Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

How to Celebrate Earth Day With Kids — & Maybe Save the Planet, Too

Happy Earth Day, fam! Today’s holiday is about a lot more than taking a walk in the woods, though (but feel free to do that, too). It also holds important lessons about our planet’s history, climate change, and how to care for the world we’ve got. Here’s how to teach your kids about Earth Day, celebrate the holiday’s rich history, and maybe even save the planet while you’re at it.

April 22 marks the anniversary of the “birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970” according to the Earth Day Network. But first, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was released in 1962; the book helped raise public awareness of the environmental crisis and launched a major movement. Then, the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, led Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, to take action: He created the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

Twenty million people attended the event, which aimed to raise awareness of the fact that our planet’s resources are finite and will not last forever. The first Earth Day also led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

So what exactly should we be teaching kids on this illustrious day? That they are our future. That we must protect Mother Earth, our land, our resources — and truly take care of our planet. It’s what keeps us alive, after all. We should teach them ways to do this every single day, from learning how to recycle and compost to cleaning up litter and protecting animal species and habitats.

Show them

Set an example for your kids with your actions. They won’t care about the environment if you don’t too. And all it takes are some small, easy adjustments to lead by example.

  • Help clean up litter.
  • Take recyclable materials to a recycling center (for more info on recycle do’s and don’ts, visit Waste Management’s website).
  • Compost at home.
  • Turn out lights when not in use.
  • Don’t waste water.
  • Reduce fuel emissions by walking whenever possible.
  • Program the thermostat to be more energy-efficient.
  • Reuse and repurpose rather than using disposable items.

View this post on Instagram

ℕ𝕠 𝕛𝕠𝕓 𝕚𝕤 𝕥𝕠𝕠 𝕓𝕚𝕘, 𝔸𝕟𝕕 𝕟𝕠 𝕒𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕥𝕠𝕠 𝕤𝕞𝕒𝕝𝕝, 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕔𝕒𝕣𝕖 𝕠𝕗 𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝔼𝕒𝕣𝕥𝕙 🌍 𝕚𝕤 𝕒 𝕛𝕠𝕓 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕦𝕤 𝕒𝕝𝕝! . . . 𝗘𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗵 𝗗𝗮𝘆 𝗖𝗿𝗮𝗳𝘁 🌍 . . Recycle ♻️ a cardboard box 📦 or cereal box and Reuse it for this craft by cutting into a circle shape, I used a medium mixing bowl for the shape. Use Pom Poms or Cotton Balls attached to a clothespin as a paintbrush and use washable blue and green paint and stamp away to create land(green)and water. Let your little ones’ creativity take over, I gave my son a picture of earth as a reference and he went for it. Take this opportunity to teach your kids the importance of taking care of their environment to keep it looking as beautiful and green as in their painting for many years to come. . . . . Recicla ♻️ una caja de cartón o una caja del cereal 📦 para reusarlas en manualidad cómo está. En este caso la usamos para nuestro círculo que representará el planeta tierra 🌍. Usamos Pom Poms o algodones junto con ganchos de ropa como nuestras brochas para esta manualidad. Toma un poco de pintura azul y verde y usa la técnica del estampado para crear la tierra(verde) y el agua. Deja que tus pequeños se diviertan pintando mientras que les hablas un poco más sobre la importancia de cuidar nuestro medio ambiente para que siempre se mantenga así verde y bello por muchos años más. . . Ustedes que hacen en casita para cuidar el medio ambiente ? Nosotros por ejemplo reciclamos, y no usamos botellas de plástico ni popotes desechables. . . What do you do at home to take care of our environment? We like to recycle at home and we try not to use plastic bottles or straws. . . . . . . . #earthdaycraft #artaandcraftsforkids #earthdayfun #makelearningfun #teachthemyoung #recycleandreuse #motherearth #preschoolathome #earthsatactivities #lovepurplanet #protectourplanet #homeschoolfun #toddlercrafts #mommyblog #mommyandsoncrafts #mombloggersofig

A post shared by 𝘑𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘤𝘢 𝘉𝘦𝘭𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯 (@latinamomdiaries) on

Teach them

To help kids understand their actions do have an impact on the environment, there are plenty of ways to teach them — be it via magazines, books or movies. The following are great ways to start.

  • Movies about the environment: Classic movies for younger kids are Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and FernGully: The Last Rainforest. The Disney film Earth, released on Earth Day 2009, celebrates the natural wonder and beauty of the planet.
  • Documentaries: Luckily, Netflix has plenty of documentaries the kids will actually love watching with you, including BBC’s Life, Hidden Kingdoms, Planet Earth II and Chasing Ice.
  • Magazines: National Geographic frequently covers ecology topics. Consider a subscription to National Geographic Kids for younger kids.
  • Read a book: From younger kids learning the importance of recycling (Why Should I Recycle? By Jen Green, The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle by Alison Inches) to tweens learning about the environment through the eyes of a robot (The Wild Robot by Peter Brown), there are plenty of books that’ll help get the message across.
  • YouTube: YouTube has plenty of videos that’ll teach your kids about Earth Day, how to care for the environment, pollution and more.
  • Online speakers from the local zoo, wildlife preserve and botanical garden: Online lists of U.S. zoos and U.S. botanical gardens will help you locate educational events — and potential environmental family field trips (you know, for…the fall?).
  • Share eco-facts: Did you know you waste up to 5 gallons of water each time you leave the water running while brushing your teeth? That’s a lot of waste! Find more eco-facts here.
  • Show them the kids already changing the world: Plenty of kids and teens are already making a difference in their communities, proving there is hope for the future — and reading about them might inspire other kids to do the same. Mother Nature Network has a fantastic list you can start with.

View this post on Instagram

What would you say in a letter to Earth? What would you be thankful for? And what would you promise? 🌎 Tessa’s Grandpa was once an explorer and loves regaling his granddaughter tales of all the incredible things he saw. Tessa decides to write Earth a letter and, once her initial struggle to get started is overcome, her words flow in a beautiful, lyrical ode to our mighty planet, full of sensory descriptions of the adventures she hopes to have one day, taking in every terrain, every habitat. From the heat of the desert to the icy still of snowy mountains, each place her mind visits is rendered in exquisite watercolour detail, fully immersing us in full spreads of stampeding animals and under noisy rainforest canopies. She ends with a promise to help heal the damage that humans have caused and signs off ‘love from Tessa x’ After a final discussion with her Grandpa, he reassures her that, if enough people hear this message, Earth can be kept safe. . 🌍 This is my first recommendation for the 50th anniversary of #EarthDay on Wednesday, and I’ve struggled to keep it to myself since we received it! It is so important to encourage our children to become environmentally responsible citizens and this book delivers a cautionary tale but in a way that doesn’t terrify. It ends with sections on ‘If you want to know more’ and ‘What can you do?’ and there’s a letter template on the @littletigerbooks website to encourage your child(ren) to write their own letter. A fantastic, meaningful way to extend their enjoyment of the book and plan their future adventures. If would, of course be a wonderful stimulus for schools when they open again, with so much scope for creative writing, P4C and cross-curricular activities. 🌎 Thank you, Leilah @littletigerbooks for our copy of this beauty by @isabel_obr and @claraanganuzzi. . #DearEarth #DearEarthBook #LetterToEarth #EarthDay2020 #earthdayeveryday #EarthDayActivities #EarthDayBooks #thereisnoplanetb #SaveOurPlanet #TLLS_RacialDiversity

A post shared by Jo 🇬🇧 Bookstagram (@thelittleliterarysociety) on

Join them

Of course, by heading outside and taking action, your kids will have a blast taking a more hands-on approach to helping the environment. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Volunteer: Participate in fundraisers for ecology and animal projects.
  • Donate: Head to the local recycling center and do your part.
  • “Go green” challenge: Walk or bike to the store instead of driving, to teach your kids how to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Adopt a road: Just google “adopt a road [your state name]” for info on adopting a road for trash pickup.

The most important lesson: Earth Day shouldn’t be a one-day event. Teach your kids that protecting our planet is an everyday commitment — and one that’s worth it for generations to come.

A version of this story was originally published in April 2018.

Continue the celebration with these gorgeous nature crafts that will get your kids outside.

Leave a Comment