Want to help trumpet the message to kids about global conservation of natural resources? It all begins in our neighborhoods and communities, and children are never too young to learn about responsibility to the planet. To get them started, an Earth Day party featuring healthy, delicious, earth-friendly snacks from the garden, farm or local orchard is a great foundation. Even more, knowing they will receive an award for being an Environmental Hero is great incentive for them in learning to respect and preserve the planet.
If possible, though the backyard is fine, arranging for the party to take place at a park, lake, beach, farm, nature preserve or maybe an entrance to a hiking trail where kids are surrounded by the great outdoors will boost awareness of the environment. Someone knowledgeable about plants, the ocean, endangered species and/or other kid-friendly topics of environmental interest who can speak for a few minutes, maybe facilitate an interactive demonstration, and initiate a Q&A will add interest and good takeaway information.
Next, following the presentation, let kids draw or paint their interpretation of protecting and preserving the planet. Encourage them to put their thinking caps on and consider the ocean, farming, mining, household chemicals, transportation, Arctic ice, water conservation, endangered species, climate change, and more. A display and discussion of their artwork afterward can raise their collective conservation consciousness and encourage them to share this information, spreading their own creative ideas about Earth-friendly practices among their peers.
Lastly, have them reach into a giant bowl with slips of paper on which age-appropriate tasks are written. “Plant a tree,” “start a vegetable garden,” “clean out your or a neighbor’s garage for recycling,” “organize a park or beach trash pick-up event,” “make some pretty cloth bags for groceries,” “call a dozen friends and relatives and make sure they do not waste gallons of running water while brushing teeth” are just some examples of achievable goals. Each child has to carry out the work by month’s end and when completed, will receive a personalized Environmental Hero certificate for their bulletin board or wall, sent by the host.
Each year, Pensacola, Florida mom Terri Ross adds another layer to her Earth Day Environmental Hero party by making beach clean-up an important component of the event.
“It’s warm here so by Earth Day people have already been on the beach for weeks,” she says. “We arm the kids — and adults — with biodegradable trash bags, gloves, and make a fun contest out of it. And it’s not so much about how fast they can go, but how much trash they can ferret out. You’d be surprised what people have carelessly discarded in the dunes and other not-so-obvious places. But it all impacts the eco-system.”
However you structure your Environmental Hero party, it’s not too early to make sure kids know what Earth Day is all about — and that its principles and practices can be shared and implemented every day of the year.