Earth Day is a great excuse to get kids outside and organize fun games for them to play. Centered around nature, these activities show kids the beauty of being outside, help them explore the natural world, and teach valuable lessons about recycling and caring for the planet.
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Divide kids into pairs for some classic wheelbarrow racing fun! If you have two real wheelbarrows to use, the rules are simple enough: just have one kid from each pair sit inside and let the other push as they race to the finish line.
No wheelbarrows? Play the old-fashioned and create a human wheelbarrow. Have one child get on their hands and knees, and another lift them by the feet. The two have to work as a team—one with their feet and the other with their hands—to get to the finish line as fast as they can.
You can also have a relay race with real wheelbarrows. Have players take turns transporting something inside, such as a pile of dirt or set of gardening tools, to the other end.
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Ready, Set, Recycle!
Recycling is an important lesson that kids can learn at any age. It's something that they can put to use the rest of their lives and making a game out of it can create a lot of fun memories.
To set up this game, you will need to line up a few empty bins and label them for different types of recyclables (e.g., glass, plastic, metal, etc.). Gather two collections of recyclable items that include at least one thing to fit each category.
Divide players into two teams and give each team one set of recyclable materials. Have them line up several feet away from the bins.
To play the game, have one player from each team select an item, run it to the bins and drop it into the correct one. They must then run back and tag another player in line who then grabs the second item and drops it in a bin. This continues until all of the items have been sorted into the correct bins. The first team to finish wins.
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Hopscotch is a simple, traditional outdoor game. It usually requires a piece of chalk and a concrete surface on which to draw the board. This version of the game, however, is inspired by nature, and therefore uses natural elements to form the board.
To start, have the kids collect a bunch of sticks, rocks, and leaves. Help them arrange the materials in the pattern of a hopscotch board. Once the board is done, they can use a rock to toss and play hopscotch as usual.
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Like the hopscotch game, you can use the same method of natural grid-making to create a board for a game of human tic tac toe.
You will need at least 10 people to play, so this game is best for a large group, but adults can join in the fun. Using your found objects, create a giant tic tac toe board on the lawn and divide the group into two teams. Each person becomes a marker, acting as either an "X" or an "O," depending on which team they're on.
The game is a lot of fun and sure to inspire smiles from everyone. You can play quite a few rounds, giving a nature-inspired prize to the winning team.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Earth Day Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is a great group activity that kids of any age will enjoy. You can play in your backyard or take this game to a park.
Before they head outside, have the kids make a list of natural elements that are commonly found in nature such as twigs, leaves, blades of grass, stones, flowers, etc. Make two copies of the list, divide the players into two teams and hand them each a list along with a basket for their found objects.
The first team to return with all of the items on the list wins the Earth Day scavenger hunt.
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Earth Day Art Projects
A good follow-up activity to any of the collecting games is to have the kids do an art project using the natural elements they've found. They can paint the rocks, make headbands out of flowers, create leaf paintings, or build fairy houses out of twigs.
Recyclable materials can also be used for this project. The kids may like to create fun sculptures and miniature garden houses that incorporate the items from nature.
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A flower pot planting party is a fabulous way to celebrate Earth Day. With just a few supplies, the kids can paint small flower pots, then plant a seed inside that they can take home, nurture, and watch grow. It's a great project that keeps kids busy and can get them thinking about the benefits and fun of gardening.
For the seeds, be sure to choose a plant that's easy to grow so the kids don't get disappointed. Flowers are fun and showy plants, so consider marigolds, Shasta daisies, or sunflowers. Many vegetables are also easy to grow from seed and most varieties of beans sprout quickly.
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Teach kids a fun way to recycle paper into a craft with a paper mache activity. Use newspaper or magazine strips, mixed with a paste made of flour and water, to create paper mache masks. You can also paste the strips onto a balloon—as if making a piñata—and when it dries, paint it to look like the Earth.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Backyard Bug Hunt
With the kit, let your little nature lovers go out into the grass to see what kind of bugs they can locate and capture. Help them observe how the bugs look and act for a while and pass on some knowledge about the good things bugs do for the environment around you. When you're done, set the bugs free!
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Bird Feeder Craft and Relay Race
Have kids make bird feeders in honor of Earth Day. They can make them out of recyclable materials such as plastic bottles or coffee cans.
When the feeders are done, have a fun relay race where teams battle to see who can fill their feeder the fastest. Then, everyone can take their feeders home to hang in a tree.
Alternatively, you can also have fun in the kitchen making birdseed ornaments.
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Watering Can Brigade
This fun party game can be played with kids on Earth Day to remind them of the importance of watering a garden. You will need a bunch of small watering cans (buckets will do) and two large flower pots that are the same size and don't have drainage holes.
Have all of the children line up, side-by-side and give each a watering can. Place an empty flower pot on one end of the line and fill the second pot with water at the other end.
Set a timer for three minutes. Have the player next to the pot of water fill their watering can with the pot. They must then fill the watering can of the next player in line with the water from their own can. That player then pours their water into the next player’s watering can (and so on down the line).
The last player in line has to empty their watering can into the pot. Then the first player fills up and starts the process all over again. Players try to fill the empty pot before time runs out.
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Turn the classic party game of musical chairs into a nature-themed game for Earth Day. All you have to do is modify some of the traditional game elements. For instance, instead of playing with chairs, you can use homemade lily pads.
Start by cutting green poster board into the shape of lily pads, then place them in a line on the ground. Instead of walking or running around the lily pads, kids can hop like frogs while the music plays. When the music stops, they jump onto a lily pad.
The rest of the game is played the just like musical chairs; one lily-pad is removed after each round until only one player remains.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Natural Tie Dye
Host an Earth Day tie-dye party and let kids color t-shirts or other cloth items. To keep in the spirit of the day, use natural dyes, such as teas, vegetables, and colorful spices. The natural tie-dye recipes from Today’s Parent are a great place to find inspiration for the project.