Earth Day falls on a Friday this year, so go ahead and take the whole weekend to celebrate our beautiful planet.
Visit a National or State Park1 of 9
The absolute best thing you can do for your kids, says Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers, is to get them outside. What better place to celebrate the earth and the outdoors than at a National Park?
National Park Week envelops Earth Day, running from April 16-24, which means all National Parks are 100 percent free that week. Take advantage of this deal and take the kids to your nearest National Park for a day of exploring and taking in nature.
Get Your Hands Dirty2 of 9
"Engage kids in something that gets their hands dirty—literally," Rogers says. "Spring is a great time to plant seeds."
Start a family garden and talk about where food comes from, or purchase seeds for your child's favorite flowers and start planting. Be sure to select plants appropriate to your climate, which you can find at a local farmer's market or plant shop.
For an activity that transcends the growing up years, choose a tree together as a family and plant it in your yard. You can take pictures with it every Earth Day: A baby picture with the baby tree, a first day of school picture with a tiny tree, and (sob) a graduation picture with a full-grown tree.
Set a Family Earth Day Resolution3 of 9
This idea comes to us from Southern Methodist University Environmental Engineering student Cristina Barrera. "I always come up with an Earth Day resolution, just like for New Year's," Barrera says. "Last year, I vowed to bring my own bag everywhere and never use plastic bags."
Bring the family together to brainstorm a resolution everyone can do together. Starting a family compost bin, holding each other accountable for recycling and committing to cleaning up a park once a month are all good starting points.
Do Some Math4 of 9
The Southwest Florida Water Management District has a kid-friendly, interactive water saving calculator.
Help your child fill out the form and ask them what your family can do to decrease water usage.
"It is exciting to see how children take the tools we have today to solve old and new problems," Southwest Florida Water Management District Environmental Scientist Vivianna M. Bendixson says. "Or how they might create new tools to solve these same problems."
Volunteer5 of 9
Kids ages 7-10 will get the most out of a volunteer activity, such as cleaning up a nearby park or assisting at a recycling center. Check your city's event calendar to find a local activity for outreach. The Earth Day Network also has a database of worldwide events. Or, organize a clean-up event with your church, school or neighborhood.
Unplug for a Day6 of 9
Unplugging solves two problems in one. Not only does unplugging all of your chargers, computers and televisions save energy (and money), but your distraction-free environment will make you more likely to hop on your bike for a ride than scroll through social media.
Spend your day observing and identifying the trees on your neighborhood walk, or spotting minnows on a family kayaking adventure at a nearby stream. See how much more entertaining the outdoors can be than a screen.
At the end of the day, only plug in what you need. You don't have to plug back in that basement VCR you haven't used in years.
Go Thrift Shopping7 of 9
We use recycled materials all the time, so why not use recycled clothing, too? Purchasing from a thrift shop instead of a large retailer full of new clothing cuts down on waste, just like reusing containers to pack your lunch.
If you have little fashionistas in your family, make a day out of checking out local thrift shops and seeing what treasures you can find. Stock up on summer wardrobe essentials and donate the clothes your children have outgrown.
Visit a Farmer's Market8 of 9
Many cities and towns hold farmer's markets on Saturdays, but you may get lucky and find one open Friday for Earth Day, too.
A couple examples: Nashville is hosting the Green Market; Dallas's Earth Day Texas event will have a section devoted to the Dallas Farmer's Market; Los Angeles' tens of regular farmer's markets will be open and selling on Earth Day. Check your city website or call the city's office to inquire.
At the market, talk to your children about how food is grown and delivered. Buy a carrot and let them taste how fresh it is compared to store-bought carrots. Discuss which foods grow near your home and why that might be. Teach your kids how to choose the best produce and what meals you could make together with your finds.