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9 Simple Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

I am excited to share a guest post with you today from Susan of pureHOMEandBody.com.  Because today is a homeschool themed day I asked her to share some ideas for how to celebrate earth day with kids.  Thanks so much Susan for such a great post and beautiful pictures 🙂

Earth day is one holiday that many communities join together to celebrate, this year on April 22nd, but you can celebrate all of creation anytime! Just like with any holidays, there will be the temptation to “consume” themed goods – even for Earth Day. But you don’t have to compromise your Minimalistic values when you choose activities that require very little if any new materials.

The winter months can become long for many of us who crave the longer days of spring and summer. Spring is one of my favorite times of year, the days are getting warmer and plants that were dormant over winter are bursting with life. Earth Day is about celebrating, well , the Earth! There are many ways to share this time of year with your family. Find things that fit with your schedule, personal interests and capitalize on your natural surroundings. Most of all, don’t get stressed about it. Take advantage of the opportunities when they arise. Often kids are the best at initiating activities – when they are excited, follow their lead.  When you help your kids see and enjoy the wonder of creation, they’ll naturally develop a desire to take care of the Earth all year long.  Here are some simple ways we celebrate the beautiful change of seasons on Earth Day or any day.    

REDUCE

1. Read a book. Stock up on books about spring from your library or on your electronic reader. Checking out books from your local library or borrowing from friends is a great way to reduce your consumption of books and Save Some Trees! 1 acre of trees produces about 9,420 1 pound books (check out http://www.wipapercouncil.org/fun3.htm for some other kid-friendly comparisons of how many trees it takes to produce everyday items like chairs, envelopes and toothpicks. Here are some fun books you can look for at your library:

  • My Nest is Best, P D Eastman
  • Planting a Rainbow, Lois Ehlert
  • The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
  • The Tiny Seed, Eric Carle
  • Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and The Buttered Bread, Maj Lindman
  • My Day in the Garden, Anita Lobel

RE-USE

2. Repurpose a room – If you are feeling adventurous you could rearrange a room (a fun way to get some “spring cleaning” done). Involve everyone and allow the kids to share ideas of what they might like to do and make it happen if you can. You could create a reading nook or a hideaway under the stairs. Whatever you do dream a little, then put your thoughts into action. The goal is to give kids the vision for making the best of what you have, recycling where it makes sense, re-using more of what we have, disposing of things less and seeing how they can impact the world.

3. Share your lunch with the birds or make one out of recycled materials (http://www.recycle-crafts.com/homemade-bird-feeder.html) or make a treat for the birds to eat (peanut butter pinecones are classic: pinecones rolled in peanut butter then bird seed, nuts or dried fruits). How about adding some bread crumbs or crust that the kids didn’t finish for breakfast? Watch for visitors to your feeder and see if you can find pictures of them online or in a bird book.

 RECYCLE

4. Make a recycled craft Pick something simple that doesn’t require special supplies that you have to go out and buy. It can be easy to get caught up in the production of this, and your green project could end up using more resources than you intended. Many activities aimed at recycling are just adding more stuff to our homes and often the supplies used to make the crafts are not always eco-friendly. Even though you might be “Recycling and Reusing” this really defeats the purpose of “Reducing”. One practical craft is organizing toys, books, or hair accessories into a brightly colored shoebox that you cover with fabric (from an old shirt or table cloth from home or a thrift store) or wrapping paper, if you really want to be eco-conscious re-use nicely saved wrapping paper from a gift.

 PLAY

5. Play in the Mud – Kid’s love to play in the mud. All you need are some old dishes, a spoon, dirt and water. Make sure kids are dressed in old clothes that can get dirty. Grown ups can play in the dirt too, it’s called gardening! If you don’t have garden space or a yard where you can garden, volunteer in your community: at your church, a retirement community or local CSA (short for consumer supported agriculture: organizations that grow local, organic, sustainable food and often welcome assistance with simple farming). If you check around, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to serve and play in the dirt, whether in weeding gardens, planting flowers or harvesting a crop.

6. Dance in the Rain Pull on some rain boots, grab the umbrellas and go for a walk in the rain. Search for blooming flowers, plants and trees, creeping worms or make a rain painting (Paint with watercolors on watercolor paper, let it dry and then take a short walk in the rain, hold the paper in the rain for a minute until colors bleed to create a blended picture). Just a note to prepare your kids for what will happen. You don’t want them to create a masterpiece and then have a meltdown when the colors start to change. It can be as simple as telling them the rain will help paint their picture. It also might help for mom or dad to create their’s first so the kids can see what the final project turns out like. Then they’ll be inspired to create their own with the help of the raindrops.

7. Raise some caterpillars – Spring is a great time to celebrate the growth of many creatures, the metamorphosis of caterpillars to butterflies is one of the most magical. If you’re lucky, you can find some in a wild area near your home, but it can be tricky finding the proper food to raise them. Our family has done this for years, but under more controlled conditions. www.insectlore.com has been our caterpillar resource (praying mantis’ too). We raise painted lady butterflies, and a day or two after they transform, we release them near our home. Praying mantis’ are great natural predators for many garden pests, so you could release them into your yard for integrative pest management (fancy terminology for natural pest control!), but the kids will just think it’s cool to see them hatch.

8. Plant some seeds Planting seeds doesn’t have to be a major project, and I’ll admit that I used to dwell on the large greenhouse kits at the garden center and actually dreamt about where I might be able to fit one in my home. Kids don’t need much to satisfy their curiosity, though, so don’t make more work for yourself than you need to. All you need are some seeds, simple pots and dirt. Be creative, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You can even make pots out of cardboard egg cartons that can get planted right into your garden or large containers when they’re big enough. Starting seeds is a nice way to show kids the potential energy of life. Read books like Eric Carle’s “The Tiny Seed” or “Carrot Seed” by Ruth Krauss (now in a 60th anniversary edition!) and talk about what your seed will become. Giving kids the full picture of living, growing things will give them an appreciation for our world. You can make tiny labels for your garden by painting rocks with the plant name on it.

9. Celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd with some fun printables and activities. Engage your kids in some classroom activities at home (http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/earth.html), plant something green outside, and check your local community calendars for activities in your area.

 Do you have any traditional ways you welcome Spring? Share your ideas here!

Susan Pokorny’s home blog is www.pureHOMEandBODY.com where she writes to inspire others to live a more Natural Life. Pure Home and Body has just gotten a new design and a new focus: ideas for a simple, healthy life. She and her husband are in a constant mode to minimize their consumption of stuff and raise their family of six kids to be caring, responsible adults who will help make the world a better place. She enjoys sharing and learning more effective ways to minimize her family’s consumption and simplify pure living. She’d love to meet you, stop by for a visit!