Earth Day (April 22) is the perfect time to do fun activities with kids of all ages to celebrate planet Earth and learn about the importance of environmental protection.

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day’s inaugural celebration in 1970 marked the birth of the environmental movement. Over the years, it has evolved into a global event, with over a billion people participating in 2024. This day catalyzes action, inspiring changes in human behavior and influencing policy at various levels. Understanding Earth Day’s success can guide you in incorporating its spirit into your lesson plans.

Earth Day Activities

1. Discussion around carbon footprint

A significant focus of Earth Day is trying to impact governmental policy changes to improve environmental protections. However, it’s crucial to recognize the power of our actions in shaping our world. 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, emphasizing the role they can play:

 

    • 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 can use 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 landfills. If you make your own compost, it can be used for future planting.

 

The Five Rs are Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, and Recycle. These principles are vital to understanding how to reduce our environmental impact and make more sustainable choices.

 

  1. You can refuse the items we don’t need.

  2. By reducing our consumption, we can save the raw materials that would have been used to make those items.

  3. Reusing items means we save by sending things to landfills, and items can be used for their intended lifespan.

  4. By composting in little bins, we allot food waste to rot and let Mother Earth recycle matter itself.

  5. In the end, if the other options are not suitable, recycling lessens the burden on 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?

 

    • You can also offset your carbon footprint by planting trees. 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 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 for older ones to develop analytical skills. If this is not possible in person, you could do it virtually. Some of the best national parks offer virtual tours for the kids to enjoy for free on Earth Day.

3. Check out the Smithsonian

The Learning Lab has many free activities and resources to design fun Earth Day ideas.

4. Grow your own

To educate the kids about where food comes from and how careful you must not 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 to inspire even the most reluctant readers. While learning about how important it is to protect the planet, please take the opportunity to learn about why our indigenous communities around the world are the guardians of biodiversity.

6. Earth Day craft

Gather 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, consider reducing, recycling, and reusing for this Earth Day art project.

7. Coloring

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 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 crucial to biodiversity. Get the kids outside to make a hotel to protect the essential creatures. Look for pine cones, dried leaves, and moss in particular

10. Inspire some community action

This booklet contains several service-learning projects focusing on safe solid waste management, such as recycling, composting, and reducing household hazardous waste.

11. Donate

Ask the kids to think about items they no longer use and see if they can donate them to local organizations. Encourage them to understand that donating and shopping there can help them reduce, recycle, and reuse!

12. Do a quiz

Earth Day has thought ahead and 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. Please discuss 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!

Final Thoughts

We can motivate kids to care for our planet in many ways. 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.

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