Earth day is right around the corner. How will you celebrate? We’ve used this celebration to learn all sorts of things about plants, the growth cycle of a seed, recycling, and animals.
Lima Bean Flower Garden
Paint lima beans for the perfect #earthday #craft Click To Tweet
In preparation for this activity, we read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. This fabulous book explores the steps it takes to plant garden, uses the proper names for the flowers, and breaks them down by color. After reading the first page, I knew this book was for us. It begins, “Every year Mom and I plant a rainbow.” We dove right into the book calling the flowers by their names and talking about the differences between each. Riley flipped back and forth between the colored pages until she declared blue as her favorite set of flowers. Maddie was less particular. She was equally delighted by each color. This set the stage for our craft project and for planting our own garden this weekend.
You will need:
1) Color the lima beans by putting them in your jar or plastic baggie, add paint, and shake. I used a baby food jar because I have a lot of those lying around (recycle, reuse!). Lay the colored lima beans on wax paper to dry. The wax paper will keep the lima beans from sticking while they dry.
2) Draw a garden scene on the card stock. Be sure to make the areas big enough to fit multiple lima beans.
3) Glue the lima beans to the scene!
* I used red lentils to make the sun. You can use yellow or orange lima beans or anything else you can think of!
Nurture the Experience:
Have a conversation with your kids about what kind of flower they are making. Having just read Planting a Rainbow they will have many of types of flowers to choose from. This is a great way to get your child to start using the proper names for flowers. Have the book close by. If they can’t remember the name of the flower, they can go back into the book and find the one they are looking for. A great beginning to using references to support your thinking.
Animal Grass Growing Jars
This activity was sparked by a trip to Walmart. The girls were helping me pick out flowers for our garden this year and found small ceramic animals that grew grass as hair much like the Chia Pets of my youth. And much like my youth and desire for a Chia Pet, I did not buy one for the girls but decided “we can make that at home!”
1) Decide what animal you would like to make. I am not an artist, so I googled “animal faces” to reference and found some great ones here.
2) Paint the jar the color of the animal. You will likely need two coats.
3) When base color is dry, paint the animal face of your choosing. Riley and Maddie both enjoy jumping so I chose two animals that jump.
4) When paint is dry, apply a coat of Mod Podge to seal it.
5) Fill the jars with dirt and plant the grass seed! Place the jars somewhere sunny and where the kids can observe them growing. Ours are on the kitchen window sill.
Nurture the experience:
Let’s talk about the growth cycle of a seed! As you are adding the dirt and the grass seed, talk about what it takes for the grass to grow. The discussion can be around what the seed needs to begin to grow (water, sunlight, and soil) but also how the seeds come to be in the first place. While looking this up to make sure I knew what I was talking about, I found this great website that shows a seed growing but also different ways that seeds are dispersed.
Earth Day Reading
There are a lot of great books out there that talk specifically about Earth Day but also classic books that address popular Earth Day topics. Don’t forget to infuse some nonfiction reading to enhance the learning experience!
The Lorax is a classic. This book has the classic characteristics of all the beloved Dr. Seuss books with the message of being aware of our effect on the Earth. The book tells the story of the Once-ler who came upon a new environment. The Once-ler is an entrepreneur and sees potential in this new environment to make a product that everyone must have! And he was right. He uses the Truffula Trees right down to the last one. Along the way, the Lorax, who is the voice for the trees, warns the Once-ler of what he is doing. This is a great book to spark conservation conversations with kids.
The Giving Tree is another book that speaks to what nature gives to us and is a classic. In this book, a little boy befriends a tree who gives him everything it has to make the boy happy. The boy goes on to live his life with little gifts from the tree. It is an endearing story with many lessons to be learned. Pick out your favorite topic from this book and start the conversation!
Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas is a nonfiction text designed for children. This book is a wealth of information! The book is divided by continent and then breaks the continent down into habitats. Different animals from each continent and habitat are highlighted. The correct names are used for the animals, and it is crammed with facts! The pages are colorful and designed to keep children’s attention. Drive the connection between habitat and continents more for your child by exploring this book before a trip to the zoo. The zoo is also broken out by continent and habitat. Your child will be able to make the connection between what they have learned in this book and what they are seeing at the zoo.