, but there’s a wealth of books out there to inspire even the most reluctant readers. While learning about how important it is to protect the planet, take the opportunity to learn about why our indigenous communities around the world are the guardians of biodiversity.
6. Earth Day craft
Gather some recyclable materials (cereal boxes, plastic bottles, old magazines, egg cartons, etc.) and ask the kids to design an art project using these items. An art activity using recyclable materials sends a great message to the kids that they can recycle items for other purposes. Again think to reduce, recycle, and reuse for this Earth Day art project.
An Earth Day coloring page is a fun and educational tool, perfect for pre-k kids to learn about environmental conservation while expressing their creativity. It provides an engaging way to raise awareness and inspire action toward protecting our planet. Another option is this template with blank graphics showing a few simple ways students can be more environmentally conscious. Beneath the activity is a small writing area, prompting students to write their own ideas for how they can help the earth.
8. Learn about the Earth’s structure
Conduct this science experiment to explain the earth’s structure to your kids.
9. Build an insect hotel
Learn how and why insects are key to biodiversity. Get the kids outside to make a hotel to protect the important creatures. Look for pine cones, dried leaves, and moss in particular
10. Inspire some community action
This booklet contains several service-learning projects that focus on various aspects of safe solid waste management, such as recycling, composting, and reducing household hazardous waste.
Ask the kids to think about items they do not use anymore and see if they can donate them to local organizations. Encourage the kids to understand that donating and shopping there can help them reduce, recycle, and reuse!
12. Do a quiz
Earth Day has thought ahead for you and has written all these free printable quizzes. Have a look and see if any are suitable for you and your lesson plans.
13. Make a bird feeder
Crafts for kids are a fun Earth Day activity. Use the time to make a bird feeder to educate the students on good things to feed to birds (not bread!), and they’ll enjoy the craft and art activity.
14. Make a suncatcher
This guide will show you an eco-friendly way to do an earth day art project. Discuss the importance of what materials you use for Earth Day crafts and think about that year-round for other art activities.
15. Make a seed ball
Much has been said about seed bombs, but seed balls may be more appropriate for kids. If you make these seed balls, you can plant them under a layer of soil and see the plants grow year-round. The bonus is that they’re made from recyclable materials (paper) and show the kids how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle!
There are lots of ways we can motivate kids to care for our planet. Earth Day activities teach kids how to reduce their carbon footprint, appreciate everything the earth gives us, and take steps toward protecting the environment.
Engaging with your students about the planet with fun Earth Day activities that are both fun and enlightening, will inspire kids to do more to make our world a healthier place for future generations.