Each year, the world celebrates Earth Day, typically on April 22. As early childhood educators, however, we want to instill an ‘every day is earth day’ mentality in our children. Instilling a need to keep our environment clean and thriving is something that can start when children are as young as infants. When we show admiration for the earth and model how to care for it, all children can have this mindset regularly as part of their everyday lifestyle.
Earth Day activities that you can do all year long
In this HiMama activity, children will get to experience a hands-on lesson with a spring clean-up! Children as young as two will enjoy helping clean up any litter around the building. You can have older students sort the trash into plastic, paper, and aluminum. If the weather allows, it’s also fun to have the children help wash the bikes and equipment that has been kept in storage throughout the winter months. Get a bucket with soapy water, line up the bikes, and have a “car wash.” They will love it and your equipment will get a fresh look!
After the clean-up, have a debrief with the students about why it’s important to take care of the earth and why it’s important to pick up trash. You can sing a simple Earth Day song together, and open a discussion about how often they think they should care for the grounds at school. When you see trash on the ground in your neighborhood, what can you do?
NOTE: explain that they shouldn’t ever pick something up off the ground without a grownup present since some things can have many germs or be sharp.
This activity is something you can do with students as young as preschool, and it will be so enjoyable any time of the year to help students explore textures as well as be exposed to how to care for the earth. In a deep bin or sand table, have various mediums like soil, seeds, rocks, twigs, and gardening tools like hand shovel, trowel, gloves, watering can, etc. Have books nearby with photos of gardening and flowers, and allow students to explore at their own pace with the tools and soil. Encourage students to “water” the seeds (or feel free to add water to the cans and actually water it!). Have live plants in the center as well so that students can see how watering and planting can grow beautiful things!
What’s great about this activity is that while they are playing with the soil and various materials, you can ask open-ended questions and even demonstrate how to plant a seed and how much water to use.
If you have the ability to create an outdoor garden, you can have the students help plant flowers or seeds after they have had a few weeks of playing in this sensory/science center!
We all remember making paper mache in grade school, right? (Or maybe I’m dating myself!). It felt like it took FOREVER to make and was always so messy and smelly! Well, this activity is just as fun with half the mess, and it won’t take days and days to make. This is a great activity to do with a small group so you can chat about the earth while they practice fine motor skills with ripping the paper and gluing it to the ball. Some of this will require assistance, but most of it will be child-led and fun to create!
Having a globe and some images of the earth will be a great reference for children to see what they are creating. While they are creating their little globes, ask questions about why it’s important to take care of our earth, and what gives it the green and blue colors. Children will have so many fun ideas and answers. Having this be not only a fine motor activity but also a social activity will allow students to get quality time with their small group!
This HiMama activity will get the whole family involved. It will help children see that there are others in the world that are in need, and we can help! Instead of throwing things out that we don’t use anymore, this activity will help them see that instead of wasting, we can reuse these items through donations.
You can do this activity in so many ways. Partnering with a local organization that accepts gently used items is a great way to help and also show children how to reuse rather than throw away. Talk to children about spring cleaning and why it is good to donate items that we no longer use. Have them help make a large donation box, and let families know the specific items you are looking for to be donated. Give a due date, and then once you have everything, make a special trip to the organization! Be sure to get videos/photos of the drop-off so the children can be part of the celebration.
This is a fun way to start a conversation about caring for the earth when you are on a walk outside. If it is possible to take a few children at a time outside on a walk, you can ask questions and look for different things in nature like flowers, plants, trees, etc. If you see trash, ask if that belongs there, and what should we do? This is a great way to model how it’s best to pick up trash and help keep our earth clean.
Even toddlers can start to truly appreciate our earth by pointing to flowers, birds, squirrels, etc. Modeling for them at a young age how we can keep our earth clean so that the animals are safe is a great lesson! It might seem silly, but I always like to make a BIG deal when I see a piece of trash on the ground. I might say, “OH NO! (gasp) what is THIS doing here? I need to pick it up quick before it can hurt a bird!”. The children always jump right in and get just as passionate!
Check out so many other activities on the HiMama Activity database such as composting, painting rocks, and more! It is so important that our children learn from a young age just how important it is to take care of the earth we have been given. Being good stewards is not just for grown-ups! When we model caring for the earth from a young age, they will grow up to be caring individuals who understand the importance of longevity for the earth!