Easy Earth Day activities for toddlersPosted: 08/04/2014
Do you celebrate Earth Day? An annual event, it takes place on 22nd April with countries all over the world joining in to mark the occasion. Although the day has its detractors, I think the idea behind it is worthy: a focus on celebrating our natural world and its resources, and raising awareness of the importance of looking after this.
These are big concepts for a toddler. I didn’t even acknowledge Earth Day with ToddlerGirl last year. Now she is nearly three, it seems like a good starting point to help her develop her growing understanding of the world around her. With that in mind, I’ve come up with some easy ideas for introducing the ideas behind Earth Day to toddlers. These could all be expanded on and talked about in more detail with older children. And obviously we don’t need a dedicated Earth Day for any of these – they would work on any day of the year!
Read a book with an Earth Day theme
Two books we’ve been enjoying for our spring Little Bookclub are perfect for Earth Day:
- Eddie’s Garden – all about a little boy, Eddie, who plans, plants and tends to his very own garden, growing all sorts of flowers and vegetables. This is great for introducing children to gardening and inspiring them to look after their own plants.
- Grow Your Own – the boy in this book lives in a city, doesn’t have a garden of his own and hates vegetables. A trip to his grandmother’s house changes all that as he realises the joy of being outdoors, learns about growing vegetables and finds out that they are actually very tasty!
Delightful Children’s Books has some great suggestions for Earth Day reading for little ones, grouped by related activities.
Learn about recycling
- Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to introduce the idea of recycling. We talk about recycling in very simple terms with ToddlerGirl, who knows that we have two bins in our kitchen, one for recycling and one for other rubbish.
- Create a collage out of recycled materials. Old magazines or paper that has already been used for pictures can be cut into different shaped pieces and add bits of cardboard and packaging for a variety of textures.
- Collect items from your recycling for some junk modelling. Again, anything goes – egg cartons, cardboard food packets, kitchen/toilet rolls, tin cans (although be careful of sharp edges…). This is blog post from Mums Make Lists has a good round up of ideas from across the web if you need some inspiration!
Take a nature walk
- You don’t need to go far – your local park or around the block will provide plenty to talk about as you go. Take in the sights, sounds and smells on the way; point out the trees, flowers and any wildlife that you come across. Use this leaf spotter sheet from the Forestry Commission for activity ideas.
- Turn the walk into a game by using this great scavenger hunt printable, or make your own version.
- Collect any interesting items you find on the way, such as sticks, leaves, flowers, and display them when you get home for further investigation. This is a lovely spring nature exploration table from The Imagination Tree.
Create some natural art
Use your scavenged items to create some natural art:
- Turn your sticks into a stick man, nature wand (Sun Hats and Wellie Boots) or a picture frame (The Boy and Me). For more inspiration see 10 beautiful stick crafts for kids on Two-daloo.
- Make a tree collage using real sticks and leaves. I love these trees through the seasons from Red Ted Art.
- Create these beautiful magic trees from My Nearest and Dearest.
- Make butterfly finger puppets using leaves, flowers and twigs.
There are so many possibilities! See my Outdoor Play Pinterest board for more inspiration.
Go on an outing
- If you normally drive everywhere, plan a day out using public transport. Or if you use public transport, go somewhere you can walk to.
- Visit a local farm.
- Go beachcombing – and take something to put any rubbish you find in.
Stay at home and explore your garden!
- We recently took a garden tour at my parents’ house and found lots of interesting things to look at and talk about. Head out with a magnifying glass and see what you can discover…
- Try this brilliant sticky scavenger hunt from Blog Me Mom.
- ToddlerGirl loves to watch the birds in our garden and has been enjoying flicking through my bird guide as part of our spring book basket. Buggy and Buddy has this lovely free printable book for birding with kids, which is a great way for introducing birdwatching.
- Get the birds into your garden with a DIY birdfeeder – this is a great round up of ideas from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.
- Set up a bug hotel, like this one from Red Ted Art.
- Make a butterfly feeder – this is a really pretty one from Cbeebies’ Mr Bloom!
Do some planet earth-themed crafts
I’m pretty sure ToddlerGirl doesn’t know anything about the fact that we live on a planet called earth! Introducing some themed crafts is a good way to plant the seed of this idea, talking a little about the earth as you create.
- I love this beautiful earth suncatcher from Learn Create Love
- Amazing papier mache light up globes on Housing a Forest – messy but they look so lovely!
- Or print (on recycled paper…?!) some earth colouring sheets, such as these ones on Kids Activities Blog.
Get gardening and growing
ToddlerGirl definitely enjoys getting hands on in our garden! We’ve got a small square planter that we set up for her last year, which she absolutely loved to dig around in. This year, I’m planning to actually get growing with her. Nothing too complicated, just some herbs in plant pots and maybe a sunflower or two.
- She Lives Free has five tips for getting ready to garden with kids.
- Rainy Day Mum runs through ten gardening activities for tots.
- The Imagination Tree has a lovely play garden for kids.
- For an indoor project, how about growing cress; toddlers will love these cress eggheads from Nuturestore!
Will you be doing any activities to celebrate Earth Day? I’d love to hear what you’re doing if you are!