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 we could probably all enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine today. Hopefully, your weather is cooperating.
The 2021 theme is “Restore our Earth,” focusing on reducing our environmental footprint and fixing any damage that we can repair. 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.
You can find many organizations hosting free environmentally-focused webinars and other online learning programs for children. Also, there are many in-person events scheduled after many activities were strictly virtual last year.
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 of 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’s The Lorax!
Earth Day, Every Day Webinar Series: Mondays at 6:30 pm log on to experts at Rutgers Cooperative Extension (with recordings if you miss the live session). From “Food Systems and Climate Change to Reducing Food and Plastic Waste” to “Starting a Native Plant Garden”. These one-hour interactive sessions will focus on small actions that can contribute to reducing negative impacts on the environment.
Earth Day 2021: Connected by Earth: From April 21-24, NASA has a variety of Earth Day activities for you to enjoy. Live talks, games, videos, and great downloadable posters and books are available online during NASA’s Earth Day Virtual Event.
“Google” search Earth Day 2021 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 18 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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