Apr 12, 2023
Protect the planet with 12 Earth Day activities for kids
- Earth Day is a decades-old holiday that dates back to the start of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
- Earth Day activities are fun and engaging ways to get your kids excited about protecting the environment.
- Many Earth Day activities result in environmentally-focused items that your child can give as gifts in celebration of the holiday.
While kids may not count down to Earth Day as they do other holidays, it’s still one of the most important days of the year. The world comes together for a common goal: appreciating and protecting our home planet. Getting kids engaged and actively participating in this holiday is critical for developing their respect for Earth.
So, how can you get kiddos involved in this meaningful mission? Below, we outline 12 Earth Day activities for kids that are sure to get them amped up about protecting the planet.
What is Earth Day?
The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970 to celebrate the birth of the modern environmental movement. Earth Day began relatively small, spanning the U.S. only. However, in 1990, Earth Day took on a global approach, engaging 200 million people across 141 countries.
This worldwide movement increased recycling around planet Earth and helped spur the 1992 United Nations (UN) Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Now, more than one billion people worldwide celebrate Earth Day, making it the largest secular observance in the world.
What are some Earth Day activities for kids? 12 ways your child can celebrate a clean planet
From preschoolers to teens, all kids can celebrate a happy Earth Day in various ways. Here are 12 great ideas for getting kids of all ages involved with Earth Day in a fun way every April 22nd. Plus, some of these Earth Day projects also produce crafts that can serve as great Earth Day gifts for friends and family.
1. Make a reusable cloth bag
Humans use more than 500 billion plastic bags annually. That’s a whole lot of plastic. These bags can take around 300 years to photodegrade. What’s worse is that they release toxic particles into the soil and surrounding waterways as they degrade.
That’s why reusable shopping bags have become so popular. Sure, you can recycle plastic bags at your local store, but we all know how that goes. You may end up with dozens of bags crumpled up in the pantry until you finally remember to bring them to the store — only to find a full recycling bin.
Reusable bags can get expensive and require manufacturing, which could have a significant carbon footprint. But did you know you can make reusable cloth bags from old shirts you don’t wear anymore? Under your supervision, a child of any age can do this. You can find plenty of instructions on making a cloth bag from a shirt online.
2. Start composting
Food scraps often find their way into the trash or down the garbage disposal, but they can have a second life in growing new food for you. That’s the magic of composting. Everything from potato peels to egg shells to even grass clippings can break down into fresh soil and nutrients. With a little patience and a homemade composter, use this composted soil to grow new plants.
You’ll find many homemade composter templates online, which typically include reusing a 2-liter plastic bottle. This Earth Day activity for kids is suitable for all ages but you should leave the bottle cutting to the adults.
Added bonus: Once the food scraps break down to soil and nutrients, your child can plant a seed and see their hard work and patience pay off with a new, healthy plant.
3. Feed the birds
A DIY bird feeder is an excellent way to enjoy what planet Earth offers, as it’ll attract all types of birds. You can find various instructions for building an eco-friendly bird feeder online out of things like pine cones and peanut butter. Searching for natural materials outdoors together provides an afternoon nature walk that doesn’t cost anything. After setting up your bird feeder Earth Day craft, chat with your kids about the various colors of birds they saw and the different noises the birds made. Maybe even buy a birdwatching book and try identifying some of the birds you see together.
4. Insect test
Did you know that not all bugs are insects? You can download a printable guide to help identify insects with three easy questions. As you identify the various bugs as insects or not, have your child draw a picture of each creature and explain which insect test or tests it failed. You can add to the depth of this fun Earth Day activity for kids by identifying the bugs that weren’t insects with the internet’s help. Best of all, this activity is 100% free, outside the cost of a piece of paper and internet access.
5. Acid rain experiment
Most water has a neutral pH level of 6.5 to 8.5, and acid rain occurs when the pH level falls below 6.5. This can happen naturally from rotting vegetation, but a leading cause of acid rain is burning fossil fuels. But how does acid rain impact the environment? There’s a science experiment to show the effects and stress the importance of environmental protection.
Add water to three small containers. Fill the first completely with water, the second halfway with water, and the third a quarter full with water. Top the second and third containers with white vinegar, simulating acid rain. Place a flower in each container and watch what happens over 24 hours.
In this fun science activity, the flower in the first cup (all water) is thriving, and the one in the slightly acidic water (half water and half vinegar) is wilting slightly. The flower in the three-quarter vinegar mixture will severely wilt in one day, highlighting how acid rain can impact plant life.
6. Earth Day ornaments
Many holidays have ornaments, so why not make some eco-friendly Earth Day ornaments from salt dough? This Earth Day art project is perfect for kids of all ages and requires only basic household ingredients, including all-purpose bleached flour, salt, and warm water. Follow a recipe online and then turn the playdough into whatever Earth-focused crafts for kids you’d like.
7. Earth Day coloring activities
Younger kids are all about breaking out the crayons and coloring for hours. Make the most of this on Earth Day by downloading printable Earth Day coloring pages. It’s a fun and engaging Earth Day project to teach kids about caring for the Earth while they enjoy one of their favorite art activities.
8. Make and plant seed bombs
Seed bombs are one of the Earth Day kids’ activities that’ll also get your child interested in gardening and planting pollinator-friendly wildflowers. Soak the torn-up paper in water for about an hour, then blend it into a wet pulp. Sprinkle the flower seeds into the pulp and mold the pulp into small balls.
You can then plant the bombs about an inch deep into your garden or flower bed and wait for them to grow. This is a great toddler activity; even their little hands can work with the pulp. Plus, this is perfect sensory play for them.
9. Upcycled Earth Day suncatchers
Some plastics aren’t easily recyclable, and many people simply throw them in the trash. An alternative method that’s also Earth-friendly is to upcycle these plastics, turning them into something else. Because this plastic is often clear, you can turn this into a virtually free Earth Day idea by transforming them into suncatchers.
You can find a range of suncatcher templates and ideas online; instructions generally involve the parent cutting the plastic into various shapes while the kids use markers to design them into Earth-related crafts. String them up on your porch or by a window for sunlight to shine through.
10. Egg carton planters
Do you have some egg cartons sitting around? Turn those into a great Earth Day activity for kids by adding soil into each pocket and planting a seed. This turns those egg cartons into tiny planters. Simply water the seed after planting it, then place the planter on a windowsill so it gets ample sunlight. Now you’ve reused an item that would have otherwise been trash, started a new plant, and saved money with this free activity.
11. Planting trees
Trees are incredible carbon sinks, as they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and help lower the overall GHG emission levels. While kids may not fully understand the science, they’ll still get a kick out of helping you plant a couple of trees. Whether starting with a seed or a pre-grown tree, your kids will enjoy the hands-on experience and the excitement of watching it grow alongside them.
12. Coffee filter Earth
Got some extra coffee filters lying around? Because many people have switched to reusable filters, you may have old packages in the house that you can put to good use. Try creating a mockup of the Earth with your kids. Glue the filter flat on a sheet of paper or cardboard and paint the Earth — green for the land and blue for the ocean. You can also draw other pictures on the paper surrounding the Earth, such as outer space, or even pictures of how pollution impacts the environment. This craft works well to open a discussion with your child about our planet.
Show kids that protecting the planet is fun
Putting together Earth Day activities for kids will get them involved in the holiday and excited about the environment. It’s also an excellent way to show them the importance of protecting our home planet. Through fun crafts and adventures, you’re planting a seed that can encourage your child to grow into an environmentally-conscious adult.
The celebration doesn't stop there. With the Greenlight app, kids can donate to a charity of their choice. Next up? Help them choose an environmental organization that shares their same Earth Day passions.
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