With the many environmental issues the planet is facing, Earth Day, which falls on April 22 each year, has never been more important to celebrate with your children. Even your preschool-aged children can participate in Earth Day events. Plan age-appropriate activities and craft projects that introduce preschoolers to the importance of recycling and conservation, and instill in your children a love and concern for the Earth and its resources.
Earth Day Reading
Read books to your preschool-aged children that introduce them to the importance of caring about the environment and what Earth Day is all about. Books ideal for preschoolers include "The EARTH Book," by Todd Parr, which introduces the topics of conservation and recycling with easy-to-understand language and examples for young children. Another book to check out is, "It's Earth Day!" by Mercer Mayer, which follows Little Critter as he learns about Earth Day and what he can do to help slow global warming.
Work on globe crafts with your children that can help them understand just how big the world is. For a simple paper globe craft, cut out a large circle from poster board and draw the outlines of the different continents. Give your children torn pieces of green and blue tissue paper to fill the Earth in, using non-toxic school glue. To make a paper mache globe, combine equal parts water and a thick school glue to make an easy paste. Cut newspaper into one-inch strips. Blow up a latex balloon and show your kids how to cover the balloon with the strips of newspaper, dipping them into the paper mache paste. Cover the balloon completely in no more than four layers of newspaper. Allow the glue to dry for at least a full day. Once dry, you can help the kids paint the globe using natural or non-toxic blue and green paint.
Encourage re-using by having your kids decorate plain canvas tote bags that you can use regularly for your grocery shopping. Stick with an Earth Day theme for the tote bags, or allow the kids to decorate the bags however they like with non-toxic paint. Or, you could have the kids make a bird feeder out of toilet paper rolls. For this simple craft, give each child his own toilet paper roll. Encourage the kids to cover the outside with peanut butter, then have the kids simply roll their toilet paper rolls in a plate of bird seeds. Put a ribbon through the middle of the roll to hang on a tree outside. If any of your kids has a peanut allergy, you can use melted suet, or animal fat, which you can find at most pet stores that sell bird seed.
Earth Day Action
Start a tradition of giving back to Mother Nature on Earth Day with your kids. You can start with something simple, like planting a tree in your own backyard. Visit a tree nursery and let your kids help choose the perfect young tree to bring home. It should be a tree that is easy to maintain and will match with other trees you already have. Your kids can also help to dig the hole in your backyard for the tree. Introduce the kids to recycling, if your family is not already doing so. Put out bins with pictures of the items that should go into each bin, such as plastic bottles, glass bottles, paper and waste. You can make it a game, giving them each different objects on a daily basis and having them figure out on their own where to place them.