How to celebrate Earth Day, according to Osmo’s curriculum director
Claire Galdun, Osmo’s curriculum manager and mom of two, has a simple plan for parents looking for an Earth Day activity this year: Take a walk.
It can be a hike or just a stroll around the neighborhood. During the walk, have a conversation with your child about what’s going on around them. Here are some suggestions of what to chat about:
For kids who are zero to four years old: “Just ask them broad general questions like ‘what do you see on our walk?'” Claire suggests. “And if they struggle to start you can start for them and you can draw out their ideas for them by pointing out things they may not have noticed or don’t yet have the words for.”
So, for example, if they say “tree” or “bush” you could point out a cactus and say “that’s a cactus.” Or you could point out the clouds or an earthworm or something that they miss. “So for those kids it’s really just about labeling,” she said.
For the slightly older kids (pre-k, kindergarten, first graders): “You can have them start to compare the things that they’re seeing,” Claire says. “So you start off with the same broad question of ‘what do you see’ and then after kids identify a couple of trees, you can ask them questions about the trees like ‘what do you notice about the trees – which tree is taller? How do you know which tree is shorter?'”
For flowers, you can talk about what color the flower is – but dig more deeply for an answer about it. For example, if a child says a flower is pink, perhaps point out what shade of pink it is. “The goal is to broaden vocabulary and start those early math concepts through comparisons,” Claire explains.
And for first through third graders: Claire suggests questions asking for specifics about anything pointed out on the walk. “For example: ‘This is a maple tree, what do you notice about a maple tree? This is an oak tree, can you compare the two? What do you notice about specific type of of cactus?'” (Her son, she says, is currently obsessed with cacti, so this is a popular topic on her nature walks.)
Then, make it an art project: “Something like collect a fallen leaf and do a rubbing in a book at home or start a ‘my neighborhood leaf collection’ and write down what type of leaf it is,” Claire suggests. “The important thing is just getting kids outside and interested in their environment so that they care more when they’re older and have the choice to work and protect the environment.”
Another idea: Teach kids how to recycle and why we do.
“You can start even with little littles, with sensory bins,” Claire suggests.
To do this: Put in recyclable objects like egg cartons and just have the baby feel all of the different textures. Then, you can keep the same bins and ideas and have 3-6 year olds sort things into different bins based on their attributes. “It’s really good to get kids talking about these things because I notice when my son goes to throw things away, he’s fine at our house because he knows that front trash is trash, back trash is recycle, easy enough, but when we go to places like the Oakland Zoo I noticed he was staring at the trash station,” she says. “He was like there’s five different spots, I don’t know where any of this goes. So it can start really good conversations about what is compost vs. what is trash vs. what is recycle vs. what is paper recycle.”
And for older kids, try having them design the layout for trash and recycle at your house.
So if they wanted to create a compost pile or if they wanted to label the trash can, the recycle can, the clean recycle, etc. that would be a good thing for first, second, third graders to do around the house. “Just another fun quick activity,” Claire points out, “because everyone has trash and everyone has recycle.”