I spent two summers working at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, and if you have visited, you will likely see the Native Proverb as you depart: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” This message is very accurate and so relevant – if we destroy the planet that doesn’t just impact us, that impacts our children and generations to come. Environmental stewardship is something I am very passionate about, and it is something that I believe is every parent’s responsibility to teach their child, not just on Earth Day but every day! However, if you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas you can try!
Read “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss
This book has been my favorite since I was in environmental science classes in college. It perfectly sums up the way that consumerism wreaks havoc on our environment, and that we tend to want more, more, more without thinking of the ramifications of it in the future. I have read this book countless times to my children, especially since my two year old fell in love with it for a time and we needed to read it morning and night! He loved it so much that during Christmas Tree Season he would yell out “I speak for the trees, don’t cut the trees!” However, this book really allows you to have the conversation about why we should protect the environment and what happens if we don’t. If you don’t have the book, the original cartoon is available on Youtube, and the most recent version is also very well done, albeit a bit longer!
Build a Terrarium
A very fun activity to do with your kids on Earth Day is to help them create a terrarium. A terrarium is like an aquarium, but for plants! Depending on how big you want to go with it, you can use an empty 2 Liter soda bottle that you but into pieces, or you can get glass containers at a local hobby store. Last year, my boys and I created 3 terrariums on Earth Day, and then we gave those as gifts for Mother’s day to the grandmas! It was a very loved gift, and gave us an opportunity to talk about what plants need to live and how we care for them!
Feed the Birds
A super simple way to make a bird feeder is with 4 supplies: a pinecone, string, peanut butter, and sunflower seed (or bird seed). Toddlers love to make these (although be prepared for a mess). First, tie your string around the pinecone so that it can’t come loss, and then create a large loop so you can hang it on a branch. Allow your child to smear peanut butter all over the pinecone using a butter knife, OR spread peanut butter thickly on a plate and let your child roll the pine cone around in it. Spread sunflower or bird seed on another plate, and your child can gleefully roll their peanut butter mess of a pinecone in the seed. Viola! You have created your own bird feeder that can be remade again and again!
Clean Up at a Park
Unfortunately, we have all gone to local parks and seen litter lying around. Any time you come across this, it is a great idea to teach your child why to pick up the garbage! Or, you can go out for a walk with the intent of cleaning up. Particularly during the spring melt, there is a lot of garbage and litter along roadways. Get some plastic gloves, garbage bags and talk a walk with your kids and clean up garbage as you go! It’s a family activity that is also perfect for Earth day. My children have done this and like to make a game out of who can collect more.
Have an Earth Friendly Day
On Earth Day – try to be as eco-friendly as possible. Your child can go the day without access to tablets or TV, and teach them how those items need electricity to work. Last year, we had a picnic with fresh fruits and veggies, which my children said was the best part of the day. We also made sure to play outside, do nature themed art, paint sticks and rocks for our yard decorations, played tic-tac-toe with rocks, cleaned up the sticks in our yard, and more!
It is important that we teach our children that every day is earth day, and that we should always care for the earth. But taking time to celebrate this day and promote environmental wellness is a big step in the right direction.