Earth Day is just around the corner and in my house, the excitement almost reaches that of the December holiday season. April 22 marks the 42nd anniversary of the big day and whether or not you consider yourself a Greenie, a Once-ler, or more likely something in between, Earth Day is a wonderful time to engage your family in healthy, fun, and meaningful activities.
My favorite ways to celebrate Earth Day:
1. Go for a hike. Unstructured play and interaction with the natural world are important for healthy development in children. And while Rhode Island may be small, it’s big on natural places to explore. Chances are that at least one of them is just right for your family. Check out some kid-friendly options on the RI Families in Nature website or join the Audubon Society during the week of April 15-20 for a free walk.
2. Save the world. Volunteering is such a great way to instill a sense of community and civic responsibility in children of all ages and the list of opportunities this time of year is quite sizeable. On April 21, you can participate in a planting project at Neutaconkanut Hill in Providence, or clean up Ballard Park or Third Beach in Newport. For younger ones, join the Providence Children’s Museum for the comedy “No Time To Waste” and learn about the three R’s of protecting the environment — reducing, reusing and recycling.
3. Unplug. Believe me, I like my cell phone, laptop, and Comedy Central just as much as the next person. And my kids’ lives are certainly not screen free and I don’t necessarily want them to be. But Earth Day is a reminder to me that too much screen time can interfere with other healthy activities like being physically active, playing with friends, reading, and spending time with family.
4. Read. One of my favorite writings about environmental education is David Sobel’s Beyond Ecophobia. It taught me that it’s paramount for children to experience the natural world and learn to love it before being asked to tackle environmental issues. Then you’ll know when it’s appropriate to share 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth and when it’s better to stick with A Tree Is Nice.
5. Do something different! Bake a cake for the planet and decorate it with a nature theme or as the Earth. Do a similarly themed craft project. Invite friends over for a game of tag. Plant a garden. Check the Kidoinfo events calendar for even more ideas.
Happy Earth Day, everyone!