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June 1, 2016

10 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

Last year we took a cursory look at the history of Earth Day. This year (Sunday, April 22 marks the 42nd annual Earth Day) we thought it would be fitting (and fun) to share a list of our favorite ways to celebrate our planet.

(1) Plant a Tree

Go green…literally! Buy a seedling and plant it with your children. Trees are essential to our ecosystems, sequestering carbon dioxide from the air and providing the oxygen we breathe. Children love getting their hands dirty, and there are few more direct ways to instill a love of nature than helping them plant their own tree and watching it grow over the years.

(2) Avoid Automobiles

Cars are a ubiquitous modern technological convenience, but they are also one of the greatest generators of pollution via greenhouse gas emissions (particularly carbon dioxide). Believe it or not, one gallon of gas sends roughly 19 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Some alternatives to getting around by car this weekend are not only eco-friendly, but also fun! Travel by public transportation like buses and trains (you might meet some fellow earth lovers). Or keep your body, along with the planet, healthy by riding a bike!

(3) Volunteer

The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of Earth Day events around the country. You and your kids can volunteer for everything from trash collection to 5K runs to stream cleanups, or you can attend environmentally themed celebrations, museum programs, and festivals being held across the United States.

(4) Write Your Congress Person

Much of the progress made in protecting our environment involves politicians. It can be a fun and fulfilling activity and civics lesson to write a letter to your state or local government officials asking that they make efforts to help the environment through legislation. Many laws are up for a vote each month in local, state, and federal government, impacting everything from the air we breathe to the water we drink to the forests and parks we love. Let the politicians who serve you know that you care about the environment.

(5) Bring Your Own Bags

This is a fun habit to teach your kids! Never forget to bring your own bags when you head to the grocery store. When the cashier asks, “Paper or plastic?” it is always satisfying (and good for the environment) to say, “Neither!”

(6) Compost

Have your kids help build a compost bin. Every day, we discard in the trash a great deal that could be recycled into nutrient-rich, fertilizing soil for yards and gardens. Fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, and even paper products can be thrown into a compost bin to decompose into usable soil. And this fun project will continue to reduce your waste and benefit your yard for years!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your own compost pile: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/composting/by_compost.htm

(7) Less Light

Spend the weekend using as little electricity as possible.  Kids can have a blast being resourceful, using candles (safely!) instead of lights and playing board games instead of video games, and going outdoors (or reading a book!) instead of watching TV. You’ll be surprised how fun it can be to keep all your devices off and unplugged!

You can also replace all of your house’s and classroom’s light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.

(8) Go Paperless

Many companies, organizations, and banks now offer paperless billing and mailing. Opt for online payment for all your credit cards. If everyone in the U.S. did this, nearly 19 million trees would be saved.

(9) Skip the Shower

Sure, I like staying clean as much as the next children’s literature blogger.  But showering everyday can actually do harm, removing natural oils that benefit our skin and hair. Skipping one shower or bath can save up to 70 gallons of water, a resource at a greater risk of dangerous depletion than we often realize.

(Don’t forget to wash your hands, though!)

(10) Go Outside!

Too often in our daily lives, we forget to (as the cliché goes) stop and smell the pine trees. It is far too easy to overlook the natural world around us. Be sure to step outside this weekend: Go for a hike in the woods with your family, do some gardening, visit a local nature preserve or park. Our planet is full of marvels, so let’s take this occasion to celebrate and protect it.


Recommended Reads:

In Lucky March you’ll find two conservation-inspired reads. Ready, Freddy! #25: Save the Earth! and Just Grace Goes Green are classroom adventures that teach kids about the many ways they can help the planet, from turning off the lights and conserving water to recycling and carpooling.

Honeybee March brings us Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter: It’s Earth Day!, in which Little Critter does his part to slow global climate change while learning to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Check out Honeybee April for Big Earth, Little Me. This interactive book will show the under-four crowd simple and practical ways to protect the planet, such as reusing paper, picking up litter, and turning the faucet off while brushing teeth.

SeeSaw April presents several options for sparking curiosity about the natural world and promoting responsibility toward the planet.  In Earth Day—Hooray!, young readers can learn about counting and protecting our environment.  The Magic School Bus® Gets Recycled takes readers on a trip through a landfill and recycling center to get an up-close look at what happens to our garbage. Ending with real-world recycling tips, this book encourages and inspires kids to take care of our planet. The Earth Day Picture Book Pack has two books (Our Tree Named Steve and We’re Going on a Nature Hunt), each focusing on the natural world found in ordinary backyards. The Nature’s Miracles Pack comes with four picture books (Once There Was a Caterpillar, Once There Was a Raindrop, Once There Was a Seed, and Once There Was a Tadpole) that explain natural processes and encourage children to get outside and explore nature.

Firefly April includes two items inspired by The Lorax (Look for the Lorax and The Lorax Floor Puzzle), Dr. Seuss’s classic fable about the plight of the environment and the cute creature who fights to save it. Those interested in gardening can join Little Critter and his family while they plant seeds and watch their garden grow in Little Critter: A Green, Green Garden. With activity suggestions for parents and teachers, Why Should I Recycle? is a fun and inspiring read that encourages environmental responsibility through waste reduction and recycling.

Club Shop has several offerings for the budding naturalist. National Geographic Kids brings us Elephants and Whales, which recount the long and grueling migrations of two of the world’s largest animals. Our Earth takes children on a journey to discover a wide array of environments. In his illustrated books Redwoods and Coral Reefs, Jason Chin creates an imaginative mix of fiction and non-fiction as he takes readers on an exploration of these fascinating ecosystems. If you’re searching for more practical tips, the Help the Environment Pack has five accessible books (Caring for Nature, Cleaning Up Litter, Reusing and Recycling, Saving Energy, and Saving Water) that demonstrate how all children can make a difference through small everyday actions.


Extra Resources:

Here is a great page with more tips to help teachers celebrate Earth Day with their students, including lesson plans and student activities: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collection/celebrate-earth-day

And here is an excellent article by Scholastic Kids Press Corps reporter Amanda Davis about Earth Day: http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/indepth/earthday/articles/index.asp?article=history&topic=0

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April 20, 2012