I have accepted that I am a nature geek and I am totally ok with it! Actually, I am quite proud of it. I love nature and think that there are so many invigorating things out there that can open up our eyes and help us see the beauty that nature holds for us. I love to see my children engaged and interested in the world around them and see the joy that they have in seeing nature at it’s finest.
April 22nd is Earth Day, and this is a great time to introduce things in our world that need our help and attention because of what we have done to it over the years. Yes, even young children can help and the younger that we teach them the importance of helping the sooner they will take it seriously and help take care of our planet.
Even though I have participated in the past on Earth Day activities, I was never obvious on what Earth day was, so I thought that I would share the information that I came across to help give a little meaning behind the movement.
Earth Day began in 1970 when 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in a massive coast to coast organized protest against the deterioration of the environment. This day almost 50 years ago began the nationally recognized day called Earth Day on April 22nd of every year.
Earth day to day even though looks completely different than in the ’70s is still very active. In 2000 – 30 years later, people rallied on global warming and clean energy. Five thousand environmental groups in over 184 countries are reaching out to millions of people. In 2010 even though very challenging brought 250,000 people to the national mall for a climate rally, launched the worlds largest environmental service project and engaged over 75,000 people in 192 countries in observing earth day! 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth day!
Who would have ever thought that a day could get so many people involved? It is intriguing to know that so many people are ready to get involved in helping our planet! It’s so exciting! But one thing that I think that is being left out is how our children can be a part of this and how they can learn from the get-go on how to take care of our planet and why it is so important.
In my 20 years of teaching preschool classrooms, this topic is so important, and you can see in their eyes that they genuinely care and want to help. Over the years we have done so many different things and talked about so many different things, and every year it becomes more and more intense on what the classroom wants to do. We have done many service projects, and the last two years we have done things that would help our small little community right on campus. We had the college come out and help and teach the children, and it was great. We had the local horticulture group come and work with the children and teach them how to plant and grow things, and they had a blast. I have never seen a group of children so engaged in this type of work before. It was mind-blowing, so I thought that I would give you some ideas of activities you could do around your center that are easy ways to get children engaged in Earth Day!
Now, I know that you may not want to explain to them that Earth day started with people protesting but you could tell them how people came together to help make our world a better place environmentally and what they started was a way for our communities to become more educated on the importance of cleaning up our world. Here are three great books that would be good to read to help explain Earth Day and it’s importance:
-This is Our World: A Story About Taking Care of the Earth.
-By: Emily Sollinger
– Illustrated by: Jo Brown
-Recycling is Fun
– By Charles Ghigna
-Earth Day, Birthday!
– By: Maureen Wright
– Illustrated By: Violet Kim
Here are five activities that you can do with your children when explaining and working on Earth Day in your classroom!
1. Plant Flowers and Trees inside and Out!
Planting flowers and trees inside and out is so important, and the children absolutely love it. Now I know we are not always in areas that we can just go outside and plant a tree. This may take some planning, but it can be done. The same with flowers, but the good thing with flowers is that they are somewhat easier to have in other areas than trees. Hanging pots in the classroom or widow flower pots are great ways to add flowers to the beauty of your classroom. This makes the class feel homier and can help with your ECERS scores as well. Just make sure that you check to see if the flowers are considered poisonous. If they are you will need to plant them outside and find something else to plant inside. Children love to plant so allow them to do it. Letting each one of them grow their own is a great way to help teach them the responsibility of plants.
2. Make a Recycling Center
After reading the book, recycling is fun; it would be great if you could visit a recycling center. I know that may not be a possibility to have the recycling center come to you. See if they will bring the recycling truck to you and talk to the children about the importance of recycling. Once you have done that, have the children think up ways that they could recycle in the classroom. Take their ideas and have them come up with a recycling center specifically for their class. Talk to the recycling center and have them pick up the recyclables each week. This allows the children to think about things that could be recycled in their environment and problem solve a solution on how to take care of an issue in their classroom. Plus it helps the environment.
3. Make Bird Feeders.
This can be a fun and yummy treat for the classroom. I know that the usual pine cone and peanut butter bird feeders may not be an option for your class as we have more peanut butter allergies these days, but have you ever thought about making it from jello. All you need is a pack of gelatin, birdseed, water, parchment paper, and cooky cutters. Mix the gelatin the way it says on the package and then add 3/4 cup of birdseed to it. Making sure that the birdseed is completely covered with the gelatin spoon out the mixture into the cooky cutters. Allow them several hours to dry or put them in the fridge to harden. Once they are hard, you can thread a piece of string through and hang it on the tree outside your classroom window so the children can see them eat it.
You can also do the traditional bird seed feeder with the pine cone and peanut butter as well. All you need to do is spread peanut butter on a pine cone and dip it in the birdfeed. Attach a piece of string on it and hang it in your favorite tree. Easy ways to help feed our birds and allow the children to help.
4. Make a classroom garden
This is a great way to help the children understand plants but also see how vegetables are grown. Once your vegetables have grown, then you will be able to allow the children to eat them which will help them eat them because they grew them. You can do easy things like cucumbers and tomatoes. I always here though that we have no room to grow a garden. Well, make a standing garden. You make doing hanging gardens with tomato plants where you can hang them from a hook, or you can make a garden from the fence and plant herbs and other types of vegetables. If there is a will then there is a way.
5. Center-Wide Clean Up Project
This can be an excellent parent involvement activity and can get the children and parents doing things together. Make a day where you have the parents come in and help clean around the center. Help them understand the importance for them to take pride in the center so that their children will take pride in it as well. If they see their parents take an interest in taking care of it, then they will as well. Have them do this together and have all parents and classrooms be apart of it. Now I know some times there are things out there that are not safe for children or parents to touch, and I would have your local police station come out and talk to them about this but then also be apart of your clean up efforts. This brings the community and first responders together and shows interest in their community which is detrimental for our children to see. Have other community members come in and help as well. Fabulous opportunity to have the community help but then also see the great work that you are doing at your center and will help them understand that your facility is an asset to their community.
Many communities are getting their children involved and here is just one video on what you can see is happening.