Kid Activities
1000's of Ideas for Childcare Professionals & Teachers!

Nature and Science: Earth Friendly Ideas

July 16, 2009 19:45 by Barbara Shelby



Bird feeding isn't just a winter activity; it might surprise you to learn that even in spring, food is still scarce for our feathered friends. Click here for 17 Feeder Ideas in the Bird Theme. There may also be other ideas that you will like…



You’ll Need:
     • Medium sized container
     • Dirt
     • Various items of "litter"
     • Water
  1. Find a medium sized container. Something about the size of a window sill planter will do.
  2. Fill the container about halfway up with dirt.
  3. "Plant" some litter; Plant foods, paper, metal, plastics, fabrics and anything else that might be litter. Use your imagination.   Write a list of everything that's planted.
  4. Water your litter garden about once a week. Keep the soil moist but not flooded, more or less how you'd water plants.
  5. At the end of several months to a year, dig up your litter garden and note any changes in the litter. See which items decomposed and which didn't. Your observations can be incorporated into lessons on ecology, environment and biodegradability. Idea of Michael Motta



Display natural earth wonders (in your home or center) such as :
Sea shells, rocks, crystals, geodes, pine cones, seeds, twigs, etc.
Encourage children to add to the collection. Provide magnifying glasses to study the items at this center...Photograph courtesy of 
Restoration Place.


I love this idea!!! (Barb) ADOPT A TREE!

Find a special tree on your playground/yard and explain that you can adopt that tree as your “pet” plant. Have a contest to name the tree. (This is a great way to use a graph!)

  • Take photos of your tree and encourage the children to draw pictures of it during different seasons.
  • Ask children to hug your tree. What does it feel like? What does it smell like? Can you hear your tree?
  • Measure the tree...  
  • Read books, have picnics, or sing songs under your tree.



Plant and care for a garden, flowers, or small tree. (Free trees are offered at the Arbor Day website)
Deciding where and what to plant...

 • Contain your plants... Many vegetables and flowers grow well in either indoor or outdoor pots. Once your plot or pots are chosen, help children begin researching what to plant. For speedier and more certain results, plant seedlings instead of seeds – though children will miss out on the excitement of seeing that first sprout peeking through the soil.

  • With container gardening you control the soil and drainage; you can avoid most garden pests.
  •  In 3- to 5-gallon pots, you can grow beans, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, corn, broccoli, cabbage, kale, leeks and even melons.
  • Pots as small as 4- to 6-inches are fine for growing peas (choose shorter peas, ones that grow to about a foot), lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard.
  • Choose medium size pots for beets, eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Of course, all of your pots will need plenty of sun and water.

 Reap what you sow! Children often want to plant seeds left over from fruits (peach pits, apple seeds, watermelon seeds). If your climate is conducive and you have the space, try planting some peach pits in a corner of the yard. Within about three years, some tasty fruit may appear.


GROW SOME EDIBLE PLANTS and add them to soups, salads, beverages and desserts. The following are fine to eat: Peonies, pansies, nasturtiums, dandelions, day lilies, squash flowers, elder flowers, carnations, violets, marigolds and sunflowers. Do not eat: wisteria, holly, bird of paradise, hydrangea, oleander, poinsettia or philodendron.


In the January issue of Exchange, Rusty Keeler contributed the article, "A Spring Playscape Project: Building a Tree Circle", which he introduces with...  "If you are dreaming of adding nature to your yard, this project may be perfect for you. The Tree Circle is a green gathering area for children made by planting trees in a circle.

  • For children, the Tree Circle becomes a magical place for dramatic play, quiet retreat, or lively nature exploration.
  • For teachers and parents it becomes a shady grove for snacks and stories.
  • The trees create a sweet spot that changes during the seasons and grows over time. A beautiful addition to a child’s life — and yours too!" You can read the instructions of the tree circle in its entirety. Click here

Here's a good idea if you can't dig up a plot for a garden!
   1.  Get a a small swimming pool and be sure to punch holes for drainage.
   2.  Fill with dirt---plant seeds, or small flowers, water, fertilize and watch the flowers grow!
   3.  The kids will love to work their "garden"


PLANT A GARDEN TO ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES! A list of plants that attract adult butterflies:

  • Aster
  • Blanket Flower
  • Day-lily
  • Phlox
  • Sunflower
  • Verbena
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Milkweed



•Improve the school grounds and plant trees or wildflowers.

Plant produce. Donate the harvest to a local food bank.

Plant seeds. Sell the flowers or plants and donate the proceeds to a local organization in need.
Form a litter patrol on school or park ground

Put on a play at your school, a fair, or festival about local environmental issues.



  • Cut the top off a plastic soda bottle, tape the edge.
  • Pour in 2 inches gravel or stones for drainage (good way to get small rocks out of the yard!)

  • Alternate 2 inches of sand, 2 inches of dirt. (VERY lightly spray the dirt with water)
  • Put a few small pieces of banana peel in the middle for worm food.
  • Continue with layers till top.
  • Add worms. Tape the top back on or cover top with plastic wrap and tape. Either way, put in several air holes.

Tape black construction paper around bottle, and leave for a day or 2 -- try to do this on a Friday. When you take the paper off, you will see the tunnels the worms have made, and the layers will have shifted and mixed. Great way to show how worms work in the garden! Make sure you check your bottle ecosystems every day; moisten the soil; add more moistened food to the top layer if necessary.

You can also: 1.) Observe your ecosystems and record your observations. 2.) Draw a picture or take a digital photograph of your ecosystems.

 WORMS CAN BE FUN Activity Two

Go to bait and tackle store and buy bait worms. Dump them into two large tubs of dirt and let the children observe them as they dig. The children can use their hands to dig up the worms. If your children a young, have a variety of plastic birds  at the table for pretend feeding.

With the children, TAKE THE WORMS OUTSIDE and put them in the garden at the end of the day. Have a box of baby wipes available for hand washing.


What it teaches: Principles of archaeology, critical thinking
Materials Needed:
Five paper grocery bags, various pieces of clean trash (no discarded food items)

To prepare for this activity, gather clean items of trash and sort them into themed bags, such as a "junk-food bag" with Doritos and Snickers wrappers, and a "pet-friendly bag" with cat-food cans, receipts for vet bills, etc. Then divide the class into small groups, and give each group a bag of trash. Ask students to pull out one piece of trash at a time and record each item and how it was used. When the bags are empty, trash have groups look at their findings and develop a hypothesis about the people to whom the belongs. Invite students to present their findings.

What’s Going On:
Garbology is a relatively new form of science that began in the 1970s at the University of Arizona. It's based upon principles found in archaeology which suggest that evidence and patterns about people's lives can be found in their garbage. Excavations of artifacts from buried trash pits and modern-day refuse dumps give archaeologists clues to the items people use, their diets, and culture.





  •  Grow different types of beans in wet cotton and plastic bags; tape the baggies to a window and some in a closet. Observe and photograph (or draw) the sprouting once a week.

  •  Discuss differences in growth patterns and what plants need to grow. Measure and graph plant heights.

  •  Plant a garden and eat harvested vegetables. (See above ideas)

  •  Discuss what animals and plants need for growing well.



1.  When children find a frog, roly-poly bugs, moths, or an anthill, offer a magnifying glass or microscope for looking very closely.
2.  If they notice birds building a nest, provide binoculars and help them make regular observations to record what they see.
3.  Compare observations over time. Ask children to predict what might happen next (baby birds?)




If you look around you when out walking keep an eye out for pretty flowers you can dry, colorful rocks, odd shaped pieces of wood or other interesting objects. KEEP THEM IN A COLLECTION BOX...and before you know it you will have wonderful things to use in FUTURE craft projects. (Ask parents and kids to do the same!!!)


Other Pages for Earth and Green Theme 

Also see crafts, art and games made from RECYCLED MATERIALS and the BIRD THEME! Good idea for an Earth friendly theme!