In today’s high-tech world, many kids are learning more about nature from computer screens than from experiencing it with all of their senses. If this new generation and those after it are going to learn how to preserve our Earth, first and foremost, they need to fall in love with it.
In honor of celebrating Earth Day (Monday, April 22nd), plan an activity that will stimulate your child’s mind, body and soul through nature. By helping our children appreciate the smell of fresh air, sound of wind rustling through trees and the sight of a breathtaking mountain vista, we are instilling the desire to conserve and preserve.
Here are 10 ideas for celebrating Earth Day with your family.
- Watch the sunrise: Earth day lands on a Monday this year, so you have to get up for school and work anyway. Set the alarm a bit earlier and take your kids to see the sunrise and enjoy a moment of silence and reflection in honor of Mother Nature.
- Visit an animal sanctuary: Wild animal sanctuaries provide an environmentally responsible and educational way for children to see wildlife up close in their natural habitats.
- Organize a group outing to an ‘outdoor museum’: According to the National Park Service, the U.S. is home to nearly 400 national parks, and the service is present in almost every county across the country, meaning a vibrant park is within driving distance, offering opportunities to bird-watch and learn about wildlife.
- Take an urban hike: Hop on your bikes and head to a nearby greenbelt area. Kids love to explore trails, and many cities have greenbelt areas that feel miles away from the city noise. Listen to the birds and trickling streams and consider how your everyday actions impact the green spaces closest to your home.
- Plant a garden: Visit the nursery and let your kids help plan this year’s vegetable garden. Pick up your organic seeds and compost and let the planting begin! Be sure to teach your kids about composting and discuss the global impact of organic farming.
- Plan a camping trip: Roughing it is one of the best ways to fall in love with nature. Spring temperatures are often too cold for a night under the stars, so hit the bookstore or library to begin planning a summer camping trip; or visit a nearby Forest Service office to learn about camping responsibly.
- Document a journey: Get out of the city and equip your family with a camera to photograph the changing landscape and air quality from urban to rural to forested areas. Encourage your children to take pictures of specific things that need preserving and talk about ways to take action.
- Hit the slopes: Stand at the summit and discuss the flora and fauna that covers the landscape, and the importance of protecting them. Be sure to think green for your day of skiing, sledding or riding – carpool with friends, bring a reusable water bottle and pack an organic lunch.
- Scavenger hunt: Give your kids a list of items they must find in a park, such as a pinecone, feather, something a deer could eat, a piece of trash, etc. Once they have collected everything, talk about how each item represents the importance of preserving green spaces.
- Make it a workday: Vow to turn off the technology and spend time working for the Earth. Focus on your own home to set up rain barrels, or create a compost bin; or join a neighborhood work party to pick up trash and plant trees.
We’d love to know… how are you celebrating Earth Day with your family this year?
Author Ashley Allman is co-founder of online natural products boutique, Ash & Alys Babes. She spends most of her time playing house with her two spirited sons, husband and two dogs, all of whom she uses for inspiration in every aspect of life.