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Earth Day Fun PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tania Cowling   

Earth Day Fun                                
By Tania Cowling                       

Earth Day first began on March 21, 1970 in San Francisco, California. A time to think about air and water pollution, cleaning up trash and protecting our Earth’s natural resources. Take the opportunity of Earth Day, now celebrated each April 22nd, to learn about environmental problems and how you and your family can make a difference.

Talkin’ Trash:
Begin by having a discussion about our role in stopping pollution and litter. What can we do in our neighborhood to control this problem? Organize a “cleanup” of your yard, local park or the beach. But first, make fun litterbags for collecting stuff. Give each child a brown grocery bag. Bring out the crayons and markers and encourage the children to draw pictures of our beautiful Earth on the bags. Now, you’re ready to go on a litter hunt. Who can collect the most trash? After the trash hunt, make sure your little ones scrub their hands thoroughly with soap and water.
NOTE: These decorated bags can be used at home to store recycle items.

Create A Gift From Nature:
Earth Day isn’t just about the Earth; it’s about the oceans too! Take a walk along the beach and collect some seashells to make a paperweight that will remind you of the ocean’s importance. If you live in an area without beaches, most craft stores sell shells. First, purchase “plaster of Paris” and mix one cup with water until the consistency of paste (there will be instructions on the package). Pour this plaster in a plastic margarine tub. Now press the shells into the plaster and allow this to harden completely. Carefully remove the plaster paperweight from the tub. Admire the shells—a beautiful gift from nature.

Share The Sun:
Help your child discover that sunlight warms the Earth. Touch different outdoor objects (rocks, branches, outdoor furniture, etc.) in the sun and some in the shade. Which ones are warmer? Which are cool? Do some solar-powered cooking. Line a large bowl with aluminum foil. Make s’mores cookies; a graham cracker with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips on top. Place these cookies inside the bowl and directly outside in the sunlight. Make periodic checks for the melting process. A little patience equals a yummy snack!

Reap What You Sow:
One way for children to learn to love the land is for them to work it. Have your child “adopt” a piece of the Earth in your own yard. Plant a new tree or flowers and watch them grow. Make your child responsible for watering and weeding.
Take pictures—with your child in them—to record the growth of the plants. If you have planted a tree, it can be fun to take a new picture each year to record your child’s growth relative to the tree’s growth.
Try an organic garden complete with a compost pile. There are many food items we throw away that can be part of this compost (mostly fruit and vegetable peels). This is a way to fertilize your garden and cut down on garbage. It’s a wonderful learning experience for your child to garden, harvest, cook and eat your homegrown fruits and vegetables.

Please Decompose:
It’s a battle today to find products to use that will decompose naturally (separate and decay) to save our natural resources. Here is a fun experiment to do with the kids to see which everyday products will break down and return to the earth. Take a large disposable aluminum pan and fill it with a couple inches of soil. Place small samples of “throwaways” on top of this dirt, such as a toothpick, tin can lid, a piece of plastic bottle, a piece of newspaper and magazine page, piece of cotton fabric and polyester fabric, a rubber band, aluminum foil, Styrofoam packing piece, and so on. Draw a map on paper where each sample is placed. Next, cover the samples with another layer of soil the same amount as the first layer. Sprinkle enough water to wet the dirt.
Leave this pan outdoors and wait for at least two weeks. Carefully remove the top layer of dirt trying not to disturb the samples. Using your map, check the sample items and record which have started to break down (decompose) and which look the same. Cover the items again with the soil and repeat this process in another two weeks. After four weeks, look at your findings and think about your family’s trash. How much is decomposable? How much is not?

Recycle With Art:
Spend an afternoon creating these craft projects with an Earth day theme. By reusing household materials, you’ll be helping the Earth! Let the children acquaint themselves with the natural materials the Earth has to offer and also teach them to recycle using these materials for unique art projects instead of putting them in the trash. Even though some materials are not particularly sound for the environment and we hope someday these products, such as plastics and Styrofoam will change, saving and using them for projects is a great creative venture for the kids and much better than just throwing these artistic materials away.
Puzzle Tree
Here’s a cute way to recycle old jigsaw puzzle pieces. Cut a tree shape from brown construction paper. Glue this onto a piece of cardboard. Adhere the puzzle pieces on the tree for leaves. Green pieces are just right for spring and summer trees. If your puzzle pieces have colors of orange, red and brown, you will have an autumn tree.
Earth Day Crown
Make a crown by cutting a long strip of heavy green construction paper or poster board to fit around your child’s head. Have your child find and cut shapes (flowers, butterflies, trees, fish, sun, clouds, birds, etc.) from colorful magazine pages. Decorate these crowns by gluing these pictures randomly on the crowns. When dry, fit the crown to the child’s head and staple the edges together. Be proud about your environment—wear this crown on Earth Day!
Newspaper Recycling
Paint a background scene on a sheet of construction paper with poster paints. Allow this to dry. Draw designs and shapes on newspaper. Cut these and glue them onto the picture. Use crayons to add details. Some ideas: flowers on the grass, a boat on the water, or animals in the jungle. Let’s use our imaginations and creativity!

Make An Eco-Mobile
Here’s a fun way to recycle Styrofoam produce trays. Cut shapes from the trays (such as birds, butterflies, sun shapes, fish, etc.) and glue on magazine pictures of nature. Let dry. Punch a hole in the top of each shape. Place a length of string or yarn through each hole, knot it, and attach these to a wire coat hanger. Vary the lengths of each picture. Hang this mobile in your favorite place for the family to see and enjoy!

Tania Cowling is an author, former teacher and mother. She lives in Plantation, Florida.


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