It's a battle today to find products that will decompose (separate and decay) naturally. Here's a fun experiment kids can do to see which everyday products will break down and return to the earth. Take a large disposable aluminum pan and fill it with several inches of soil. Place small samples of "throw-aways" on top of the dirt (such as a toothpick, tin can lid, a piece of plastic bottle, a piece of newspaper and magazine page, a piece of cotton fabric and polyester fabric, a rubber band, aluminum foil, a Styrofoam packing piece, and so on). Draw a map noting where each sample is placed.
Next, cover the samples with another layer of soil (the same amount as your first layer). Sprinkle enough water over the soil to wet the dirt. Leave this pan outdoors and wait for at least two weeks. Carefully remove the top layer of dirt, trying not to disturb the samples. Using your map, check the sample items and record which ones have started to break down (decompose) and which look the same. Cover the items again with the soil and repeat this process in another two weeks. After four weeks, look at your findings and think about your family's trash: How much is decomposed? How much did not?
Recycle with Art
Spend an afternoon creating these craft projects with an Earth Day theme. By reusing household materials, you'll be helping the Earth! Acquaint your children with the Earth's natural materials, while teaching them to recycle with these supplies for unique art projects. Even though some materials are not particularly sound for the environment and we hope someday these products, such as plastics and Styrofoam will change, saving and using them for projects is a great creative venture for the kids, and much better than just throwing these artistic materials away.
Earth Day Crown
Make a crown by cutting a long strip of heavy green construction paper or poster board to fit around your child's head. Have your child find and cut shapes such as flowers, butterflies, trees, fish, sun, clouds, and birds from colorful magazine pages. Decorate the crowns by randomly gluing on pictures. When dry, fit the crown to your child's head and staple the edges together. Be proud of your environment—wear this crown on Earth Day!
Have your child paint a background scene on a sheet of construction paper with poster paints. After it has dried, draw designs and shapes on some newspaper. Cut these newspaper shapes and glue them onto your painted picture. Use crayons to add details. Create flowers on the grass, a boat on the water, or animals in the jungle. Use your imagination!
Here's a fun way to recycle Styrofoam produce trays. After thoroughly washing the trays, cut out shapes such as birds, butterflies, sun shapes, fish, etc. and glue on magazine pictures of nature. Let dry. Punch a hole in the top of each shape. Place a length of string or yarn through each hole, knot it, and attach these to a wire coat hanger. Vary the lengths of each picture. Hang this mobile in your favorite place for the family to see and enjoy!
Take today to spend time enjoying our Earth with your children—and strive to make everyday Earth Day!