There are so many ways to celebrate our beautiful planet on Earth Day. Planting a plant, making an earth craft, or cleaning up the trash in a local neighborhood (S&S does it every year), all have a lesson attached to them that lend mother nature a helping hand. Elementary and Middle School aged children are perfect to begin instilling important “green” practices with. If done in a meaningful way, these lessons will be carried with them and hopefully formed into habits down the road. We’ve listed four of our favorite meaningful activities for Earth Day for after school or during the school day. For for even more ideas, check out our other posts, 10 of our Favorite Green Crafts and Quick Tips for a Greener Classroom.
A Relay Race for Mother Earth
Get active for Earth Day with Recycle Games! With the Olympics just around the corner, it is perfect timing. Our friends at Education World have some great relay activities that combine Earth Day lessons and team building fun. Here is one of our favorites:
Waste No Water Activity : What’s more important than conserving our clean water? In this activity, students race from start to finish trying to spill the least amount of water. To play, fill a clean open-topped non-breakable container (a plastic spaghetti sauce jar or a soup can work well) with water for each team; be sure the containers are the exact same size and filled to the brim with water. Set a start and finish point. At a signal, the first runner heads for the finish line, trying not to spill the water. The player has to walk over the line, turn around and head back to his or her team, and pass the container to the next person in line. At the end of the race, the team with the most water still in the container is the winner!
You can also use this Split Team Mug that comes in two halves, each with its own handle. Kids must work together to keep the liquid inside the mug. Have pairs dip the mug into a large bucket and race to pour it into another bucket.
Help Save the Animals
If there is one thing that grabs the heart of a child, it is animals. They are an important part of our earth, and many times their fate lies within our hands as humans. Destruction of habitats, pollution, and hunting and fishing are some of the reasons that humans are responsible for the endangerment and extinction of some animals. Helping children learn the ways in which we can protect are beloved animals, may save some of these species from extinction.
The World Wildlife Federation provides an up to date list of endangered animals. Animals such as this Hawksbill Sea Turtle pictured below, are critically endangered due to fishing nets, as well as humans catching and selling them for their beautiful shells.This turtle species helps maintain the health of the coral reefs, and helps fish get better access to food by removing sponges from the reef. Teaching children about keeping oceans clean and respecting animal habitats will allow them to believe that they can make a difference.
Research the animals you want to talk to the students about and then browse our site for a memorable craft of that animal for the students to create. (Example: turtles) Consider giving each group a different type of animal, and have them research why the animal is endangered. They will learn that whales, dolphins, gorillas, tigers, and many other animals that we love are on the endangered list. Have each student, or group of students use art materials and a shoe box to build the habitat. Discuss what ways we can help preserve the habitats and how pollution and garbage play a part.
I Care For The Earth
Crafting is a great way to teach kids about Earth, and to start a conversation about how they can make a difference. Have each student design their own Care for the Earth craft with markers and sequins. Here are some questions to ask and activity ideas:
- Name some ways people can show how they care in their community
- How can kids can care for the Earth? (recycle, trash pick-up, planting trees or a garden, etc.).
- Develop a project that the group can do together to make the community or Earth a better place. Brainstorm ideas with the group, list them on a paper and have the group vote. Possible ideas include a food or clothing drive or a clean up day in a local park.
- Post the signs by recycle bin, photocopiers or other areas where people can use a reminder to care for the Earth.
- Display a large picture of the globe or picture from your local community. Post the students’ signs all around this to make a statement of caring and a meaningful community art project.
Scraps of Paper Made into Flowers
Hopefully you are recycling or saving paper scraps in your classroom or program, and if you are you can now show children how recycling works. Alli over at Modern Parents Messy Kids shows us how to use paper scraps, a blender, and packets of wild flower seeds to create a plantable craft. Although she uses blue and green colored paper, students can create their own designs with whatever scrap paper you choose.
Find out what supplies you will need and how to make the plantable paper activity here.