This year more than ever, I’ve been looking for ways to make holidays and celebrations feel a little extra special for my kids. For Earth Day on April 22nd, I’ve put together a fun and, this might be my favorite aspect, low-key list of activities you could do with your kids to celebrate our beautiful, vibrant world. From easy crafts to a creative picnic challenge, make this Earth Day extra special for your family!
Let’s jump in with one of my favorite things on this list: cupcakes! To make world cupcakes, follow any vanilla cupcake recipe you want (I used this one). Divide the batter into two bowls. Use food coloring to turn one bowl of batter blue and the other green. Then scoop the batter into cupcake liners, alternating colors to look like water and land. Don’t worry about being neat—you want this to be a little marbled and messy so it looks like the world. Frost with green, blue, white, or chocolate frosting and dig in!
Use cut-up vegetables instead of a paintbrush to create some masterpieces. My kids’ favorite vegetable to use as a paint stamp is celery, and they like to create different patterns with it. To give it a special Earth Day spin, use broccoli and blue and green paint to create a whimsical painting of the world.
Read Picture Books
There are tons of picture books that can help you celebrate Earth Day. You might already be familiar with some popular Earth Day choices like The Lorax by Dr. Seuss or The Earth Book by Todd Parr, but here are four creative picks that might not be on your average Earth Day list:
What We’ll Build: Plans for Our Together Future by Oliver Jeffers: This book is full of hope, love, and possibilities. It’s a great starting point for dreaming up future plans and thinking about what it means to take care of each other and the world around us.
Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss: The Diary of a . . . book series are kid favorites. In Diary of a Worm, kids get a funny look into a worm’s fictional life. This is a great book to get kids started thinking about composting.
Grace and Box by Kim Howard, illustrated by Megan Lotter: If you’re looking for a bright and imaginative picture book that will encourage creativity, check out my picture book about a little girl and all the adventures she goes on with her friend Box. Your kids might feel inspired to make some recyclable box friends of their own (and might help you use some of those boxes you’ve been saving “just in case”).
We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Bob Staake: This story follows the experiences of two families from different cultures and parts of the world who have planted a tree.
Of all the things on this list, planting something together is sure to be one of the most memorable activities you could do with your kids. Have your kids pick out a packet of seeds (or two) and plant something outside or in a pot indoors. Or maybe use this as an excuse to get your kids to help you plant all the flowers you bought this spring that are still sitting in your garage—or is that just me?
Create a recyclable-material-only craft
Have your kids create something using only recyclable or repurposed materials. Not even tape or glue are allowed with this think-outside-the-box activity. If you’re looking for an easy place to start, have your kids make binoculars out of empty toilet paper rolls and find a creative way to fasten the two tubes together.
Plan an indoor or outdoor picnic and give it an earth-friendly, plant-based twist! Challenge your kids to help come up with a completely plant-based menu. Here’s a sample menu: veggie burgers, fruit salad, carrot sticks, chocolate peanut butter banana “nice” cream (be sure you keep this really cold if heading outdoors).
The list of shows, documentaries, and movies you could watch to celebrate Earth Day seems endless. Here are two of my family’s favorite options:
My kids (five and three) are loving the old-school Magic School Bus episodes on Netflix. There are some great episodes to help you celebrate Earth Day, such as “In a Beehive” or “Goes to Seed.” There’s also a new, revamped Magic School Bus show, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, streaming on Netflix that’s worth checking out.
Disney+ has Disneynature documentaries and National Geographic documentaries and shows. Chances are if there’s an Earth Day topic that interests your kids, Disney+ has a show about it. If you’re looking for a recommendation to start with, watch Dolphin Reef narrated by Natalie Portman.
I hope these ideas help you celebrate in a unique way this year. Happy Earth Day everyone!