25 Best Earth Day Activities to Help You Celebrate Nature

Karen Cicero

Now is the time to plan out what you’re going to do on Earth Day. Since the occasion falls on Monday, April 22, show the planet some love all weekend long. We’ve got some fun and meaningful Earth Day activities for kids and adults that can help you celebrate Mother Earth.

They include searching for ladybugs in the name of science, making fun tree rubbings, and, yes, even enjoying an ice cream cone. Work in as many as you can because the planet is counting on you.

And if you need even more ideas, these easy Earth Day-themed crafts can be a great way to educate kids about being green.

Things to Do on Earth Day

Have an Earth Day reading marathon.

Check out a handful of environmentally themed kids’ books from your local library and work in time for reading throughout the day. Bonus points if you do it outside! Several child-tested stories with an environmental component won a Good Housekeeping Kids’ Book Award.

Some of Our Favorites

Organize a clothing swap.

Does your family have outgrown kids’ clothes, gently-used pieces that aren’t your style anymore or even new items that you’ve never gotten around to returning? On Earth Day, gather a group of your besties or neighbors and invite them to a clothing swap at your place or potentially a community center. Set some ground rules — like the minimum and maximum number of items each person should bring and whether you’re focusing on a specific season. When possible, display clothes on a rack. Hopefully, guests will walk away with some new pieces for the season. Donate any leftovers from the swap to a local organization.

Cook a plant-based meal.

A study from Yale University found that plant-based diets produce 75% less water pollution and heat-trapping gas than diets that contain about 3 to 4 ounces of meat. On Earth Day, try a new plant-based recipe.

Help remove trash from your local park or beach.

Removing these items means they’ll be one less piece of trash for birds, turtles or whales to swallow. Clean-ups are taking place all over the world. Find one or register yours at The Great Global Cleanup.

Count penguins.

The Penguin Watch project needs citizens to count penguins in photos from Antarctica, so researchers can better understand the creature’s lives and environment. Cozy up on the couch and do your Earth Day good deed.

Collect items from nature.

Pick up sticks, rocks, feathers, pine cones and other natural finds in your backyard or at a nearby park, and challenge your child to use them — along with some other materials they already have — to make an art project.

Give yourself time to organize.

Stash extra tote bags in your truck — it’s so easy to walk out of the house without them! And while you’re at it, put a few refillable water bottles back there. Then set aside time to meal-plan for the week because that’s a strategy that will cut way back on food waste.

Get the kids a mud kitchen.

Buy a second-hand play kitchen — or look for one on your local Buy Nothing group — and keep it outside for the kids to make mud pies and other messy creations. The fun sensory play will allow your kids to feel more connected to nature.

Make a special Earth Day snack.

For kids ages 4 and older, spoon hummus into the bottom of a small cup, then stand up veggie sticks, like carrots and celery, so they look like they’re planted. For a big wow, you could throw a gummy worm in there!

Go out after dark.

Allow the kids to stay up a little later than usual to look for caterpillars. Bring a flashlight outside and try to spy inchworms and caterpillars hanging from silk threads in trees.

Visit a state park.

Since many national parks are overcrowded, plan a vacation (or day trip) that involves visiting one or more state parks instead.

Set up an Earth Day countdown.

Reuse your Christmas countdown calendar for Earth Day. Give your child a daily “gift” from nature, such as a cool pebble, seashell or wildflower pedal.

Feed the birds.

Birds are important for pollinating wildflowers! Help keep them nourished with a bird feeder. Buy one that has a suction cup that sticks to the window so you can spend time seeing the various species up close and personal. If you’re not sure what kind of birds are stopping by, download the Audubon Bird Guide app.

Look for ladybugs.

Some species of ladybugs are becoming rare. Help scientists find out what species of ladybugs are local to you by participating in The Lost Ladybug Project.

Westend61//Getty Images

Spend the afternoon in the garden.

Maximize your time by planting perennials that bloom every year. Here are 30 ideas for varieties based on your climate.

Create fun crayons.

Turn your kid’s old, broken crayons into fun shapes that they’ll love using to draw. The Paper & Stitch blog has a step-by-step tutorial. Your kids can help with some of the steps, such as separating crayons by color.

Plant a tree.

Oaks, birch and willow trees are among the species that support wildlife the most. Even if you have a small yard, there’s probably enough room for a tree.

Attend an Earth Day celebration.

Mingle with fellow stewards of the environment. Cities across the country are celebrating Earth Day with festivals that feature eco marketplaces, farmers’ markets, green car shows, and live entertainment. One of the longest-running and largest Earth Day festivals is taking place in Santa Barbara on April 27-28.

Level up your recycling game.

You know how to recycle plastic bottles. But how about some trickier household items, like batteries, old cell phones and appliances? Keep some of the 140 tons of waste that ends up in landfills every year. On Earth Day, check out our guide on to properly dispose of almost every kind of item you can imagine.

Make tree bark rubbings.

Take the kids outside with pieces of recycled paper, crayons and tape. Tape the paper to a tree trunk and encourage kids to rub their crayons over the paper. Repeat with different kinds of trees. Then ask the kids to compare. Put their favorite on the fridge!

Start with a smoothie.

Kick off Earth Day with a green smoothie. This pineapple cucumber smoothie from the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen is particularly delicious.

pineapple cucumber smoothie

Mike Garten

Sketch outside.

Set aside one of your notebooks as a nature journal, reflecting on the wildlife you see in your backyard or your community. Sketch plants and animals, write poems, doodle — fill the pages with whatever style suits you best. The important part: Carving out the time to observe nature.

Get an ice cream cone.

When you opt for a scoop in a cone, you’re saving a paper or plastic cup that may end up in landfill.

Ride your bike.

Leave the car parked and do one Earth Day errand by pedaling. Just don’t forget your helmet.

Take the kids on a scavenger hunt.

Make a list of items for older kids to find at the park or on a hike. You might even want to theme the hunt to look for items of a certain texture or color.

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