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35 Earth Day Activities for Kids

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Saturday, April 22nd marks Earth Day 2023, and while we’re not limiting our pledge to live a little greener to a single day a year, it marks a great opportunity to teach our kids about living sustainably. (And, perhaps, in a more fun way than, “Hey, throw that in the recycling bin, not the floor!” convo we have most of the year.)

Need a refresher on what Earth Day even is? Well, it’s been 53 years since the world’s first Earth Day in 1970, which kicked off a righteous revolution and a collaborative mission for all citizens of the world to rise up, champion “creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future,” according to EarthDay.Org. Meeting these lofty goals doesn’t happen in one day, and it surely hasn’t happened in 53 years. But it’s a benchmark that we can keep working towards with consistent lifestyle changes and choices that are active and evolving instead of one-off fixes.

So, whether you color yourself a regular old conservationist, have a green thumb or are simply looking to teach your kids something about environmental sustainability (or all three!), there are tons of ways to get involved. From taking care of plants and taking Earth-preserving pledges, to committing to cleanups and recycling/upcycling toys and clothes, creating big change in our world starts small.

Read on for some of the best Earth Day activities for kids.

earth day activities for kids reconsider your toothbrush
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1. Reconsider Your Toothbrush

One billion plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills every year (and can take over 400 years to decompose), but skipping the plastic and introducing a sleeker, reusable brush is definitely something to smile about. Companies like MamaP create bamboo toothbrushes for the whole family, all sold in recyclable Kraft paper boxes, with ergonomic, compostable handles. They also donate 5 percent of sales to different environmental organizations (determined by the color of each handle).

earth day activities for kids sustainable recipes
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2. Fuel Up for Breakfast With a Sustainable Recipe

One of the biggest ways to pay Earth Day (and the Earth, overall) the respect it deserves is to really consider where your food comes from and what it costs (think: carbon emissions, water and land use) to bring it to your table. Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but instead of going big with the fare, pare down and prepare something that still packs a punch, sustainably. Sweet potato pancakes are festive in all the right ways: they can make use of leftovers from the night before and they’re made with spelt flour which doesn’t require toxic pesticides to grow.

earth day activities for kids ride a bike
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3. Ride Before You Drive

Wherever you need to go on Earth Day, from point A to point B, make it a priority to leave a little earlier and trade your tires for some wheels. Cars can easily emit up to 20 pounds of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere for each gallon of gasoline burned, so transportation means and modes need serious tweaking.

earth day activities for kids dog walk
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4. Take the Dogs Out for a Longer Walk

Yes, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but if we’re speaking for at-wits-end parents everywhere, we have no plans to stay beholden to his beyond-the-burrow predictions. At the first signs of warmer weather, we’ll be pushing our own little groundhogs (human and canine) out the door for some fresh air. Lean into a longer walk to stretch your legs and lap up all of that sunshine and Vitamin D.

earth day activities for kids plants
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5. Bring Some Plant Life Home

Maybe you don’t have a dog yet, but if your kids are showing major interest in a pet (or more than one), start with easy houseplants first and encourage their sense of responsibility with practice, practice, practice (feeding them, making sure they’re well lit, etc.). Not only do plants add indoor appeal and happy vibes, they can help regulate the temperature in your house through the moisture they release into the air.

earth day activities for kids collecting rainwater
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6. Start Collecting Rainwater

While you should always try to cut down shower time and turn the faucets off while brushing your teeth and washing your hands, you can also do something impactful with all the water that falls outside. Sure, you can look into rainwater collection systems (spoiler alert, they’re v. expensive), but for an easier approach, have the kiddos collect drips in beach buckets or their spring and summer-use water tables, which can double as Earth Day sensory bins. Then repurpose the non-drinkable water for cleaning or watering plants.

earth day activities for kids spring cleaning
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7. Spring Clean for an (Earth Day) Cause

Donate old clothes to local shelters or Goodwill (contact them first, to adhere to COVID safety protocol) and recycle anything else (say old electronics, or furniture no one’s using) if it’s not particularly sparking joy at home.

On that note, here are a few other things you can do:

  • Opt for a whole new arsenal of non-toxic, plant-based cleaning products like this one or this one.
  • Knock down the plastic detergent bottle buildup in your laundry room with 100% biodegradable laundry detergent sheets that use simple, naturally derived ingredients in an ultra-compact, easy-to-use application.
  • Consider a wardrobe overhaul for everyone in your family and shop for sustainable clothing that can be worn, washed, put through the wringer and then handed down. Stores like Hanna Andersson and Pact are among our faves.
earth day activities for kids rock climbing
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8. Power Down and Let Mother Nature Be Your Guide

Nature-inspired outings are a great way to get kids to put down their tablets and turn their attention to mother Earth, and there are opportunities to be had no matter where you live. Do some research on local nature trails and make a day of it—an Earth Day, that is.

earth day activities for kids local zoo
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9. Visit a Local Zoo and Learn About the Animals

We’re not alone on this Earth, and an occasion like Earth Day is a great reminder to get to know our sisters and brothers from another mother—and not just the mammal ones! So, if you have a zoo nearby, check and see if they’re open on weekdays.

earth day activities for kids adopt endangered animals
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10. Adopt an Endangered Animal

Speaking of animals, Earth Day is a terrific time to get up to speed with the endangered animal species in our world. While it’s not really a holiday that warrants gifts, adopting an animal for yourself, your kids, a friend, niece, nephew, etc. is a sweet way to give back while also learning and growing as a global citizen. When you donate through WWFGifts and adopt an animal (from a three-toed sloth to a sea turtle hatchling), you help create a safer world for wildlife, protect amazing places and build a sustainable future where people live in harmony with nature.

earth day activities for kids recycle crayons
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11. Recycle the Crayons That Aren’t the Sharpest in the Box

We all have them, the crayons that our kids have loved SO hard that they’ve been reduced to nubs at the back of our craft drawers. On Earth Day, it’s the perfect time to round up your old, broken, unwrapped or all-tapped-out and retired crayons and donate them to a place like The Crayon Initiative or The National Crayon Recycling Program where they can be given life anew. Alternatively, you can melt them down yourself and turn them into a jumbo crayon or work of art.

earth day activities for kids nearby creek
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12. Clean Up a Nearby Creek

Join a community clean-up effort, gather a small crew or go it alone at your local creek or neighboring park—just be sure to bring a pair of gloves and survey the stream before disposing of any floating debris or pollutants you encounter. And don’t forget to have some fun exploring the native water dwellers while you’re there.

earth day activities for kids composting
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13. Start Composting

If you’ve got a garden, spring is the right time to get started on your outdoor composting. But even if you don’t have a ton of outdoor space, you can start a small worm compost bin just about anywhere. All you need to get going is a plastic bin, some shredded paper and, of course, worms (which you can pick up at most pet stores or bait shops). Then start saving food scraps to drop in there for your little squirmers.

earth day activities for kids earth rangers
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14. Go on an Adventure with the Earth Rangers

Lunii, a French startup known for its totally screen and emission-free “Fabulous Storyteller” device that lets children craft their own audio stories joined forces with kids’ conservation organization, Earth Rangers. Based on their popular ‘Earth Rangers’ podcast, listeners can tune into Earth Rangers Animal Discovery, make friends with ER Emma, and learn all about our planet’s diverse, adorable and fascinating creatures, from animals close-to-home to those we barely see in person.

earth day activities for kids donate old books
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15. Donate Old Books to a Local Library

As wonderful as they are, books have a way of becoming filler in every family’s house. Plus, let’s be honest: Is anybody really still reading Pat the Bunny over there? Have your kids gather up all of the books from their baby days, and bring them to the library or local book drive—or post to your neighborhood listserv, since you never know who is in the market for those old Nancy Drews you’ve been holding onto.

earth day activities for kids picnic
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16. Have a Picnic on Your Deck or Front Yard

Put your commitment to sustainable eating to work with a picnic on your own turf. That way, you don’t even have to worry about getting “to-go” or travel-ready items, and can instead reuse utensils, dishes, bowls and blankets from home and then just throw them into the wash when you’re done. Plus, there’s nothing quite like laying out a blanket and dining in the grass as the sun goes down. (Psst…if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans for al fresco dining, you can always opt for an indoor picnic instead.)

earth day activities for kids solar oven smores
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17. Make Solar Oven S’mores

Everyone loves the campfire-famous snack, but how much cooler would it be to cook them in a DIY’ed solar-powered oven? Here’s a nifty tutorial. Gooey, golden-brown goodness, but make it green…

earth day activities for kids catch fireflies
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18. Catch Fireflies for the First Time This Season

Once your tummies are full, the sky is dark and the stars are sparkling, take time out to run around and catch fireflies as a family. Full transparency: Firefly populations are disappearing all over the world, due in large part to increased light pollution. In order to keep these winged wonders in our neighborhoods and backyards, it’s up to all of us to help. That means ditching our flashlights, dimming the lights or drawing the blinds inside and turning off all of the exterior lights around our houses. Let the fireflies provide their glow as a guide.

earth day activities for kids book characters
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19. Take a Page from Book Characters Your Kids Know and Love

Keeping the Earth safe isn’t a hard concept, especially when you can impart adaptable lessons from your childrens’ favorite stories. Some good reads to get you going? The Berenstain Bears Go Green, The Earth and I and The Lorax.

earth day activities for kids put parameters
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20. Put Some Parameters on Their Endless Scrolls

For parents with tweens or teens at home, pre-bedtime has the potential to be a series of endless scrolling into oblivion. If a “no phones at night” routine seems too strict, then instead assert some influence over the influencers they’re listening to. For all you know, following one of these youth climate activists on social media might be just the thing that interrupts their feed and activates their eco-consciousness.

earth day activities for kids earth pledge
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21. Make a Family Earth Pledge

There have been a lot of changes in our world as of late, but this year’s Earth Day is all about making sure we move forward and continue the work even on the personal scale. Some pledges your family might make:

  • Try to fill up your trash can only once per week
  • Walk to soccer practice every Sunday instead of driving
  • Never leave the house with any lights on
  • Go one month without buying any new clothes.

Bottom line: When we work together, we all win.

earth day activities for kids make a bird feeder
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22. Make a Bird Feeder

This fun, kid-friendly craft promises to make your backyard a more beautiful and inviting space, whilst having a significant positive impact on birdlife to boot. According to the National Audubon Society, feeders can actually help the birds in your neck of the woods survive, nest and procreate—provided you follow best practices, that is. Plus, it takes little more than a few minutes of research, a trip to the craft store and some Pinterest inspo to tackle this difference-making DIY project with your kid.

earth day activities for kids pick up litter at the park
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23. Pick Up Litter at the Park

The environmental threat posed by litter is well-documented; it’s also just a shame to see pleasant public spaces strewn with garbage. Why not ask your child to gather a crew of friends at a cherished park for an afternoon of community service? It might not be the most glamorous activity, but the fresh air, good company and rewarding feeling that comes from doing right by the environment more than makes up for that.

earth day activities for kids volunteer at a community garden
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24. Volunteer at a Community Garden

Head to a nearby community garden to volunteer by pulling weeds, planting seeds and more. Equal parts calming and physical—gardening is a hands-on activity that kids of all ages will enjoy, and the experience is all the more rewarding when done at a community garden, as these neighborhood spots work to reduce the carbon footprint by minimizing water runoff, cutting food transportation costs and promoting sustainable agriculture, among other things.

earth day activities for kids go on a scavenger hunt
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25. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are always a hit with kids and a nature-themed one is an ideal way to get your brood outdoors and in touch with their natural surroundings. This easy-to-plan activity can take place at a nearby nature preserve or in your own backyard—either way, young treasure-seekers will have no trouble finding some pretty fascinating stuff. Once all the participants have shared what they found, you can drive home the Earth Day message with a closing convo about the importance of protecting the environment.

Earth day activities for kids: Make Art out of Recycled Goods like this image of Houses and toy cars made from milk bags.
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26. Make Art out of Recycled Goods

There are a ton of kid-friendly art projects that can be accomplished with just the contents of your recycling bin and a bit of creativity. Cans, wine bottles, milk jugs, egg cartons, cardboard boxes and even old T-shirts—they all boast plenty of crafting potential. Start by browsing the internet for ideas and then get started turning one person’s trash into, er, the same person’s treasure.

Earth day activities for kids Plant a Terrarium
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27. Plant a Terrarium

Why take home just one houseplant in honor of Earth Day when you can create a whole, self-contained indoor landscape? Terrariums are seriously neat, lovely to look at and a lot of fun to put together with the help of a kid. Best of all, the process is creative and blessedly easy, too. (Psst: You can find a step-by-step guide and instructional video here.)

Earth day activities for kids: A child is holding a Monarch caterpillar
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28. Raise Caterpillars

Go on a nature hunt to find caterpillars in their natural environment—they can be found munching on most plants in the spring and early summer—or buy some online and then set them up in a happy indoor home. These fuzzy creatures are quite easy to care for and if you raise ‘em right, you and your child will get to watch them grow and transform into beautiful monarch butterflies (to be released, of course). Ready to get started? You can find all the information you need in this handy guide.

Earth day activities for kids: Take a Virtual National Park Tour
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29. Take a Virtual National Park Tour

Good news: You can take the whole family on a trip to see some of Earth’s most stunning national wonders without even leaving the couch. Google Arts & Culture, Google Earth and the National Park Service all offer truly incredible interactive video tours of almost every national park, so you’re truly spoiled with choice. Fortunately, we put together a list of favorites to help you get your feet wet.

Earth day activities for kids: A girl holding a paper mache globed ball with a faint image of the world.
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30. Make a Paper Mache Globe

Here’s a particularly fitting craft project for the occasion. A paper mache globe is surprisingly easy to make, provided you don’t mind a little mess and a relatively long time commitment (significant drying time is required in between each paper mache application and before painting). On the plus side, this labor of love will keep your kid occupied for a good while, whilst teaching him a thing or two about geography, too. If you’re ready to tackle the task, you can find a full tutorial at The Purposeful Nest.

Earth day activities for kids Build a Bug Hotel
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31. Build a Bug Hotel

This DIY project, courtesy of Garden Therapy, yields a fascinating piece of garden art that will provide shelter for flying insects (think: bees and ladybugs) and ground dwellers alike. It’s also fairly simple to put together using cedar boards and an array of organic materials from your own backyard—just keep in mind that there’s some construction required in making the wooden box, so kids will need help from a parent to pull it off.

Earth day activities for kids: Plants Hanging in Bottle Garden
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32. Create a Hanging Bottle Garden

Plastic bottles are repurposed to make hanging planters in this environmentally-friendly gardening project, which promises to beautify your backyard and bring out your kid’s green thumb. If you’re looking for a hands-on activity with Pinterest-worthy results, this one fits the bill.

Earth day activities for kids Make Your Own Paper
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33. Make Your Own Paper

Yet another recycling project that kids can get in on—this simple DIY involves turning paper shreds from old magazines and newspapers (or scrap paper from your kid’s growing stack of unfinished art) into a fresh piece of homemade paper. Just follow this simple tutorial from The Craftaholic Witch and you’ll be rewarded with a rustic and oh-so pretty blank canvas for future art projects.

Earth day activities for kids Visit a Recycling Center
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34. Visit a Recycling Center

Take your kid to visit a local recycling center—most offer free tours, but be sure to call in advance—so you can both learn what goes on with all those bottles and cans behind the scenes. This is an excellent and educational family field trip that’s sure to inspire a newfound appreciation for the three Rs of waste management.

Earth day activities for kids Tour a Water Treatment Plant
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35. Tour a Water Treatment Plant

Same idea, different angle: Many water treatment plants offer public tours at specified times and some even have visitor centers with interactive educational resources. See what’s on offer at your local facility and check it out with your kid to gain a deeper understanding of the process that allows us to drink one of Earth’s most precious resources from a glass.

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purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor


purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...