April 22, 2012 marks the 42nd Earth Day celebration. This year's theme is "Mobilize the Earth". Check out the Earth Day website (at either of those two links) for things you can do to help make the Earth a better place!
If you're planning a storytime or small activity for your local area, here are a few books you can share with young children that will help to reinforce the message - we can all work together to make a difference and save the planet!
Fancy Nancy: Every Day Is Earth Day by Jane O'Connor
Fancy Nancy does her best to make sure Mom, Dad, and her little sister do their part to protect the environment, but her efforts to be greener soon go too far.
Happy Dog Sizzles! by Lisa Grubb
When the weather is too hot for Happy Dog and his friends, they enter a contest to build the best walla-pa-doo--a creation made out of junk--and wind up discovering a way to cool off in the process.
The Tree by Dana Lyons
An 800-year-old Douglas fir ponders the many things it has seen in the natural world as it hears the bulldozers coming, and then some people arrive to save it from destruction.
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
A very old overcoat is recycled numerous times into a variety of garments.
Curious George Plants A Tree by Monica Perez
The mischievous monkey learns about protecting the environment by planting trees and recycling paper. Includes tips on conserving energy and resources.
Trouble With Dragons by Debi Gliori
When dragons cut down too many trees, blow out too much hot air, and do other environmental damage, the future looks grim, but other animals advise them on how to mend their ways and save the planet.
Any craft using recycled materials would be perfect for an Earth Day storytime, however, you can do an activity too, such as planting a tree or flowers appropriate for your area, or spending 20 mins outside picking up trash (for example, around your school or library).
Because I have limited time, I decided to make a terrarium using empty plastic water and pop bottles. This is a great project for any age and very flexible. You can use larger 2 LT bottles and plant a couple different seeds and/or plants or using a smaller 20oz size bottle and just plant one type of seed or plant. My project is with preschoolers so I went with 20 oz water and pop bottles and we're planting grass seed.
The most difficult part of this project is cutting the bottle!!! Do that a head of time; obviously don't let young kids try to do it! I used scissors and it was a bit difficult to actually puncture the bottle, but once done, the cutting was easy. Perhaps a craft knife will work better.
You'll want to cut the bottle about 1/3 down from the top. Put dirt and then seeds (or a plant) in the bottom portion, add some water and then put the top portion of the bottle back on. It will slide over the bottom portion with a little bending/squeezing!
If you're going to decorate the bottles, do so before you put them back together so the kids don't twist and turn their new seeds and plants around!
Enjoy, and have a wonderful Earth Day!