A day to celebrate our Earth. To remember that we have only been gifted ONE planet. And to make sure to take care of it by doing our part. Little things add up if we are all doing them. Make small sustainable changes. Our oldest, an *almost* 5 year old, was wandering around a local(ish) library this week. They have beautiful displays for Autism Acceptance, for Ramadan & Eid, for Arab American Heritage Month and for Earth Day. He spotted a book that he normally wouldn't have picked out -- who are we kidding, the kid usually only picks books about space. The book was a small purple square book about pollution. It's a Science Starters. A guide to basic STEM concepts. He picks it up, brings it over to a table and starts to look at it. He quietly requests if he can take it home ("but not keep it right, we have to return it mama?"). Right after dinner, we had to read it. Both younger siblings were upstairs getting ready for bed, just me and him. We snuggled into our big cushy chair and learned about pollution. About the different types. About what pollution is doing to our environments, to the animals. About small ways to implement change right at home. He was fascinated. Sad about the animals. Angry about what is happening to our water and oceans. He asked questions. He was curious, inquisitive. He asked if we could make some changes. Small changes, sure, but to him these changes were going to help change the world.
All this to say: kids are never too young to learn.
Here's a link to the book, just in case your kid is interested too: Pollution by Anne O'Daly
Earth Day, woo! How are we celebrating? How are we teaching our kids about what is happening to our world? How are we demonstrating ways that we can make a change? What are your plans? We are obviously going to be reading. It's supposed to rain most of the day on Saturday, so the plan is to get to work right when we get up! We will brainstorm with the kids today about what we can do within our community to help -- pick up trash, plant native wildflowers, create a mini recycling center in our home that the kids can easily access to help. Once we have our community outreach idea picked, we will get ready to craft. We have decided on two different activities this year (we will share below) to help nature bloom.
Activity 1: pinecone bird feeders
I don't know about you guys but here, in our small rural nc town, we have a lot of pinecones. So. Many. Pinecones. They are all over our yard, our driveway, our patio. Our neighbors are meticulous. When one falls, they make sure to head outside to pick them up. Us? Not so much. So this activity is perfect because the kids pick up all the pinecones and I can enjoy a cup of tea when it's actually hot and not warmed up 4x because I hadn't had a chance to drink it. I fondly remember doing this activity as a kid with my grandparents and I really wanted to bring it back for my own kids. It's not necessarily an Earth craft. We aren't making a tissue paper sun catcher planet. We aren't making blue and green swirl cookies. Great options, but instead we are choosing to honor our favorite outdoor friends in our neighborhood -- our beloved birds.
Pinecones (warmer weather opens them up!)
Peanut butter (if allergies, use: softened lard, vegetable shortening, SunButter, coconut oil, or almond butter)
A spoon, a popsicle stick, a spatula (whatever works for you)
Carefully pick a few open pinecones.
Wrap the twine or yarn around the pinecone and tie.
Using your craft stick, spoon or spatula, coat the pine cone with peanut butter (or alternative).
Cover the peanut butter (or alternative) with wild birdseed.
Hang it on a branch outside & enjoy watching cute little birdies have a treat! Be sure to hang on a branch near another branch so the birds can land and snack. No one wants to snack mid-air.
Activity 2- homemade Seed balls
This is our first year making these and to be honest, I have no idea if they actual sprout since we just planted these the other day. We will keep you updated through our instagram though because I know you are now all invested. Sprouts should begin to pop up within 5-7 days.
These make the perfect craft to start before story time. Have kids help you prep. Read a story or two. After, your prep should be ready and you can begin to combine and create.
Flower seeds-- native flowers to your area are best
Construction paper (blue, green & white)
Small containers x3 (one for each color)
Baking sheet/parchment paper (for drying)
If choosing to plant, you'll need: Container to plant (paper egg cartons & empty toilet paper rolls can be planted in the ground and will break down naturally); soil/water/sunlight
1. Cut up each color of construction paper into small 1-in squares, separate by color into each container.
2. Add water to each container of cut up construction paper. Make sure the water covers the paper completely. Let soak for 20 mins.
3. Here is where you can read a story or two to help make the waiting a little more enjoyable. See our list of diverse earth day books here.
4. After 20 mins, take one container at a time and squeeze the excess water from the paper. Place the paper into a food processor and pulse until the paper becomes pulp. Place the pulp back into the container. Repeat with the other two colors.
5. Divide the packs of seeds amongst the 3 different containers. Mix seeds in gently.
6. Take a little bit from each container and begin to form a ball. They should start to resemble the Earth! Tip: start with a big heap of blue, a medium heap of green and a little heap of white.
7. Once formed, set out on parchment paper to dry overnight. I know, I know more waiting. But patience is an incredibly important skill. And how rewarding, especially if you are gifting these.
8. The next day, start to plant! Or gift them in a pot. We had a few ceramic pots left over from starting our garden so we painted them and plan to gift them to family & neighbors. I'm sure your local librarian would love one.
*Note: This craft can get messy & a little frustrating for littles and adults. When combining the three colors + seeds to create our little Earth balls, it can feel like they are about to fall apart and they may be about to fall apart. We squeezed it really tight together to form and then we rolled really quickly and we placed it on the parchment and left them. They expand a little when they are left to dry.
Remember: Throughout both activities to start talking to your kids about the environment and what we can do to make a change. It's important for our kids to understand their impact on our planet. Small changes can help. If you need a tool to help talking to them -- use books! Visit your local library. Borrow books & let your child initiate the conversation. Books can help in creating kind, empathetic, curious, understanding kids. And those kids are going to change the world.
If you do these crafts, we want to see!
Tag us on our socials @mosskidsbooks or email us a photo at email@example.com.