Living in a wildlife reserve, being married to a career conservationist and having a background in environmental education makes it no surprise that I am a firm believer that everyday is Earth Day and because of that I rarely celebrate the once a year holiday. However, as we near the end of our first year of homeschool, I’ve found myself getting really excited about Earth Day and it has pushed me to be more focused on conveying our family values to our daughters. We celebrated a little bit early and packed last week full of fun preschool Earth Day activities. This post contains affiliate links.
My girls are no different to most children their age, they have an innate love of nature and wildlife and are happy to explore every nook and cranny of the great outdoors that they can wiggle themselves into. I want to nurture that love and wonder while instilling a sense of responsibility to the earth and providing age appropriate opportunities for them to be champions for the environment. We are big tree lovers here so this year we have focused on trees for our preschool Earth Day activities.
We read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss which is my all time favorite children’s book. The girls love the silly words and rhymes and get engrossed in the illustrations while learning a valuable lesson about how disrupting one small thing can have serious knock on effects. I found a coloring page that has both Bar-ba-loots and Swomee-Swans and a maze that has the Humming-Fish at Early Moments. We used them to do a sequencing activity where Boo colored the animals (and did the maze) in the order that the Lorax sends them away and told me why they had to leave. It was a great way to see how much of the story she understood. Boo also completed The Lorax counting activity sheet ‘how many?’ from Seussville.com.
To add in a craft, we had fun making Truffula Trees by using black markers to put some strips on yellow yarn and then glued them to a paper for Truffula trunks and added pom-poms for the Truffula tufts.
Tree Identification and Leaf Rubbings:
We went on a nature walk to review the trees we know the names of and to look for more to ask about. My husband is always teaching the girls new trees and I’m enjoying learning along with them. We collected leaves on our walk and brought them home to make leaf rubbings. I loved the idea I found at Filth Wizardry to tape the paper over the leaves. It worked great to keep them in place so that little hands could focus on the crayon rubbing.
The Giving Tree:
We read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I was so excited to receive this book but, I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed. Although it does an excellent job of showing how much trees do for us, it doesn’t show how we should care for trees. I was, however, pleased that even at almost 3 and almost 4 my girls were able to identify (in very simple terms) that the relationship was one sided and that the boy should have treated the tree better. We also talked about what a nice friendship the boy and the tree had when he was little and how the boy changed when he grew up which was a great way to validate the wisdom of childhood and convey that adults can also make poor choices.
Imaginary Play – Forest Fairies:
We brought trees into our imaginary play by making some adorable fairy headbands from egg crates. This craft from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas gave us the opportunity to talk about how a tree was cut down to make the cardboard egg carton and that by reusing it instead of buying more cardboard for our craft we were helping to save trees. Before painting the egg crates we took a walk looking for some very special sticks and painted them to become magic fairy wands. We declared ourselves forest fairies and set out to save some trees but Boo reminded me that we hadn’t “magict” our wands yet. We remedied that by placing them in a pot under our favorite tree, adding three leaves, a handful of soil and one stone – then the girls danced around the pot while I said the magic words. Once the wands were ready we ran around pointing our sticks at all the trees to “abracadabra them” (as Kooks says) so that they will always be protected from axes. Our imaginary play often includes protecting trees from a wicked witch who has come to cut them down. The girls love chasing the imaginary witch while shouting, “I speak for the trees” but this was the first time we became forest fairies and boy did we scare that witch when she came around this time! I am finding imaginary play to be a wonderful way to instill family values while having fun. Our forest fairy play was definitely the favorite of the week.
This Is The Tree, A Story of the Baobab:
We read This Is The Tree, A Story of the Baobab by Miriam Moss. I love this book because the illustrations are so beautiful and authentic. All of the animals depicted are those that would be found in areas with baobabs, even those that are not specifically mentioned in the book. We use this book to learn about baobabs but also to practice identifying local birds, animals and insects. It makes me smile every time the girls see a baobab and shout what they learned from the book, “A baobab! Old as a volcano!” The book mentions “tribespeople” and shows men in loincloths with bows, arrows and spears which is not a very accurate depiction of the vast majority of modern day Africa. However, as my girls are growing up in today’s Africa, it will be useful at some point to discuss what traditions remain and how other traditions have changed where we live. This Is The Tree also has a great two page spread at the end that provides information about the baobab including traditional uses and stories as well as medicinal properties.
How are you celebrating Earth Day this year? Have you seen The Lorax movie? Did you like it and how close to the book is it?