Earth Day, which is celebrated globally on April 22nd, is a great opportunity to teach nursery aged children to appreciate, respect and look after the environment. As these young children will one day become the custodians of the planet, it’s important to instil these values at a young age and to begin to inform them about the challenges the earth is facing, such as climate change, melting ice caps, pollution and the need to recycle.
Here at Little Rascals Nursery in Preston, we see Earth Day as a way to celebrate everything the planet provides us with and there’s no better place to do this than in our own, on-site, forest school garden.
For us, Earth Day celebrations will mean pulling on the wellies and getting out into the fresh air for a spot of mud making, hide and seek, log dog craft and collecting the leaves and twigs we need to make recycled art. Finally, we’ll finish off with some circle time around the camp fire where we’ll tell and reflect on stories that make us think about the environment while enjoying a celebratory treat.
As a parent, you may also want to celebrate Earth Day in your own way with your child. If so, here are some ideas for those living in and around the Preston area.
Read your child stories about the environment
Stories are a great way to open up young minds to big ideas and to get children to ask questions. There are plenty of children’s storybooks available on the various issues, most of which are illustrated so that your child can follow the story and see the things you are reading about.
You’ll find these books in the Preston Libraries or for sale in Waterstones. If you are looking for ideas, read this article from Penguin which lists some of the environmental storybooks they have published for youngsters. They include many popular children’s characters, such as Charlie and Lola and Peppa Pig.
Spend time outdoors
Preston is full of lovely outdoor spaces to visit, so packing a picnic and heading off to a beauty spot is a fantastic way to develop children’s love of and appreciation of nature. Avenham and Miller, Haslam and Moor parks are all on our doorstep, while the Lake District is only a stone’s throw away. We’re not too far from the coast, either, if that takes your fancy.
Here at Little Rascals, we take our children to Brockholes Nature Reserve as part of our Forest School programme and we thoroughly recommend it as a place to inspire young minds.
Get crafty and make recycled art
This is a great way to show very young kids about the importance of looking after the environment. Let your child rummage through your recycling box for any paper, plastic and tin cans that they can reuse to make a collage or a 3D model. You can add to this by collecting things from the garden, like leaves, twigs and acorns. All you need then is a pair of child-friendly scissors and a bit of PVA glue and you have everything you need to create a wonderful piece of recycled art.
You can always go one step further and, instead of using items from your recycling bin, you can use litter that has been left lying around in public. That way, you’re helping to tidy the local environment while teaching your child the importance of not throwing litter at the same time.
Children find it fascinating to watch things grow, so Earth Day is the perfect time to teach your child how to plant things. If you have a garden, you can reserve a little patch to dig and plant things in, and if not, all you need is a plant pot and some soil or compost.
From an environmental perspective, it would be great to show them how food is grown, so perhaps you could plant some apple or orange pips, tomato or pepper seeds, or even an old carrot or potato. Sunflowers are also great fun just because they grow so tall. As all these plants are edible in one form or another, it’s a real opportunity to introduce your child to the idea of sustainability, though you might need to use a slightly easier word for it.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways for parents to celebrate Earth Day with nursery aged children and, here in Preston, we have lots of places nearby where we can find inspiration and ideas.
If you are looking for a Preston nursery that offers a forest school programme, take a look at the Little Rascals Forest School Sessions page.