Earth Day has always been an important occasion at The New Century School—you can read about past observances at the end of this post. This year, Earth Day deserves our attention more than ever. For one, it’s the 50th anniversary of our planet’s largest civic event and the birth of the modern environmental movement. April 22, 1970 saw the U.S. population come together to protect our land, air, and water, and the movement has exploded worldwide since then.
But with the ongoing rollback of some of the most important environmental protection laws passed in the ensuing half century in the United States, the theme of Earth Day 2020 is, fittingly, Climate Action: Fight Today for a Better Tomorrow—because we need to halt this backslide.
Environmental sustainability is a cherished value at TNCS, and students regularly engage in supporting initiatives to keep our surroundings clean, healthy, and safe. With COVID-19 keeping all of us at home or at least socially distant, how can we show Planet Earth the love and respect it deserves?
Well, the TNCS Parent Council has you covered with their fresh take on Earth Day! Parent Council Director Sakina Ligon and Member Tilly Gurman felt that TNCS students needed to continue the tradition of recognizing Earth Day for the important occasion it is and put their heads together on how. Says Ms. Gurman:
Earth Day is celebrated all over the world on April 22nd to highlight the importance of protecting the environment. This year, the coronavirus forces us to be physically distant. As a result, the TNCS Parent Council is not able to host an in-person Earth Day event, as we have done in years past. At the same time, we can still come together as a virtual TNCS community and share the spirit of respecting and caring for the Earth.
Since we have been spending much of our days inside, the TNCS Parent Council would like to encourage families to think about ways to celebrate the Earth outside the home. Let’s celebrate our TNCS community and engage with the Earth, all while respecting physical distancing and staying healthy.
Top 10 Ways to Observe Earth Day 2020!
This list was specially curated by Ms. Gurman to get us outside safely and includes age-appropriate activities, ranging from appreciating nature to community service, for everyone. Choose an activity as-is from the list or modify one to fit your family’s needs. Either way, enjoy your Earth!
- Engage in a shape walk or collect the rainbow: Go for a walk outside, either near your home or in a more remote area. Take note of what shapes/colors you find.
For the shape walk, look to see how many different shapes you are able to identify in nature. Visit Scholastic.com and GreatSchools.org for great tips.
For collecting the rainbow, see if you can find something in nature for each color of the rainbow. Use this handy checklist.
- Do a nature scavenger hunt: Have fun exploring the environment around you, similar to the shape walk or collecting the rainbow. The difference with this activity is that you start with a specific list of things to:
See (e.g., spider web, wildflowers, birds, squirrels)
Collect (e.g., pinecones, feathers, rocks)
Do (e.g., climb a tree, create a leaf rubbing, record a bird singing)
Photograph (e.g., sunrise/sunset, animal tracks, bird nest).
See how many of the items on your list you are able to identify. Use this example checklist; additional guidance can be found at HomeScienceTools.com and ProjectLearningTree.org.
- Have a picnic: Enjoy spring by having a picnic outside with your family. It can be outside your house or somewhere else nearby.
- Clean up your community: Don some gloves and walk around your neighborhood with a trash bag and pick up trash you see lying around. Separate recyclables from non-recyclables.
- Plant natives: Plant a plant that is native to the area, which is good for both the local environment and the insects and birds who make it their habitat.
For a container garden, see Wikilawn.com and Native Plants for Container Gardening in the Mid-Atlantic.
For a ground garden, see the BaltimoreSun.com, and the UMD Home and Garden Information Center.
- Perform outside: For those who like to sing or play an instrument that is portable, you can find a place outside to perform a song or two for family, neighbors, and friends (from a safe distance, of course).
- Write a poem: Write a poem for Earth Day and display on your window for anyone who is passing to enjoy.
- Create art using found materials: Go for a walk outside, either near your home or in a more remote area. Using materials found during your walk (either natural or manmade materials), create some form of art. It could be a sculpture combining the various pieces or you could use what you found as a brush or sponge to apply paint to canvas/paper. Be creative or visit KinderArt.com, BuggyandBuddy.com, or HappyHooligans for inspiration.
- Paint or draw en plein air: Not feeling like going for a hike? Take some coloring or drawing supplies and spend some time in your backyard or a nearby park to draw in fresh air. Let the outdoors inspire what you draw. You can then choose to display your artwork at home on a window for people passing by to enjoy.
- Create chalk art: Use chalk to draw or write a message on the sidewalk outside your house to share a message for Earth Day 2020. Be creative! The message can focus on specific messages (e.g., reduce, reuse, and recycle) or can be more general.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways we can overcome circumstances and celebrate Earth Day 2020 with plenty of fresh air and vigor. But that’s not all—we really need the “come together” part of this to boost our community. Ms. Gurman says, “Let’s also share our voices and experiences with one another. We’d love to have families share what they do by posting via social media with the hashtags #TNCSEarthDay2020, #TNCS, and #TNCSVirtualSchool.
So, from Sunday, April 19th through Sunday, April 26th, we ask you to post your Earth Day activity on the TNCS Facebook page using the hashtags above and also tagging @thenewcenturyschool (don’t forget the “the”!). Another option is to post in comments under the Earth Day event post on Facebook. Or, if you prefer, you can also send us your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org with Earth Day in the subject line, and we’ll post them for you.
. . . by the way, if getting outside is not going to happen for you for whatever the reason (not judging!), tune into Earth Day Live 2020 and enjoy virtually!