Celebrating And Recognising Earth Day

Every 22nd of April humanity tries just a little harder!

Observing plants through a magnifying glass.
Observing plants through a magnifying glass.

What Is Earth Day?

Earth Day is an annual celebration of our planet, reminding us all of how important the environment is and our shared responsibility in taking care of it. This day provides an opportunity to learn more about different environmental concerns such as climate change, pollution and the use of fossil fuels.

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honour the Earth and the concept of peace. This day of nature's equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the idea to hold a nationwide environmental day on April 22, 1970. Nelson and his assistant Denis Hayes decided to call the event: Earth Day. Nearly a year later when “Earth Day” finally arrived more than 20 million people poured out on the streets. This very first Earth Day celebration remains the largest single-day protest in human history.

Since then, Earth Day has continued to grow globally by prompting communities to actively consider how they can make changes in their everyday lives to help take care of our planet. Today, Earth Day is a worldwide event, bringing a focus to environmental concerns about climate change, pollution and the use of reusable energy unlike any other event.

Celebrating Earth Day is a wonderful way to bring an awareness of important issues surrounding our planet to your classroom and at home.

Toilet roll tubes can make an excellent marble run while plastic bottles are perfect for measuring precipitation.
Our mini bug house in the garden.
Our mini bug house in the garden.

Getting To Know Nature

I believe that an effective way to encourage children to care about our planet is to support them in building a relationship with nature. To me this means noticing the plants and animals living alongside us and developing an awareness of human impact on the environment. Whether you are living in a city or in a rural area, there are living ecosystems to observe all around us.

In appreciating nature, we can think about how to take care of it. For my family and I the biggest problem we have is the amount of litter we see on the street when we step out of our front door. As often as possible we go out as a family to litter pick, this can be a couple minutes just in front of our house or longer as we try to do a whole section. I have tried to teach my children that picking up even one piece of rubbish and disposing of it properly can make a massive positive difference.

Nature Activities for Earth Day

Try one of these activities on Earth Day (or any day) to support your child in developing a relationship with nature. All of these activities you can click on to learn and discover more.

  • Build a bug house – create a microhabitat to provide a shelter for bugs and insects.
  • Make bird food – mix ingredients together to make bird food for the birds in your garden.
  • Pond dipping – go pond dipping and identify the different living things you observe.
  • Living things observation - go outside and use this day as an opportunity to notice all the living things around us. You may be surprised by the number of plants and animals you see when you are really looking.
  • Insect hunt – look under tree stumps, beneath leaf litter and under rocks to find a number of insects hiding.
  • Make a seed bomb – mix some wild flower seeds with soil and powdered clay to make a seed bomb.
  • Art in nature – celebrate our world by using nature to create and inspire artwork.
Poster identifying different recycling materials.
Harry testing the strength of a suspension bridge.

The Importance Of Recycling

Understanding the importance of recycling is a key part of helping our environment. We all know that the majority of the rubbish we throw away goes into landfills and that materials like plastic can take years to decompose. This is a simple truth that is surrounded by the more difficult reality of what our daily lives entail. Being conscious and doing what we can to help reduce and reuse plastic, while not always enough, is often as much as we as individuals can achieve in a busy stress filled life. As I said earlier, every step you take to help mother nature, no matter how small, is a foot in the right direction.

Many of our hands-on activities encourage children to explore different ways of using recycling materials. At home I keep aside our toilet roll holders, empty boxes and yoghurt pots ready to be used in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) challenge or creative art project. Not only does this save money, but also provides the opportunity to demonstrate how items can be (re)used in a variety of ways. Toilet roll tubes can make an excellent marble run while plastic bottles are perfect for measuring precipitation. (We actually never buy fizzy drinks, so anytime we need that type of plastic bottle we use one of the many found in our neighbours recycling bins. We are recycling our neighbours recycling!)

Recycling Activities for Earth Day

If possible, I recommend keeping a box of recycling available for children to explore. You never know when a great idea might come requiring a cardboard box! Here are a few of Hands-On Education’s activities promoting recycling.

Melting ice experiment to learn about the oceans.
Melting ice experiment to learn about the oceans.

A Quick Climate Change Activity

Earth Day provides a great opportunity to discuss issues surrounding climate change. The rising temperatures of our planet is having a significant effect on the environment. It is overwhelming for myself to comprehend, let alone our children.

As global temperatures rise Earth’s ice caps are melting as an alarmingly fast rate. It is likely that the effects of this will be felt by ourselves and most certainly the children in our homes and schools. While the science behind this can be confusing this melting ice experiment is not. Using a couple jars, some ice and rocks your young one’s can perform this experiment to find out how ice melting on land and ice melting in water effects the rising sea levels differently.

Teddy making a water filter.
Teddy making a water filter.

STEM Activities for Earth Day

Many people accept and understand that humans will need to adapt to survive the changes happening in our world today. This will be achieved largely through the experimentation of innovative ideas that lead to the development of new technology. In many cases young people will be the key to this change. Their fresh outlook on life and complex problems will hopefully help humans engage with nature in a more everlasting manner.

Hands-On Education offer some great STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities to challenge children and encourage them to think outside the box. These include:

A Final Note on Earth Day

Together we can help make a difference, in 2020, over 100 million people around the world observed the 50th anniversary in what is being referred to as the largest online mass mobilization in history. Let’s all continue to work hard towards the survival of this wonderful world we live in.

To easily identify our 250+ STEM activities at Hands-On Education, look for this symbol.

STEM Activity

To find more Earth Day and STEM activities at Hands-On Education check out these topics below.

Year Four
Living Things

Living Things Activities

Key Stage One
Birds

Birds Activities

key stage two
Wonderful Water

Wonderful Water Activities

Key Stage Two
Rocks And Soil

Rocks And Soil Activities