I remember the first time I celebrated Earth Day. I was a precocious elementary student. Our principal decided that the student body needed to restore the Idaho landscape … one tree at a time! When the appointed time arrived, we gathered around the tiny trees to be planted. Interestingly, my brothers were chosen to dig the holes for the trees. (Their picture was in the paper!) As I stood there, something inside of me rejoiced. An environmentalist was born.
15 The Eternal God placed the newly made man in the garden of Eden in order to work the ground and care for it. – THE VOICE
I believe one of the most important things we can do as parents, especially homeschooling parents, is teach a proper view of environmentalism. Unfortunately due to some extreme activism by humanistic groups, the term has been given a bad reputation. When my children attended public school, they learned about recycling, diminishing rain forests, alternative energy, global warming or climate change, and soil conservation. These are good things to understand. However, I want my children to know they are good because the planet belongs to God. They are to be good stewards of their Father’s world — from the largest mountain to the tiniest creature. It is not for them to exploit, abuse, or destroy. While teaching them how to care for the earth, I have taught them how to worship their Creator.
How to CARE for the Earth
Celebrate. Celebrate the amazing wonder of the created planet! How? Venture. Hike. Explore. SEE the environment. Use ALL five senses. Celebrate the awesome creative power of the Creator. He delights in this planet; we should too!
Advocate. Become an advocate for the planet. Locally, participate in conservation and environmental groups*. Know who your representatives are and how they stand environmental issues. “Adopt” an animal for a child’s birthday. (My daughter has a river otter, her favorite animal.) Consider creating a homeschool co-op for the purpose of advocating for the care of your community. Let your daily activities speak loudly that you are an advocate!
*Christians may join a faith-based environmental group like Earth Ministry if they do not agree with the worldview of groups like Sierra Club or World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Restore. I am often amazed at the resiliency of our planet. Despite the years of pollution, deforestation and exploitation of the inhabitants, it is constantly working toward restoration. Restoration begins with us, starting in our own backyards. Ways to restore our environment include:
- Use recyclable materials; recycle all materials; limit waste.
- Use energy-efficient appliances and lights.
- Create environmentally friendly landscaping; include areas to provide birds, insects, bees, and bugs shelter and nourishment.
- Compost kitchen waste.
- Limit use of toxic chemicals inside and outside.
- Plant a kitchen garden, or plant herbs and vegetables among traditional landscaping plants.
- Limit water consumption; consider installing a rain barrel for landscaping.
There are many ways to continue the restoration of the planet. Just one step by every person will make a difference!
Embrace. Embrace the planet. We are a part of the creation. When we do not recognize our place, we cause an imbalance in the finely-tuned cycle of life. Do not be afraid to embrace the sky, the land, the sea. The animals. The humans. All of this…sings of the majesty and wonder of the Creator!
The work of community, love, reconciliation, restoration is the work we cannot leave up to politicians. This is the work we are all called to do. ~Shane Claiborne.
I encourage everyone to start taking steps to show our children how to take care of the earth. It’s an amazing place and requires our care. Let’s make a difference for the future!
Learning Ideas & Resources
For older students:
- Older students may enjoy In the Hands of a Child’s Environmental Science unit study; use with Thames & Kosmos Alternative Energy and Environmental Science Sustainable Earth Lab.
- Art with recyclable materials: Heidi has an article about ways to promote art using upcycling. Trish shares a scrap paper wall art project.
- Read Gardening Eden: How Creation Will Change Your Faith, Your Life and Our World by Michael Abbaté.
For younger students:
- Explore bugs with Insect Lore Butterfly Garden or Uncle Milton’s Giant Worm Farm
- Incorporate nature study into science. I suggest Barb’s Outdoor Hour Challenges.
- PBS Kids has a great resource list of environmental activities for grades K-4
- READ, READ, READ. EXPLORE, EXPLORE, EXPLORE!
Do you and your children do anything special for Earth Day? We would love to hear about it!