Each year on April 22, we look forward to celebrating Earth Day! Earth Day is a global environmental movement that challenges us all to take personal action (and serve as leaders) in our communities to protect the planet we all call home. What began as a small movement in 1970 is now celebrated by one billion people in over 190 countries, and we are honoured to take part.
Celebrating Earth Day as a family plays a role in instilling respect in the natural environment and taking responsibility for self and community. This Earth Day, we invite you to start conversations in your home and create spaces for your children to learn about environmental stewardship.
Unsure where to start or looking for new ideas to engage your little one in nature education? Then take a look at our list of hands-on Earth Day activities below!
1. Talk About Why We Celebrate Earth Day
A great way to engage with Earth Day is to first open the conversation in your home about what Earth Day is and why we celebrate. You can begin by explaining that, not so long ago, individuals and businesses around the world were consuming and producing in excess with little understanding of how our everyday actions were negatively impacting Earth. These actions were ultimately poisoning the land, water, and air – making people, plants, animals, fish, birds, and our planet really sick.
In 1970, thanks to people taking a stand against the damage happening to the Earth, society began to realize that we need to take more responsibility for our individual and collective actions. Since then, more people recognize that it is our duty as responsible citizens to do our part to live more sustainably.
While we cannot change the past, and while Mother Earth continues to be harmed at an alarming rate each year, we can practice sustainability, live in harmony with nature, and advocate for better environmental protection policies in our communities, province, and country.
We celebrate Earth Day to ensure we never forget that the environmental movement will be forever ongoing. We also do our part to reinforce that, after over 50 years, Earth Day is more relevant and critical than ever before.
For a hands-on learning opportunity, consider making a list together of ways that you and your children can do your part to help Mother Earth and/or to celebrate Earth Day. You can use some of the ideas below for reference.
2. Join or Host a Community Cleanup
A very popular hands-on Earth Day activity is a community cleanup! As the snow melts and trash in your community becomes more visible, Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to get outside, come together as a community, and participate in a meaningful activity together.
Can’t make it to your local cleanup? Pick up trash on your street and encourage your neighbours to join you!
All you need is a garbage bag, some gloves, and the desire to make a small difference in your community!
3. Go for a Nature Walk as a Family
Part of instilling respect in the natural environment is to get out there and explore all the beauty Mother Nature has to offer. For Earth Day (or any day), set aside time to go for a nature walk and observe the plants, animals, insects, and landscapes around you.
Share in your children’s wonder and hold space to answer questions they may have about different things they see and hear on your family walk.
Looking for a more guided nature walk activity? Find or create a nature scavenger hunt list or bingo card to take along on your walk! You can also start a nature journal to mindfully connect with nature.
4. Discuss the Five R’s of Sustainability
Taking responsibility for our own actions is an integral part of sustainable living and environmental stewardship. That is why all children can benefit from understanding the Five R’s of Sustainability – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot.
For a hands-on learning experience, talk about what the five R’s mean and brainstorm together examples of what each of these actions looks like. Discuss together how you can put each R into practice in your household (or identify what you can continue doing).
Notice when opportunities to talk about the five R’s come up in your daily activities, such as when you have the chance to Refuse condiment packages or plastic cutlery from a take-out restaurant.
5. Make a Bird Feeder
Looking for an easy craft idea to demonstrate the concept of Reusing items in a creative way? Why not make a cardboard tube bird feeder? This activity is quick and easy to do and, once the birds have enjoyed the seeds, you can Rot the tube in your compost pile!
6. Talk About the Importance of Native Plants
An important part of practicing environmental stewardship is understanding the role that native species play in restoring and supporting local ecosystems. While non-native plant species are readily available at local garden centres and nurseries, what local gardens and forests need most are native plant species. You can learn more about this topic in our Native Plants: Why You Should Plant More blog post.
For a hands-on activity, see how many native tree and shrub species you can spot in your yard. You can use our Trees and Shrubs of the Upper Wolastoq River Valley guides as a helpful reference.
7. Build a Bee House to Support Native Bees
Did you know that not all bees live in hives? In fact, some bees are solitary and choose to nest in small holes where they can hide from predators. Solitary bees are important native insects that are essential for pollination, so they will appreciate you creating a space – like a bee hotel – for them to thrive.
In return for your hospitality, the bees will happily pollinate your vegetable garden, fruit trees/bushes, and flowers!
You can learn more about how to build a bee hotel at home on our Pollinator Protection page.
8. Make Seed Bombs
Another fun and easy way to support local pollinators is to make seed bombs! Seed bombs are native wildflower seeds packed into a compact ball made of clay, seed starting mix, and potting soil. The clay mixture helps protect the seeds until the conditions are ideal for them to germinate. The seed bombs can then be used to reseed abandoned natural areas in your yard or neighbourhood.
Make your seed bombs on Earth Day and talk about places you can toss them while you wait for them to dry.
You will find step-by-step instructions for this activity in our Seed Bomb guide!
9. Talk About the Value of Native Trees
Did you know that, in 2019, our planet lost the equivalent of one soccer field worth of trees every six seconds to deforestation, logging, and fires? Or that since human civilization began, we have collectively cleared 46% of trees globally? These alarming statistics are why we must all do our part to plant more native trees!
Trees are vital to purifying our air, sequestering carbon, cooling our communities, reducing flooding, stabilizing soil, slowing climate change, and improving our health and well-being. They also provide habitats, mating sites, and food sources for many native mammals, birds, and insects.
With trees playing such an important role in our communities and ecosystems, encouraging your children to appreciate all that trees have to offer is the perfect Earth Day activity! Browse our Forest Restoration resources to support your conversations and tree appreciation activities.
Further Instill Respect in the Natural Environment with the Knowlesville Art and Nature Centre!
The Knowlesville Art & Nature Centre is a not-for-profit rural learning centre based in South Knowlesville, New Brunswick. Our mission is to provide a space where the community can gather, learn, dream, and explore creative projects that enrich the social fabric and environmental stewardship of the area. We welcome you to discover a unique learning opportunity for all ages or to browse our many free resources and guides. Learn more about us or get in touch!