Earth Day Activities for Kids

kids reading on a couch
April 20, 2021
Founded in 1970 as a university student movement, Earth Day has since become a global campaign celebrated by over 1 billion individuals annually on April 22. Earth Day is significant in that it welcomes individuals—kids included—to take small steps in their daily lives to become stewards of the Earth. This can mean volunteering to pick up litter, planting a tree, or even just rethinking what it means to cultivate a green home Earth Day can and should be fun, too.
Here are some easy, at-home activities for kids and parents to enjoy together. 

Take on some nature crafts

This Earth Week, save yourself the trip to your local craft store. Arts and crafts can start with materials found inside stray drawers and outside your front door. 

Leaf Jewelry 

This cute idea, courtesy of My Very Educated Mother, is perfect for kids of all ages. Starting with any pliable leaf, fold the leaf in half along its spine. Next, use a hole punch to create two holes on either side of the leaf’s spine. Weaving a piece of twine or string through the holes is the last step in creating the jewelry’s base unit. From there, let your creative juices take the reins. Finished products can include anything from rings to crowns! 

Painted Stones 

For a more meditative Earth Day, collect rocks or stones in your neighborhood, lay out some newspaper, and get to painting! GardenMama used fine paint brushes and white paint to create lace-like designs on smooth stones. But really, just as with the leaf jewelry, any design is fair game. To get the most out of the activity, paint outside and use the natural environment for inspiration.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

In elementary school, most kids learn ‘the three Rs’: reduce, reuse, recycle. While recycling has become relatively commonplace, it is easy for the three Rs to be literally reduced to a slogan. Instead, use these crafts to giving meaning to the catchy phrase. 

Recycled paper 

Albeit a bit more involved, though not at all hard, making recycled paper has dual benefits: reducing accumulated household waste and creating something unique and fun. You will need pre-existing paper (think: bills, junk mail, old newspapers), warm water, a blender, some sort of sieve to act as a mold, and the sun to dry the finished product. Many websites have step-by-step tutorials for making various finishes of paper, but this video by PBS and guide compiled by Veraviglie are great places to start. 

Plastic Sun Catchers 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans wasted 35.7 million tons of plastic in 2018. Sadly, in that same year, the recycling rate of plastic was only 8.7 percent. However, in this simple activity, kids can recycle or “upcycle” plastic to create beautiful ornaments for the home. All you need is thin clear plastic (such as from a carton or lid), permanent markers, a hold punch, and twine for hanging the finished product. Books and Giggles has the amazing idea of using the permanent markers to decorate an image of the globe or the standard recycling symbol. This way, the suncatcher will also act as a reminder to love the Earth.  

Green your home

Environmentalism can be scary or daunting in the theoretical, but what if the imperative is just to rethink your relationship to your own home? These activities, in their simple design, betray their own lesson: living consciously is all about appreciating the little things. 

Make Signs for School and Home 

It is one thing to spend one day highlighting the issue of environmentalism; it is quite another to make sustainability a daily habit. Luckily, with just a piece of paper and crayons, kids can make creative signage to gently remind household members to mind their eco-footprints. Never again will you struggle to turn off the lights when you leave a room or cool your home while on summer vacation. This simple guide by Green America provides more ideas for steps towards energy efficiency. 

Photo Documentary 

Sometimes the best ideas are the ones right underneath our noses. Likewise, one should not celebrate Earth Day without taking the time to appreciate the small patch of Earth that they inhabit and call home. Therefore, a simple walk with a camera and keen eye are all you need for this final activity. As per Tinker Lab, a photo walk is the perfect time to bond with your family, learn about the flora and fauna in your neighborhood, and tire out your energetic kids after a long day. What a wholesome end to Earth Day!