Wednesday, April 22, 2020

5 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day at Home

I was thinking about how to celebrate Earth Day with my family this year. Normally, I enjoy going to the zoo or participating in local events. But since we're homebound, we need to think outside the box a little. So here are five ways to observe the holiday at home.

1) Watch Amazing Documentaries & Virtual Field Trips

There are so many incredible documentaries out now that teach us about remarkable natural places and the fascinating lives of animals. Why not splurge and spend the day watching some? I'm not talking about old, dry, boring documentaries, either. Between National Geographic, Nova, and Disney Nature, you have plenty of options to watch, learn, and fall in love with wild places and animals. 

You can also go on virtual field trips to national parks, zoos, aquariums, nature centers and so much more! Just google them online to find the best ones.

2) Plant a Seed

All you need are some beans (or ANY kind of seed!), soil, and a plastic cup. How much easier does it get than that?  Poke a hole in the bottom of the cup, place a small rock (or piece of pottery or anything, really) over the hole to keep the soil from draining out. Fill the cup to about 1/2 an inch below the rim with soil and plant your seed. Water, set in a sunny window, and watch it grow! Just be sure to water whenever the soil dries out. 

If you want to be truly green, you can repurpose those empty cascarones and use an eggshell instead of using a plastic cup. Just use a thumbtack to poke a couple of holes in the bottom of the eggshell. No need for a rock. 

Want to take it a step further? Have older children learn how to grow kitchen vegetables from scraps

3) Feed & Watch Birds

Birds have begun to migrate back north to their summer breeding grounds. Now is a GREAT time to put up a bird feeder. You can make your own using the instructions here or for a giant list to choose from click here.

Another option is to set up your own hummingbird feeder. These feeders are a little trickier to make. But older kids can probably get it done. Or, if you already have one, get it out, dust it off and make your own nectar. Here's the perfect recipe for hummingbird nectar: 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. So for one cup of water, use 1/4 cup sugar. Use hot water to dissolve the sugar. Let it cool and put it in your feeder. DON'T use red food dye. The hummingbirds don't need it and it is actually bad for them.

4) Make Crafts from Recycled Objects

Do you have a bin full of recyclables? Get your kids' creativity on and have them create useful objects by repurposing recyclable materials. Check out this huge list of ideas. But encourage your kids to be original and think of their own projects. 

5) Make Your Own Nature Log or Table

If you have access to a garden, creek, or park, then get out the camera and let your kids explore their world. Have them take photos of living things that they discover as they spend time outside. You can also have them draw their discoveries on paper and write a short description underneath. Challenge them to look closely and find tiny life forms - bugs, seedlings, fungi, or even micro-organisms (if you have a microscope!). 

The other option is to collect fascinating objects on your backyard explorations. Start a nature table (or shelf!) with remarkable things you find outdoors. Just be sure you don't take active nests. Only collect nests in the winter after they've been used and abandoned. The picture above is of my daughter's special shelf several years ago when she was around 8 or 9. Actually, she still has some of these treasures in her room today (she's now 16). 


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