This Monday, April 22nd, people across our planet in over 192 different countries will be thinking about and appreciating the natural resources on our planet in honor of Earth Day. On this day, most schools take time to raise their students’ awareness of the natural world and foster their sense of stewardship.
If you are looking for ways to help develop your child’s understanding of conservation and awareness of the role we play in our planet’s future, here are a few ideas.
Endango, Elastic Earth ($14.99)
A board game that contains 100 educational cards teaching the far-reaching impact of living green. Kids race to save endangered animals by learning green behaviors to preserve the planet.
Bamboo Building Blocks, Lakeshore Learning ($39.95)
Perfect for young children, these environmentally-friendly building blocks are crafted from real bamboo. Not only will you help your child develop their fine-motor skills, but you can help him think about ways to preserve the Earth’s natural resources, since each block is made of rapidly-renewable bamboo that’s both durable and fast growing. Ages 3–7 years.
Earth & Environment Theme Box, Lakeshore Learning ($49.95)
This box is a treasure-trove of goodies to keep your kids busy and thinking about nature. This themed box comes with plenty of props and manipulatives (like wood samples and rock specimens) for your child to examine, as well as recycling bins and sorting cards to help your kid think about being a responsible consumer. The best part is the educator’s guide that contains ideas for activities that are arranged and color-coded by subject. Ages 3–5 years.
Books & Movies
“Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide” by Mel Boring, Diane Burns and Leslie Dendy. NorthWord Press, 1999.
The first in a series of take-along guides, your child is sure to enjoy this book that helps her discover the fascinating nature in her own backyard. It’s actually six books in one, that cover bugs, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, tracks, and trees. In addition to fascinating facts about each species, your kids will also have fun with the activities.
Hardback, but also available for Kindle.
“The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest” by Lynne Cherry. Sandpiper, 2000.
A beautifully illustrated story about a man who enters the rain forest to chop down a huge Kapok tree, but gets tired and falls asleep under it. While he sleeps, the animals of the forest come by and whisper in his ear about what the world would be like without trees. Hardback. Also available in Spanish. For children 4 and up.
Each year, DisneyNature releases a new film around Earth Day. The films are remarkable and moving stories about individual animals designed to raise awareness of their species and habitat. The conservation-based films typically donate a portion of the proceeds to a conservation group related to the subject. But the films themselves are a visual feast, and the beautifully made stories will touch your heart. Each one also comes with an educator’s guide and activity pack for kids to enjoy at home. This year, they’ve released “Wings of Life,” a film that explores the lives and importance of pollinators.
Ideas on the Web
Simple Homemade has a great article devoted to Nature Journaling with Kids. In it, Stacey describes what nature journaling is, how to start it with your kids, what to include in a nature journal, the supplies you’ll need, and links for making your own handmade journals.
Pinterest has so many great ideas for crafts, activities, and printables related to Earth Day. For bilingual activities and more, check out the MommyMaestra Bilingual Earth Day board.
Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures – Lions is an interactive storybook for kids that lets them discover how lions live. Filled with educational games, this app allows kids to explore an interactive photo story and create their own music, animals, stories, and more. Ages 4 to 7. $4.99
Wild Kratts Creature Math teaches kids about the habitats and needs of wild animals through this fun game featuring Chris and Martin Kratt, the main characters of the PBS KIDS show “Wild Kratts.” Your child will practice their addition and subtraction skills while learning valuable ecology concepts as they create up to 16 different habitats for a variety of wild animals. Ages 4 and up. $1.99
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.