April 22nd is Earth Day the annual celebration to inspire awareness about pollution and appreciation for protecting the health of the environment. This is a great reason to get outside, especially if you’ve had a long winter. I know you can probably all enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine today. Hopefully, your weather is cooperating.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! This modern environmental movement started back in 1970. Originally a grassroots movement, Earth Day eventually gained enough public support to pave the way for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contributed to the passage of several environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Unfortunately, many 2020 Earth Day celebrations and large community cleanup events have been postponed or canceled due to social distancing measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
So this year, much of the activities will need to focus on future awareness, smaller-scale actions or virtual celebrating for now. You can find many organizations hosting free environmentally-focused webinars and other online learning programs for children.
With that in mind, I put together this fun little unit that you can do with minimal planning. Because, if you’re anything like me, you probably forgot to plan anything for Earth Day and are scrambling to throw something together last minute. No worries! I did the work for you. 🙂
You can do this on Earth Day, or turn it into Earth Week or more at your house and spread out the reading and activities over the next couple days!
For younger readers/listeners:
For middle grade and up:
Take a nature walk: You can use this nature scavenger hunt to help you look for interesting things. Download the BYL Nature Scavenger Hunt Freebie here
Plant something! Go to your local garden store and pick our some new flowers, or plant a small tree. Buy some seeds and start your summer garden. Get your hands dirty and grow something!
Make trash art: Use egg cartons, bottle caps, paper towel tubes, old newspapers or magazines, buttons, old greeting cards, and other recycled objects to create a fun art project. Let your imagination go wild and create something new and beautiful with the garbage.
Clean up your neighborhood: Take a walk around your block and pick up the trash. You might inspire some of your neighbors to join you. Talk to your children about why we need to keep our environment clean.
Learn about biomes and create a poster or a diorama of your favorite.
Feed the birds: You could make a simple pine cone and peanut butter feeder or a milk carton feeder, or just toss some birdseed in the grass and watch as the birds flock to your yard. Keep a small notebook by your window and make a list of the various birds that come to your yard over the next several days.
Watch a movie: There are a lot of fabulous nature documentaries out there. We have really enjoyed the Planet Earth series (which I believe is on Netflix right now). If you have younger children, this is a great time to watch Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax!
“Earth Day at Home” Webinar: Starting April 20 to June 29, every Monday at 6:30 pm log on to experts at Rutgers Cooperative Extension. From Backyard Composting to Reducing Food and Plastic Waste to Creating Wildlife Habitats in Your Yard. These one-hour interactive sessions will focus on small actions that can contribute to reducing negative impacts on the environment.
Exploratorium Virtual Earth Day Celebration: Join Exploratorium on Wednesday, April 22 from 1:00–2:30 pm (PDT) for their livestreams covering Exploring Earth Science in Your Kitchen, Environmental Benefits of Sheltering in Place and other topics.
#EarthDayAtHome with NASA: NASA has a plethora of information and activities to celebrate Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. From virtually mapping the coral reefs to building a 3D Lego model of a hurricane, they are offering some great options to add to your celebrations.
NH Audubon Virtual Earth Day Celebration 2020: The NH Audubon staff will be posting fun content on their Facebook page. Starting Monday, look for 5 Green Tips to encourage being environmentally friendly, presenting daily DIY crafts, providing educational talks about springtime, bird identification, backyard natural history and raptors, daily ID quizzes, a live reading of “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, wildlife releases, a Q&A about one of our animal ambassadors the Timber rattlesnake, and a few more surprises along the way
“Google” search Earth Day 2020 virtual activities: There are literally hundreds of options this year for learn-in opportunities. If you want to scroll through a quick Google search, find some others that pique your family’s interest. Some events are live, and some are recorded, so make a schedule of the ones you want to make sure you catch.
By making even the smallest changes to reduce your overall energy consumption and improving your environmental footprint, you can make a difference too. Turn off lights that are not needed and recycle whatever you can. Consider the lifetime cost and reduce your monthly utility bills by utilizing Energy Star and WaterSense certified devices and appliances. You can also purchase LED bulbs instead of incandescent or fluorescent lights and significantly lower your home’s energy use. You may even qualify for certain rebate programs or other incentives from local utility companies.
I hope you have a wonderful Earth Day (week, month) with your children. Enjoy nature and work towards creating a better planet for our children’s future! While officially celebrated for a day, the concepts should be incorporated into an Earth Day everyday lifestyle. We only have one planet, and it would be great if we could keep it around for a least another 4.543 billion years. 🙂
According to the Earth Day Network, the nonprofit organization that coordinates Earth Day activities, over 1 billion people participate on or around April 22nd, making it “the largest secular civic event in the world.” How are you celebrating Earth Day? Let us know in the comments below.
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 17 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.
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