Earth Day is celebrated each year on 22nd April, but what is it and how can we get involved with Earth Day activities?
What is Earth Day?
Earth Day describes itself as being the “birth of the modern environmental movement” (earthday.org). Set up in 1970 to educate and encourage environmental change, the creators of Earth Day urge action and attention. The underlying message is that we can all do our part to protect our world.
The theme of Earth Day this year is ‘Invest in Our Planet’, which encourages us all to get active within the environment. Dedicating our time and resources to focus on our area we can make a difference.
What can I do with my kids on Earth Day?
One of the most important things is to start the conversation. This will enthuse our children to appreciate the natural world and how we can look after it. In our GO GO Makers camps we have outdoor activities that we hope will spark the imaginative minds of the children. These include things that you can do at home, like going on a bug hunt and exploring natural materials around us. We’ve pulled together 12 of our favourite things to do, to help the environment. Perhaps for Earth Day 2023 you might like to try one of our suggested activities below? It is a great time to get outside and get involved!
12 Fun Earth Day Activities
There are many ways that we can make changes, but our suggested Earth Day activities are all family orientated. They fit in with the theme of investing in our planet through encouraging learning, observation, growing and recycling. We hope that you have fun with them, I’d love to hear from you if you give them a go!
1 – Grow from seed
Watching a plant sprout and grow from a seed is really rewarding. It can also support scientific learning about what plants need to survive. Seeds that don’t take long to sprout and get going with their growth quickly include beans and cress. These are really good options to grow with children. Perhaps you could make a maze for a bean plant to grow through? Or create a cress head to bring out artist skills!
2 – Read about plants around the world
Whilst monitoring the growth of your seeds, you might like to learn about amazing plant growth around the world. For example, Pando in Fishlake National Park. This is a cluster of over 40,000 aspen trees that all share the same root system and came from the same seed! It is collectively recognised as being one organism.
3 – Grow flowers for bees
A longer term growing activity is to plant a wide variety of flowers. Aim to introduce ones that will flower throughout the summer season, attracting and sustaining numerous pollinators. You don’t need a big garden to do this, flowers are happy in pots too!
In our Priors Field camps we enjoy outdoor sessions which go down very well with the children! Inspired by forest school principles, they are a good fit for our Earth Day activities list too.
4 – Explore Natural Materials
A really simple suggestion is to explore natural materials that you find outside. Examples might include fallen leaves, blown off petals and twigs. Notice the colours and structures of the materials you find. Once you have taken a look at them, why not make a picture with them? If you want to continue the creativity you could make a mandala on the ground.
5 – Bark Rubbings
Bark rubbing is another way to explore and appreciate the natural world. Using a plain piece of paper (you could even save one from your household recycling) and a wax crayon, see what patterns you and your children can create. Noticing that different species of trees have different bark is fascinating as well. Did you know that some of this comes from evolution? For example the pale bark of the silver birch reflects sunlight and pine trees have fire resistant bark.
6 – Bug Hunt
Another suggestion for our Earth Day activities list is to go on a bug hunt. Going on a bug hunt is a great way for the whole family to get out in the fresh air. It also encourages observation skills and patience whilst getting hands on with nature. The Woodland Trust have a basic bug hunt sheet that you can use to get started (Woodland Trust Bug Hunt). If you do this in your garden, consider what the bugs need for their survival and how you can help. Bug houses don’t have to cost anything to make and can be fun to watch as new inhabitants ‘check in’! Woodlice tend to hide away under large rocks or in the folds of fallen logs for example. Ladybirds hibernate over winter, but once awake they love to wander in bushes and wilder areas of long grass.
Investing in our planet may conjure up images of carefully considering how to preserve land and create space for a variety of creatures to live harmoniously. Planetary investment can also mean reducing our footprint too. Reducing the fabric recycling that you might send off. Finding a long term use for something that might otherwise be thrown away.
7 – Stained Glass Effect
Chocolate sweet wrappers are a good example. Many of these cannot be recycled either in your kerbside bin or with bags at supermarkets. Cleaned cellophane wrappers make fantastic stained glass window style art work though! Hung from a curtain pole or carefully attached to a window they can throw coloured light around a room. They look really pretty and could make a nice gift to a loved one as well. Cut pieces of paper to make the frame and carefully glue the wrapper to it. Wait for the glue to dry and they are ready to use.
8 – Tissue Paper Vase
Unfortunately, tissue paper can’t be recycled. Rather than chuck it away, find a new use for it. Our suggestion is to make a jam jar vase. Start by cleaning an old jam jar, then carefully paste it with some PVA glue. Rip strips of tissue paper and stick them on in any order or pattern. Once it’s dried it will make a beautiful vase, or could even be used as a pen pot.
Next up on our Earth Day activities list is using fabrics in a sustainable way.
9 – T-shirt cushion
A very simple project can be to make a cushion cover out of an old t-shirt or jumper. Alternatively for a quick, no sew cover, use an old tote bag and cut the handle at the halfway point. Use each end of the handle to create a bow over the top of a cushion pad. This can help to brighten up a space, sofa or chair. It also means that you have saved a bag from going into the fabric recycling system!
10 – Sock Puppets
Make sock puppets from old socks. Younger children in particular love these! Go wild with googly eyes and other off cuts from old fabric for ears, noses and even a tongue. Older children might enjoy cutting up socks to create hand warmers. If you’re feeling more creative, sew old socks together to make a draught excluder. Alternatively collect their favourite old socks and support them with making their own sock teddy bear.
11 – Repurpose Old Clothes
Why not show your children how to repurpose a piece of clothing? For example, cut jeans off to make a pair of shorts. If you have an old t-shirt, consider using embroidery silks to brighten it up. Teach your children how to darn, this helps the environment and can save money too, bonus!
12 – Litter-pick
The final suggestion on our Earth Day activities list is to take part in the Global Clean Up. This is part of the official Earth Day calendar. There are multiple litter picks happening around the world, including one in Leamington Spa and another in Stratford-upon-Avon. To find more details on these, visit the Global Clean Up map. If they don’t suit, why not organise your own? Be sure to wear gloves and use litter pickers to avoid any injuries.
From its inception to the present day, Earth Day has inspired thousands of people around the world. It has even led to environmental laws being passed in a number of countries. I hope that you enjoy the Earth Day activities in this post. Don’t forget to let me know what you get up to!