One of the things I like to do, both on my own, and with kids (my own AND preschoolers), is go for a walk, and carry a plastic shopping bag… as we go, we pick up garbage that we see laying around. This time of year, there is a lot of garbage everywhere! Other times, we’ll walk around picking up pop cans… a couple times a year, we bring all our cans to the recycling center anyway, so we just add them to our stash. Making things look better all around us just feels good!
Another fun and simple activity for Earth Day, is to do “recycle art.” Use bottle caps, scraps of paper, scraps of ribbon, etc. Children can glue the “recycled materials” to cardboard to create a collage, or stick them into play dough for a sculpture.
As a teacher, it’s natural to use books to help teach lessons… Here are a few that I use:
I found a book in the Scholastic Book Order from Mercer Mayer called “It’s Earth Day.” I like his books, so I decided to get it. At first glance, it’s a bit wordier than his other books, but I’ve found that even the 2 1/2 year olds were interested in the story! The Little Critter famous in so many of Mayer’s stories is at school. He learns that the glaciers are melting, and he’s worried about the polar bears. Little Critter learns different things he can do to help save the polar bears. Together, he and his dad talk about saving energy by doing things like turning off the computer at night. He and his sister discover they can save water by turning it off while brushing their teeth. Little Critter and all his friends help out by picking up recyclable materials (bottles, newspapers, and cans) and turn it all in. They then donate the money they receive to a charity to save the polar bears. I have had some great conversations with children after reading this book, they were able to come up with all sorts of things they could do to help save energy and water!
Another great book (appropriate for probably 4 years old and up) is Earth Day Hooray by Stuart J. Murphy. A group of children clean up a local park, and decide they want to plant flowers to make it even prettier. They decide to recycle cans to raise money for the flowers. They start a can drive at school, go around the town, etc. It’s not only a book with a great message about working together to make a difference, there’s a math lesson too (as they try to reach 5,000 cans to recycle).
The final book in my Earth Day collection, is Michael Recycle, by Ellie Bethel. I had to buy this book, because my son’s name is Michael, of course! I actually love this book, as does Michael, and pretty much any preschooler/kindergartner I have read it to. Michael Recycle is a super hero that saves a dirty, dingy town from being buried in their trash. He teaches them all about cleaning up their town, recycling and more, then disappears to help another town! It has a bit of a Dr. Suess-ish feel with lots of rhyming words to add to the fun!
You don’t need to wait for April 22nd to make efforts to clean up the outdoors or make the simple little changes to conserve energy and water.