Earth Day started April 22, 1970 to raise public consciousness about important environmental issues like protecting natural resources, industrial pollution, and recycling. Over 50 years later these topics are still important, but fortunately our public awareness and environmental activism has grown. Although celebrations look a little different with COVID-19 restrictions, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate Earth Day and show your appreciation for our wonderful planet. Earth Day is April 22, but we’ve rounded up different family-friendly ways to celebrate Earth Day all month long.
“Race to Save the World” – This inspiring climate change documentary follows passionate activists ages 15 – 72 who put their lives on the line to push for change. The film will have its virtual premiere on Earth Day, but you can pre-order on their website here.
Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival – The third annual film festival presented by KCET, PBS SoCal, and Link TV, addresses climate change realities with the goal of confronting global issues that impact all living creatures and natural resources. Learn more about the two-week festival here.
“Cool the Climate” – Written and directed by cartoonist Denis Thomopoulos and presented by Unicef and the UN’s Global Goal of Climate Action, this 30-minute movie awakens kids on the climate issue in a way that is simple, comprehensive, and inspirational. The film streams for free through April 22. Visit cooltheclimate.com for other free educational offerings for children ages 4 – 12, like downloadable comic books and interactive digital games.
“Jenny the Chimpanzee” – This new children’s book by 19-year old Lotus Kay and illustrated by Chey Diehl is part of the “Bears for Cares” book series, which was founded by sisters Kay and Jazmin as part of Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots youth service program. “Jenny the Chimpanzee” tells the history and origins of human evolution through a chimpanzee named Jenny. Written by 19-year old Lotus Kay, endangered species and environment advocate the book aims to educate children about the state of wildlife and our earth and to inspire them to make a difference in the world. Recommended for ages 4 – 9.
“There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom” – Based on a viral Greenpeace short film, this illustrated book helps children understand the importance of rainforest conservation through the story of a young girl who helps an orangutan displaced by deforestation. Illustrated by James Sellick, “There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom” is recommended for young readers.
“Planting Peace: The Story of Wangari Maathai” – NAACP Image Award-winning author Gwendolyn Hooks tells the inspiring story of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan women’s rights activist and one of the first environmental conservationists, who inspired thousands across Africa to plant 30 million trees in 30 years. Illustrated by Margaux Carpenter, “Planting Peace” is recommended for ages 7 – 11.
“Dr. Jon Jon Saves the Moon” – Written by Jackson Apollo Mancini when he was four years old, “Dr. Jon Jon Saves the World” tells the story of what happens when we forget to take care of the world around us. The children of Earth notice something is wrong with the moon, so they send Dr. Jon Jon to give the moon a checkup. When he returns, Dr. Jon Jon gives the children an important message: the moon is a reflection of what we do to our planet, and we must work together to care for our one and only home.
American Girl recently published a new advice book, “Love the Earth,” written by American Girl editor Mel Hammond. The guide, geared for young readers ages 8+, helps kids to understand the basics of climate change and learn how to use their unique talents to stop it.
In researching and writing the book, Hammond consulted with expert advisors, Bridget Edmonds with the Nature Conservancy and Dr. Daniel J. Vimont, director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climate at UW-Madison, to ensure the book’s accuracy and age-appropriateness. She also interviewed the young female activists highlighted in the book to learn how they’re making real changes for the planet.
“Earth Day Eve Virtual Concert” – Kick off your Earth Day celebrations the night before with National Geographic’s star-studded virtual concert. Hosted by travel expert and entrepreneur Jessica Nabongo, the concert will showcase environmentally passionate artists and environmentalists like Yo-Yo Ma, Ziggy Marley, and Dr. Jane Goodall.
Restore Our Earth – Presented by L.A. Public Library for grades K-12, this virtual Earth Day celebration highlights books that are a call to action.
Keep It Green, Keep It Clean Earth Month Celebration – Roundhouse Aquarium’s four-part virtual series explores the magic of the ocean and what people can do to protect it.
Climate Action Crash Course – Youth activist Sarah Goody joins celebrities and other youth activists in a four-part webinar series for young people of all ages to learn about climate change. Each webinar is designed for specific age groups, so check the website for more details.
Art of Trash at The Fowler – This special co-presentation with Rogue Agency celebrates the work of artist and environmental activist Benjamin Von Wong with a virtual conversation with the artist about art, sustainability, and activism.
Earth Day Activities
Discover different species of trees and their characteristics with South Pasadena Public Library’s “Trees of Library Park Scavenger Hunt,” where participants discover use a special map to locate various trees throughout Library Park.
Learn how to “Reduce, reuse, and recycle,” with Snoopy in this new, original video, and accompanying family activities, including a make-your-own-birdhouse project. Designed for ages 4 – 11, Snoopy’s “Take Care with Peanuts” initiative is also available in 10 additional languages on Peanut’s international YouTube channels.
Celebrate Earth Day with a visit to Heal the Bay Aquarium in Santa Monica. The Aquarium is celebrating its reopening and Earth Day with a family-friendly patio experience, eco-friendly crafts and activities kids can take home, and virtual events. Participate in a beach cleanup while learning about local plastic pollution issues or take a boat trip while hearing scientists talk about systemic ocean and environmental issues impacting L.A. residents.
Arts and Crafts
Another great way to celebrate Earth Day is with environmentally and family friendly crafts.
Pick up South Pasadena Public Library’s Earth Day-themed Take and Make Craft Kit to enjoy at home. This flower garden craft kit is available at Library Takeout on Earth Day while supplies last.
Upcycle everyday items for a fun way to update your space. DIY craft and home décor expert Sandy Sandler shares a few of her favorite green and frugal crafting tips plus a fun upcycling project you can try on your own.
Sandler suggests to hold onto “green” crafting supplies like pizza boxes, bottle caps, bubble mailers, frozen food containers, plastic utensils, grocery bags, and anything with glitter on it. “Green crafting is a way to help sustain the environment while saving you money,” Sandler says. Upcycling projects are also a great way to help kids have fun while learning about recycling.
Recycle styrofoam containers into beautiful flowers with a few easy steps! For a visual step-by-step guide, click here.
You will need:
Styrofoam containers or plates (thin)
Floral stem wire
Tiny pom pom
- Let’s start by cutting out the flat areas from styrofoam plates. You will need styrofoam that’s thin and flexible and not thick and hard. You don’t want it to crack.
- Then measure the circle into 1.5 in widths using a ruler and skewer to mark the area. Cut out the pieces straight including the ends. The longer the pieces, the fuller the flower.
- Next, cut narrow slits in the strips leaving a border. Apply glue along the border placing the stem wire on top along the edge.
- Begin rolling the stem wire and styrofoam together along the edge all the way to the end. Secure bottom with floral tape and continue wrapping stem wire with the floral tape.
- Then find the center of the foam slits, flaring them out for the flower. Press center down on work surface to spread out.
- Then glue on a tiny pom pom in center. Have fun making many more to display in a vase or give as a bouquet!
For more creative ideas, visit: https://www.bowdabra.com/blog
Sandy Sandler iscreator of the QVC best-seller, the Bowdabra. Her frugal craft projects and activity ideas are designed to transform the creatively-challenged into creative pros. Sandy’s focus is on creative and easy projects that parents can do with their kids and that kids can even do on their own that are both frugal and green in nature.