Have you ever built a birdhouse, planted a tree, recycled old newspapers, or rode a bike to work? Join the chorus of Americans – young and old – who have learned ways to protect and care for our planet. Your group of older adults can show appreciation for the Earth and its natural resources by celebrating Earth Day on April 22. There are lots of events scheduled in communities across the nation to commemorate the special day. Here are a few simple activities for your group that reflect the spirit of Earth Day.
- Display a globe or make a papier mache globe. Challenge your group to a world geography quiz (continents, countries, oceans, rivers, equator, poles). Ask: If you could go anywhere around the world, where would you go? Why?
- Learn about the history of Earth Day, which began in 1970. Ask: What do you recall about the environmental movement in the late 1970s? Did you ever take part in an Earth Day event? Tell us about your participation in any environmental organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, or National Audubon Society.
- Enjoy Mother Nature’s handiwork: Pass around picture postcards of America’s national parks. Reminisce about family trips to national and state parks. Name favorite park activities (backpacking, hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, bird and wildlife watching). Watch excerpts from the PBS documentary titled The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, directed by Ken Burns.
- Sing some familiar songs related to Earth Day. Suggestions: “This Land Is Your Land,” “America, the Beautiful,” “This Is My Father’s World,” “Home on the Range,” or “For the Beauty of the Earth.”
- Name the colors of the rainbow using the acronym ROY G BIV. Hang a rainbow mobile from the ceiling. Sing the song “Over the Rainbow.” Ask participants to give an example of a rainbow following a storm in their life.
- Discuss the meaning of the proverb “Waste not, want not.” Ask group members to share ways they have recycled, reused, or repaired household items to save money and resources. Reminisce about World War II rationing and recycling (metals, rubber, paper, rags, grease).
- Demonstrate how to dry and press flowers. Make bookmarks using dried wildflowers. Display photographs of spring wildflowers such as violets, phlox, and blue bells.
- Create a “work of art” from natural and recycled materials – old magazines, wrapping paper, paper bags, ribbon, buttons, scraps of fabric, greeting cards. Vote on most creative piece of art.
- Paint clay flower pots in vibrant spring colors. Plant some flower seeds.
- Discuss the meaning of “go green.” Demonstrate some green products for spring cleaning. Show examples of recycled products for the home.
- Invite a park ranger to talk about threatened or endangered species. Spend some time talking about America’s national symbol, the bald eagle, and how the bird came to be taken off the endangered list recently.
- Celebrate Arbor Day, the last Friday in April. Name favorite trees. Paint a picture of a tree. Sing “tree” songs. Read the famous poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. Smell cedar wood chips. Identify trees by their leaves (oak, maple, etc.).
- Sample some locally grown organic spring vegetables. Invite a master gardener to talk about the benefits of organic gardening. Plant an herb garden.
- Display a book of nature photography by Ansel Adams, noted for his landscapes of the West, including Yosemite National Park. Read some nature poems by Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson.
- Listen to nature sounds on CD. Pass around classic magazines such as Outdoor Life, National Geographic, and Field and Stream. Ask: Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? What are some of your favorite activities? Do you have a favorite spot, like a local park?
NATIONAL PARKS TRIVIA QUIZ
- The world’s oldest national park is located in Wyoming and is famous for its geysers. Name it. Yellowstone National Park
- What is the main attraction in Yellowstone National Park? Old Faithful geyser
- One of the sights to behold in Yosemite National Park (California) is the giant sequoias. What are they? Trees
- Dollywood is located near which famous national park? Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee, North Carolina)
- What national park in southern Florida is home to alligators and crocodiles? Everglades National Park
- If you visit the Grand Canyon National Park, you might take a raft trip down which river? Colorado
- Where is the Mount Rushmore National Memorial located? Black Hills of South Dakota
- Which military park in Pennsylvania was the site of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech in 1863? Gettysburg National Military Park
- In which state is the Shenandoah National Park located? Virginia
- What kind of tour might you take if you visit the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico? Cave tour
- Which federal agency manages all national parks? National Park Service (created in 1916)
“EARTH DAY CELEBRATION” written by Sue Hansen. © 2010 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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