Many preschool teachers and parents of preschool children usher in seasons and holidays with thematic activities. Earth Day, traditionally celebrated in April, provides an opportunity to educate children about the planet, its habitats, its inhabitants and its resources. Songs, games, activities and crafts illuminate the bounty our planet has to offer and provides strategies children can employ to make the world a better place.
Celebrate the day with various types of preschool Earth Day activities. Long-term activities like planting a garden and cooking with plant-based foods might result in an Earth Day banquet. Field trips might include a visit to a nature center, garden, park, pond, forest or nature trail. Sing songs and tell stories celebrating the earth, such as “This Land is Your Land” and Eric Carle’s “The Tiny Seed.” Crafts might center around images of the globe, animals, ecosystems, habitats or plants.
An ecological theme underscores most Earth Day activities. To honor this theme, re-purpose and recycle objects to create sustainable, earth-friendly crafts. For example, children can construct a litter bug with a section from an egg carton. Turn the section upside down. Glue on found and recycled items, such as pebbles, string, twigs, bottle caps and pine cones to create a bug. Take the litter bugs on a garbage-collecting walk, making sure children wear shopping bags over their hands to protect themselves.
Preschool celebrations of Earth Day focus on celebration rather than dire warnings. Teach children the value of their surroundings and resources by identifying local water sources, watching clouds skid across the sky, sketching or painting a landscape, listening for animal sounds, doing leaf rubbings or skipping stones in a pond.
Many preschool crafts and activities begin with a story. In honor of Earth Day, read a book about fairy houses, such as one of the picture books by Tracy Kane. Then, take children on a walk to collect natural materials so they can make their own fairy and gnome houses. They can either build houses at a nature site, such as the base of a tree trunk, or they can bring the materials back home or to the classroom for a group building project.
While preschool children are too young to understand abstract concepts like global warming, you can still engender their ecological consciousness. Encourage them to save water, recycle items, turn off lights and take care of pets.