Happy Earth Day: Activities, Projects, and Events

We only have one world. Sure, dinosaurs included, things have changed quite a bit since 65,000,000 years ago. The world, along with mankind, has evolved. Medicine, hygiene, and day to day conveniences has improved our general quality of life SO much, we now worry less about being eaten by a wild animal and more about whether or not our phones are able to take quality pictures in low light or if we have enough storage for 100,000 candid pictures of our kids and our Tsum Tsum collection.

We no longer have to hand wash every paint-stained article of clothing and furniture our children touched while working on their latest project and paper maps are practically obsolete. But while our overall quality of life and the time it takes to perform simple tasks have been diminished, we’ve been sucking up more resources and destroying natural habitats of other living beings in exchange for more … everything.

Here are some simple activities we could do with our kids to help reduce our carbon footprint and bring more awareness while celebrating Earth Day:

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1. ENJOY THE OUTDOORS: ATTEND A LOCAL CLEAN-UP EVENT

If there aren’t any clean-up events near you, start your own. Call some friends and head to a local park, beach, or kids’ play area with some speakers for music, gloves and a compostable trash bag.

East SF Bay Cleanups:

City of Oakland Earth Day 2017

City of Oakland Website
23rd Annual Oakland Earth Day
List of 2017 Project Locations

 

City of Alameda Website
Earth Day Festival
Earth Day Beach Cleanup at Crab Cove

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2. SORT AND SEPARATE RECYCLABLES

Make a fun game out of sorting and separating cans, bottles, paper, and boxes.

Sorting Recyclables - Free Printable from totschooling.com
Here is an example of one of the many free printables you can find online. Find the full size version of this specific one at totschooling.net.

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3. PLANT SOMETHING & LEARN ABOUT PLANT CARE

While I’ve never had a green thumb, my daughter LOVES gardening (*cough* playing with dirt) when she visits my Mom. This year, I decided we would start planting things over the summer in a planter that my father in law custom made for Zee’s birthday this year. It will be nice to give her something that she can feel a sense of responsibility over while building self-confidence and a love for nature. Plus, it might just make her eager to eat more veggies! If you don’t have a garden or yard, consider a vertical garden, using windowsills and ledges, hanging planters on balcony railings, or joining a community garden.

Here is a link that might help you decide which variety of veggies or fruits might grow better than others in the SF East Bay Area:
UC Master Gardener Program of Alameda County

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4. REUSE SIMPLE MATERIALS FOR ARTS & CRAFTS

There is a wide variety of fun things you can do with trash. I’ll be posting a longer list of ideas soon, but in the meantime.. here are two examples of arts & crafts ideas using a finished toilet paper roll and an old shoe box.

Toilet Paper Roll-Base Binoculars:

Shoe Box-Base Decorative Storage Box:

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5. DECORATE OR MAKE YOUR OWN TOTE BAGS FOR GROCERIES

There are many sites online that sell plain white or beige colored bags for under $3. It might be nice to buy one that your little one can decorate with hand prints or paint on. Most kids paint is waterproof and easily washed off, so try not to get the bag wet if you want to preserve their artwork. They also sell eco friendly protective coatings for printed products that you could use.

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6. GO FOR AN EARTH DAY SCAVENGER HUNT

While you’re outside enjoying the beautiful weather, you could also make it an opportunity to do a scavenger hunt. Don’t forget to bring snacks, water, sunscreen, and your toilet paper roll binoculars (or real ones). And of course, make or print a list of common objects like rocks, tree stumps, pine cones, insects, or animal tracks.

 

An illustrated checklist for kids to take on hikes.

 

Here is an example of one of the many free printables you can find online. Find the full size version of this specific one at makeandtakes.com

 

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Have some fun and enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend!

 

 

Easter Egg Hunt at Dunsmuir House

This year, we attended The Great Egg Hunt at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland, California. When you block out all the event traffic, long lines, boisterous children, and the mild chaos from lack of proper signage, for a moment, the grand neoclassical mansion looming ahead of you almost makes you feel like a character in an F. Scott Fitzgerald book, walking the gardens as you fantasize about life with Jay Gatsby.

          

And then your kid interrupts the thought with a dramatic, “Oh nooooooooo.” The bow on her basket has come undone for the umpteenth time. And CLEARLY, she can’t possibly carry a basket without a bow. Smh.

The grounds were beautiful in springtime.

          

They also had two Easter bunnies – a white bunny with a long line by the entrance and his gray buddy across the mansion.

There were a variety of activities catered to younger children including face painting ($5), a photo op with a pony ($5), arts & crafts, a few performers, and a petting zoo. We didn’t find any food available for sale, but many families  brought picnic baskets or lunchboxes and a blanket to use on the lawn. We weren’t quite that prepared.

The actual Easter egg hunt was kind of a mess. They split up the hunts into different timeframes based on age range:

Ages 0–3: noon
Ages 4–6: 1pm
Ages 7–10: 2pm

This didn’t work out so well for families with more than one child, so we noticed that many parents insisted that their 2 and 3 year olds join their older siblings for the hunt with the 4-6 year old group.

We reached the second line – the one for the egg hunt – at 12:20pm, 40mins before the hunt was scheduled to start. This meant our kids had plenty of time to play!

There was some flower picking..

          

And though my daughter INSISTED on wearing this D&G-like dress she picked out and that Cartier-like love bracelet for her Easter egg hunt,

it didn’t stop her from climbing over trees..

and finding a way to enjoy the outdoors.

By 1pm, the line had reached all the way past the mansion, filled with hundreds of families.

The kids were told to sit and wait for 30 minutes so the staff could allow as many children in. This photo was taken at 1:05pm, 5mins after they started letting children inside. By 1:30pm, there were many crying children who couldn’t see their parents because there were many people sandwiched between them and the fence. And they kept being asked to sit down, so they couldn’t exactly play while they waited.

When the kids were finally allowed to start the egg hunt, many parents ran inside the hunt area to join their children.

I was disappointed to discover that there were hardly any eggs. They had basically just thrown a bunch of no-brand chocolates on the lawn.

          

By the end of the hunt, Zee had only found TWO eggs. The rest were chocolates, many of which were opened and or had been smushed under someone’s shoes. Fortunately, she didn’t want any of her chocolates and was willing to trade them in for a cup of ice cream after lunch.

In the end, what mattered most to my daughter was how much she enjoyed being outside with her best friend and the fun of the hunt.

If what you’re looking for is a place nearby and a chance to spend some time outdoors with family, Dunsmuir House is a pretty good pick. We both had fun that day, but next year we may research other venues for our Easter Egg Hunt.

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Photos taken by Asha with an iPhone 6 Plus.

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MORE INFORMATION

Ages 10 & under: $3.00
Ages 11 & older: $5.00

Face Painting: 11am–2pm
Arts & Crafts: 11am–2pm
Children’s Cafe: 11am–2pm
Petting Zoo: 11am–2pm

Ages 0–3: noon
Ages 4–6: 1pm
Ages 7–10: 2pm

Parking was $10 at a nearby parking lot, unless you plan to arrive before 10am to look for street parking.