10 Ways to Teach Kids about Earth Day
Kid-Friendly Earth Day Activities
By Diane Peters
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No matter how little, you can teach kids to be pro-active about initiating eco-friendly practices in their homes and communities. Below are some examples of how kids can get involved:
Write a letter
Fifteen years ago, 9-year-old Melissa Poe of Nashville saw a TV show about pollution. Horrified by the problem, she wrote a letter to the president that suggested he “get on TV and put up big signs” to make people aware of the problem. She also founded Kids FACE, an environmental organization for young people. Your children can write letters to government leaders and corporations about pollution and other environmental issues, and you can give them a hand in looking up addresses and help them decide what they’re going to write. Talk about how you live in a democracy and every voice counts, no matter how small.
Make a reusable bag
One of the first projects Poe and her friends did as pat of Kids FACE was to make fun bags for grocery shopping. Plastic shopping bas are a big garbage problem -- it takes 1,000 years for a bag to break down! Here’s how: Have your kids help you choose some heavy fabric and sew it into simple rectangular bags with handles. Or, buy some canvas bags at a craft or environmentally friendly gift shop. Then use fabric pens to draw pictures on them. (Check out our Canvas Grocery Tote bag craft for detailed instructions.) Take the bags out with you every time you shop.
Do a project
If your child has an independent research project coming up at school, suggest she tackle an environmental issue like pollution, garbage or energy. Check out these resources:
Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Kids Club
Environment Canada Kids
DMOZ Open Directory Project (which organizes research sources)
Enjoy the earth
Kids have to love the world to want to protect it. So take nature walks and look at the trees, flowers and sky. When you’re away on vacation, don’t forget to enjoy the local natural environment, not just the tourist sites. Encourage them to take pictures, draw pictures, read books and write stories about the world and its beauty.
Talk about it
“We focus on just being aware,” says Altman. She often talks to her daughter about birds, plants, gas-guzzling vehicles and energy use. Indeed, just asking your children to shut off the lights and reuse plastic bags is not enough -- they must understand why we’re doing these things and what impact they might have. Click here for a kid-friendly Earth Day story.