Celebrating Earth Day with Children
It’s natural Earth Day falls on April 22nd. Around the world, it’s a time of change! In the northern hemisphere, we’re starting to see Spring buds emerging, forgotten plants returning, the weather slowly but surely improving. In the southern hemisphere, it’s also a time of change, preparing for the dormancy of winter. The times, they are a changin!
We can help children understand the importance of caring for this home we all share, and have moments of joy, discovery, science, and exploration, all at the same time!
Here are a few places to start!
Take a walk on the wild side
More and more cities and towns are cultivating urban wilderness, maintaining green spaces and parks where the activities don’t necessarily involve a baseball diamond or swings, but instead big trees, native plants, birds, bugs, and other wildlife. Shirin-yoku is the Japanese practice of “forest bathing,” and every parent knows the joy and relaxation of bathtime! Find a place to wander or to sit, with no agenda but to relax.
This time of year we start to experience the first opportunities to spend a bit more time outside, with longer, warmer days, or to notice the shortening of days and want to eek out just a bit more before the weather turns cold. Make dinner a picnic! Pack up tonight’s dinner and eat on a blanket in the backyard, surprise your children with a quick trip to the deli after school, or make a day of it. Sand in tuna tastes like memories.
Plant next month’s picnic
The locavore movement has so many of us interested in sustainable harvest, farm-to-table, and knowing where our food comes from. Well, it can come from our own hands! This map from the USDA can help in determining your “zone” by your zipcode; look for a resource native to your own country if you’re outside the US. Different plants grow better in different areas, and the growing season is unique to where we are. What a lovely discussion to have with children when we discuss why we can grow berries but not bananas, or vice versa!
Once you know your growing season and the conditions for your plot — a pot of herbs on the windowsill? A raised bed out back or in a community garden? A few acres to navigate by ATV? — find an expert to help. Check out your local nursery for plants, suggestions, and help for even those of us with non-green thumbs. No matter what you can do, it’s all fun and delicious!
Our world is a big and wonderful place, all to be celebrated, but it’s not homogenous. Each area of the world is unique, just as each family is unique.
Now comes the fun part: what’s local to YOU? Our world is a big and wonderful place, all to be celebrated, but it’s not homogenous. Each area of the world is unique, just as each family is unique.
Where I grew up, we’d volunteer to replant the sand dunes, and fly kites on the beach, neither of which is applicable in my current locale. Maybe you can pick up trash on the beach, or plant seedlings in a recovering forest. Maybe your celebration includes fishing, or preservation. Maybe you’re finding or creating a green patch in the middle of city life, or maybe you’re taking a trip to the city to share your harvest at a Farmers’ Market. Every idea is an idea, but the best ideas are the ones that you come up with, that are unique to your own place and family.
Written by:Charlotte Snyder