Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is an important day during which we celebrate our Earth and a remind ourselves to take care of our planet so that generations to come can enjoy a healthy and clean planet.

 The first celebration of Earth Day occurred on April 22nd 1970. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, at the time a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, was inspired to start an environmental awareness movement after witnessing the destruction of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill in California. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media and promptly recruited a national staff of 85 people to help assist with the "teach-in". 

On April 22nd, 1970 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in huge rallies across the entire county. Many students at various universities and colleges participated in the demonstration as well as many environmental groups that had been operating independently before Earth Day.  These groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories, pesticides, the extinction of wildlife and other concerns realized that they had common goals and could accomplish much by working together.

 The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. For more information on Earth Day, including how you can take action and Earth Day events around the country, check out their website.

To further explore the Earth Day holiday, History.com provides videos about global warming and speeches from environmental advocate Al Gore. 

A great way to celebrate Earth Day is by creating an awesome craft from recycled materials or adventuring outside to enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors (and you will also be using less electricity!) . You can learn some more facts about Earth Day and also get some fun craft ideas at DLTK-Kids.com.  Tinkerlab has a fun list of 50 Earth Day activities for kids. Hands on as We Grow has compiled a list of 34 recycled and upcycled crafts and activities for children. Disney's Spoonful website has an entire page devoted to supplying you with awesome crafts, activities and recipes to celebrate Earth Day. One of my favorites is their suggested 8 ways that kids can help save the planet! Try making a compost bin using a plastic storage bin as pictured below. 

Image from http://spoonful.com/crafts/decorate-a-compost-bin.

Even the smallest of children can benefit from learning about Earth Day. It is great to establish an awareness of the importance of the environment and your responsibility to help keep it clean at a young age. Take a look at Scholastic's ideas for educational Earth Day activities and lesson plans in the classroom. Even if you aren't a teacher, any parent can gain inspiration for home activities from these awesome suggestions.

If you are in need of some Earth Day inspiration, read some of the amazing environmental quotes put together by Parade for Earth Day. I found the lovely quote from Jane Goodall on their list and thought it truly encapsulated the sort of message that we should be sharing on Earth Day.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall

If you want to become more active with your communities environmental efforts year-round, you can help in a multitude of ways. Some examples could be planting a community garden, making sure local businesses and home have recycling bins and volunteering your time to assist local environmental protection groups. You can learn more about environmental campaigns that you can help with through the Earth Day Network, such as pledging to eat less meat. In Northeastern Ohio the Earth Day Coalition provides workshops, volunteer opportunities and even a student leadership program on environmental education for high school students. Check out their page to see how you can be involved!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring, Sprang, Sprung!

We don't want to jinx the winter weather demons... but we are so ready for spring! We'd love to share some of our favorite spring inspired books and activities with you.

What Will Hatch? Written by Jennifer Ward and Illustrated by Susie Ghahremani (Walker Children's)

This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to a variety of different eggs and we are asked to solve the riddle, what will hatch?  Ward does include a rhyming hint for each animal before you can lift the flap to see who is hiding.  

If you wanted to do something crafty with old egg cartons, look no further!  Homemade Serenity shared a DIY wreath you can make by simply cutting, painting or coloring, and gluing! 

I Hatched! Written by Jill Esbaum and Illustrated by Jen Corace (Dial)

This story follows a newly hatched chick as he explores the new world around him.  Our little friend in this book is so cute and plucky, we are as excited as he is that he finally hatched.  He spends his entire first day learning and exploring and by the end of the book he is ready to show off all he learned to his newly hatched baby sister.  

A Book of Babies Written and Illustrated by Il Sung Na (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Il Sung Na creates such beautiful books!  This story shows many different animals on their first day and readers get to travel along with a curious little duck as we learn all about them.  

And Then It's Spring Written by Julie Fogliano and Illustrated by Erin Stead (Roaring Book Press)

We love this book so much that we used the illustrations as our inspiration for last summer's window painting.  This book follows a young boy and his dog who decide to take matters into their own hands.  They decide they've had enough of the brown world winter brings and begin to plant seeds.  This story reminds us that we need to be patient for spring to arrive, just as they must wait to see signs of spring.

A cute craft to go along with this book would be to make your own plant markers.  Head over to What We Do All Day for some inspiration.
More Written by I. C. Springman and Illustrated by Brian Lies (HMH Books for Young Readers)

This book follows a bird preparing his nest and gathering a whole bunch of items to spruce it up.  Luckily, this magpie is good friends with some mice who help him address his hoarding problem. This story would be a good read as we get ready for spring cleaning and helps us remember that more isn't always better.

If you're looking to help out our feathered friends this spring, think about putting materials out for them to build their nests.  We loved the natural-looking display idea from Birds and Bloom and Duncraft.  You can get the grapevine balls at craft stores and simply fill them with cotton, yarn, ribbons, or other soft household goods.

 We hope you enjoy the season and all its beauty!