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Earth Day Activities for Elementary Ages

by Ronald A. Rowe | April 15th, 2015 | Elementary, Seasonal

girl sitting on ground (400x400)“Treat the Earth well; it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.  We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”  21st Century American children would do well to learn and heed the wisdom of that ancient Kenyan proverb.  Any time is a good time to teach your children to respect and care for the Earth but Earth Day is a special time set aside for imparting such lessons on our youth.

Elementary-age children are so wonderfully open-minded.  This is the time to start teaching children to think globally and act locally in the pursuit of a cleaner environment for all of us and our posterity.  Earth Day is a great time to schedule activities that will enforce respect for Mother Earth.  One activity that is particularly powerful yet utterly simple is to clean up a local park.  You can tell your children until you’re blue in the face about how important it is to avoid littering but words cannot compare to the impact of seeing  – and smelling – the trash that others leave behind.  Picking up the trash left in the park by unthinking litterbugs may well evoke some powerful emotions in your children.  It’s OK if the chore makes them angry, as long as you are there to focus that anger into appropriate action.

Cleaning up the park is a good Earth Day activity for your family but it is even more powerful if you can organize a larger group – school, church, what have you – to get out there and pick up the trash.  Not only will it provide a sense of unity and a common goal but there is the practical matter of being able to accomplish much more with the power of numbers on your side.  Seeing the massive impact that even a small group can have in just a few hours should serve as inspiration for the children.  It’s a good idea to take before and after pictures so they can clearly see the impact of their hard work.

Earth Day is too often used as a propaganda vehicle for launching complaints that “someone” – which usually means “someone else” or “the government” – should do something about pollution.  This year, don’t fall into the trap of just talking about what someone else should be doing to protect the planet.  Roll up your sleeves and show your child what concern for the environment looks like in action.  As is most often the case with elementary-age children, they hear you much better when your words and your deeds are aligned.  Make Earth Day 2015 the start of a lifelong commitment to protecting that which you are borrowing from your children.

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