Earth Day 2021
In a recent poll, carried out by TeacherTapp, 70% of teachers said that they don’t feel they have been properly trained to teach about climate change, with 40% saying it was rarely even mentioned in their school.
We at PlanBee are passionate about creating age-appropriate resources to help primary school teachers feel confident when educating their classes about climate change. Our carefully designed ESR (Education for Social Responsibility) curriculum challenges children aged between 5-11 years old to explore what climate change is and how it can affect not only humans but the world around us.
With Earth Day fast approaching (20 - 22nd April) we wanted to explore what it is and how we can join in the movement to educate ourselves, and the children in our classes about climate change.
What is Earth Day?
Earth day is an annual event held on or around the 22nd April to demonstrate support for environmental protection and to teach each other about environmental issues. It was first held in 1970 in the USA and has now grown to international levels where events are planned across the globe. Its long term focuses include:
- Climate Action
- Science and Education
- People and Communities
- Conservation and Restoration
- Plastic and Pollution
Earth Day 2021 is actually a set of events and pushes in movements that happen over three days: 20th-22nd April. These events aim to encourage people to come together and join the world leaders to discuss what we can do to prevent the coming disasters which are a result of climate change. A way in which people try to achieve this is to focus on the education of others. This year’s theme is ‘Restore Our Earth’.
The events include a global youth summit which will consist of panels, speeches and discussions among today’s youth climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villaseñor, and Licypriya Kangujam.
April 21st will focus on the education of children in schools and the crucial role that we as educators play in making sure future generations have decent knowledge and understanding of what climate change is, and steps that can be taken to combat its effects.
On the 22nd there will be a global climate summit. Workshops, panels and performances will convey the theme of ‘Restore Our World’ and discuss topics such as:
- Climate and environmental literacy
- Climate restoration technologies
- Reforestation efforts
- Regenerative agriculture
- Equity and environmental justice
- Citizen science
- Cleanups, and more.
This video gives a child-friendly explanation of the history of Earth Day.
Why join in?
Earth day offers everyone, young and old, a chance to join together in a common cause: to make changes to combat the effects of and reduce further climate change. It is the perfect opportunity to help to educate the younger generations on steps we can all take to help our environment in the short term, as well as changes we can make to our lifestyles to make changes in the long run.
Earthday.org have a bank of educational resources to use with children of all ages to contribute to and learn about the environment around them.
Our ESR schemes cover many of the different areas that are mentioned above. We have three schemes that are specifically aimed to cover climate change:
How can I join in?
Your Earth Day activities can be as large or as small as you want them to be.
Taking a walk
Something everyone can participate in, no matter their age. Take a walk around your local area and take note of all the different animals, insects and plants you can spot. How many different kinds can you spot?
You may like to use these free identification charts for birds to help you.
Or create a scavenger hunt for each other, you could use these I Spy Outdoor Challenge Cards as a starting point.
Encourage younger children to identify where plants are growing, and where they are more likely to find insects, e.g. under logs, stones or dark damp spots.
Older children may be encouraged to think about the food chains that they can see. What does a caterpillar eat? Does anything then eat the caterpillar?
This could lead in to discussions about biodiversity and what may happen if you took away a food source such as leaves and grass. What would happen to the caterpillars, and their predators?
One of the main focus of this year’s Earth Day activities is cleaning up our environment to make sure waste ends up in the right place. Recycling is becoming easier and easier to do and commonplace in the UK, but there are still some areas that end up covered in litter. Why not take a look around on your walk and do your bit to clear up litter. Most councils will have litter picking equipment available to book out to use in a litter pick. Why not organise some of your local community to help? Or think even bigger and tackle a larger area such as a local park or beach. You can even register your cleanup on the Earth Day website!
Everyone has a ‘Foodprint’. This is the environmental impacts that are associated with growing, transporting, storing of and producing our foods. Whilst it’s true that vegetarian and vegan diets can help reduce your ‘foodprint’, you don’t have to give up your favourite foods for good if you’d like to reduce your ‘foodprint’. How about having a meat-free day? Learn new ways to cook meals with meat replacements, or just tasty ways to cook vegetables in different ways!
Do a taste test with your children. Do they prefer roasted, steamed or boiled carrots? Try new fruits for dessert and have your children help you prepare them. Life skills and new experiences in the same move!
Create a garden together. Whether it is a window box, a vegetable patch or just a single herb plant, teach your children how to care for a plant and keep it healthy. Even better if you get to use the fruits (and/or vegetables) of your labour in a new recipe!
Save Energy and Water
Have your children think about the energy and water being used at school and at home. How can we make sure we don’t waste energy and water unnecessarily? Challenge the children to create posters to put up around the area to remind users to turn off lights or the tap when they aren’t being used.
Our Water Scarcity lessons may be a suitable resource for this!
However you choose to mark the day, make sure you’re sharing your activities with your communities and with PlanBee! We’d love to hear what you get up to!