20 Fun Earth Day Activities for Kids in the Classroom

Earth Day is the perfect time to help your students gain an appreciation for our planet and everything it gives us, while also reinforcing science, reading, math, and writing skills.

These 20 activities offer a combination of independent and group practice options for Earth Day activities in the classroom and across the school.

earth day activities for kids

As you look around your school, you’ll probably see trash thrown on the playground, food wasted in the cafeteria, and recyclable materials tossed in the garbage can. Earth Day is the perfect time to address these issues and teach your students why it’s so important to take care of our planet.

You can pay homage to Mother Earth in numerous ways, and it’s never too early to start teaching your students about various ways to show appreciation, care, and respect for our planet. 

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is an annual celebration observed all around the world. It takes place every year on April 22nd. It’s a day to give thanks to planet Earth and bring everyone together to do various activities, like clean up an area, teach kids conservation techniques, and create some DIY crafts for plants and animals.

What Activities Can You Do For Earth Day?

The activities you can do for Earth Day vary among age and skill levels and can occur in school or at home. Activities can range from coloring printable Earth Day pages to a playground clean-up and even a scavenger hunt around a neighborhood. Children can build bird feeders, find objects to reuse rather than throw out, and celebrate Earth Day through song, dance, and simply being outdoors!

Earth Day Activities for Kids

As an educator, you can celebrate Earth Day in your classroom in lots of ways. Here are some popular projects and even an Earth Day craft you may wish to try!

1. Egg Cartons Planters

Several weeks before April 22nd, ask parents to send in empty egg cartons. These cartons are easy to fill with soil and serve as seed starters. During science class, allow little hands to scoop soil into each of the 12 compartments of the egg cartons and plant a seed of their choice. Place the cartons on a sunny window sill and invite students to water and monitor it over the next several weeks. Send each egg carton home with the seedlings that are starting to grow so they can be transplanted into a garden or a larger container. Students will be so excited to care for something they planted on their own!

2. Pine Cone Bird Feeder

The ultimate DIY project, all you need to do is gather one pinecone per student, some peanut butter, and birdseed. Allow little hands to get dirty, and have each child spread some peanut butter in the crevices of a pinecone. Roll the pinecone on a paper plate loaded with bird seeds. Once the pinecone dries, assist your pre-k or elementary students by tying some string to the top of the cone before hanging it on tree branches around your school building!

3. Trash to Treasure

One way to teach students about recycling and recycled materials is by creating Earth Day projects called “Trash to Treasure.”

Students scour their garbage cans for consumables or recycling bins for a plastic bottle or a cardboard box. They can look through their closets, toy bins, or even in their garage for unwanted, unused items that would or could be tossed in the trash or recycling bin.

Their task is to create something totally new from something old or useless, teaching them what it means to upcycle. Students could create a pencil holder, a memory box, a birdfeeder, a blanket-the sky’ssky’s the limit! Put all of your students’ Earth Day projects on display so that all students and staff can enjoy at their viewing pleasure.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll even inspire others to do the same at home!

4. The Lorax Letters

A great way to incorporate Earth Day and writing is to create a pretend letter addressed to The Lorax himself.

Whether you read the story or watch the movie, tell students they have to write a letter to this magical figure to share a promise they are choosing to make and follow year-round in regard to being more energy efficient and conscious of the world around them.

For more ideas, check out this TeacherVision lesson plan: Dr. Seuss and Resource Use: Featuring The Lorax

5. Earth Art Activity

Give each student an Earth Day coloring page. Allow them to use crayons or markers to color it in. Display each page around your classroom or send home to remind parents to make Earth Day a priority. You can even type up some kids’ activities to complete at home as a family for an extension or extra credit project.

6. Earth Day Crafts for Kids

There are many different crafts for kids that you can set up as centers or do during a Math or an ELA class. One favorite among educators and kids is a coffee filter Earth.

Give each student blue, and green markers and a blank coffee filter opened up. Allow them to loosely draft an outline of continents on the filter and fill in these land mass representations with dabs of green color.

Do the same with the other space on the filter, with blue dabs representing the ocean. Let the color sit for a moment before giving each filter a spritz of water from a mini water bottle. The color will spread out and make a tie-dye effect while still representing an abstract version of Earth.

Punch a hole in the top once it dries to create a banner to hang across your room or in your hallway, or send the blue-green beauty home for families to enjoy!

7. Design a Recycling Bin

One way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to recycle! Allow each student to design their recycling bin to take home and use with their family!

Collect cardboard boxes a few weeks before Earth Day. Give each child one. Let them decorate it as they please, using puffy paint, crayons, markers, or stickers.

Ask each child to take it home and place it next to a garbage can to remind them to start recycling their goods if they aren’t already. It can serve as their special recycling box just for them to use!

8. Have a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Challenge

Start by teaching your students the difference between reducing, reusing, and recycling. Make a list of ways you can do each one. Have your students keep a journal for a week. They should write each time they reduce their amount of waste, reuse something they would normally throw away, or recycle an item.

At the end of the week, your students can share some of the ways they helped to save the planet.

9. Recycled Material Carnival

Once your students have a good understanding of how to recycle, have them bring in some materials from home that they are recycling, like plastic bottles, egg cartons, and cereal boxes. When you have a collection of recyclables, allow your students to use them to create carnival games. The soda bottles make a great ring toss!

Once your carnival is set up, invite other classes to play your games. This is a great way to repurpose garbage.

10. "I Dream of a World" Writing Prompt

Have your students think about what kind of world they want to live in. They can make a list of all the things their ideal world would have - clean water, lots of animals, and a clear blue sky. Then, they should write a paragraph using the sentence starter, “I dream of a world where. . .”. After they have written about the perfect world, they can draw a picture to go with their descriptive paragraph.

Use their finished work for displaying in the hallway for Earth Day!

11. The Big Backyard Challenge

Earth Day is also a good opportunity to encourage your students to put away their electronic devices and go outside and enjoy nature. The Big Backyard Challenge is something my school created to get our students off computers and video games. There are 5 Bingo boards filled with fun activities to do outside without any technology.

Find out more about this fun challenge.

12. Nature Collage

Help your students appreciate the beauty of nature by creating nature collages. Take your class on a nature walk outside your school to collect leaves, small branches, pinecones, or any other elements of nature. You could also have your students collect things from their neighborhoods and bring them to school.

Have your students make nature collages. All they need are the materials they gathered, glue, and paper. Let them use their imaginations to create unique designs.

13. No-Waste Lunch

Waste at lunch is a huge problem at most schools. When we enter the cafeteria to collect your students, all you'll see is trays of food being dumped into the garbage. Plus, there are so many plastic bags, aluminum foil wrappers, and paper lunch bags added to the trash each day.

To make your students more aware of this problem, you can introduce a no waste lunch on Earth Day. They have to bring all their food in reusable containers. Have a picnic outside without any garbage cans. Everything that comes outside with them has to go back inside in their lunchboxes. This activity will make your students more aware of just how much waste they make, and many of them may try to be waste-free for the rest of the year.

14. Earth Day Science Activities

One great way to include this special holiday in your classroom is to conduct science lessons and experiments with this theme. One thing you can do is teach students about water pollution!

Put students in groups of 3. Give each group a plastic bin. Put an object in each bin, such as a plastic animal figure or a toy car-something small enough to fit in the bin. Fill each bin with water so that the item is submerged.

Now, for the fun part! Have students “pollute” their water bin with items you provide them (cups of oil, soil, playdough, wrappers, etc.). Students pass their bins clockwise to a different group to brainstorm how to clean the polluted object again. This is a great way to transition into oil spills and how they affect the land, water, and animals!

15. Earth Day Sensory Bin

A fun way to incorporate Earth Day into preschool activities, creating a sensory bin is fun and festive. Whether you use one huge bin or several little bins, the point of the bin is to fill it with fun-to-touch, textured objects found in or around nature!

Consider filling one bin with grass cuttings, dandelions, pinecones, acorns, small twigs, clovers, and even pebbles. You could fill another one with different types of seeds and another one with blue orbeez. Little hands love to get dirty, and experimenting with texture is an important part of their development!

16. My Five Promises

Using a template of Earth, trace each student’s hand inside the Earth. Outline it with a black marker. In the palm part of the hand, have each student write “My Five Promises.”

Students must brainstorm ways to better treat the Earth with respect. Whether it be picking up trash off the ground, using less water during a bath or shower, or installing energy-efficient light bulbs in their lamps at home, the activity gets students thinking about ways to cut down on their carbon footprint.

This is a wonderful activity to do as early finisher work or in small groups so that children can brainstorm and share ideas.

"It’s never too early to start teaching your students about various ways to show appreciation, care, and respect for our planet."

What Can Schools Do For Earth Day?

In addition to celebrating Earth Day in your classroom, you can involve the entire school. Consider a school-wide clean-up. Whether students wear gloves or the faculty and staff stay after work for an hour showing the community they care, a school-wide clean-up sets a great example for all and leaves the grounds looking great! 

17. Plant Power

Consider having each grade level create seed bombs to toss around the school. Kids of all ages can learn about composting and reducing their carbon footprint. It may be a wonderful idea to invite outside resources into the school to host an assembly or to read Earth Day books to students so they can learn more about doing their part in their community and at home.

18. Host An Earth Day Clean-Up Day At School

Earth Day is the perfect time to clean up the area around your school. Assign each grade level a different outside area. Throughout the day, the teachers can take their classes outside, and each student has to pick up 5 pieces of trash from the assigned area. You will need lots of garbage bags and hand sanitizer for this activity; however, the difference it makes will be amazing.

You can even extend this activity beyond Earth Day, and have each grade check on their area once a month to keep your school campus looking beautiful.

19. The Wartville Wizard

Once you’ve cleaned up your school, read The Wartville Wizard. The wizard is given the “power over trash” and can send garbage back to the person who littered.

We think about how many things we would have stuck to us and make a pledge never to litter again. I also encourage my students to pick up trash around their neighborhoods, just like they did at school.

20. Planting Trees Party

Finally, many schools host a planting trees party where a new tree is dug and planted in front of the students, followed by a party. It’s a fun way to celebrate this day. You may even want to leave chalk out on the blacktop or sidewalks around the school building so kids of all ages can draw different ways they can conserve or show off their best Earth Day art!

"Doing some of these Earth Day activities in your classroom will make your students aware of the part they play in keeping our planet healthy."

In conclusion, Earth Day may only come around officially once a year, but as an educator, it is important that all students consider every day to be “Earth Day.” With a bit of creativity, effort, and modeling, students will begin to open their eyes and pay closer attention to the world around them and how they play an essential role in the world! Consider one (or all) of these activities to try in your pre-k or elementary classroom today!

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter at TeacherVision to stay up to date with our latest resource and articles. You can even create a free account to stay updated with the latest educational tips, trends, and activities.

If you need even more Earth Day activities, our resource hub has more festive Earth Day fun! Check it out!

About the author

Heather Aulisio


About Heather

Heather Aulisio (B.S., M.S. Ed.) is a 5th grade math and science teacher. She has been teaching in a public school setting for 19 years. Heather has previously taught third… Read more

loading gif