Last updated on May 7th, 2021
Earth Day is such a fun event to celebrate with kids. Not only is it a great time to learn about the environment and spend time in nature, it’s also an opportunity from them to exercise their creative sides. From making upcycled crafts to supporting local ecosystems, these activities for Earth Day will get kids excited about caring for the planet.
Earth Day is the perfect time to teach children about the earth, environment, and the world around them. When you include hands-on activities, Earth Day becomes something tangible children can be involved with.
The first Earth Day began with a grassroots effort in the spring of 1970. It was a nationwide effort initially set forth by Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson. The now annual event, which takes place on April 22, highlights the importance of protecting the planet and raising environmental awareness.
We often don’t give our children enough credit in terms of their ability to comprehend seemingly complex topics. As such, we often wait until they are school-age to begin ‘teaching’ them certain things.
Children are quite capable of understanding a lot more than we think. It’s never too early to instill an appreciation for conservation and appreciation of the environment.
As we go through our day, shutting off the water while brushing teeth or turning off lights as we leave the room, these times are the perfect opportunity to explain to our children the ‘whys’ of our actions.
Explaining why we use cloth diapers for their little brother over disposable ones and how landfills work is a simple connection your child can make to the environment and their place in it.
Earth Day Activities You Can Do With Kids
There are a number of Earth Day activities you can do with your children, depending on their age and abilities.
For younger children, handcrafted upcycling projects with recycled materials work well. Older children will also enjoy the same type of hands-on activities but you can also take things a step further.
Consider expanding on the crafts and activities by creating projects that actively help the environment. To follow are a few recycling projects you can do with your kids to help celebrate Earth Day.
Recycling Projects for Preschoolers
Teaching young children to be good stewards of the earth and the environment can be done on a very organic level. There are countless Earth Day books for kids that teach your child about the world they live in.
Choose literature for your home bookshelf and make caring about the earth a natural part of your child’s life. Younger children will also enjoy hands-on recycling projects and art made with items from around the house.
Paper Roll Upcycle Projects
Younger children will enjoy painting toilet paper rolls and gluing to a piece of cardboard to make an organizer for colored pencils or markers.
Another fun activity for little hands incorporates a bit of Geography and culture as well. Show your child photos of rainsticks from a variety of cultures and discuss how they were used.
You can create your own rainsticks with paper towel tubes, cardboard and a little bit of dry rice. This is a fun hands-on activity your kids will enjoy.
Egg Carton Recycling Projects
There are countless recycled crafts you can create with paper egg cartons. Have your child paint sections of the egg carton and then string or glue the sections together, add a face and pipe cleaner antennae to create an adorable recycled caterpillar.
Earth Day Crafts for Elementary Age Students
Older elementary children can benefit from more in-depth Earth Day activities and homeschool unit studies. It’s a great time to talk about how everything in nature works in conjunction with one another.
Consider discussing pollinators and how they work to help the vegetables, herbs, and flowers in our gardens grow.
Learn About Pollinators
Similarly, you could learn about backyard mason bees together and make a mason bee house with recycled paper.
Additional Activities for Earth Day That are Simple and Fun
- Craft a pinecone bird feeder with birdseed and peanut butter. Tie with a pine needle to hang from a tree for a fully eco-friendly option.
- Make paper with recycled scrap pieces of paper, water, and a blender. Simply create the pulp, spread thin for a few days to dry out and cut the paper into gift tags.
- Make seed bombs. Use scrap paper and water, create a pulp and add wildflower seeds to the mixture – cut into shapes and let dry. Scatter them outdoors a few inches in soil and wait for the flowers to grow.
- Recycle juice and milk cardboard cartons by cutting out one side, laying them flat on their side and filling with seed starter soil. You can start your herb garden seedlings and then transplant to a container later.
- You can also create entire cityscapes out of milk and juice cartons. Just paint them white and then draw different designs on them with black Sharpies.
Items to Put Aside for a Rainy Day
Often when we come across a fun activity to do with our kids, we find ourselves without the right supplies.
What’s great about using recycled materials for creating art projects at home is that there’s nothing extra to purchase. The problem, however, is figuring out what to save and where to put it.
It may be challenging, but finding a small space to store potential craft items for your children is well worth it, especially on a rainy day or when you find yourself stuck inside the house for longer than you would like.
The following items are great to squirrel away when creativity strikes or you just need something to distract the kids for a while:
- small yogurt containers
- paper egg cartons
- paper towel and toilet paper rolls
- plastic kids smoothie pouch caps (also make great math manipulatives)
- rubber bands
- popsicle sticks
- cardboard and paper bags
- small jars (save the larger ones for food storage in your kitchen)
- old greeting cards
- milk and juice cartons
- bubble wrap
- newspaper and magazines
- tissue paper
Check out the Local Scene
Often you don’t have to go far to learn more about conservation and the environment. Many local museums, zoos, and aquariums provide a wealth of information on their websites.
You’ll have access to educational resources, curriculum, virtual scavenger hunts and activities that you can access right from the comfort of your own home. Similarly, your local department of natural resources will offer a wealth of age-appropriate information.
Modeling an eco-conscious lifestyle with your children at an early age will have lasting benefits as they grow into adulthood. When we take the time to explain our reasons for recycling Amazon boxes and plastic bottles, we’re showing them that we value the environment and are working to reduce our effect on it.
Marie has been writing professionally for over 20 years; travel and writing have been a significant part of her life and career. She successfully homeschooled her three now-adult children through high school and currently homeschools her youngest son. As a veteran homeschooler, Marie spends her time as a freelance writer and chronicles her homeschool journey, daily life, and family travel adventures on several parenting websites.