As a parent, I have found the best way to instill values and lessons is through modeling behavior and hands-on activity. Teaching kids about Earth Day and helping them learn to recycle, reuse and reduce in their daily lives doesn’t have to be hard. Try a few of Earth Day activities with your kids and help them help the Earth.
Earth Day Activities for Kids: Learn to Recycle
Too often adults try to over complicate recycling when teaching kids. My children were happy to get on board the recycling train when we made it a regular part of our daily life. A large recycling dumpster was set up near our home as part of a county-wide recycling effort. I explained to my children that certain things would no longer be thrown into the trash and instead they would be put into a special box for recyclables.
When our recycling bin is full of plastic bottles, cardboard, magazines, newspapers, plastic bags and steel cans, we load up and go to the recycling dumpster. The kids are then responsible for sorting everything into the appropriate bins. This has become a regular family activity and the kids have learned to be more selective in what goes into the trash and ends up in the landfill.
For aluminum cans, I take my children on walks to collect cans from the roadside. This not only cleans up the area but also gives them financial incentive. When there are enough aluminum cans saved up, we take them to a local recycling center that pays for aluminum cans.
Earth Day Activities for Kids: Learn to Garden
Gardening was a way of life when I was a kid. My family grew food and flowers for personal use and enjoyment. Planting, caring for the garden, harvesting and preserving what was grown was just part of spring, summer and fall activities.
Giving ownership of a small garden to kids is a great way to help them learn about and appreciate the cycle of life that not only feeds them but also makes the world beautiful.
Kids can help prepare a garden site, choose plants, pick out seeds, plant, care for and harvest the garden. When harvest times comes, let the kids help can, freeze or dry some of the homegrown food. In the winter when the family is eating that fresh food, the kids will appreciate it a bit more knowing they had a hand in taking it from the ground to the table.
If you plant a flower garden, choose plants that will attract butterflies to add enjoyment for the whole family.
Earth Day Activities for Kids: Learn to Reuse
Let the kids come up with ideas for reusing items that would normally be pitched in the trash can. Crafting together to create new items from old items is a fun family activity and is a great way to celebrate Earth Day with your kids. Cut up old socks into rags, or make hand puppets. Fill tuna cans or cat food cans with melted paraffin to create candles.
For a fun Earth Day craft activity, fill a box full of items that you would normally dispose of (disposable cups, straws, etc.). Give the kids scissors, pipe cleaners, glue, tape, markers and more then challenge them to create treasures from the trash.
Earth Day Activities for Kids: Composting
Most kids love to get dirty and actually like getting down and dirty with worms. Set up worm compost bins and let the kids help. The compost is great for the garden and caring for the worms teaches responsibility.
Save food scraps and create a compost pile or compost bin. The kids can help with every aspect of the composting projects.
Earth Day Activities for Kids: Final Thoughts
Teaching your kids to reduce, reuse and recycle doesn’t have to happen just on Earth Day. Turn every day into Earth Day with your kids. Not only will you be able to cut down your trash bill, but you can also enjoy some fun activities with your kids while you reduce waste and help the Earth.
For more kids’ activities to celebrate Earth Day, check out Green Games for Kids, Green Activities for Kids, 10 Tips for Helping Your Kids Help the Earth, and Guide to Worm Composting.