Got big plans for Earth Day? It's right around the corner, April 22, but feel free to celebrate all week long with these 10 great ideas for teaching kids about Earth Day and what they can do to help take care of our planet.
1. Serve up eco-snacks. Mix up some trail mix with raisins, sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds and chocolate chips, or whip up a batch of these yummy Earth Day bars. Celebrating the global nature of the ingredients (raisins from California, chocolate from Africa, coconut from the Philippines) is a cute idea, but it's still a good idea to look for locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
2. Make a nature craft. Try your hand at one of these cute nature craft ideas, or get creative and come up with your own eco-masterpieces.
3. Host an Earth Day 5K (or 1K). This may seem like a big endeavor for Earth Day, but don't let it scare you. I planned my town's first-ever Earth Day 5K, and I enjoyed every minute of the planning process. Even if you don't decide to do a big community-wide event, you can still challenge your friends and neighbors to a run or walk in honor of Earth Day. It's the perfect way to get out and enjoy the planet and the day.
4. Take a walk. If an organized walk or run is too intimidating, you can still get outdoors for a walk around the block or local park with your own family. Check out these tips for exploring the outdoors with your kids.
5. Pick up a great green read. "The Lorax," "The Omnivore's Dilemma," "Seeds of Change," "The Giving Tree," "An Inconvenient Truth." There are so many great green reads to choose from.
6. Plant a garden. Grab the kids, a shovel and some seeds and hit the dirt with your family. Whether you plant one tomato plant in a pot or a large garden of fruits and veggies, gardening with your kids will teach them about the cycles of nature and the beauty of growing your own food.
7. Watch an eco-flick. Snuggle up on the sofa with your kids and your favorite brand of organic popcorn to watch one of these family friendly eco-movies. In the mood for a sobering documentary? Try a classic like Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" or more recent ones like "Lunch Line," "Waiting For Superman," "The Cove" or "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead."
8. Host an eco-swap. What better way to get rid of your old stuff than to give it to friends who will find another use for it? Gather up your friends and neighbors for a good old community swap where everybody brings a bag or two of stuff (clothes, toys, you name it) and then goes home with a bag or two of newish items in exchange.
9. Recycle. Recycling is a great way for kids to get involved in taking care of the planet. Talk to your kids about the items that wind up in the recycling bin and how they can be recycled into new products. Or you can check out some of the recycling opportunities available from groups like TerraCycle where you can earn money for your school or community organization by collecting items like candy wrappers or juice pouches so that they can be remade into cool new stuff.
10. Bring it home. Earth Day is the perfect day to talk to your kids about the green steps you take around the house to protect the planet and how they can help. Turning off lights and faucets, recycling, keeping the heat and air conditioning down low, and cleaning green are great ways to teach your kids about your family's impact on the planet, and the steps that you can all take to minimize it.