At Miniland, kindness and acceptance are at the forefront of everything we do. We know that by treating one another with respect, the benefits to the world are priceless. Treating the earth with that same level of respect is vital to every child’s future, creating a long-lasting impact into adulthood.
The fundamentals of SEL are actually ideal for Earth Day celebrations in the classroom.
Earth Day can be a great way to help early learners develop key understandings about kindness, empathy for others, and respect for living things beyond themselves. It’s a wonderful opportunity to reinforce key SEL skills that you’re already highlighting in your students’ daily lessons and activities.
Here are some fun ways to maximize your SEL lessons for Earth Day all year long:
1) SEL concept: Social Awareness: Being aware of others beyond themselves might be a bit of a mountain for a preschooler to grasp. But bringing sweet, adorable things like animals into the picture makes it a bit easier to handle.
Activities where your students learn about endangered species is an easy and effective way to make an impact on their ability to empathize and recognize that their actions affect other things in the world.
Read books about endangered species like Don’t let them Disappear by former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton and create some fun crafts to help them learn about their favorite animal with these examples from Project Learning Tree.
**Photo Credit: FirstPalette.com
2) SEL Concept: Self-Awareness: By focusing on things that are important to your students, you’ll find a way of making a connection: “By helping the earth, this helps me too.”
Ask them things like:
“What’s your favorite park to go to? Do you notice any garbage or trash at the park there sometimes? Every time you see a piece of trash or an empty water bottle, you can ask your grown-up for help to throw it away in the garbage. This will help keep the park and the trees clean. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
“When you brush your teeth at night, do you shut the water off or do you let it run? How about tonight we all try and shut the water off when we brush. Let’s see how many of our friends remember! We can count how many of our friends remembered this week and see how well we did this Friday!”
When the child feels like these positive changes DIRECTLY affect them vs the great, big giant world, they are more likely to understand and care.
3) SEL Concept: Relationship Skills: A great way to emphasize working together is to PLAY together. Organize a group activity where each group focuses on an eco-friendly activity toy to create a “finished” product. This will test your students’ ability to work positively and collaboratively on a shared goal.
For example, you can set out some eco-friendly toys like Miniland’s ECO Beams Building Set or our NEW ECO Towering Beads from our ECO Grow Green Collection. Respecting the earth is the drive behind each beautifully designed, eco-friendly product made of bio-based materials such as wood and natural fibers. Not only are they durable for endless hours of play, they’re easy to clean and disinfect (a bonus for sanitizing time).
The ECO Beams Building Set will not only stimulate this group’s imagination and ingenuity, but it will help them work together to share 32 pieces of stackable and interconnected beams. Made of eco-friendly material that contains fir fibers with 40 activity cards to follow, this set is durable (count on it holding out through years of students in your classroom) while promoting SEL and Sensory Play.
What will they build? Which colors will they use? Which child will do which task? Leaving it up to them to work together will create a feeling of teamwork and unity.
The New Towering Beads consist of stackable geometric shapes in vibrant colors, 100% made of certified ecological wood from sustainable forests. Made up of 30 pieces, the kit includes activity cards that will help kids discover basic concepts such as height, shape, colors, or balance through sorting and stacking activities. Have the group work together on each activity card to see what they can create. Offer the opportunity for open-ended play for them to design something themselves and listen to one another with respect. Practice their language skills and key kind phrases like “please” “thank you” and “good job!”.
**Photo Credit: @Mamas.Little.Village
By giving students access to eco-friendly toys like our Grow Green offerings, you’ll reinforce the importance of sustainability and reusability throughout their lives.
You can also organize a trip outside the classroom to help clean up garbage around the school or playground. This is another great way to focus on working together for a positive change. You can even plant a class tree and watch it grow over the next few weeks!
These activities will help them feel like they don’t have to conquer the world’s problems on their own. They can work TOGETHER to make positive and effective change, through mutual respect and kindness.