Spring can be such a busy season in kindergarten with an accumulation of skills to teach and review, field trips, testing, and more. Sometimes holidays like Earth Day get lost in the shuffle–especially when they fall on a weekend. To help you avoid that post-Earth-Day guilty feeling, I’ve put together a list of simple (low-prep), meaningful, and child-centered Earth Day activities for kindergarten that will help you get your students thinking like little environmentalists!
Before beginning these Earth Day activities, you will want to access background knowledge and give your kindergartners some basic information about our planet, its resources, and how we can help keep it healthy. Your school library may have the perfect read-aloud to kick off your Earth Day activities, or you can check out this Earth Day slideshow in my shop or on TPT.
Now, let’s get to these simple Earth Day activities for kindergarten. Any of these activities can be a springboard for deeper learning. Hopefully, these ideas will get you started on planning a meaningful Earth Day with your class.
Clean up the school playground.
Cleaning up the school playground is an excellent way for young children to build a sense of ownership and responsibility for their school community while they take care of our planet Earth. As they clean, help them sort recyclables and talk about which items can be recycled and why.
Considerations: Depending on your schoolyard environment, you may wish to involve parent volunteers in this activity. Keep safety in mind and avoid letting children encounter any hazardous trash. You also might want to ask parents to send in disposable grocery bags for students to use to collect and sort trash. Repurposing these bags models reusing, another way we can take care of Earth.
Here’s a cute song about cleaning up a playground that you can play while children get settled back into the classroom (and wash their hands). This video actually includes three songs—the first is about picking up litter. The other two are about washing hands and eating fruit.
Plant a Pollinator Garden
An important part of caring for our Earth is supporting local ecosystems. Teaching children about native plants and pollinators will help them develop an understanding of human impact on the environment and how the things we choose to plant affect other living creatures around us. This cool website from the National Wildlife Federation can help you find out what butterflies and plants are native to your area so you can choose what to plant.
If there’s an appropriate space on your school grounds, you might choose to plant a garden, but be sure to consider the practicality of watering and maintaining it. Another option would be to make a container garden using a large flower pot. This could then be transported during school breaks if necessary. Or, have students plant seeds in cups that they can then bring home. Provide transplant instructions so they can add their plants to a garden at home (or at the home of a relative).
This video from SciShow gives an excellent explanation of pollination and shows how different pollinators are adapted to various plants. Use this to help students grasp the idea that the pollinators in your area evolved to depend on plants that naturally grow in their home environment. When people plant things that are not native to the region, local pollinators have a harder time finding food.
If you’d like to give your students an example of how pollinators affect an ecosystem, you might have them watch episode 38 of The Magic School Bus (“In the Rainforest”). In this episode, the children discover how people can accidentally upset an ecosystem by disrupting the lives of pollinators.
Write an Earth Day Song
Singing and movement work together to help students retain information while giving their brains and bodies an age-appropriate energy outlet. Have students help compose an Earth Day song and choreograph movements to go along with it. This Earth Day activity gives kids a brain break and allows them to feel ownership over the task and pride in creating something unique. Choosing a common childhood tune makes this a pretty easy task.
An example is to use the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” Start the children off with, “This is the way we pick up trash, pick up trash, pick up trash. This is the way we pick up trash to take care of our planet!” Have them develop a hand/body motion to pantomime picking up trash (which is a great opportunity to cross their midline, getting both sides of the brain and body working together). Then use chart paper to jot down student ideas for additional verses. (I’ve included some examples in the image below—you can find a PDF version in my subscriber freebie library.)
Make an Earth Day Craft
A craft project is an opportunity to reinforce Earth Day values and to teach more about our planet and how we should care for it. Consider a craft that reuses something that would ordinarily be thrown away or one that serves an Earth-friendly purpose. Making a birdfeeder out of a school milk carton (be sure to wash the cartons thoroughly!) or a pinecone and nut butter or suet is a fun way for students to turn their attention toward the local ecosystem.
A newspaper hat is an age-appropriate Earth Day craft that children can then incorporate into their imaginary play. Consider giving students materials to decorate their hats.
Another craft idea centers on the planet Earth itself. Have students use green and blue materials to fill in an outline of the planet. If you have a scrap bin with leftover construction paper, children can use those scraps to make a torn paper collage. Otherwise, paint, crumpled tissue paper, or even puffy paint made with shaving cream are fun materials to work with. (Grab an Earth outline template in my subscriber freebie library.)
Create a Plan to Make Every Day Earth Day!
As your students learn about Earth Day and caring for the environment, it’s important for them to understand that we all need to make changes to our daily habits and routines rather than simply engaging in a couple of one-time projects.
Earth Day is a great time to work together to make a plan for how to be good citizens of our planet going forward.
Consider sitting with your class and brainstorming a list of things they can do in their everyday lives to help Earth—things like turning off the water when they brush their teeth, making sure to only have lights and the TV on when they’re using them, and spending time outdoors instead of using devices that require electricity. Reflecting on the Earth Day activities you’ve done as a class will help them generate new ideas.
Then you can turn the focus on your classroom. Make an Earth Day resolution (or more than one) that your classroom community can collaborate on for the remainder of the school year. Write up your “planet pledge” on a piece of chart paper and have each child sign their name. (Grab a printable heading for your “Planet Pledge” in my subscriber freebie library.) Here are some resolution ideas:
- Create a “loose parts” center with a collection of re-purposed “trash.” Encourage families to save small items like plastic bottle caps, jar lids, corks, buttons, spools, and small containers (like those that mints come in). Store the loose parts in a bin that students can use for sorting, playing, patterning, and more.
- Reuse cardboard in an art center. Similar to the loose parts center, have students (and other teachers) save small cardboard containers (tissue boxes are a great size) and rolls (TP and paper towels). Students can use these to make any number of creations!
- Resolve to create less trash. Put plans into place to minimize what ends up in the classroom trashcans. This might look like saving paper scraps to use in the art center, having students bring reusable water bottles rather than drinking from single-use containers, or keeping a supply of hand towels and a laundry bin rather than using paper towels to dry hands.
- Advocate for schoolwide recycling. If your school doesn’t already participate in a recycling program, brainstorm what your students might be able to do to change that. Perhaps you could work on a persuasive letter to the powers that be using shared writing.
- Plan to clean up the school grounds regularly. Consider designating a day of the week for a regular playground cleanup during recess. Or have the students group themselves into “clean-up teams” that take turns tidying up more frequently.
This Earth Day episode of Betsy’s Kindergarten Adventures features recycling and reusing. It should get your students’ wheels turning about how they can reuse items that would otherwise be headed for the trash—and they will love seeing another kindergarten class participating in Earth Day activities just like they are!
No-Prep Classroom Read-Aloud
Give your students the Earth Day foundation they need with this simple slideshow. This 30-slide presentation uses simple language and clear images to teach young students about our planet’s resources and threats as well as what we can do to help. You can find this Earth Day slideshow here in my shop or over on TPT. This is a great way to help your students get the most out of your classroom Earth Day activities!
Thanks so much for reading! I’d love for you to comment with your favorite Earth Day activities!