Celebrating Earth Day with Your Little One
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the first Earth Day was on April 22nd, 1970. It was in response to a lack of legislation protecting the environment. A senator named Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day as a call-to-action for law-makers to take the protection of our environment seriously. By the end of that year, the U.S. Environmental Agency was born and Earth Day was cemented in history — to be celebrated each year as a reminder to take care of the planet we live on, because we only have one Earth.
Studies show that time spent outside benefits everyone’s mental and physical wellness, as well as children’s social-emotional development. Take the opportunity this Earth Day to teach your little one about the environment, as well as how to keep our planet clean and healthy. Below you will find great Earth Day activities to celebrate and learn with your little one.
Make a Sign: Grab some paint and poster board to create a sign celebrating Earth Day. It could read “Happy Earth Day” or “Protect our Planet” or any phrase to practice awareness. You can even add reminders or suggest little acts of kindness you can show the planet. To go the extra mile, you can use recycled materials to make the sign, like part of a used cardboard box, or cutout magazine letters to spell out your Earth Day phrase.
Create Art with Recyclables: This is a great time to teach your little one about recyclable materials, and invite them to use their imaginations to think up what these materials can be turned into. Save empty toilet paper rolls to make binoculars. Use empty plastic water bottles to make mini aquariums or lava lamps. Make a rainstick out of empty paper towel rolls. Build a spaceship out of a cardboard box. There are endless possibilities for any and all of these materials. Playgarden Prep Online also offers many art project ideas that involve recycled materials on the DIY page!
Make a Bird-feeder: Support your local bird community by hanging or installing a bird-feeder. I recently saw a bird-feeder that you can install on your windowsill, which allows for safe and up close bird-watching for your little one. Learn about the species of birds and other creatures that stop by most frequently. Little ones may even start naming their new animal pals. By taking care of the other creatures on our planet, we are supporting our ecosystem in a safe and respectful way.
Teach Sustainability: The biggest takeaway from celebrating Earth Day is that we need to treat every day like it’s Earth Day. Our planet needs us, and with little actions every day, we can make a big difference. Teaching your little one about sustainability can encourage the whole family to do their part.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle: One of the easiest things we can do to help our environment is recycle. At Playgarden Prep, we have different colored bins for each recyclable material, and we teach our students what material goes where: paper goes in the blue bin, plastic goes in the green bin, etc. Take this idea home and set up a couple bins for recycling. Show your little one where each material goes, just like a matching game, and let them try to sort some on their own. Set the bins somewhere that they can reach, and when it’s time to recycle, they can do it on their own. Before you know it, they may be the one reminding you to recycle!
Reuse Water Bottles: A lot of little ones have their own water bottles that most likely have their favorite cartoon character on it. By using a reusable water bottle instead of single-use plastic water bottles, you are already cutting out a lot of plastic waste. If your family hasn’t already, consider other reusable items such as straws or to-go cups. Even bringing your own Tupperware to a restaurant for leftovers can make a difference.
Contemplate Clothing: Families go through a lot of clothes, especially with growing children. If you have yet to do your spring cleaning, consider doing a cleanout of clothes for everyone in your family. If the hand-me-downs don’t fit your youngest, consider donating them or giving them directly to a family who may need them. You could even host a clothing swap with friends or families with similarly-aged little ones. We want to keep clothing out of the trash, so always consider donation, swaps, or other sustainable options.
Ultimately, our planet needs our help. The choices we make today, like bringing our own bags for grocery shopping, or using a reusable water bottle, have an impact on tomorrow. Though these actions seem small, they can make a big difference if we practice them ourselves and impart them on our little ones. We only have one planet, so let’s take care of it the best we can and teach our children to do the same!
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Hi, I'm Miss Julia!
Miss Julia has been an early childhood educator for 5 years, with over 10 years of experience working in childcare. She has been teaching at Playgarden Prep since 2017, and is happy to share ideas on some of her favorite early education topics with you! Miss Julia has a BA from UC Irvine, and uses her experience in performing arts to inspire little ones every day in her enrichment classes at Playgarden. In her free time, Miss Julia loves enjoying nature, cooking, and creating with friends.