Happy Earth Day! Today, instead of making anything, I thought the best way to honour mother earth is to just be with mother earth. Be present, have nothing else to do other than spend time in nature, feeling grateful for all the natural abundance around us. This will teach your child to love nature, to see all of its gifts, and to feel grateful for them. It is also an opportunity to spend quality time as a family.

Best Ages for This Activity

Even if your child is a newborn, bundle up and go for a walk or a hike together, just spend time breathing the fresh air and being one with nature. I remember when I was pregnant, one day the sun was shining so I went outside and lifted my t-shirt up so my belly could feel the warm rays of the sun and said “See baby? That’s the sun shining!” It’s never too early to love nature!

What You Will Need

  • Comfortable shoes that can get dirty (for you and your child)
  • Comfortable clothes that can get dirty
  • A small bag or back-pack to collect treasures from nature
  • A magnifying glass if you have one, to look at things up-close
  • A camera your child can use to take photos
  • A picnic if you wish, or even just a snack
  • A blanket if you want to sit somewhere in the sun as a family and look at the sky, or have a nap
  • Disinfecting wipes to clean your hands if you need

Where to Go and What to Do

  • Invite your child (and family) to go on a hike in honour of the earth, since today is Earth Day
  • Choose an easy hike, or a walk near your home where you can see trees, nature, and hopefully not much else.
  • During your hike, or walk, chat with your child. Children always notice things around them, and love to stop and observe. They will be delighted that today you, too, have time to stop with them, and notice the world around them.
  • When you see something that moves you (for example, a breeze caressing your face, a flower, or a butterfly), simply say “Thank you earth for this treasure” or whatever you feel comfortable saying, but express gratitude for it. Then notice something else and express your gratitude for that, too. You can say to your child “I feel so grateful that the sun is shining and warming my skin, it feels so nice! Thank you, earth!” You child will soon find something to be grateful for and follow suit. If not, ask them: “What are you grateful for from the earth?”
  • Notice things on your walk, even take some treasures home, like fallen leaves, beautiful rocks, or pine cones – whatever your child likes; but:
    • Today at least, do not take anything that is alive (don’t pick flowers, don’t take live insects) – honour nature. If you want, take pictures of those things
  • Help your child take photos of what they like most (for some, it can be the view, for others, it may be a tree seen from below, an ant hill, or the clouds) – make sure taking pictures does not become the main activity during your walk – the main activity is to be with nature, be present, together.
  • As you walk, you don’t have to be chatting all the time, only if you feel like it. Be happy just walking in nature.
  • Stop somewhere nice and put your blanket down, have some lunch and a rest, keep talking about nature and ask your child lots of questions, about what they like about going on walks, or what smells in nature are their favourite, or what they saw, etc. Share what you love most, or share what you used to love as a child (I used to love eating raspberries right from the raspberry bush near my house)
  • Talk to your child about what things you could do as a family to take care of the earth (it can be planting a tree, recycling, using the car less, etc.)
  • Make your way back home. You don’t have to spend all day, 30 minutes if that’s all you have.

Learning Opportunities

This walk seems simple, but it teaches your child plenty! It teaches them to respect nature, it teaches them to love it, and to want to spend time in nature, which in itself has a multitude of health benefits. It also teaches them to be in the moment, an essential social and emotional skill. When you respect nature and take care of it, it teaches them the habit of contribution. When you find ways to take care of the earth (like learning not to litter, or to recycle), it teaches also your child the habit of contribution, respect, and citizenship. The walk in nature itself, and being present during it, teaches your child mindfulness. Plus, you will get some exercise, good for your child’s physical development.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Once you get home, you can take a shoebox or any other container and put the “treasures” from nature, which your child can revisit again and again.
  • You can make a book of nature with your child: use a beautiful but inexpensive notebook with blank like this one. There, help your child write the title (or write it for them if they are too young). Draw a photo and write their names as authors of the book (ex: Nature by John Smith). Inside, you can paste the photos you took on your walk or use masking tape to tape some of the treasures you found, like leaves, or seeds, or anything that you like. You can also have your child’s drawings of the things from the earth that they feel grateful for, and if they invite you to, you can draw or write the things you liked from the walk. You can print the photos you took on your walk and add them to the book. You can also help your child write the things they loved most about your walk, or draw a map showing how to get there (great for math). Once the book is done, display it proudly in your child’s library. Congratulations, your child just wrote a book! Watch as your child picks up their book time and again and relives all the learning experiences and bonding moments you had that day. They can also add to the book on your next walk, or as they learn new things about the earth. According to the Reggio Emilia early learning philosophy, documentation is an essential step in your child’s learning, and by helping your child document what they learned in this book, you did exactly that.
  • Sing a song about Earth Day – I really like this one
  • Learn more about Earth Day and what you can do to get involved on National Geographic
  • Color the earth! Here’s one of our CEFA Early Learning schools coloring pages you can download for free.

Books You Might Like

Click the images below to see where you can buy these products

Books for 2 to 5-year old’s