Celebrating Earth Day with Our Children

Randi Ragan
April 21, 2016

Did you know Earth Day is now celebrated in over 175 countries and is the third largest celebrated holiday in many of our nation's schools?

Although we can and should be celebrating the Earth every day of the year, taking the time to do it ceremoniously and with great intention, and making it as important as Christmas or the Fourth of July, is a wonderful idea. The next step would be to make it an official government holiday, replete with everyone all across the land taking the preceding weeks to prepare for the day. 

Earth Day is also the easiest and most natural celebration with which to engage children. They are easy converts for embracing concepts related to protection and stewardship of the planet's resources, they love to play outside, and they love to be presented with "adventures" that contain a mission.

Come together with friends and family, make a feast based on your local farmer's market, and explore these activities appropriate for any age. Use the internet to look up information, support materials, and methods for carrying out your plans, but keep an open agenda and let the day take you where it will.  It's the spirit and beauty of your surroundings that you want to tap into and let wash over you.

  • Build your own walking labyrinth outside. It can be made on any flat patch of grass, a field or meadow, even a beach. This ancient tradition was used as a metaphor for life's journey on the path to deeper insight. It uses a mathematically-derived visual pattern which brings the walker into the middle of a maze with only one way in and the same way out, but with plenty of tricky dead ends and false starts along the way.  Kids will enjoy figuring out the puzzle, as well as gathering rocks and sticks, leaves and any other found objects to line the path with. 
  • Take an Earth artist's hike. Pick the route of your choice through any stretch of nature: city park, forest, farmland, beach, desert, etc.  Arm yourself with sketchbooks, walk slowly, notice all the details of your surroundings, and stop to draw details of leaves, berries, birds, rocks and anything else that catches your eye. Write descriptions or thoughts that occur about what you are noticing. Complete your Earth Day diary by painting, creating a collage, or coloring in your sketches.
  • Explore a collection of traditional chants and songs from around the world that all celebrate an aspect of, or relationship to, nature. All indigenous peoples have rich traditions of animal songs and stories as part of their history. Buy simple and cheap percussion instruments and give everyone in your group a something to shake, bang, or rattle. Better yet, make your own versions out of cardboard, dried beans, rice, paper towel tubes, Tupperware containers, tinfoil and glue.

Gardening projects are always an easy and delightful way to celebrate Earth Day. Here are some fun ideas:

Project 1: Plant tomatoes, basil, and chives and make a pasta sauce from the harvest. This one is super easy—all these things can be grown in ceramic pots if there is no formal garden space. They are hardy, and good plants for beginners to work with. In just a couple months after planting, they will be ready to pick and cook with, so it satisfies the most impatient of little gardeners!

Project 2: Plant mint, then make tea. There are many varieties of mint (spearmint, peppermint, pineapple, even chocolate!), and all are very easy to grow in any kind of soil or ceramic pot. They almost thrive on neglectthey can grow with very little water, lots or a little sun. To make mint tea, pick a handful of leaves and steep in boiling water, then strain. Add a dash of honey and you have the best recipe in the world for an upset tummy. The lesson: The Earth provides plants for medicine as well as food.

Project 3: Make garden art: erect and paint picket fences, lay and paint stepping stones, make fairy-attracting ornaments. These garden accessories use basic materials, and are ideal for small hands to create. Be prepared for lots of "visitors" in your garden!

From the Parents

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