Wednesday, April 18, 2012

5 Fun Earth Day Craft Ideas for the Whole Family

Earth Day is a day the entire family can enjoy together. You can use this day to teach your children about caring for the earth. Consider also spending time together doing some Earth Day crafts - these are fun for the kids, and a great educational opportunity as well. Here are a few ideas to consider.

nature journal sycamore treenature journal sycamore tree (Photo credit: jimmiehomeschoolmom)#1 Nature Hike/Art Project

Go on a hike and have each person in the family pick up five to ten nature items. For example, they might pick up a leaf or a flower petal. Have them take along a bag so they can collect their things. Take them home and make a collage. You can use the collage to create placemats, wall art, or even a desk pad or mouse pad.
You’ll Need: laminate sheets, construction paper, scissors, clear glue or hot glue and other items on hand.

Get creative and have fun!

#2 Tie Dye Party

Tie dying is fun and interesting for kids. And when you use natural food dyes it becomes an earth friendly activity. If you want to add a little education to the project, talk with your children about why you chose to use natural dye instead of chemical dye. Discuss how chemicals harm the planet. You can use carrots, beets, berries, turmeric and other natural items to create the dye.

#3 Make Stuffed Animals

Using materials found around your home create stuffed animals. For example a black sock can be used to create a penguin’s body. Cut out white t-shirt material and glue or sew it on for the belly. A few buttons for eyes. A felt or foam triangle for the beak and feet.

Kids and adults can make fun monster animals too. You can use old corduroy skirts or pants for the bodies. Buttons, ribbons and fiberfill take care of the rest. Each monster can be unique. Because you’re using items already in your home you can talk with your children about why repurposing and reusing items is good for the planet. If you want, you can focus on endangered animals, for an additional teaching opportunity.

Tie DyeTie Dye (Photo credit: deborah.soltesz)#4 Create Bracelets or Cuffs

Cuffs are trendy right now and old wool sweaters can make beautiful cuffs. With old buttons, flowers and embellishments your children can have a lot of fun with this craft. And you can too! In order to make the old wool sweaters work for this project you’ll want to “Felt” them. This means you shrink them until the wool is thick so it won’t unravel (this can be done by washing them in the washing machine using hot water, then spread flat and let dry - or you can even dry them in the dryer on a low-heat or delicate setting). Then simply cut the wool to size. Fit it to your wrist. Fasten with Velcro, buttons or even sew it closed. Add embellishments and you have a lovely cuff.

#5 Tin Can Gardening

If you’re a gardening family then start collecting tin cans. This is a recycling project and a gardening project in one. Decide how you want to decorate the outside of the can. You may create your own labels using a computer or you can draw or paint them. Painting works well because you don’t have to worry about water ruining any paper decorations. If you’re going to paint the cans consider using a primer like Gesso beforehand so the paint will adhere well to the can. You can also decorate with stickers.

Punch a few holes in the bottom of the clean can for drainage before you decorate the outside. Place a few rocks on the bottom of the can. Then fill the can with potting soil and plant seeds or seedlings. Place in a sunny location. Your children can watch their plants grow. Note: If you each plant a different herb you can have a windowsill herb garden, and then your kids can even see how these herbs can be used in cooking - for yet another educational moment!

Take the age and attention span of your children into account before choosing a craft. Earth Day is a day that can be both fun and educational. Help your children learn about caring for the earth in a fun way they’ll remember.
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