DIY activities for this Earth Day

We're a day early this week for Earth Day with a special article from Earth Warriors Global!

This week’s article comes to us from Keya Lamba & Shweta Bahri from Earth Warriors Global!

Keya is an early childhood expert, Zaentz fellow, and a Harvard & UCLA Alumna. Shweta is a sustainability and education policy expert and an alumna of Cambridge and LSE.

Encourage your child to build a bond with nature with these Do-It-Yourself activities this Earth Day that are fun for them & good for the planet. 

We all know that children’s early years are a powerful time to build habits and values that can last a lifetime. The fact is 90% of brain development happens before the age of 5 (Harvard Center on the Developing Child) and research shows that learning through play is critical for children’s skill development for the future (The LEGO foundation). At Earth Warriors our objective is to enable children in their early years to build a bond with and love for nature, along with individual behavior and action, to enable them to engage in a systems-level change later on.

We believe that children in their early years can learn about climate change and sustainability through play-based activities that use a positive, solutions-focused approach. Here are five Earth Warrior activities that you as a parent or guardian can do with your child at home to start building sustainable habits and nurture their love for nature. 

Activity 1 - Make Your Own Pot

This activity is fun for your child and good for the planet! Find an empty yogurt pot or loo roll for your child. Get your child excited to paint, color, and stick materials on the yogurt pot or loo roll, to design their own unique food grower! Here’s an example using a Pepsi can: 

What will your child be learning? 

Early years skills: This activity is great for motor skill development, creativity, and imagination. 

Earth Warrior knowledge: Explain to your child that instead of throwing away these materials, you used them to make a pot that you can now grow your own food in! 

Activity 2- Grow Your Own Food

This activity is easy, fun, cheap, and delicious. It’s perfect for an urban environment without much outdoor space. All you need is a pot (you can use the pot from Activity 1), seeds or vegetable scraps, water, and sunlight. The experience of getting their hands dirty, digging in pots, and playing with seeds from tomatoes, onion bulbs, beans, and peas, engenders an emotional connection and love for nature. An example is growing your own cress heads in eggshells or on kitchen paper. 

What will your child be learning? 

Early years skills: This activity is great for motor skill development and early science observation and data collection skills. Your child will monitor the changes in the plant growth process over a period of time. 

Earth Warrior knowledge: Explain to your child that instead of buying food, they can grow their own food to eat! This is a more sustainable way for people to live. 

Activity 3 - Make Your Own Toy

Save any old items you have around the house from kitchen rolls to empty milk cartons to yogurt pots and use them for this activity. Your child can get creative with designing and making his/her own toys. An example is making and coloring in a robot from old tissue boxes and loo rolls. 

What will your child be learning? 

Early years skills: This activity is great for motor skill development, creativity, and imagination. This also tests children's problem-solving skills as not all materials will fit together on the first go. 

Earth Warrior knowledge: Explain to your child that instead of buying a new toy that produces waste and using resources, they are creating their own special toys and helping protect the Earth at the same time! 

Activity 4 - Upcycle Old T-Shirts

Create something new out of something old! Give your child an old t-shirt (ideally a light-coloured one) and provide them with some markers to decorate and design their shirt. Then help your child cut a deeper hole in the neck of the shirt and tie the bottom to make a tote bag. Tell your child that you will take this bag with you the next time you go shopping so you don’t have to use a single-use plastic bag. 

What will your child be learning? 

Early years skills: This activity is great for fine motor skills, creativity, and imagination. 

Earth Warriors knowledge: Explain to your child that this activity shows that it is possible to reduce waste by reusing and upcycling old things and turning them into new things. 

Activity 5 - Nature Treasure Hunt

Go on a hunt with your child for nature’s treasures! Tell him/her that a treasure trove is a collection of special things and that nature is full of special objects. You can make binoculars out of old loo rolls and string for students to “spy” their treasures. You can have your child decorate old egg cartons to collect their treasures in. Go for a walk with your child in your local environment to collect their treasures such as leaves, sticks, and pine cones. 

What will your child be learning? 

Early years skills: Understanding the world; physical development; Speaking and Listening, well-being.

Earth Warriors knowledge: This activity starts to build a lifelong bond with nature. Your child begins to appreciate all the treasures nature has to offer and how special nature is and that we have to protect our planet, even as young kids!

Try these out and let us know what you think!

Keya Lamba grew up in Hong Kong and began her career as a Kindergarten teacher in California with Teach for America. Over the past eight years, Keya has taught in early childhood classrooms, designed and facilitated teacher professional development, and created play-based curricula for low-resource settings. Most recently, Keya has designed the early childhood radio scripts for Rising Academy Network’s Rising On Air program, supporting over 10 million students globally during COVID-19 school closures. Keya has a Master’s in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she was an Early Childhood Education Zaentz Fellow, & an undergraduate degree in International Development and Chinese from UCLA.

Shweta Bahri grew up in India and is an education policy specialist who has worked with governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society in South Asia and Africa over the last 10 years. Alongside technical assistance, policy design, and evaluation, Shweta also has strong experience in management and strategy development. Shweta started her career at Oxford Policy Management and most recently worked at the Ark Education Partnerships Group. She is also the founder of No More Waste which is a platform to promote sustainable solutions for individuals and businesses in India. Shweta has a Master’s in Public Administration from the LSE & an undergraduate degree in Land Economy from Cambridge University.