25 Kid-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Without Leaving the House
Get out your shovels, seeds, and soil.
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Technically, your home is part of Earth too!
Last year—the 50th anniversary of Earth Day—was an unusual one. We were all mostly confined to our homes due to the pandemic, and our interactions with the outside world were very limited. And it looks like this year will be no different. But staying home to keep yourself and others safe does not mean you cannot appreciate the earth. Here’s our handy list of 25 kid-friendly ways to celebrate Earth Day without having to leave the house. Make sure you also check out these Earth Day facts everyone should know.
Plant a tree
Since the first Earth Day in 1970, planting trees has been a traditional way of celebrating the holiday. Try planting one in your own backyard. In its lifetime, that single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide! Don’t forget to share these weird facts about trees.
Make a nature collage
This is one of the Earth Day activities for kids that is perfect for younger kids. Get some craft paper in different colors, scissors, glue, and get to work. Try creating your own little portrait of nature by cutting out leaves, birds, animals, or anything that you want, and then sticking them together. You won’t know how fast the time passes. Try to see if you can answer these basic questions about Earth.
Make a fingerprint world
This fun family activity by Busykidshappymom.org does not require too much—just a blank white canvas, acrylic paint, black sharpie, tape, and scissors. Draw out a blank world with the water and continents marked, and then give each family member a color. Each family member then fills out their designated area with fingerprints, resulting in a fingerprint world of your own family. Do you know the difference between World Environment Day and Earth Day?
Plant native wildflowers
Planting flowers that are native to your community helps local wildlife populations thrive and ensures your additions will be happy and suited for their environment all year long. Discover native plants at plantnative.com, then turn the soil in the yard and plant some seeds with your kids. Here are 9 of the best-smelling flowers to try for your garden.
Create an Earth Day jar
To help you and the kids remember that every day can be Earth Day, create a jar full of environmentally-focused Earth Day activities for kids, suggests SheKnows. Cut up scraps of paper, write an activity on each—say a nature walk, a refresher course on recycling, or a cleanup day—and put the scraps in the jar. On the last Sunday of each month (or whichever day works best), pull out a scrap and do whatever it says. Here are more ways to remain environmentally conscious during a pandemic.
Make biodegradable milk plastic
This science project, courtesy of Dr. Stephanie Ryan, Ph.D., provides a double whammy—your kids can learn a little bit about how plastic works, and have some fun playtime and a cool craft to boot. The only ingredients you need are milk and white vinegar. Heat up two cups of milk on the stove until it is very hot but not boiling. Then add three tablespoons of white vinegar. Pour the mixture through a strainer—it will be very hot. You’ll notice clumps collecting in the strainer—Dr. Ryan says this is called “casein,” and it is a dairy protein that makes up milk. Casein is an example of a monomer, a single molecule of a substance that, when bonded with others, forms a polymer.
This experiment provides some insight into how plastic is formed. This biodegradable milk plastic is a polymer, like most plastics. “For instance,” Dr. Ryan told Reader’s Digest, “‘PVC’ stands for polyvinyl chloride.” Whether or not your kid is fascinated by the science, though, they’ll love the fun, whimsical part of it. Rinse the “plastic” substance, give it several minutes to cool down, dab it with a paper towel to soak up excess liquid, and then it’ll be “a blob or clump, a polymer of caseins,” Dr. Ryan says. “It’s gonna be malleable—you can smush it.”
And there’s more! Then, once it’s dried (which usually takes a few days), it’ll hold its shape, just like plastic you’re familiar with. So your little scientist can sculpt it to their heart’s content to make a lasting craft. Dr. Ryan helped her own kids make an Earth shape by making two batches of plastic: one with blue food coloring and another, with the recipe cut in half, with green. Find out these brilliant ways other countries are replacing plastic.
Make dirt cup treats
Everybody likes a fun treat, so why not make an Earth Day themed one with your kids? These dirt cup treats by Jugglingwithkids.com are easy to make and definitely very fun. Get some instant pudding Jell-O, crumbled Oreos, jelly worms, and get to work. Create your own little cup of dirt, decorate it with some jelly worms then get eating. Speaking of (real) worms, find out the Earth’s littlest creatures that play the biggest role in the environment.
Plant an egg carton garden
Show your kids how plants grow by planting an egg carton herb garden on Earth Day. Simply pour soil into each egg crate, create a hole with your finger, and drop a pinch of seeds into each hole. Place the crates by a window and remember to water them. You should see sprouts in a few days. In early May, move the sprouts outside, where they can continue to grow. Get a look at 30 things you can do to help the earth in 30 days.
Clean up your backyard
When it comes to taking care of the earth, we all need to do our share. Take your kids to the backyard, and give them each a small trash bag. This way, you’ll both spend some quality time and get to clean your backyard at the same time. Do you know about these reusable versions of things you use every day?
Hold a trivia game night
If your family loves trivia, Earth Day activities for kids like these are a match made in heaven for you. Prepare some interesting questions about the earth beforehand (maybe use these cool facts about the earth as a guideline.) Then, pick a family member to ask the questions, while the rest of you try to answer them before everyone. You’ll have a fun-filled game night and learn more about the earth as a family. Make sure you give the winner a fun prize!
Make a pledge to take action
There are always things you can do for the earth, so why not make a pledge to be more environmentally conscious as the whole family? You can have a discussion as a family about what more you can be doing for the world, and then write them down as a list to hold yourself accountable. You can use these 50 powerful photos that prove the earth still needs our help as inspiration.
Plant a seed jar
Staying home does not mean you can’t do your own little science experiment. Seed jars are simple and straightforward, and yet also very fun, especially for younger kids. Fill an empty mason jar with cotton, then plant a seed of your choice (we recommend beans) inside. Make sure you periodically water the cotton and watch the seed grow with your kids. Get a little glimpse at how our quarantining has helped the environment.
Have a movie night
Maybe your family loves watching documentaries, maybe you rarely ever do. Regardless, this Earth Day, celebrate by setting up a movie night at home with an educational documentary about the world. There are many wonderful options to choose from out there, and it’ll both be educational and fun. These amazing movies celebrate our planet.
Build a bug hotel
Not all insects are bad—in fact, some of them play a crucial role in controlling pests. This fun Earth Day activity by Parade will help keep beneficial bugs close to your garden year-round. Just find a small wooden box, and fill it with dried grasses, bark, and pinecones.
Take a virtual trip to a national park
A lot of national parks are offering virtual tours right now. This Earth Day, take advantage of them by choosing one of the many virtual tours offered by the National Park Foundation. After all, not all trips have to require you to leave your living room! This will be fun for the whole family. Here are some other cool virtual day trips you can take online.
Attend a virtual community event
Show your kids it’s not just mom and dad who care about Earth Day—tons of people in the community show up for local events as well! Go to Earth Day Live and find various digital Earth Day events that you and your kids can join. No leaving the house necessary for this one! Check out 40 of the latest and greatest ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Make a bird feeder
An oldie-but-goodie Earth Day craft. Spread a mix of peanut butter and bran on a pinecone, roll it in birdseed, and hang it up on a tree or bush. Keep an eye out for hungry birdies! You should also share these hilarious photos of birds with your kids for a good laugh.
Read a book
Is there a better quarantine activity than curling up with a book? There are good Earth Day/general earth awareness books out there that make great Earth Day activities for kids of all ages. Check out Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty; Thank You, Earth by April Pully Sayre; City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan for some good picture book selections. If you don’t have time for a full book, check out these great Earth Day quotes.
Make a craft with recycled materials
Start with empty (clean) cans, water bottles, paper towel rolls, or egg cartons, and go wild! There are all sorts of great projects you can tailor to your child’s age. You can make wind chimes with tin cans, make a rain stick out of a paper towel tube, or do a craft within a craft and use an egg carton as a paint palette. Make sure you know about these things you actually should never throw in the recycling bin.
Have a scavenger hunt
Buggy and Buddy has a great printout for Earth Day scavenger hunts, which are fun Earth Day activities for kids especially if you get a nicer day and want to spend time outdoors! This printout is targeted toward sensory items, like “something rough” and “something smooth,” but you can make your own sheet depending on the age of your child, the challenge level you’re going for, and the type of environment you live in. You can also have your child sketch the things they find that are too big, too attached to the ground/environment, or too high in the sky to collect (or even the ones that aren’t, too!). Check out what Earth Day means for this teenager.
Check out a wildlife cam
This is an instant winner—who doesn’t love seeing real-time footage of adorable or ferocious animals? The Internet has some wonderful things, and animal cams are among them. There are all sorts of animals you can meet, from sloths to penguins to jellyfish. Use them as a teaching tool for your kiddos or just a way to unwind. We enjoyed these 11 animal cams a whole lot at the height of quarantine.
Make reusable gift wrap
The holidays may be a long way off, but Earth Day presents the perfect opportunity to do this eco-friendly project. Based on the Japanese art of furoshiki, this project seeks to create beautiful gift wrap that won’t get tossed into the garbage and can be reused again and again. All you need is a bandanna and your craft supplies of choice.
What better time than Earth Day to get started composting? Have kids use their own compost bin so that they can take ownership of the process. If you’re already an experienced composter, loop your kids into the process, teaching them how and why you do it. And if you’re new yourself, take this opportunity to create a family bonding experience to learn how to compost yourself! Read up on these steps to composting for beginners and have some basics in your mind when you start sharing the process with your kiddos.
Build a fort
As long as your yard is poison ivy–free and it’s warm enough, you can turn your yard into a whole other world by collecting sticks, leaves, branches, and more. Especially if the weather’s just started getting warmer, this is a great way to spend some time outside, foster appreciation of nature, and let your imagination run wild. (Just make sure your little one is not being destructive of the environment to gather their fort materials, i.e. ripping living branches off trees.) These 13 “eco-friendly” habits are actually harmful to the environment.
Make an “Earth” weaving
If your kid really gets lost in crafts, this is a great way to celebrate the Earth while staying indoors. And the final product can come out really impressive! Reminiscent of a grade school art project, this craft requires a paper plate with slits cut around the edges, and (if you’re going to make Earth) lots of blue and green yarn. Weaving the yarn in and out, in and out is so zen, you might want to make an Earth weaving of your own. Next, check out these 25 world facts you didn’t know you wanted to know.