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Fun Activities and Events to Celebrate Earth Day This Year

Fun Activities and Events to Celebrate Earth Day This Year

Here are some fun activities and events for celebrating Earth Day this year both at-home and in the community.


This Earth Day, raise awareness and promote support of environmental protection with your family. With the warm weather and vaccines rolling out, in-person Earth Day celebrations, activities, and more in our communities are slowly coming back, especially outdoor ones. If you're looking for ideas to celebrate at home, we have those too!

8 At-Home Earth Day Activities

Go for a walk in nature.

Just make sure you follow proper safety protocol, including wearing a face mask and staying 6 feet apart. Want to do some good while you’re enjoying the great outdoors and fresh air? Bring along some gloves and a few bags to pick up any litter you see. 

Watch zoo and aquarium livestreams.

Many zoos and aquariums focus their efforts on raising awareness and funds for wildlife conservation—including NYC’s Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium, which are all part of the Wildlife Conservation Society. While we can’t visit these institutions to teach our children about and support the wildlife conservation efforts, we can watch livestreams of zoos and aquariums from across the country, participate in online Q-and-A’s with keepers, and download educational activities. 

RELATED: Get more fun ideas like this in your inbox every day!

Plant a garden—no matter what size.

In addition to being a fruitful (or vegetable, ha!) hobby, gardening has physical and mental health benefits for kids and adults. Gardening outside promotes movement (walking, squatting, and lifting), and you’ll get plenty of vitamin D—just remember to wear sunscreen! It also “connects us with nature, which has been shown to work wonders for children having a hard time focusing,” says Renata Fossen Brown in Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden—making it a perfect activity to combat those quarantine stir-crazies. Gardening can also be therapeutic, and it stimulates all five senses, which is beneficial for many children with special needs.

If you have a backyard or small plot of land, try planting one of these 20 plants that are ideal for your kid's first garden. These picks were selected for their vibrant colors, fast-growing characteristics, and usefulness in everyday life. If you’re in an apartment with rooftop access or you have a balcony, try planting a salsa garden. A patch of constant sun, a few pots, and tomato, cilantro, jalapeño pepper, and bell pepper seeds are all you need to cultivate the main ingredients for some healthy nacho fixin’s. On the other hand, if you want to try something simpler—all you need is a window that gets some light!—try growing a mini herb garden to add fresh seasoning to some of your favorite home-cooked meals. However you decide to jump into gardening, just make sure it’s enjoyable and beneficial for all involved!

Stream a kid-friendly nature documentary.

These true-life films are entertaining and captivating for the whole family, but they also educate viewers about nature, the planet, conservation, climate change, and more. Plus, they’re all conversation-starters. After watching one of the below kid-friendly documentaries, ask your kids questions about what we can do to protect our planet. (All ratings and reviews listed below are courtesy Common Sense Media.)

  • Wings of Life
    Recommended ages: 6 and older
    Available on: Disney+, Fandango Now, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu   
    Disneynature's documentary, narrated by Meryl Streep, explains the importance of flowers and the earth's greatest pollinators: bees, birds, bats, and butterflies.

  • Oceans
    Recommended ages: 8 and older
    Available on: Amazon, Fandango Now, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, and Vudu
    This documentary takes a close look at the Earth's oceans and the creatures that call it home. Expect scenes depicting these bodies of water in all their glory and reality, and animals finding their place in the food chain (sharks feasting on fish, for instance, accompanied by dramatic music).

  • Chasing Coral
    Recommended ages: 9 and older
    Available on: Netflix
    This tragic but awe-inspiring film interviews filmmakers and scientists who attribute the decline of one of the ocean's most essential living creatures to climate change.

  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
    Recommended ages: 10 and older
    Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Disney+, and Vudu
    This adaptation of Carl Sagan's award-winning TV series Cosmos (1980) continues the show's tradition of offering scientific research-based explanations about the creation of the universe and related phenomena with host Neil deGrasse Tyson.

  • Chasing Ice
    Recommended ages: 13 and older
    Available on: Amazon and iTunes
    An award-winning documentary about the work of celebrated photographer James Balog in tracking glacier retreat

Make a garden gnome.

grassy garden gnome diy

If you do decide to grow a garden this year, or if you want to try growing something small this year before committing to a garden next year, have your kids help make grassy garden gnomes. Think: homemade chia pets!

Watch a movie with your family.

If getting your kids to sit through a documentary is a struggle, try watching one of these movies together. While they all have different storylines, they all touch on topics of climate, preservation, conservation, and nature. (All ratings and reviews listed below are courtesy Common Sense Media.)

  • Wall-E
    Recommended ages: 5 and older
    Available on: Amazon, Disney+, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube
    Unlike older kids and grown-ups, younger kids won't be that impressed by how much is said with so few words. But the action (which includes some robot fights, weapons being fired, explosions, and chase scenes) picks up soon enough. Underlying the whole thing are strong environmental messages: Reduce, reuse, recycle, and think about what you're doing to the planet (and yourself).

  • The Lorax
    Recommended ages: 5 and older
    Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube
    The animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss' beloved tale—like the original story—promotes conservation and protecting the environment.

  • Fly Away Home
    Recommended ages: 8 and older
    Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube
    The message of concern and protection of Canada geese and their habitats, and the inventive ways a father-daughter duo works together to save them, should delight animal lovers of all ages

  • Avatar
    Recommended ages: 13 and older
    Available on: Amazon, Google Play, Disney+, Vudu, Fandango Now, YouTube, and iTunes
    Mixed into the story, which is full of action and adventure, are messages about conservation and the interconnectedness of life.

Adopt a houseplant (or 10!).

mother and daughter caring for houseplants

Did you know houseplants are good for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being? And with us spending more time than ever in our homes, it’s the perfect time to hop on the houseplant bandwagon to bring a little greenery indoors! Among the many benefits of houseplants?

  • Some plants can improve indoor air quality.
  • Being exposed to even a small amount of nature can help kids with school work.
  • Plants can boost your microbiome.
  • Caring for houseplants can improve your mood and reduce stress.
  • Plants teach kids to care for other living things without the commitment of a pet!

Bonus: Many shops offer delivery of plants, including NYC’s The Sill, Horti, Greenery:NYC, and Plantshed. Other online plant shops include Etsy, Bloomscape, and plants.com

Try reducing family waste.

Sure, we all know the mantra ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ to limit the amount of trash that goes into landfills, but have you thought about exploring becoming a zero-waste household? While the switch to such a lifestyle can be overwhelming, there are 10 small, simple things you can do every day that will help you live a low-waste life, including:

 

 Earth Day Events and Activities in the NYC Area

Jump to Manhattan
Jump to Brooklyn
Jump to Queens
Jump to Long Island
Jump to Westchester
Jump to Rockland

RELATED: 13 Easy Ways to Help the Environment Today

Earth Day Activities in Manhattan

ONLINE EarthFest Online
WHEN: Thursday, April 22, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 7pm
WHERE: The American Museum of Natural History, Online
AGE: All
WHAT: Celebrate Earth Day at this all day family-friendly online festival honoring our planet.
WANT TO GO? free programming see links to RSVP; 7pm even is $15-$25
 

FREE. It's My Park at Highbridge Park
WHEN: Saturday, April 24, 11am-2pm
WHERE: Highbridge Park, 191st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, Washington Heights
AGE: All
WHAT: Celebrate Earth Day and volunteer with Connectemonos to give Highbridge Park's Juan Bosch Plaza and the northern areas of the park some love. On this date you will mulch, weed, and clean up the street trees, and help care for this important park in Washington Heights.
WANT TO GO? Please wear a mask and keep social distancing in mind.

 

FREE. CDABEAST Presents: HARLEM'S EARTH DAY
WHEN: Sunday, April 25, 1-6pm
WHERE: Thomas Jefferson Park, 2180 1st Avenue, Harlem
AGE: All
WHAT: Harlem's Earth Day is HERE! CDABEAST is gathering small businesses from Harlem in Health & Wellness to bring you a day filled with music, workout classes, education and pure fun! Not surprisingly, many of the things we do to keep our bodies healthy can also keep our planet healthy.
WANT TO GO? This is a free event and donations are welcomed.

 

FREE. ONLINE Green Skyscrapers: Family Programs at the Skyscraper Museum
WHEN: Saturday, April 24, 11am
WHERE: The Skyscraper Museum, Online
AGE: All
WHAT: Celebrate Earth Week by crafting your own paper mache globe and discovering global, "green" skyscrapers! Learn about global, environmentally friendly skyscrapers. Virtual, Zoom. All ages welcome.
WANT TO GO? Advanced registration required.

 

Earth Day Activities in Brooklyn

FREE. Welcome Spring Scavenger Hunt + Seed Swap
WHEN: Sunday, April 11, 10am-12pm
WHERE: Old Stone House, 336 3rd St., Park Slope
AGE: All
WHAT: Join this scavenger hunt, explore the OSH gardens to find all of the hidden pictures and claim your prize- take home a DIY tulip craft and seasonal sticker. OSH Director of Gardens Sam Lewis will facilitate a neighborhood seed swap, diversify your home garden by bringing seeds or cuttings from your favorite plants to trade for something new to you. While you’re there, pick up a grow-kit from local textile artist Iviva Olenick to get you started on growing your own cotton, indigo, or flax.
WANT TO GO? Free to attend, please consider making a donation to the Old Stone House if you are able.



 

FREE. ONLINE Earth Day Nature Craft Plantable Recycled Seed Paper
WHEN: Sunday, April 11, 10-11am
WHERE: Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy, Online
AGE: Best for ages 5+ with adult supervision.
WHAT: Environmental Educator Angel Ehlers will lead you in a fun and messy craft that will give new life to old paper that will be a plantable love note to the Earth, with a layer of wildflower seeds in the paper. Once planted in the soil, and given some water and sunlight, you can watch your recycled paper and seeds grow into new life! Participants will need a blender or food processor at home for the best results with this craft.
WANT TO GO? Advanced registration required.

 

Earth Day at Ecology Park
WHEN: Sunday, April 18, 12-2pm
WHERE: Ecology Park, Bergen Avenue and Avenue T, Bergen Beach
AGE: All
WHAT: Celebrate Earth Day with the Urban Park Rangers and learn about the 15 different NYC plant communities in this scenic and educational park along Jamaica Bay.
WANT TO GO? Participants are chosen by lottery. Lottery registration begins on Wednesday, April 7.

 

FREE. ONLINE Kids Explore: Wangari Maathai
WHEN: Monday, April 19, 3:30-4:30pm
WHERE: Brooklyn Public Library, Zoom
AGE: 1-6
WHAT: Join the library for a special reading of Seeds of Change for Earth Day. This children's program will explore the life and legacy of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The program will end with writing poems together about this revolutionary woman.
WANT TO GO? Advanced registration required.

 

Greencycle Swap
WHEN: Saturday, April 24, 12-3pm
WHERE: N. 15th St., Greenpoint
AGE: All
WHAT: Have lots of terrific stuff taking up space but no longer giving you joy? Bring them to the Greencycle Swap! Join Town Square and IS 318 PTA to recycle, reuse and reduce! Drop off your cleaned and useable CLOTHES, SHOES, BOOKS, BABY GEAR, TOYS, HOUSEHOLD ITEMS, SMALL FURNITURE (less than 70 lb), ELECTRONICS, ETC. - and browse the selection.
WANT TO GO? $10 suggested donation per family. Sunday, April 25th rain date.

 

Earth Day Activities in Queens

Earth Day Celebration
WHEN: Saturday, April 10, 11:15am-12:30pm
WHERE: Alley Pond Environmental Center, 224-65 76th Ave., Oakland Gardens
AGE: 4-6
WHAT: Celebrate all the wonders of our beautiful planet! Enjoy a colorful book about Earth, make a craft out of recycled materials, meet live animals, and enjoy a relaxing outdoor nature walk.
WANT TO GO? $22. Masks must be worn by all adults and children for the entire program. Advanced registration required.

 

Flower Patch
WHEN: Sundays, April 18-May 9, 8am-4:30pm
WHERE: Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., Flushing
AGE: All
WHAT: Unique floral and garden creature installations transform the QBG Farm into a fantastic flower spectacle creating an immersive environment and stunning backdrop for photos. Pick your own pot of flowers to take home with you, and a floral themed grab-and-go craft activity kit.
WANT TO GO? $15; $12 seniors 62 and older, students with ID and children 4-12; free for members and children 3 and younger. Purchase timed tickets in advance.

 

FREE. Earth Day Park Clean Up
WHEN: Thursday, April 22, 3:15-4:30pm
WHERE: Alley Pond Environmental Center, 224-65 76th Ave., Oakland Gardens
AGE: 9-12
WHAT: With all the earth gives to us, let’s give back a little TLC. Nine to twelve year olds, honor Earth Day and join Ms. Rosemarie by participating in a park clean up.
WANT TO GO? Registration required.

 

FREE. Earth Day Volunteer Litter Clean-Up
WHEN: Thursday, April 22, 11am-12pm
WHERE: Bayswater Park, Bay 32nd Street and Beach Channel Drive, Far Rockaway
AGE: All
WHAT: Ready to take the first step in protecting our planet? There’s no better way to contribute to a cleaner and healthier community than by volunteering. Join the Urban Park Rangers and fellow community members to clean and beautify Bayswater Park.
WANT TO GO? Please wear a mask and bring your own hand sanitizer.

 

ONLINE Virtual STEAM Workshop: Earth Day
WHEN: Thursday, April 22, 3:30-4:30pm
WHERE: Lewis Latimer House Museum, Online
AGE: 7 and older
WHAT: Participants will make assemblage sculptures from materials that would usually be put in the recycling bin. Using simple tools and methods, you will construct unexpected sculptural objects that reflect our culture's relationship to disposable materials. In this workshop, participants will increase their awareness of the impact everyday packaging has on the planet and be encouraged to look for creative solutions to reducing and reusing such materials.
WANT TO GO? See website for complete supply list. Pay as you wish. Advanced registration required.

 

Earth Day Activities on Long Island

FREE. Spring Volunteer Day
WHEN: Saturday, April 17, 12-2pm
WHERE: Children's Museum of the East End, 376 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton
AGE: All
WHAT: Get ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work prepping the Museum for warmer weather. During the museum's first-ever Volunteer Day, children (and their grownups) are encouraged to join in for an afternoon of outdoor spring cleaning.
WANT TO GO? Advanced registration required.

 

Earth Day Recycled Craft Class
WHEN: Saturday, April 17, 3-4pm
WHERE: The Nesting Place, 2043 Wellwood Ave, Farmingdale
AGE: 2-5
WHAT: Create and take home a festive Earth Day Craft made of recycled materials!
WANT TO GO? $25. Advanced registration required.

 

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY! TODDLER/PRE-SCHOOL MINI PROJECT AND STORY
WHEN: Monday, April 19, 9:30-10:30am
WHERE: AR Workshop Bellmore, 2930 Merrick Road, Bellmore
AGE: 2-5
WHAT: Bring in your little ones to AR Workshop for story time with Jess and an age appropriate CANVAS BAG DIY!
WANT TO GO? $15. Pre-registration is requested, but not required.

 

Earth Day
WHEN: Sunday, April 25, 10am-4pm
WHERE: Garvies Point Museum, 50 Barry Drive, Glen Cove
AGE: All; Nature Walk ages 7 and older
WHAT: Celebrate Earth Day with a full day of events including a nature walk, craft, and film about Mother Nature.
WANT TO GO? $5; $3 children 5-12 yrs.

 

Springtime Exploration Hike!
WHEN: Saturday, April 24, 2-3pm
WHERE: Center for Science Teaching and Learning, 1450 Tanglewood Rd., Rockville Centre
AGE: All
WHAT: The world is an exciting place in Spring filled with inspiring changes! Join the Center for Science Teaching and Learning to hike around the preserve and observe the changes going on, learning why these shifts occur and what that means for the creature around us!
WANT TO GO? $10. Advanced registration required.

 

FREE. Earth Day Celebration
WHEN: Saturday, April 24, 10:30am-4pm
WHERE: South Fork Natural History Museum, exact location TBA
AGE: All
WHAT: Take part in a beach clean up, a nature walk, or both!
WANT TO GO? Advanced reservations are required.

 

Earth Day Activities in Westchester

FREE. Tidy Thursdays at Starlight Park (Earth Day 2021)
WHEN: Thursday, April 22, 10am-12pm
WHERE: Starlight Park, 1490 Sheridan Blvd., The Bronx
AGE: All
WHAT: For Earth Day 2021, come help remove litter and support local gardens for spring plantings and maintenance. Tasks can include litter pickup, invasive species removal, green infrastructure maintenance, and plantings. This is part of a larger celebration of Earth Week, with trivia and different celebrations about the Earth and the importance of environmental conservation.
WANT TO GO? Email volunteer@bronxriver.org with any questions.

 

Earth Day Class - Rain Boot Planter Project
WHEN: Thursday, April 22, 4:30-5:30pm
WHERE: A Maze in Pottery, 76 N State Road, Briarcliff Manor
AGE: 6 and older
WHAT: Paint a fun and creative Rain Boot Planter/Vase that you can take home the same day! Plus, plant a TULIP in your Boot after the planter is painted. This is a great opportunity for children to socialize and get creative while staying safe!
WANT TO GO? $29. Advanced registration required.

 

FREE. Pitch in for Parks 2021- Cleanup at Cranberry Lake Preserve
WHEN: Friday, April 23, 10am-1pm
WHERE: Westchester Parks Foundation, 1609 Old Orchard Street , North Castle
AGE: All
WHAT: Volunteers will rake, weed, and remove debris and litter at Cranberry Lake Preserve. No experience is necessary!
WANT TO GO? All tools will be provided but please bring your own water. Volunteers must bring their own masks and wear clothes that can get dirty and closed toe shoes.

 

FREE. Earth Day Hike and Clean-Up
WHEN: Saturday, April 24, 1-2pm
WHERE: Pelham Bay Park, Middletown Road & Stadium Avenue, Bronx
AGE: All
WHAT: In honor of Earth Day, join the Rangers to soak in and maintain the beauty of Pelham Bay Park, hike the shoreline and remove trash along the way.
WANT TO GO? Please wear comfortable shoes or boots, pack a light snack and water.

 

WCS Run for the Wild
WHEN: Saturday, April 24, 8am-12:30pm
WHERE: Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx
AGE: All
WHAT: Each year the WCS Run for the Wild is dedicated to species in need of conservation support to raise awareness of threats they face. This year the event is dedicated to lemurs and will help WCS raise important funds to further its mission of saving wildlife in New York and around the world. All runners and walkers are encouraged to stay for the day and take part in post-run activities which includes costumed characters, trivia, music, and the zoo will be open only to event participants all day.
WANT TO GO? $55; $45 children and seniors; $15 virtual runners, plus $35 minimum fundraising requirement for all participants age 16 and older; 5K Start Times at Bronx River Entrance, 8-10am; 3K Start Times at Southern Boulevard Entrance, 10:30am-12:30pm. Advanced registration required.

Earth Day Activities in Rockland

Earth Day Celebration
WHEN: Saturday, April 17, 11am-3pm
WHERE: Trailside Museum and Zoo at Bear Mountain State Park, 55 Hessian Drive, Highland Falls
AGE: All
WHAT: Come to Trailside’s Bear Den between 10:30 & 11:00 am. The zookeepers will be putting out treats & decorating the Bear Den. At 11:00 am, the bears will come out of their dens to gobble up treats. Family-friendly fun with an Earth-friendly focus! Nature-related displays & activities! See spring-themed animal enrichment!
WANT TO GO? $1 per person suggested donation. Rain date Sunday, April 18.

 

FREE. ONLINE Crafternoon Earth Day Salt Dough Ornaments
WHEN: Wednesday, April 21, 4:30-5pm
WHERE: Nanuet Public Library, Facebook Live
AGE: 5-12
WHAT: Celebrate our beautiful Earth while making salt dough ornaments from pantry items! Gather your supplies and join Miss Jen to craft along and create your very own salt dough Earth!
WANT TO GO? See website for supply list. Watch on Facebook Live.

 

CELEBRATE 60 YEARS OF TNC AND EARTH DAY!
WHEN: Sunday, April 25, 2-4pm
WHERE: Tenafly Nature Center, 313 Hudson Ave., Tenafly, NJ
AGE: All
WHAT: Celebrate 60 years with the Tenafly Nature Center and Earth Day with a sustainable craft! Afterward you are encouraged to help keep TNC sparkling like a diamond by walking one of the trails to pick up litter.
WANT TO GO? $5; free for members. Advanced registration required.

 

FREE. Earth Day: Signs of Spring Nature Walk!
WHEN: Sunday, April 25, 10-11am
WHERE: The New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation, 150 Snake Den Road, Ringwood, NJ
AGE: All
WHAT: Celebrate Earth Day with a guided "Signs of Spring" nature walk. Take a moderate hike through the trails to learn about what goes on in the forest during spring. From the plants to the birds to the frogs, everything is steeped in excitement and anticipation of the impending warm weather, especially after such a cold and snowy winter. Bring binoculars if you have them as you will certainly be observing bird behavior, but the center also has a few pairs to lend.
WANT TO GO? This is an outdoor program; please dress accordingly. Masks must be worn; social distancing will be maintained to the extent possible. Advanced registration required.

 

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Katelin Walling

Author: Katelin Walling is the editorial director for NYMetroParents. She has been writing about parenting, health, finance, education, fun things to do in NYC and the surrounding area, and more for nearly 10 years. She also has nearly 20 years of child care experience and was a babysitter in NYC for 8 years. Katelin graduated from the University of Maine in 2011 and attended the NYU Summer Publishing Institute during the summer of 2011. When she’s not learning about the latest parenting trend or kid-friendly NYC attraction to write about, she can often be found reading, knitting (or general crafting), or whipping up a vegan treat—all with a cup of coffee nearby. See More

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