Earth Day 2021: 10 Earth Day-Inspired Classroom Activities

Today we look back to the founding of Earth Day and some ways you can observe the day within your classrooms. Spring and summer months are a wonderful time to bring kids into nature and share the love of the incredible planet we call home. Read on to hear how Earth Day first came to be as well as some suggestions for encouraging ecology in your classroom.

After more than a century of industrialization in the United States, by the 1950s it was becoming clear that such “progress” had come at an increasingly harmful cost to the environment and communities. When it was published in 1962, Rachel Carson’s incendiary book, Silent Spring, galvanized the environmental movement, bringing public attention to the lasting, harmful impacts of pesticides and pollutants.

Following devastating oil spills off the coast of California in 1969, Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin junior senator, was moved to take action. Harnessing the energy from the student anti-war movement to raise public consciousness about air and water pollution, he persuaded Pete McCloskey, a California Republican, to serve as his co-chair and recruited a young activist named Denis Hayes to organize college campus teach-ins.

Hayes had ambitious goals. He formed a national staff to promote events across the U.S., embracing a wide range of organizations, faith groups, and individuals in the cause. Collectively, their efforts led to the creation of the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970.

Millions of Americans rallied on that first Earth Day, uniting the voices fighting against environmental degradation and creating a network that shared similar values. Its efforts led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of first-ever environmental laws, resulting in safer health conditions for millions of Americans that continue to this day.

We wish you a lovely Earth Day, and hope you enjoy time to reflect about our home on this wonderful planet!

For some fun, we’re compiled a list of activities you can do with the children in your daycare to help celebrate Earth Day and enhance their STEM skills. Have a suggestion? Let us know!

10 Earth Day-Inspired Classroom Activities

  1. Encourage children to observe more closely by counting leaves, sticks or stones, or bringing art materials to draw what they see or hear around them
  2. Bring a picture book to help identify animals, insects, trees, plants, and flowers
  3. Even the busiest cities and smallest yards are home to a surprising variety of birds. Listen closely to identify your local species
  4. Read a book together about the ecosystem its importance to every living thing
  5. Look at an object from three different distances—near, middle, and far—and draw what you see.
  6. One object can look very different using different tools. With older children, experiment by viewing an object with the naked eye, a magnifying glass, and under a microscope
  7. Harness the wind- attach a ribbon to something stable to see what direction the wind is blowing. Attach items to additional lengths of ribbon to measure how strong the wind must be to move them
  8. Paint with water! Provide each child with a cup of water and paper. Use different natural elements as paintbrushes, such as sticks and leaves of varying thicknesses
  9. Make nature rubbings by coloring over leaves or plants placed under paper
  10. Get dirty! Support local pollinators including moths, butterflies, and hummingbirds by planting native species that attract them