Earth Day turns 45 this year, and though you’re certain to find a number of events in your community, it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate and educate at home. As parents, one of our most important jobs is to teach our children to respect and appreciate our environment. Here are fifteen fun ideas for teaching kids the importance of taking care of mother nature.

  1. Plant perennials. Head to your local garden center and decorate your home the way mother nature intended – with flowers! Perennials (flowers that come back every year) are easy to plant and will be a colorful reminder of your gardening efforts year after year.
  2. Play the neighborhood clean-up game. Give each of your kids a pair of gloves and a trash bag and set them loose at a neighborhood park. Whoever fills up their trash bag first wins.
  3. Give up your car for the day. Hop on your bicycles and pedal to your local eatery or ice cream shop for a special treat.
  4. Spring clean. Dedicate the day to spring cleaning with natural cleaning solutions. Arm your little cleaners with spray bottles filled with a solution of half vinegar/half distilled water and a few drops of essential oil.
  5. Feed the birds. Make friends with your neighborhood birds by stringing Cheerios on yarn and hanging the goodie loops from trees. This is also a great fine motor tuning activity for your little ones.
  6. Eat dinner by candlelight. Turn off the lights at dinnertime and dine by candlelight. Discuss the importance of turning off lights and appliances when not in use.
  7. Plan lunch and dinner menus that uses locally produced, healthy and organic foods. Gather ingredients from a local farm.
  8. Bring your own bags. On Earth Day and every day, bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
  9. Watch an Earth Day friendly movie. The Lorax, about a yellow-moustached orange creature fighting to save his environment, is a great pick for younger kids. An Inconvenient Truth is perfect for tweens and teens.
  10. Read a book about nature. The real life animals of Curious Critters make for an interesting and fun read for kids of all ages. Earth Day Every Day is a great book for introducing little ones to this green holiday.
  11. Host a toy and clothing swap. Invite your friends and their kids over for a toy and clothing swap. Take a moment to discuss the benefits of reusing, repurposing and recycling.
  12. Plant a tree. You’ll have a wonderful new, green friend that will grow along with your kids.
  13. Gather used batteries. Remove any depleted batteries and bring them to a local battery recycling center. Find one at Call 2 Recycle.
  14. Host a crafting competition with garbage-bound odds and ends from around the home. Give your kids a selection of garbage bound odds and ends from around the home (boxes, ribbons, extra buttons, sandwich bag ties, etc.) and ask them to create a piece of art or a useful/unusual item.
  15. Make a green family pact. Earth Day is the perfect day to create a green family pact. Discuss ways that your family can protect the environment: i.e. turn off lights after use, don’t let the faucets run, remember to recycle. Sign a pact promising to keep it green at home.

Do you have any other ideas to share?