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April 2012 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family

Earth rocks: Teach your children how to be good stewards of our planet

This month, the whole country will be celebrating Earth Day on April 22. In fact, Americans have been observing Earth Day since 1970, and this year is a great time for you and your family to join in the celebration.

Observing Earth Day with children is a fun and easy way to nurture budding environmentalists. Celebrations can be as simple as a trip to the local library to check out some books about conservation and recycling. A great one for children, agest 3 to 5, is Lauren Child’s “Charlie and Lola: We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers.”

An extension of this visit could include instituting an in-home recycling policy. Find a box or large tray and designate it as a scrap bin. Throughout the week, place partially used paper, scraps from cutting, or interesting bits of fabric and ribbons in the bin and encourage your children to repurpose the items into art projects and creative play. Or, the next time you need to write down a phone number or e-mail address, reach into the bin for a scrap instead of using a whole sheet of paper. By encouraging your family to adopt this new mindset, you can keep the spirit of Earth Day alive in your home throughout the year.

For very young children, a simple art project might be just the way to get into the Earth Day spirit. Follow these simple instructions to create an outer-space view of the earth:

• Have your toddler or preschooler help you to mix equal parts shaving cream and paint (make one bowl of blue and another of green).

• Help your child cut out a construction-paper circle, roughly the size of a dinner plate (the project works best with either black or white paper).

• Let your child swirl the shaving cream paint mixture all over the paper until the entire sheet is covered. For best results, encourage your child to use a lot of the mixture and create variations in depth, rather than spreading the mixture more finely over the page.

• When the mixture dries, your child will have a piece of art that resembles the earth as viewed from outer-space.

This project can be used as a jumping off point for further discussions with your tot about Earth, its natural resources, and the celebration of Earth Day.

If you are looking for an Earth Day event that the whole family can attend, New York City is the place to be. Throughout the week leading up to Earth Day, family events are scheduled around the city. One of the biggest, the Grand Central Indoors/Outdoors Earth Day event, takes place April 20-21 at Grand Central Terminal. This family-friendly fair features interactive exhibits that cover a wide range of environmental topics.

It doesn’t matter how you and your family choose to celebrate Earth Day this year, just do it.

Grand Central Indoors/Outdoors Earth Day event at Grand Central Terminal (87 E. 42nd St. between Madison and Park avenues in Manhattan) April 20 to 21. For a full schedule of city-sponsored Earth Day events, check out www.earthdayny.org.

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