Whether you're a teacher, a parent, or a babysitter, teaching children about the importance of sustainability and conservation starting from a young age ensures they will grow up to care about the environment. There are many ways to instill and practice mindfulness around your kids on a regular basis, but we've come up with several crafts projects and activities for Earth Day, to celebrate our beloved planet on April 22 and beyond. Get ready to get crafty, for the sake of the planet.
Make your own paper
Although it may sound somewhat complex, making your own paper is a super easy project that your kids or students are bound to love. TinkerLab gives thorough step-by-step instructions to make your own paper that's completely upcycled from old newspaper, using just a window screen, plastic wash tubs, a washcloth, water, torn paper, a blender, and potentially some small seeds. It's a bit messy, but no matter their age, your kids are bound to love doing this exciting upcycling activity with you.
Read a book about the environment
We've already published a list of our favorite children's books about the environment, including critically-acclaimed titles such as Where's Rodney? and Care for Our World. There are so many incredible children's books that will help you connect with your children about real world topics such as: the ecosystem, the climate crisis, and the importance of conservation — and there's nothing better than a read-aloud.
Have a trash sorting competition
Parenting expert Veena Crownholm suggests teaching the importance of sustainability by teaching your kids how to properly sort your garbage. If you're interacting with more than one child, you can make a competition out of it, and see who can sort the most paper products the quickest, the most bottles with one hand, or decipher what gets composted versus trashed. Your kids are bound to get super into it, and it will definitely help them remember what gets tossed into which bins.
Make your own recycled birdhouse
An abundant bird population makes you happier, studies show, and you can convey that to your kids that by having them make their own recycled birdhouses using recycled cardboard boxes, shoeboxes, cloth scraps, scissors, string, ribbon, nesting materials, birdseed, and more. Then, you can show them this adorable Peanuts' Earth Day video that features Snoopy and Woodstock — they'll remind you to “Take Care of the Earth," showing what a difference a recycled birdhouse can truly make.
Have an eco-friendly movie night
There are so many environmental environmental family movies out there that teach important lessons about wildlife conservation, keeping the planet clean, and deforestation. From Wall-E to FernGully to Happy Feet, we promise there won't be a dull moment during movie night — just make sure there's an abundance of snacks to munch on while you're watching.
Make upcycled plant pots
Projects With Kids created a lesson on making upcycled mini plant pots from Play-Doh containers or coffee canisters, some soil, and their plant of choice. Not only will it teach your child the importance of finding new uses for what would otherwise be considered waste, but it will also teach them a lesson on taking responsibility for their new green baby — before you know it, they will be seasoned little plant parents.
This article is part of Green Matters’ 2021 Earth Day programming, #GreenMattersGreenlight: A week-long campaign spotlighting ways you can protect the planet for Earth Day and beyond. We’re celebrating planet Earth giving us the greenlight to take climate action.