How to Celebrate Earth Day With Your Family

Kids celebrating Earth Day

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Earth Day is a chance for us to celebrate our planet and learn about ways to protect it. If you have kids at home, you can take the opportunity to teach them how important nature and our planet is and show them ways to conserve it. Celebrate this Earth Day with your family by finding ways to enjoy the natural world and taking small steps to protect it.

What Is Earth Day?

Earth Day was coined in 1970 by American Senator Gaylord Nelson as a day to raise awareness about environmental issues.

Before the 1960s, Americans were mostly unaware of how pollution impacted the planet and human health. When a massive oil spill hit in 1969, Senator Nelson decided it was time to start spreading the word. He organized teach-ins at local universities during the month of April.

Students were moved to organize protests after what they learned, and the teach-ins expanded to the general public. Soon, a day to learn about how to protect the earth became known as Earth Day. Since then, Earth Day has been celebrated annually as a day to spread awareness about conservation efforts such as recycling, eating organic, or denouncing fast fashion.

When Is It Celebrated?

Earth Day takes place on April 22.

Why Is It Celebrated?

Our planet is our home and we need to take good care of it. Neglecting the environment has disastrous consequences that may affect our lives and those of future generations. Earth Day is celebrated to honor Planet Earth and to promote conservation efforts. It is a day to renew our efforts and learn new ways to protect the natural world.

Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day as a family can instill environmental values in children that will last a lifetime. Here are a few fun, earth-friendly ways to observe this holiday.

Get to School Without Using a Car

If you usually drive the kids to school each morning, see if you can find another way to make it to drop off. Cars use up fossil fuels and they are overall not very good for the environment. That doesn't mean you should never drive, but if you can reduce the amount of driving you do, you can make a big difference.

Walking or biking are great options that you can try as a family or in a large group of many kids or families. If it's not safe or feasible to travel by foot or on bikes, perhaps public transit is an option, which uses less fuel.

If walking, biking, or taking public transit to get your kids to school isn't an option, carpooling is a great way to cut down on the number of cars heading toward the same place. Try arranging to bring your children and your neighbor's kids to school, and having your neighbor pick them all up at the end of the day.

Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

It makes sense to spend Earth Day out in nature as a family. Scavenger hunts can help structure the time outdoors and they can encourage discovery and exploration. Create a list of animals, plants, or objects to take pictures of outdoors, being careful not to disturb any natural habitats. Your family members can then work in partners or as one cooperative group to find each element of nature and check it off the list.

It may be a good idea to come up with your list while you are out in the area that your family is planning to explore. If that's not possible, try to include things you are pretty sure can be found, like a smooth rock, a bug, or a leaf. You can make it more difficult for older kids, including more specific things like a palmate leaf or a chickadee, adapting the exact animal or insect to where you live.

Organize a Neighborhood Clean Up

Taking care of the earth by cleaning it up is a great way to spend Earth Day. You can choose a local area, such as a beach, park, or a block close to your home or your children's school, and clean it up as best you can.

This is a great time to teach your kids about the dangers of plastic in the environment, explain how animals might eat plastic and how it could hurt them, or talk about how microplastics can make their way into the soil, and what that means.

Picking up trash can be a dirty job so make sure that you wear gloves and consider using a grabber. Be mindful of potentially hazardous trash, such as hypodermic needles or cigarette butts. Supervise carefully, especially if you have younger children.

Plant Seeds

You can teach your kids about the negative effects of deforestation and then offer them a positive solution by planting trees, flowers, vegetables, or other vegetation. Planting more trees is a way to help reverse those effects, plus your child can watch it grow (slowly) over time. While these seedlings won't necessarily reverse deforestation, they will help your kids learn about the importance of protecting trees and plants.

Set Up a Rainwater Collection System

Water is a precious resource and not everyone has access to clean water. Help your kids learn to conserve water by setting out buckets to collect rainwater and using that water to flush the toilet, water house plants, or fill their kiddy pool.

If it isn't rainy in your area of you don't have an outdoor space to collect, you can also put a bucket in the shower to catch the excess water. Other ways to conserve water include having your kids turn off the sink while they brush their teeth or assisting you in washing dishes by turning the sink on and off as you need.

A Word From Verywell

Earth Day is supposed to be a positive day to learn how to make better choices. There are many great ways to celebrate the day, but don't be discouraged if you can't give up driving or you don't have the time or space to plant your own vegetables. Even simple steps such as opting for the glass jar of tomato sauce at the grocery store instead of the plastic one, then upcycling the glass, can make a difference. Focus on what you and your family can do to make an impact, and celebrate that.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The history of Earth Day.

  2. National Geographic. The environmental impacts of cars explained.

  3. Fact sheet: The plastic threat to human health.

  4. National Geographic. Deforestation.

By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.