50 years ago, on April 22, 1970, the very first Earth Day was celebrated. And ever since, people have been celebrating! Every day is Earth Day, but today is a special day to celebrate – and the museum has you covered! We have created activities that all have an Earth Day theme. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and engineering skills, and can help them engage in cooperative play, while fostering creativity and perseverance. Each theme also comes with recommended literature and movie connections. Feel free to throw in your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share with everyone else!
Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity x 3!
Pressed Flowers for Artwork
For this activity, you’ll need to collect several flowers from your yard, the park or along the sidewalk (as long as they are NOT part of someone else’s garden!). Choosing small or easily flattened flowers works best. You will also need several pieces of paper to place the flowers between and several books to press the paper/flowers between. And finally, you will need patience!
After collecting the flowers, place them gently on a paper. Set up the flowers however you’d like them. Cover the flowers with another piece of paper. Carefully sandwich the flowers between heavy books. You will need to wait about 1 week (maybe longer, depending on how thick your flowers are) before your flowers are ready. Then use them in artwork, tape/glue them to a card, or add them to recycled paper to make it extra special!
Making Recycled Paper Out of Scraps
For this activity, you’ll need to collect all the paper scraps in your house that you are done using. This could be old grocery lists, old papers that you have already colored on but you don’t want anymore, and small scraps from cut-up papers. Rip all the papers into small pieces, and soak for a few minutes in a small amount of water. Pour the water and paper into a blender and then turn the blender on to turn paper into pulp!
Once paper is pulpy, pour out pulp onto a screen/strainer to drain the water out as much as possible. Paper can be placed between layers of felt and left out to dry (maybe in the sun if it’s nice out!). Once paper is completely dry, use it to create fun cards, or simply to color on.
Additional ideas to consider: Place dried/pressed flowers into the paper mixture before pressing it flat to add decoration to your paper. Sprinkle seeds into the paper mixture before pressing. Send it to a friend and encourage them to plant it in their garden!
Birdseed Ornaments and Popcorn Strings
Collect supplies that birds will eat – seeds, granola, sunflowers, etc. Mix 2 tbsp melted coconut oil and 1 cup birdseed. When fully mixed, scoop into cookie cutters that have been placed on parchment. Use a skewer or straw to poke a hole for hanging the ornament. Chill until hardened and then gently remove. Add a string and hang from a tree! You can also use peanut butter on a pine cone or tp tube and roll in birdseed to create ornaments.
Pop some popcorn, thread some string on a needle, and put popcorn onto the string! Spread out the popcorn pieces so that it looks a bit like garland. Make several strings to adorn your tree. Place your garland and ornaments on your tree and watch the birds flock to the buffet!
Science Experiment x 3!
Planting seeds/making seed bombs
Digging in the dirt is as fun as it is messy! Gather up some dirt, some seed packets and a little bit of water to make seed bombs! The technique is super easy. Wet the dirt enough so that it will hold its shape. Then sprinkle in some plant seeds. Roll the dirt into small balls and let them dry and harden. When they are ready, bag up a few and share them with friends or toss them in the garden and wait for your seed bomb to grow!
Graph how much energy you use throughout the day
We use a lot of energy to power our homes. Lights to see by, TV and video games for entertainment, microwaves, toasters, and ovens to cook with – and don’t forget that refrigerator for the food! But did you know that you might be using energy even when appliances are off? Your DVD player has a little light that tells you it’s off. But how is the light on? Electricity. The microwave has a clock on it – so even if it’s not heating food, it’s using energy. Some homes use electricity to heat the water for our showers! Take a look around your house and track (at regular intervals) how much energy you are using. How many appliances are being used, lights are on and for how long? Create a graph to track how much energy you use – and figure out if there are things you can unplug when not in use to save energy!
Our friends from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis have come up with a fun way to think about Ecosystems (the living and non-living things in your environment – plants, animals, rocks, soil, sand, etc). If you remove even just one part, it has an impact on the overall health of the ecosystem. Check out the directions here: https://www.childrensmuseum.org/blog/ecosystem-jenga
Get some of those wiggles out while taking care of your garden, going for a nature walk to observe the natural world around you, or clean the neighborhood (or even just your own yard). Earth Day is a day to celebrate the earth and protect it. It may feel a little overwhelming or difficult for us to imagine that we can be capable of a large impact, but we can start small. Care for your small corner of the world. Observe and respect nature, and help it grow. Protect the future of your small corner. Cleaning up trash in your neighborhood while on your nature walk might just be enough to encourage others to do the same. And suddenly, your small corner has expanded!
Conversation Starters and Research Questions
- What else can you do to protect the Earth?
- Consider creating a compost pile in your hard. What would you need to make that happen? What things do you use regularly that can be composted?
- Why do we need to protect the Earth? Why is protecting animals, taking care of the climate, conserving energy, and carefully managing resources and land important?
- Why should every day be Earth Day?
Videos and Websites
- Visit the official Earth Day website!
- Check out Jane Goodall’s recommendations for Earth Day
- NASA has a great image and unique activities, too!
- Earth Day Video
- Earth Day Song
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Song
Because we know you’re stuck at home with limited access to movies and books, we tried to compile a list that connects to today’s theme that you might already have in your collection or be able to access online. These include:
- March of the Penguins
- Island of Lemurs: Madagascar
- The Lorax
- Schoolhouse Rock! Earth
- Arctic Tale
- Disney Nature: Earth