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Celebrate Earth Day with these 5 family-friendly activities

Whether it’s making the conscious effort to recycle more or buy less plastic, every step towards a greener planet is significant — and there’s no better time to consider the planet we call home than on Earth Day.

While climate change and environmental degradation are real and pressing issues, it’s important we also encourage young people to care for their planet without scaring them by what the future may hold. We’ve thought up a few Earth Day activities your whole family can take on to teach kids about protecting the planet while having some fun in the process.

diverse group of adults planting a tree

Get outside

Earth Day is all about the planet, and getting outside to celebrate all the beauty of nature is essential. Celebrate the planet up close with these easy activities.

Plant a tree — or something else

We know it’s cliche, but planting a tree is a great way to commemorate Earth Day while also doing some good for your environment. If you don’t have the space or ability to plant a tree at home, see if your local university extension service or a community organization is hosting a tree-planting event at a nearby park or nature preserve. 

If you don’t want to plant a tree, you can still play around in the dirt as a way to honor Earth Day. For older kids, take a trip to your local plant shop and have them purchase their very own plant to care for. Encourage them to do all their own research about what soil, water and light the plant needs to thrive, and help them pick out the perfect pot. If you’re willing to dig up some dirt, you can also pick a spot in your yard to plant a few easy to maintain flowers, like marigolds or pansies. 

Feed the birds

Take care of some wildlife by making your own bird feeder! One of the easiest methods is to grab a pinecone, roll it in peanut butter, and then roll that in bird feed. Hang them up around your yard and your kiddos will love seeing the first birds fly down for a treat. You can also repurpose whole orange peels, bagels, and milk cartons to hold mixtures of bird seed and peanut butter. 

Take a walk

Appreciate the fresh air and sunshine by taking a walk around the neighborhood or going to your local park for a picnic. If it’s available to you, find a local nature walk in your area, embark on an easy hike for your kids. 

No matter where you are enjoying Earth Day, if you’re feeling up to the challenge, make sure to take some gloves and bags with you to clean up any trash you find. You can also teach your children about the local ecosystem wherever you are through a scavenger hunt. Help them identify the plants in your backyard or the types of chipmunks and rabbits scurrying through the neighborhood.

Little girl planting a garden
Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Practice upcycling 

We all have empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls lying around, and an Earth Day craft is the perfect way to put them to use. Decorate rolls with construction paper to transform them into ladybugs and butterflies or even a rocket ship. Instead of decorating the rolls, you can also reimagine them as paint brushes. Use unusual tools like the toilet paper rolls and wine corks for a fun painting session perfect for kids of all ages.

Head to the kitchen 

Your kitchen can be a huge source of food waste, which means there are plenty of opportunities to do good for the planet. What better use for your kitchen scraps than nurturing those plants we talked about earlier? A DIY kitchen compost bin is easy to put together and a great way to repurpose the foods you often throw away.

To build a simple kitchen compost bin, all you’ll need is:

  • Container and lid
  • Drill
  • Nylon mesh screen
  • Hot glue gun
  • Dirt
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Shredded newspapers

Putting together the compost bin required nothing more than a bit of know-how and a few minutes of work. After these steps, you’ll be well on your way to a more sustainable kitchen.

  • Drill five evenly-spaced holes in the container lid. Air is a necessary component to help the materials in your bin break down. These holes should be big enough to regulate air flow and successfully vent the compost bin.
  • Hot glue the nylon screen to the underside of the container lid. This will keep fruit flies and other bugs from getting in or out of the bin.
  • Add dirt to the bottom, then shredded newspaper. The newspaper is crucial, as this is what will keep the smell of compost at bay.
  • Fill with scraps. Banana peels, eggshells and coffee grounds are ideal for compost bins. IT’s best to break of cut up these scraps into small pieces to help them decompose faster.
  • Stir. Stir the compost about once a week to aerate the mixture and ensure that it’s nutrient-rich when it comes time to add it to your plants’ soil. You can also drop the compost off at a drop-off location near you if you’re not able to use it at home.

No matter which activities you partake in as a family, you’ll make memories while honoring one of the biggest observances around the world. Hopefully you can turn these Earth Day projects into long-lasting traditions, or interests that your kids will keep up with throughout the year.

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