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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.
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
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.
Get moving and active out in nature, starting with these fun ways to become more connected to the Earth every day:
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.
Let’s Take One Giant Green Step Forward
Jumpstart children’s thinking about our planet with these creative classroom ideas:
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…