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Earth Day Preschool Activities

Earth Day activities to incorporate in your classroom.

Earth Day Preschool Activities

Earth Day Preschool Activities

Around the world, people celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Earth Day offers an opportunity to motivate and educate children about topics like climate change, waste, pollution, and recycling. 

Having knowledge of why this holiday is observed and understanding the role of every individual in keeping our planet clean should be the main objectives when explaining this crucial holiday to children. Even if environmental conservation issues are complex, using simple examples such as picking up litter gives a child the required framework to comprehend what the day is all about.

This article offers vital information about how Earth Day can be explained to preschoolers, the importance of teaching them about this holiday, and some Earth Day lesson plans to incorporate in your classroom.

Preschool child learning how to take care of plants by watering themSource

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is an annual event that celebrates our planet, while bringing awareness to the importance of protecting it. 

This environmental movement began on April 22, 1970, when Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey, and young activist Denis Hayes, organized a campus teach-in. It gained national attention and inspired 20 million Americans to demonstrate against the impacts of industrial developments on our health and planet. 

In the 1990s, Earth Day went global, with 200 million people in 141 countries bringing light to environmental issues worldwide. 

Today, it’s celebrated worldwide, with over a billion people participating in various activities and events annually, such as protests, strikes, mobilizations, parades, and festivals, to show their commitment to protecting the planet. It’s an opportunity to promote environmental awareness and encourage people to take action to preserve our world. The hope is that with enough support, we’ll adopt the global, national, and local policy changes that will help keep our planet safe. 

Importance of teaching children about Earth Day

Teaching children about Earth Day instills a lasting desire and passion for ensuring the planet is clean and safe. Preschoolers are at an age where they’re eager to learn and absorb new information. By introducing the concept of Earth Day while they’re still young, you’ll help instill a sense of responsibility and empathy towards the environment.

Also, when children understand the importance of protecting the planet at a young age, it can help promote a more sustainable and eco-friendly future. Children who understand the impact of their actions on the environment are more likely to grow up to be responsible and environmentally conscious adults. This, in turn, can lead to a healthier and more sustainable planet. 

When the importance of recycling is explained during Earth Day, it can give children a sense of responsibility for reducing ground pollution and helping the planet remain safe and clean—a message that can be passed down to future generations.

Finally, young children are learning many new skills requiring critical thinking and problem-solving. They can learn about challenges facing our earth, such as climate change and pollution, and brainstorm ways to address them. This can help them become more creative, innovative, and proactive problem-solvers, a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives. 

Plus, while young children may be small, their influence is mighty. Even preschoolers can often influence their families to make better choices for the environment, such as recycling and turning off the water faucet when it’s not in use.

How to explain Earth Day to preschoolers

Preschool teachers play an essential role in teaching young children about Earth Day and environmental issues in an age-appropriate and engaging way. Here are some strategies they can use to explain Earth Day to their class. 

Include hands-on activities

Children often learn better and are more engaged with hands-on activities and experiences. For example, go on a nature walk and discuss how important the different things in nature are or how damaging it will be if we don’t have clean air or clean water. These types of activities can help children develop an active appreciation for nature and understand the importance of protecting it.

Use visuals

Another strategy is to use a variety of books and videos to explain environmental issues. There are numerous options available geared toward young children. They can be specifically about Earth Day or recycling, pollution, and our environment. You can even take a virtual or physical field trip to a local aquarium, zoo, or farm. When children have a visual, it can help bring environmental issues to life and make them more relatable.

Practice planet-friendly actions

You can also practice taking planet-friendly actions in the classroom. This can include simple things such as turning off the lights when you leave the room, recycling, or using a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic bottle. When you take these actions and explain the reason to your class, it will help drive home the importance of Earth Day and how their daily actions can help our planet.

Earth Day preschool activities 

Earth Day preschool activities don’t have to be complex; as such, be careful with your choice of words and explain this concept as simply as you can with facts and visuals. Here are some Earth Day preschool activities to incorporate into your classroom.

Planting

This great activity will teach children the entire process of growing plants and even help them understand where the food they eat comes from. Using a simple container with your children, fill it with damp soil and plant a seed. Place it in an area with good lighting and keep watering it occasionally. As you do this, engage children and ask questions like, “Why do we water the seed?” or “Can you see the plant sprouting?

Child planting in the classroom to celebrate Earth DaySource

Paper plate weaving 

Paper plate weaving will spark conversations with children, such as stewardship of the Earth and the importance of keeping our planet green. Weaving the yarn and passing the weave will also challenge children’s fine motor skills and coordination. You will need scissors, paper plates, and green and blue yarn. Here is a simple tutorial to take you through the process.

Paper plate weaving craft to celebrate Earth DaySource

Clean up alphabet

This activity helps instill the importance of not littering and keeping the environment clean. This activity aims to make “a mess” and teach your children how to clean it up. You will need a marker, flashcards or scraps of paper, and one container. Write each letter of the alphabet on a flashcard and spread the cards out on the floor. Have children pick up the flashcards and put them in the container. This activity teaches children how to clean up after themselves while also building knowledge of the alphabet. 

Sensory play

Incorporate the Earth Day topic with an animal sensory activity to engage children's senses while discussing Earth's creatures at the same time. You will need different animal figures, green and blue food coloring, shaving cream, and a pan. Divide the shaving cream into two separate bowls and stir in blue food coloring in one bowl and green in the other. Spread the shaving cream in the pan to resemble the Earth. Place the animals in different positions. The children will be allowed to choose where the animals live and also discuss how they can be helped in their habitats.

two children playing in a sensory bin: a low dish filled with blue and green shaving cream to resemble the earth with small animal figurinesSource

Singing songs

Earth Day children's songs are a great tool to use to teach about important topics such as recycling and climate change. They can also help develop preschoolers’ vocabulary skills.

Painting using recycled items

This is an open-ended activity that allows children to be creative and teaches them to find new uses for old materials. Use recycled materials like toilet paper rolls and plastic bottles to paint and explore different textures and colors. Here is a tutorial for inspiration. 

Reading books

Provide children with books that are geared towards educating them on the importance of conserving the environment or keeping the planet safe and clean. The books should have illustrations and be easy to read and understand. Allow children to ask questions about what you have read and the importance of various activities that relate to environmental conservation.

Children reading Earth Day themed books during circle timeSource

Homemade crayons

Making your own crayons can be exciting and teach children about the importance of using readily available materials in the environment that are often thrown away. Follow these instructions to make homemade crayons.

bits of crayons in a small oven safe muffin tin with broken crayons and wrappers scattered aroundSource

FAQs about Earth Day activities 

How should you introduce Earth Day to preschoolers?

The most common methods to teach Earth Day to children are through crafts, reading stories about the Earth, participating in local events and scavenger hunts, teaching them about natural resources like water, and spending time outdoors.

What activities can preschoolers do on Earth Day?

Some of the activities that can be done include planting flowers, taking children on nature walks, and using recycled materials in arts and crafts projects. Activities that incorporate picking up trash can help teach about the importance of keeping our planet clean. Reading books and singing songs about the Earth can also introduce children to meaningful Earth Day concepts.

What can preschoolers do in the process of helping the Earth?

While at home or school, children should be encouraged to turn off the lights or running water when not in use, pick up litter, help in recycling plastic and cans, and donate their toys.

What can children plant during Earth Day?

Children can plant trees, flowers, or even vegetables. There are many simple gardening activities you can do with young children to teach them about plants and how to care for them. 

How important is Earth Day for children?

Earth Day is vital for preschoolers as it helps them understand the need to protect the planet for themselves and future generations.

Celebrate Earth Day year-round

Simple Earth Day preschool activities help explain basic environmental concepts to children and instill an appreciation for our natural world. While Earth Day is a one-day event in April, teachers can continue to integrate topics like recycling, pollution, reusing, and planting year-round in their lesson plans.

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