Who says one person can’t change the world? In 1970, Gaylord Nelson encouraged 20 million people to take to the streets to demonstrate in support of sustainable and healthy environmental practices. He created a movement that would truly change the course of our planet. That first Earth Day event led directly to the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts, so clearly, one man made a huge difference.
Today — 45 years later — we keep his message alive every April 22 with celebrations all around the globe, and that makes the perfect backdrop for teaching kids how to respect and love our planet. Not only is it a wonderful teaching moment, but it’s a chance for you to help them forge a lifelong love for the environment.
Part of the appeal of Earth Day is the community spirit. We put aside our political, social, and economic differences just as they did in 1970 and work together to create a better world. Teachers and their students head for parks and playgrounds to help pick up trash, or gather recyclables and turn them into crafts. Local organizations often have activities planned, so be sure to find out what’s happening in your area, and join in the fun.
Another idea is to have kids brainstorm for ways they can conserve water or clean up the environment. For example, they could turn off the lights or television when no one is using them, or draw and color on the other side of paper rather than reaching for a fresh sheet. Write all their ideas down on strips of paper, and each day have them draw one out of a basket. Challenge them to commit to that idea for a whole day. This way, Earth Day isn’t just a one-time event, but rather something that you practice each and every day. Not only that, but it helps to build good habits, too!
Earth Friendly Toys And Crafts
One super fun way to kick off your Earth Day festivities is with an arts and crafts extravaganza. Soy crayons are an excellent alternative to the ordinary wax kind, and your little artists will love them. Made with sustainable soybean oil rather than fossil fuel–based paraffin, these big and bright crayons are a perfect fit for small hands. Encourage your kids to draw pictures of favorite animals that Earth Day has helped to save, or flowers and plants that can thrive in clean, healthy gardens.
Games are popular with kids of all ages, too, and Earth Day is the ideal time to tie in lessons about conservation with age-appropriate information about the animals we share our world with. Wild Cards, a deck of 48 colorful cards, features images of animals from across North America, and includes instructions for three different games you can play with kids ages five and up. The games are fun, but the opportunity to talk to your kids about the animals we share this planet with is priceless.
Whatever you do to celebrate Earth Day this year, make it a family tradition, and you’ll help to build habits your children will carry with them into adulthood.