What is Earth Day?
Earth Day is April 22nd every year, and millions of people all over the world celebrate it by learning about and discussing environmental issues and ways we can work together to save our planet for future generations. It is also a day to celebrate, take part in Earth Day activities, and appreciate the natural world that sustains us.
Why is Earth Day Important?
Earth Day is an annual event that draws attention to the effects of human activity on our planet.
Many people and environmental action groups hold demonstrations on Earth Day. These demonstrations help to signal to our representatives in government how important action on environmental issues is to us, their constituents.
Earth Day gives us an annual opportunity to remember how important the health of the planet is and what we can all do to preserve it.
Earth Day has been responsible for bringing major changes to U.S. National policy in the past and is likely to create significant future alterations as well as long as we continue to celebrate it.
Earth Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the natural world around us. As a family, it’s a good time to get outdoors, enjoy the fresh air, and enjoy each other’s company. We hope you’ll end up getting in touch with your inner child and having fun exploring the world around you. Much of that fun will come from simple Earth Day activities like spending time in nature and doing nature based activities. By all means, don’t limit yourself to just one topic this Earth Day.
How will you be celebrating Earth Day? Here are 41 of the most amazing Earth Day activities your whole family will love.
1. Do a trash clean-up in your neighborhood, park, or beach
One of the most common Earth Day activities is to take part in community clean up innitiatives. Nothing in your neighborhood? Plan one! Plan a neighborhood clean-up event or pick a local park, roadside, trail, or beach in your community and head out with bags for a day of clean-up! There’s nothing glamorous about picking up trash, but as you cart away fast-food containers and empty cans, you’ll reinforce the idea that littering is bad while at the same time beautifying the neighborhood.
2. Plant a tree
Planting trees is an Earth Day activity commonly associated with this annual event, and there are many good reasons for this. Trees provide us with many benefits:
- they help to break winter winds and provide shade in the summer
- they provide shelter for birds and animals and help stabilize soil so erosion is reduced
- they improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide.
It’s easy to make a difference by planting a tree on Earth Day in your own yard or in your neighborhood.
3. Start a compost pile
This is definitely one of those Earth Day activities that should be done year-round, especially seeing that food waste makes up nearly 20% of what ends up in landfills — and food breaks down in landfills without oxygen, creating methane gas that contributes to climate change. You can cut back on your waste by composting food scraps instead of throwing them out.
Talk to your kids about composting and its many benefits. Let them help you add to the pile. Here are a few reasons why composting is good for both your soil and the environment :
- It saves water by helping the soil hold moisture and reduce water runoff.
- It benefits the environment by recycling organic resources while conserving landfill space.
- It reduces the need for commercial soil conditioners and fertilizers. Compost provides many benefits. It
- adds nutrients and beneficial microbes, holds water, and improves plant growth
- provides a supplemental amount of slow-release nutrients
- increases soil organic matter
- encourages healthy root structure
- lightens clay soils and helps sandy soils hold water
- attracts and feeds earthworms and other beneficial soil microorganisms • helps balance pH (acidity/alkalinity)
- helps control soil erosion
- helps protect plants from drought and freezes • decreases use of petrochemical fertilizers
- moderates soil temperature and reduces weeds when used as a mulch
4. Go on a nature walk
Earth Day is a great time to get out into nature and have fun with the whole family. Hiking in a forest or walking to a nearby pond or lake are great ways to get out of the house and enjoy the scenery. Be sure to take some pictures of the wildlife you see and the beautiful scenery you encounter along the way.
When you’re out on your nature walk, keep an eye out for interesting rocks, pine cones, twigs, or other interesting nature objects. Collect them in a bag or box so that when you get home you can draw pictures or make a collage with them.
5. Make nature journals or notebooks
Nature journaling is a simple, creative, and introspective way to help kids learn about nature and themselves. They can do it just about anywhere there’s a patch of nature!
Like other nature-based Earth Day activities, keeping a nature journal helps kids slow down when they’re outdoors and take in their surroundings and provides a place for kids to grow their thoughts, feelings, ideas, activities, observations, and relationships with the natural world.
6. Build a birdfeeder or birdhouse
Building a backyard birdhouse or feeder is a great family project. Children love building things, and bringing birds into your yard will provide many opportunities to watch and learn about birds in your area. You can buy kits or make your own birdhouse with recycled materials like plastic bottles.
7. Make a terrarium
A terrarium is a great way to show children how living things interact in the same way they do when left unchecked in the world around us. You can include animals like turtles in your terrarium to teach kids that even small creatures can also live peacefully with plants and each other. A terrarium helps show kids that all living things need the same resources and that everything needs to be kept in balance. Use recycled materials like soda bottles to build it!
8. Plant a Garden
One way to reduce your environmental footprint is to grow your own vegetables and herbs. Invite your kids to help you choose which seeds to buy, and help them plant some of the seeds indoors, which can then be moved outside when the weather warms up.
Talk to your kids about which vegetables and herbs you are growing and let them help water, weed, and care for the garden so they develop a sense of stewardship for it. Kids who help grow their food are much more likely to eat it, too! This is one of my favorite Earth Day activities that extend way beyond this day.
9. Make homemade bird feeders
One of my favorite Earth Day activities is to make homemade bird feeders out of recycled materials.
- Red Ted Art transforms a few recyclables into a fun Owl Juice Carton Bird Feeder for an easy project for young children.
- Don’t throw those orange skins away! Make this cute Orange Skin Bird Feeder instead.
- Recycle toilet paper tubes into a Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeder. This is one that kids of all ages can do.
- This DIY Bird House Bird Feeder from Non-Toy Gifts takes our Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeders to a whole new level.
- Make a super cute and colorful DIY Tin Can Bird Feeder from Mom Endeavors.
- Make a Milk Jug Bird Feeder that the larger birds in your landscape will surely appreciate. We always have milk jugs in the recycling bin.
- Turn a tin can into a flower-shaped bird feeder.
- Got egg cartons laying around? Don’t throw them out. Turn them into a cute DIY Egg Carton Bird Feeder.
- Recycle plastic bottles for this DIY Bird Feeder craft. Install a fun perch made out of something from your kitchen.
10. Hold a swap or yard sale
Organize a community swap event in which your children can swap toys, clothing, and books with their friends. This will keep items out of the waste stream and help your child develop skills for living in an eco-conscious society. Or hold a yard sale of your unwanted household items and donate some of the proceeds to a local environmental organization or use the money to buy eco-friendly products for your home such as all-natural cleaning products or energy efficient light bulbs.
12. Attend an Earth Day event
Many communities and cities hold family-friendly Earth Day activities and events, including clean-ups and tree-planting, educational workshops, ecofests and nature walks. For information about Earth Day events in your area, check your local newspaper or visit the official Earth Day website.
13. Make seed bombs
Here’s my absolute favorite of all the Earth Day activities to do with kids – making seed bombs. Make seed bombs as a family, then drive around and let the kids toss them out the car window onto roadsides.
Seed bombing is a form of seed distribution that involves surrounding seeds with a blanket of earth. Seed bombs allow seeds to be spread in locations that are difficult to reach, like fenced-off areas or embankments alongside highways. Because they are heavy and can be thrown, they can easily be tossed over fences or out of windows from a moving vehicle.
14. Go birdwatching
Here’s another one of my favorite Earth Day activities:
On Earth Day, go birdwatching. This is fun and educational for the entire family. For a kid-friendly introduction to the subject, check out your local library for a bird identification book or order one off Amazon, like my favorite here.
With a camera, binoculars, and an identification guide in hand, you’ll be ready to go on an outdoor birdwatching adventure near your home. Take photos of the bird with your camera and use the bird guidebook to see how many different types of birds you can spot.
15. Visit an arboretum.
Do a quick google search to find an arboretum in your area and plan a fun family outing. Packing a picnic lunch to eat under the tree you deem worthy is a must! Kick it up a notch and plan a whole tree-themed day. Drink birch beer, eat almond butter sandwiches and plan other activities around your visit such as tree-themed art projects etc.
16. Go on a bike ride or walk to school or work.
Try living without a car for a day, or even an entire week! Use other methods of transportation to get where you need to go, such as bikes and public transportation. Commit to using your legs, a bicycle or public transportation for one day. Notice the difference in your mood and your feeling of accomplishment when you arrive at your destination.
17. Visit a state park
Visit a State Park and enjoy the nature that is actively being preserved and sustainably managed for future generations. On Earth Day and year-round, the National Park Foundation (NPF) and State parks work in resilience and sustainability to help keep parks green for the future. In fact, many State and National Parks each year during Earth Week, invite volunteers to take part in Earth Day activities to prepare for the busy spring and summer recreation season.
18. Take a virtual tour of a national park
If you can’t get out of the house to see a US National Park this Earth Day, all hope is not lost. Many parks are offering virtual visits! You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Grand Canyon, see the fjords of Alaska, or visit the active volcanoes of Hawaii. Nearly all 62 national parks in the United States offer some sort of virtual tour.
19. Create a wildlife habitat in your yard
This might sound daunting, but it’s actually easier than you might think. In fact, most of these are so simple, that you can enlist the help of the whole family (even kids) to achieve.
To designate your yard as a certified wildlife habitat, you need to prove to the National Wildlife Federation that the wildlife habitat you created meets the 5 key standards that they have set.
Below are the elements your wildlife garden should include, and then let’s dive a little deeper into how exactly you can incorporate each of these elements into your yard.
- food (add some birdhouses and feeders)
- Water (add a birdbath or fountain – natural water features count too)
- Cover (rock walls, brush piles, woodpiles)
- Places to Raise Young (wood piles, nesting boxes)
- Sustainable Practices (composting, water conservation, permaculture gardening)
Here’s a handy checklist to help you to determine if your property meets the standards to be deemed a certified wildlife habitat.
20. Make a bug hotel
Make a bug hotel! Here’s one of those Earth Day activities the whole family will get into. You can make it as simple or complex as you want plus it’s a great way to get the kids out in the garden and explore our natural world.! Bug hotels make for a humane and educational way to manage pests in your backyard or school garden.
A bug hotel is a garden art project that will attract beneficial insects in the cold winter months. If you are an organic gardener, like me, you’ll want to be sure that there is a place in your garden for these insects to lodge in the winter. Next spring—once the weather warms up—you’ll be happy you made this little house, when they wake up and start laying eggs, and cleaning your plants of aphids and mites.
21. Visit farmers' markets
This is one of the easiest Earth Day activities you can do as a family. It’s so much fun to go and choose some locally grown produce. Take it to the next level and bring it home and cook a meal together as a family. Let the kids help. They will appreciate how food goes from the market and into a meal and will be more likely to try the dish if they’ve helped to prepare it.
22. Watch the Sun Set on Earth Day (and do some stargazing!)
Take the family on an adventure (or the backyard) and watch the sunset together. When it has set, do some stargazing together. Make it even more memorable and pack a nighttime picnic. Making memories this way is definitely one of the easier Earth Day activities you could do as a family.
23. Play Cloud Watching Games and Talk About the Weather
This is absolutely one of the most relaxing Earth Day activities out there. Do some cloud watching together and talk about the weather. Take the opportunity to engage your children in conversations about the Earth and what they can do to keep it healthy.
24. Read a book about the Earth or nature
As a past librarian of many years, this is another of my cherished Earth Day activities. It’s also a cheap, yet fulfilling way to teach kids about being good stewards to our planet. Parents, take your kids to the library for Earth Day.
Children will love the chance to check out books about nature and the environment. Libraries often have Earth Day events for families such as storytime programs with puppet shows and activities. Ask your librarian for a list of programming options and choose one to attend.
Discuss libraries and how they actually help the environment. Libraries can lead to eco-friendly or environmental sustainability practice, re-using and recycling of materials, reducing waste and toxic products and developing alternative technologies. They have also been changing their programming to reflect the move toward sustainability. For example, some libraries offer patrons the opportunity to borrow toys, seeds, musical instruments, and even new technology.
25. Nature scavenger hun
On a hike with the kids, set out on a nature scavenger hunt along the way. This will be sure to be one of the more engaging Earth Day activities you could try. Who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt? It’s a great way to keep them engaged and teach them about the local flora and fauna. Kids will love it. It’s a bit like playing “I Spy” while learning about the local habitats.
26. Build Your Own Rain Barrel to Keep Water Out of the Storm Drains and Collect for Watering Plants. (This one will require adult supervision!)
If you want to save money on your water bill and teach kids to conserve natural resources, a simple rain barrel will be the perfect addition to your home. It’s easy to install, requires no maintenance, and saves the water you need for your landscaping during the driest times of the year.
27. Explore new ways to save energy or reduce waste around your home.
Earth Day is a great time to explore new ways to save energy or reduce waste around your home.
From low-cost changes like switching to LED lights, to larger projects like replacing your cooling system, you can make a difference for the planet — and maybe even get some cash back in the process. Below are a few more ideas:
- Prepare for summer heat. Regularly check the seals on your windows to prevent drafts, and consider weather-stripping doors that don’t fit snugly into their frames. Use a programmable thermostat to lower your energy consumption when you’re away during the day or sleeping at night.
- Recycle more. Recycling is one of the easiest things you can do to help the environment, and it’s a great habit to start with kids. Set up a recycling center in your home or office to make it easy for everyone to recycle old newspapers, cans, bottles and other items. If your city doesn’t have curbside recycling, look for a nearby drop-off location that accepts batteries, electronics and other items that cannot be recycled in normal bins.
- Go paperless whenever possible. Paper towels and napkins are easy to eliminate from your life in favor of reusable cloth alternatives; most cleaning tasks can be done without paper towels or disposable rags too.
28. Create something from recycled materials you might otherwise toss out.
As one of the more sustainably minded Earth Day activities, help your kids to create something from recycled materials you might otherwise toss out.
Ask your children what they want to make, then go through your recycling bin and see what you can find. When it comes to upcycling, the possibilities are endless. You can use old paper, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and jars, tin cans, and more! Try making a birdhouse with a milk carton or planter pots with old yogurt cups. The sky’s the limit!
29. Make an Earth Day Pledge
Earth Day is a great time to have children think about the natural world and their place in it. Children often express a sense of wonder about nature, but sometimes we overlook how much they can learn from and contribute to caring for the earth.
Here are some ideas for turning Earth Day into Earth Week, or better yet, Earth Year:
Make an Earth Day Pledge that you will try to help the planet on Earth Day and beyond.
- Recycle everything you can (paper, cans, plastic bottles).
- Plant a tree, flower, or vegetable garden.
- Walk or ride your bike instead of taking a car.
- Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or wash your hands.
- Turn off lights and electronics when not in use.
- Carpool with friends to school or activities.
- Take shorter showers.
- Collect rainwater in containers outside to water plants with later.
- Save electricity by using less heat and air conditioning; bundle up or open windows instead.
- Eat more local food, rather than food that has been trucked from far away (look for “locally grown” labels at the grocery store).
Use the Earth Day activities presented in this post as a starting point for learning more about environmental issues affecting your community, state, nation, and world. Even young children can benefit from thinking about how their actions today impact the environment tomorrow.
30. Have a picnic outside somewhere beautiful.
Have a picnic outside in your backyard or somewhere beautiful and make it an eco-friendly one by using reusable plates, cups and utensils. Be sure to collect any trash when you are done. Talk to your children about the importance of leaving natural spaces as good, if not better, than you found it.
31. Turn off all electronics in your home for a day, or as many as possible.
Unplug. Put the phones down for a day. Spend time in nature trying out one of these Earth Day activities instead of sitting in front of the TV and enjoy all that nature has to offer.
32. Visit an Environmental Education Center or Natural Area Near You
Visit an Environmental Education Center or Natural Area Near You.
One of the most effective ways to teach children about environmental issues is for them to experience nature.Connecting with nature can help kids develop a sense of wonder, curiosity and respect for the environment. So get outside and explore! Here are a few ideas for getting your kids involved in Earth Month:
You might be surprised by how many natural areas you can find in your own community. Local parks, zoos, wildlife refuges and even your own backyard provide Earth Day activities and opportunities to learn more about nature, including wildlife and conservation efforts. Many of these areas offer special programs during Earth Month that you can check out online or in person.
Your state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website is also a good place to start. DNRs typically maintain multiple sites where visitors can learn about wildlife and ecosystems in their state or region. Some DNR sites are relatively small parks with trails and picnic areas; others are expansive natural areas with camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities. In either case, most sites host educational programs and hands-on Earth Day activities for kids of all ages.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service maintains a nationwide network of educational centers that offer environmental education programs for kids and adults.
The National Park Service celebrates Earth Day every year in parks across the country. Search the NPS website for Earth Day events in your area or consider visiting one of these nearby locations.
33. Start a Family Recycling Program
Recycle more. Recycling is one of the easiest things you can do to help the environment, and it’s a great habit to start with kids. Set up a recycling center in your home or office to make it easy for everyone to recycle old newspapers, cans, bottles, and other items. If your city doesn’t have curbside recycling, look for a nearby drop-off location that accepts batteries, electronics, and other items that cannot be recycled in normal bins.
34. Learn about native plants and wildlife where you live.
To celebrate Earth Day, get the kids together and gather information about native plants and wildlife where you live. Take a trip to the library and find books that explore the flora and fauna of your region. Then head outside to see if you can spot any of them. If you don’t see any, take a trip to a local park or nature center.
35. Grow your own herbs.
Start your own herb garden.
This is one of those Earth Day activities that can be as simple or as advanced as you want it to be; you can start with a simple seed packet or a variety of seeds! Either way, starting your own herb garden is a great way to get kids thinking about where their food comes from and how it affects the environment. Growing your own herbs not only helps the environment but also saves money in the long run! Make sure you pick herbs that are easy to grow and that don’t need too much care. Some options include basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano and mint.
36. Make your own earth day crafts.
Of all the Earth Day activities, you’d be hard-pressed to find another with the wide appeal that making crafts has.
- Earth day craft ideas can be as simple as recycling materials you already have around the house, such as making paper mache sculptures out of newspaper, or creating paper beads from old magazines.
- Let them paint and decorate flower pots, then plant some seeds in them and watch them grow.
- Grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill or a mini garden in your backyard.
- You can also use recycled materials to make earth day cards for family and friends.
- Make a collage out of old newspapers and magazines, with pictures of nature, animals and people enjoying the outdoors together. Have your kids give these earth day cards to their friends on earth day or any other special occasion!
37. Bring nature indoors
Bring nature indoors. Take your child on an adventure to gather items from outside such as flowers, pine cones, or leaves. Then help your child create a centerpiece for the kitchen table or to display in another prominent location in the home.
38. Plant bee-friendly flowers or veggies!
Bees are necessary for growing beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables, and many species of bees are becoming endangered. This Earth Day, consider planting flowers, fruits or vegetables that attract bees or planting a garden just for bees!
Take the kids on a trip to the library and check out books or on the native plants that pollinators like in your area, then take a trip to the garden center to pick up some seeds or native plants that will naturally grow in your region.
39. Volunteer. Volunteer for cleanups in your community.
Volunteer for cleanups in your community. You can find out about local opportunities through the Earth Day Network (earthday.org). Or check with your local parks department or community center to see if they have cleanup projects planned.
Of all the Earth Day activities mentioned today, this is one of the most fullfilling. Not only is it an opportunity to help in your community, but it also presents a valuable teaching opportunity for your children when they see you leading from example.
40. Start a Seed Jar
Pick up some sunflower seeds and have your kids draw pictures of themselves on the outside of a Mason jar. Then, plant the seeds inside and water them regularly, until they grow roots and sprouts. Once they’ve grown big enough, transfer them to a pot or even your garden.
41. Spread the Word about Earth Day
Spread the Word about Earth Day. Talk to family and friends about what you’re doing to celebrate Earth Day. Share on social media why you think Earth Day is important, or write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
Host an Earth Day celebration. If your neighborhood doesn’t have an annual Earth Day celebration, organize one! Get some friends together to plan a community cleanup, a car wash fundraiser or a neighborhood recycling competition, or other Earth Day activities to spread the word about this important annual event. .
Hopefully this blog will inspire you to try a few of these Earth Day activities with your family. What better way to teach your kids about the importance of taking care of our planet! If you try any of these, please let me know. I’d love to hear how much you and your kids enjoyed them.
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