This weekend, we celebrate Earth Day, and it feels like Earth Day is of particular importance this year. As we have seen our country take some big steps backwards this year in terms of climate change efforts, the environment, and funding for the sciences, it’s a good time to make sure the next generation does better. They’re our hope.
And Earth Day is going big this year. Saturday, people all over the country, and maybe the world, will be participating in the March for Science. The March for Science is meant to raise awareness about the important role science plays in our lives. The March for Science is being held in Washington DC, but there are marches planned for the entire country. In fact, there are several here in Maine, including one at a the University of Maine in Orono from noon to 2:00 PM in front of the Fogler Library.
Since Earth Day is going so big this year, it’s a good time to start making a bigger deal about it in our homes–this is my philosophy anyway. We try to do a lot to celebrate science and honor the Earth, but our family could do more. So, if you’re like me and looking for some ways to teach kids about Earth Day and also get them interested in doing better for our planet, check out some of my ideas here.
1. Read and watch The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. And then just talk about it. This children’s book is one I wish a lot more adults would read as well. This important story shows readers what happens when we just take and take from the planet without thinking about the consequences.
I have recently been talking to my youngest son about the consequences of buying too many toys. It’s not just about costing our family money; those plastic toys cost the planet. Having that conversation really has helped him not ask for toys so much.
2. Visit the Bangor Public Library’s exhibit on Human Origins. Not only is a beautiful exhibit, it is informative and engaging and is a great way to bring science to life for your children. My youngest son and I visited and learned so much about human history–as well as a few things about human impact on the planet.
3. Plant something–like some food. Showing children the beautiful and amazing process of growing food seems really important to me, and it’s pea-planting time here in Maine right now. Peas are easy to grow, and since they like the cooler weather, you can get started growing them right now.
4. Watch a documentary about the planet. There are some great documentaries on Netflix right now about the planet, and I have to most highly recommend Mission Blue right now for older kids and for adults. Our oceans are dying, and humans can do something about it. We just have to decide to. It’s a powerful documentary. Just be ready to talk your kids about some tough stuff.
Here’s the trailer…
5. Give your kids a job related to helping the planet. It can be as simple as assigning one kiddo the task of making sure all the lights in the house are off when no one is using them or making sure your family always has the reusable grocery bags when you go to the grocery store. Giving kids something to do to help is going to help them feel empowered and could lead to even bigger jobs one day.
There are certainly many I know who seem to think that there’s no point in trying to do something about the planet. I know some who argue that the Earth can take it. I know others who argue that humans have done some amazing damage, but it’s too late to do anything about it.
But I choose to believe differently. There’s no denying we’ve done some damage, but I have to believe we can make repairs. We have to try, and we have to teach our children to try. I mean, what’s the alternative? Let’s start with this Earth Day. Then, let’s learn how to make every day Earth Day!