Earth Day activities for kids are a great way to them about conservation and the environment. Earth Day this year is celebrated on April 22, 2021. Here are some 13 easy Earth Day activities for kids, including our free carbon footprint worksheet.
What is Earth Day?
The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 as a way to bring attention to pollution and environmental issues. The first Earth Day was very successful in convincing many Americans to the importance of the environment and caring for the earth.
Earth Day cleared the way for a number of environmental legislation passed in the 1970s. This includes the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The Environmental Protection Agency was also established in 1970.
Activity: For older kids, research each of the legislations of the 1970s and how they impact us today.
What are the 5 Areas that Earth Day Focuses On?
Celebrated this year on April 22, 2021, Earth Day focuses on 5 areas:
- Energy Conservation
- Solving Climate Change
- Ending Plastic Pollution
- Protecting Endangered Species
- Conserving Resources
The ideas below are grouped by category. That way you can focus on one of the areas of Earth Day, or pick something from each area for a full day of Earth Day activities.
Energy Conservation Ideas for Kids
Have an Energy Saving Day. Spend the day working to conserve electricity in your home. Bike or walk for your errands, or play cards or games instead of using the television. You can have each child make a list of ways to save energy around the house. Then award prices for the wackiest ideas. Here are more ideas to involve kids in saving energy around the home.
Plant a Tree. Celebrate Earth Day with some beautification in your yard. Pick a fruit tree and you’ll have the fun of fresh fruit! Or plant a tree on the east, west or northwest side of your home to shade your house from the hot summer sun and reduce your air conditioning costs by up to 35%.
Climate Change Activities for Kids
Learn about Renewable Energy. Using renewable energy sources helps to reduce carbon in our atmosphere, and slow climate change. According to the Energy Information Administration, 11% of US energy is now generated from renewable resources. Texas will generate almost 38% of power from TX wind and solar in 2021. To show your kids the power of wind, try a wind car. Or to see how solar energy works, make a solar powered oven. Then learn how wind and solar are used to generate power.
Measure Your Carbon Footprint. Your carbon footprint measures the amount of greenhouse gasses (typically, carbon dioxide) that is released during day to day activities. Being conscious of your carbon footprint helps you make smart choices. Use this Carbon Footprint Worksheet to reduce your family’s carbon impact on the earth.
Ending Plastic Pollution – Kids Activities for Earth Day
Participate in a Neighborhood Clean-up. Many organizations host park clean ups on and around Earth Day. This is a great way to help reduce litter in your community and make parks safer for children to play in. You can even start your own neighborhood cleanup!
Make a “Recycling Rules” Poster. Draw a line down the middle of a piece of poster board. On one half write YES and on the other half write NO. Then glue or tape examples of recyclable vs. non-recyclable items on each side. Then glue examples of recyclable vs. non recyclable items to each side. Hang the poster near your trash can to teach about ending plastic pollution.
Protecting Endangered Species
Plant a Butterfly Garden. Did you know that there are specific types of plants that monarch butterflies like? Go to a local garden center to get help finding plants that butterflies in your area like. You can also find out more about the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly, their annual migration to Mexico, and how global warming has impacted their numbers.
Conserving Resources – Activities that Teach Earth Day Principles
Make Conservation Signs. Have your kids make conservation signs to hang around the house. These can be simple reminders like: turn off the lights when you leave the room; shut off the computer when you’re done; turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth.
Get Rid of Drips. A dripping faucet can waste 2,700 gallons of water by dripping just once per second. Go on a water walk with the kids to check the faucets and find drips. Or try this fun experiment with food coloring to test for toilet leaks.
Earth Day Activities for Kindergarten to Second Grade
Here are some simple ideas to introduce Earth Day to kids age 4-8.
Read the Lorax. This classic children’s book is a great read-aloud to start your family’s conservation efforts.
Take a Nature Photo Safari. Let your kids use your phone (or camera) to take pictures of items on a nature hunt list. You can have them search for items that match a description, like “something yellow” or “something fuzzy.” Or give them a list of items to find, like “5 different bugs” or “a dandelion puff.” Print off the photos to make a book or use a website like Shutterfly. Let your little ones
Color an Earth Day poster. Worksheets and coloring are an easy way to learn. This free download is a great starting place.
Make a Pledge to Conserve. Get out the glitter and glue. Make an Earth Day poster that includes a conservation pledge.
Recycling company Recycle Track Systems offers this earth day curriculum for older kids up to age 12.
No matter how you spend Earth Day, make sure you step outside and enjoy some fresh air. It’s a great day to take a look at the world around you and see how you can make a difference.