Earth Day offers a great opportunity for a play date party. And while Earth Day has become Earth Week has become Earth Month (yes, month!) playdate parties are a laid back way to celebrate no matter when you plan to host your party. So if you’re planning to celebrate Earth Day, plan an Earth Day Party, because 4 kids is usually much more fun than 2. And the word “party” gets kids excited.
Earth Day celebrates the Earth and all things natural. Depending on the ages of the children, party planners and goers can go deep with messages or stick to simple activities. Because Earth Day is about your surroundings, plan your party at a local park, an outdoor facility, or a backyard: one with an area for picnicking, whether it’s on picnic tables or by spreading out blankets.
Remind the parents to dress their kids to play in the dirt and mud and invite them to bring along a kid-friendly shovel (available at dollar stores) – though it’s not necessary, shovels make it all the more exciting.
Bring along small cups, a bag of soil, a thermos of water and a pouch of seeds – Zinnias and sunflowers work best because they’re nearly guaranteed to grow. Each child (even the toddlers) can dig her cup into the bag of soil, add three to five seeds and top with a little more soil. (Make sure the seeds are buried not more than a half inch below the surface.) Then add a little water from a thermos and set out the soon-to-be flowers on a flat surface while the kids play. Usually, within about a week, the flowers will start to bud — the kids will be so excited to watch them grow.
Complete the play date with Garden-friendly snacks like carrots and celery and, for the younger kids, Earth Day songs. When the kids leave, you can give them each a packet of tomato seeds to grow in their own gardens. (Tomato seeds are another nearly-guaranteed grower.)
Older play daters will love planting seeds using the activity above and children older than preschoolers can continue with even more activities. Host the activity at your house, work ahead and find a senior center that needs a little help in the garden or locate a local a park that will welcome a garden (just clear it with the parks department first and realize that you’re taking responsibility for upkeep.) This is a prime time to get children involved helping others and actively creating a garden of their own. Task the kids with cleaning up a garden that needs to be lifted from the winter by weeding, raking and re-seeding. (Make sure they’re wearing gloves, which can be purchased at the Dollar Store and make another great party favor).
Another Earth Day party option: take the kids on a scavenger hunt through a park or neighborhood. Give each child (or pair of children) a bucket to fill with all the nature items they find. If you’d rather not disturb nature, bring along a few cameras and task each group to take pictures of the items on the list. When the group returns home, print out the pictures and create an Earth Day Nature Memory Book.
Whatever you do for your Earth Day play date this month, remember that if it’s too frustrating, kids will shut down. So keep it light, sneaking in the lessons and every play date partier will be smiling.
What will you do for Earth Day this year?
This post has been edited and reprinted.
Image credit: photo ©2009 AnneCN, Flickr http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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