April 22, 2020 is Earth Day, a very special day at Willow! Like many events or milestones this spring, Earth Day 2020 is going to look a little different. While we won’t be able to gather together in-person for a day of service, joy, and wonder, we will still be honoring the day as a community, in our own backyards.
Why is Earth Day so important at Willow?
Willow was founded to teach children how to develop an ethical approach to all relationships, including their relationship to the natural world. We encourage all of our students to believe in their power to effect positive change at any age. In this way, Willow’s emphasis on sustainability and experiencing the wonder of nature is very closely tied to our Virtues Program.
Earth Day is an annual, global celebration of an ethos that lasts throughout the year at Willow. It’s a day where we put important virtues like service, respect, responsibility, compassion, wisdom, joy, and wonder to work, engaging our students to make an immediate positive impact on their environment.
Celebrating Earth Day 2020, Virtuously
With lots of help from Willow science teachers Ms. M and Ms. Smith, we’ve created the following list of ideas for how to celebrate Earth Day at home this year, separated into four categories according to the virtue they best exemplify. Most of these ideas involve either no supplies or supplies you are likely to already have at home. If you are inspired to tackle a bigger project but don’t have the supplies yet, it’s okay! Spend Earth Day making your plans for, as an example, your new home garden, and get started when you can. We can celebrate Earth Day every day!
Willow families, please share how you spent Earth Day together. Click here to submit a photo and short reflection!
All are welcome to join us for a special Morning Gathering to start the day, where we will share Earth Day at Home highlights, and Ms. Coy will demonstrate how to identify and weed common invasive plants. Click below to join our Morning Gathering Watch Party at 8:15 am on April 22!
Respect & Responsibility
Practice respect and responsibility on Earth Day by reducing waste at home.
- Perform a trash audit at home and make a plan together about how to reduce waste.
- Grow your own food. Now’s a great time to start a garden if you have seeds! Click here to watch Ms. M’s video on how to start your tomatoes at home.
- Create a compost pile for your home.
- Brainstorm creative ways to reuse trash, like Raritan Headwaters’ Recycled Container Greenhouses. What can you and your family come up with?
- Make reusable tote bags or produce bags out of old T-shirts. These tutorials are no-sew!
- If you do have a sewing machine, sew reusable napkins for your home.
Practice compassion on Earth Day by helping our local wildlife thrive!
Make a bird feeder from common recycled materials. You can make a hummingbird feeder with common items, too!
Make a nest kit for birds from natural materials you can collect in your backyard or home. This tutorial shows you how to make a hanging nest kit out of chicken wire and includes a helpful list of bird nest supplies.
Pick up trash from your backyard or along your street. Pick up trash using a bag and gloves, and be sure to follow guidelines from the CDC and your local public health department to ensure your health and safety.
Make room for native plants to thrive by weeding invasive plants growing in your yard. Watch below or click here for Ms. Coy’s tutorial video on how to identify and weed three invasives common to our area.
Learn more about conservation and join global conversations with experts on Earth Day.
- Check out virtual events happening across the globe on the Earth Day website!
- Play Cornucopia or Energy Lab on the PBS website to create and test sustainable solutions for farms or cities.
- Watch a Ted Talk on conservation and discuss as a family.
- Explore how to become a River-Friendly Resident and make a plan to get more river-friendly as a family.
- Calculate your carbon footprint using this EPA calculator. Their calculator lets you make changes as you go so you can see how your footprint would change.
- Register for Rutgers Cooperative’s free “Earth Day at Home” webinars.
- Share what you’ve learned by making a video, creating a piece of art, writing a song, crafting a meme, or writing a poem.
Joy & Wonder
Last but not least, take some time today to simply enjoy and explore nature together.
- Complete Ms. M’s Nature Challenges!
- Plan an Earth Day menu and eat the rainbow, enjoying nature’s bounty
- Play Backyard Bird Bingo
- Practice mindfulness by making a Nature Mandala.
- Use this week’s plentiful mud to make Earth Paintings.
- Go on an insect safari!
- Dance like a bee
We hope you all get outside today as a family and enjoy the natural world around you! As this Willow student points out, though we are apart, this Earth Day is a special opportunity to honor and tend to our immediate surroundings, especially as so many of us have found solace in nature during these trying times.
I think it is important for humans to experience nature right now. With all of the chaotic news reports and pandemic effects, nature should be a part of everyone’s lives now more than ever. The stress can really get to us. To relax, maybe take a walk or do some bird watching. Experiencing the sounds, smells, and calmness of nature is important to help you relax and get away from online learning with screens and everything that is happening in the world around us. – Willow fifth grader