“The COVID-19 outbreak has drastically altered daily life. For millions of students and parents, that means homeschooling.
Social distancing is a necessary and effective measure to keep us safe, but it also commands widespread school closures, which can make for a challenging transition for many children. Home from school, many children are feeling anxious about the future, unsure of how to help.
For many climate-minded young people, the feeling is familiar. They’re already concerned about the Earth’s future in the face of climate change — now the pandemic is compounding these emotions.
Fortunately, many inspirational kids are also leading the fight for a greener planet and safer future. Young people around the world have the power to make a difference, even from their homes.
Below are some at-home activities that students can do to beat boredom, stay positive and create a climate-friendly future:
1. Attend or host a virtual teach-in
Since the first Earth Day in 1970, teach-ins — or educational lectures and discussions on important public interest topics — have been a valuable tool for environmentalists to inspire community action. This year, as Earth Day goes digital, teach-ins can still prompt meaningful community responses to ongoing environmental challenges.
Encourage your student or child to attend one of these virtual teach-ins or follow Earth Day Network’s guide to create their own. They can livestream a nature walk or backyard exploration. They can also ask viewers to find what species live in their backyard and explore how they can protect local habitats.
2. Download the Earth Challenge app
Download Earth Day Network’s new Earth Challenge app to gather air quality and pollution data in your community. The app empowers citizen scientists to monitor their local environment and offers tools and tips for environmental protection.
3. Try some delicious plant-based cuisine
There’s no better way to spend time at home than trying new recipes. Fortunately, your family can both eat delicious food and reduce their carbon footprint by adopting a more plant-based diet. Help your child research plant-based recipes or recreate family favorites with plant-based ingredients.
If they’re craving something sweet, try these easy swaps to indulge in their favorite desserts. Your child can even livestream a plant-based cooking lesson for family and friends or create a cookbook of their new favorite recipes.
In addition to mastering new recipes, students can learn food preservation techniques, such as canning, pickling, drying and freezing to enjoy fruits and vegetables year round and minimize food waste.
4. Make a plan to cut down on plastic pollution
Ask your child to help audit your plastic use at home by counting how many plastic containers, wraps, bottles and bags you purchase for your kitchen and bathroom. Encourage them to research products that have more sustainable packaging for your next grocery trip or online order. And when you order to-go meals from restaurants, make a note asking for no plastic utensils and limited plastic packaging.
5. Learn new ways to protect our species
If your child is interested in protecting biodiversity, learning about different species is the best way to start. Watch an environmental documentary or animal show and learn how individuals can help protect endangered species. Many zoos and aquariums are offering free teach-ins and livestreams, so tune in to learn about different species and their habitats.
Customize your species education by researching what pollinators need are native to your area and what plants they rely on. Learn how to make a thriving habitat for pollinators and help your child design a pollinator garden for your yard or community.
6. Create eco-art
Creating art is an excellent way to spend time indoors and still connect to the Earth (not to mention, reduce stress). Repurpose materials from around the house, and encourage your child to create something new, like jewelry, bags or plant holders. They can even transform trash into treasure by creating a sculpture out of recyclables. Gather some inspiration from Earth Day Network’s Artists for the Earth gallery.
Creating art is also a great way to get outdoors while practicing social distancing. Supervise your child as they gather items like leaves and pinecones from your backyard and create an innovative art project.
While you’re outdoors, encourage your child to pay attention to nature and wildlife. Students can write short stories or poems about what a bird sees as it flies or what a squirrel thinks about as it climbs trees.
7. Join EARTHRISE and make an Earth Day Poster
Amid the pandemic, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day is still as important as ever. Join the digital EARTHRISE movement and show your support for climate action today and into the future.
One way to show your support is with an Earth Day poster: Provide your child with supplies to design an Earth Day poster, and put it in your home’s window for neighbors to see. Make sure to tweet your poster to @EarthDayNetwork.”
by Lindsay Steinberg
As an avid reader and writer, I’ll add that reading books related to taking care of our earth or writing related stories and articles are also great ways for kids (and adults:) to take part in Earth Day this year! ~Becky