Earth Day is a time to appreciate the environment and think about the impact we have on our world. Though Earth Day is just one day, being conscious of the environment should be an everyday thing! This year, inspire your child to be more environmentally friendly in his daily life by encouraging him to change one habit or do one good deed each month. Help him keep track of his pledges with an earthy calendar that's made entirely out of recycled and reused materials. By the end of this activity, not only will he be more aware of the impact his actions have on the environment, but he'll enjoy the pride of knowing that he is helping to make a difference!
What You Do:
- First make a cover for your calendar. Have your child trace the dinner plate onto each piece of cardboard.
- Help him cut out the circles from the cardboard. Punch a hole at the top of each cardboard circle, making sure the holes line up when the circles are stacked.
- Now that you have the cover, make the inside pages. Have him trace one of the cardboard circles onto each sheet of scratch paper and cut them out. You should now have twelve round sheets of paper, one for each month.
- Stack the sheets of scratch paper together and punch a hole at the top, making sure you punch through the whole stack.
- Now make grids for each month. Help him use a ruler and markers to draw a 5 row by 7 column grid on each sheet. Write the name of the month at the top of the page and the names of the days above their corresponding columns.
- Number the boxes with the correct day numbers. Have him write special holidays and birthdays on the calendar if he likes.
- Once the calendar pages are complete, have him put the pages in the correct order according to month and place them between the cardboard circles.
- Bind the calendar together by threading the ribbon or piece of fabric through the hole and tying a bow at the top.
- Now decorate the cover. Have your child write a big "2010" in marker, arrange the blue and green paper scraps and found natural materials into a recycled paper Earth, using blue scraps for oceans and green scraps for land. Try outlining the continents with marker first to make it easier.
- For the finishing touch, invite him to think of twelve pledges he can make to be more environmentally conscious in his daily life. Good ideas include pledging to use less water, planting a tree, turning off lights when he's not using them, recycling, or starting a compost pile in the backyard. Some of these are a little more difficult and require adult help, so make sure you make these pledges together and only choose ones you're committed to fulfilling!
- Now go through the calendar and write one pledge at the top of each month.
- Hang up the calendar in a spot that's easy for him to see. Over the course of each month, encourage him to follow his pledge each day. If the pledge is a project, like planting a tree or garden, set aside time to work on it with your child and try to complete it by the end of the month.
This activity is a great way to teach your child how to be more aware of his impact on the environment. After each pledge period ends, however, remind him that he doesn't have to go back to old habits. Encourage him to make each pledge a lasting commitment to stick to for years to come.
Erica Loop has a MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.