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Educator Well-Being
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Let's Help Young Children Make Every Day Earth Day! Instilling Wonder and Responsibility for the Planet

April 21, 2022

Nature is a teacher like no other. It encourages learning through discovery, feeds curiosity, and ignites passions. Nothing is more empowering than that.

~ Dr. Donna Housman 

Each year in April we mark Earth Day, a now 52-year-old commemoration and a call to action to pay attention and care for our planet, its resources, and all of its inhabitants. Though over 50 years old, the message of Earth Day is more powerful than ever, as is the need to carry out those lessons each and every day. The theme for this year’s Earth Day is Invest in Our Planet, and there is no better investment than educating children from the earliest years to understand the planet they call home, teach them to care for the earth and oceans, instill positive and important eco-friendly habits and practices, and guide them to be the best stewards of mother earth — after all, this is their planet, their earth, their oceans, air, and skies. 

What we do today impacts our childrens’ future. We can empower them now to understand the role they can play not just today, but throughout their lives in helping to ensure the future of the planet. Children can begin to understand that just like they help to clean up their toys, clean their rooms, and help at home and at school, the planet also needs our help. We need to be the ones to roll up our sleeves and offer that help. Children need to understand the impact the actions we take each day can have on the planet. Whether it’s not letting water in the sink run, turning off the lights, recycling, or picking up trash we see on the ground, even the smallest action can leave the biggest impression. 

As we celebrate Earth Day this week, let’s use this great opportunity to spark and empower children toward positive, eco-friendly habits. We can make a plan for every day both in and out of the classroom, not just this week. This plan can guide children to become aware of and understand the role they play in taking care of the future of our planet - in caring for all inhabitants of this world, the ripple effects these efforts can have, and begging to instill environmental empathy. While little learners may not be ready to fully understand the impact of climate change or climate justice, they can begin to understand their role in caring for the planet, for all its creatures (including the human ones) who inhabit this wondrous world. 

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement.

~Rachel Carson, 'The Sense Of Wonder'

It’s important to remember that young children are naturally curious - full of questions and absorbing everything new that comes their way. Helping them understand their eco-responsibility can and should start with encouraging and igniting their natural instinct to explore, ask questions, go out and discover, and celebrate the wonders of the planet. By doing this we instill a respect for the earth we share and help children see the impact that our decisions and actions have on it. In so doing, we are helping them to take their natural wonder and curiosity and giving them a real sense to protect the world and all the creatures they are learning about.  Let’s harness that creative curiosity with fun activities that guide children to see, understand, recognize and connect to the earth, the environment, and all those who call this planet home — just as they do! Here are some fun ideas to turn your everyday learning Green.


Let’s Explore!

Get moving and active out in nature, starting with these fun ways to become more connected to the Earth every day:

  • Head out on a ladybug hunt! How many can you find? What colors do you see? How many spots can you count?
  • Hold a sunflower-growing contest! Plant seeds, observe their growth, keep a journal, and take responsibility for watering and tending to them. Did you know that the sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine? Invite parents and school community members to donate or send contributions to organizations aiding children and families in Ukraine.
  • Adopt a tree in your neighborhood and keep a journal of how it changes throughout the year.
  • Plant a tree (or two, or three!) Create a special spot for the tree, research the best tree to bring into the garden, and learn how trees create shade and oxygen, shelter and food for the animals.
  • Create Earth journals! Chronicle the weather each day, record the actions of birds and animals outside, and observe the changes in the trees and plants that you walk by each day.
  • Draw pictures of the earth, the ocean, and the sky and cut out pictures of the creatures and living things in each one.
  • Head out on a nature walk! Follow the same path each time to see changes that occur on each visit and discuss those changes to understand the seasons and how changes in the weather impact your path. Draw pictures of what you see.
  • Learn about the many different ecosystems around the world. How are they the same? How are they different?
  • Tune into an animal live-cam! Which animals are your favorite? What do you notice them doing? How are their routines similar to your own? What do you think they are feeling or thinking about?
  • Take a “Can You Spot It?” nature walk. Talk about what we see and explore makes us feel. What do our friends feel about what they see? What do we think the plants and animals are feeling?

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

~Jane Goodall

Let’s Take One Giant Green Step Forward

Jumpstart children’s thinking about our planet with these creative classroom ideas:

  • Create curriculum activities around the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • Make a Green Call to Action list for your classroom to follow each day. How can we do our part to reduce, reuse, and recycle the things we use in the classroom?
  • Start a compost bin in your classroom. What foods can be composted instead of being thrown away? Learn how what we throw away can actually help new food and plants thrive.
  • Plant a pollinator garden and learn about bees. Draw bee signs to place in the pollinator garden and welcome the bees!
  • Plant a butterfly garden and watch for the butterflies. Learn about the plants that attract butterflies and what these plants need to grow. Then, draw your own butterfly and learn how butterflies are all different, just like us!
  • Join in Earth Day clean-ups. Help children become aware that clean up is important every day.
  • Create art out of everyday objects and materials that would otherwise be thrown away. 
  • Read stories from different cultures to learn how eco-friendly practices and climates are different all around the world.
  • Start a Peaceful Pen Pal program with children from different parts of the globe to learn about what they see in their neighborhoods and to work together to help the planet in each of your own backyards. 
  • Make a classroom plan for conserving energy and water. Start with your light switches and water usage!
  • Learn about what a carbon footprint is. Draw your own footprints and place them around the room to show how much of an impact you have. What can we do to reduce our carbon footprints?
  • Learn about pioneers in climate change action such as Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, and Greta Thunberg.

Let’s Read Together 

Reading together will always light conversations, sharing, and great ideas. These books can spark creativity and action! Empower children to understand the importance of Earth Day and how to make it a part of their everyday. Reach for these amazing stories to build your Earth Day library and inspire action in your youngest readers. 

For more great Earth-friendly book ideas, visit the folks at Room to Read.

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life…

~Rachel Carson

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