Happy Earth Day

April 22, 2016

Contributed by Deb

Happy Earth Day!

Today is a special day to honor the Earth and show our gratitude for her gifts to us by giving back something to the Earth.

We, at Grandparents of the Forest, celebrate ‘Earth Day’ every day in some small way in our home, around our home and in our neighborhood.  Helping your child understand and appreciate the beautiful gifts of the earth is the biggest ‘give back’ you can do for the earth and your children.  Stewardship starts with respect and gratitude!

We’d love to share with you some ideas of things you could do with your children, both outdoors and indoors to celebrate Nature on this occasion.  We really do understand that you might like to be outside adventuring and exploring or gardening with your children and yet, you may not have the time to do it.  We’re here to help you to bring the outdoors inside also!

First of all, this is a great time to plant a garden.  If you are here in our community, you have probably received our garden guide.  We fully understand that some of you may not be able to do a whole garden (we offered suggestions for container gardening in our guide) so here are two other growing ideas.

blueberryhand~ Blueberry bushes are wonderful plants that can be integrated into your landscaping.  They are beautiful when they bloom in the spring and in the fall the leaves turn a lovely red.  They attract pollinators so your children might have a chance to spot some bees and butterflies.  And, of course, there are a plethora of health benefits for all of us when we eat these beautiful treasures.  Did you know that they have the ability to increase our brain power!  Check with your local extension agent to find out the best varieties for your area.

If you do have the chance to watch insects visit blueberry flowers, notice that butterflies with their long hollow straw-like mouth, the proboscis, approach the flower from the mouth of the bell to suck the nectar.  Bumblebees cheat!  They do not have a proboscis; their mouth parts are much shorter.  They cut a slit in the side of the bell-shaped blossom and get the nectar through that slit in the flower wall.  Honeybees cheat even more!  They wait for the bumblebee to cut the access and then the honeybees use the new hole!  Check it out.  Look at blueberry flowers and you will notice many of them have a little slit near the flower stem.

Moonflowers~ Moonflowers!  Do you have a patio, deck or fence – anywhere at all that you can put a plant that will climb?  It should be sturdy, because the moonflower vine can get quite large.  Moonflowers are amazingly beautiful and will quickly become a perfect addition to your family’s treasured memories.  They are related to morning glories and produce huge white blooms that unwind with a twist. Each blossom blooms only for one night.  Yes, we said night – thus the name.

Watch and you will see the night-flying moths come visit them. The flowers themselves reflect the moonlight and almost seem to be a light source themselves.  They will bloom all the way till your first frost.  Truly, they are a most desired fairy flower.  Look for them at your local nursery or at the farmers’ market.

Another unusual characteristic of the moonflower is the seeds are white!  At least the ‘good’ ones are.  We have found if they turn brown they are not as viable.  Soak the seeds overnight.  This will crack the seed shell and help it germinate… if you wish to grow your moonflowers from seed.

Here are some ideas of things to do inside your home with your children ~

scavanger hunt basket~ Scavenger hunt!  Why not have one inside?  You can make it a ritual as well.  How about every Friday night or rainy day?

Here’s a reminder of how to play ~
•  Collect some things from nature and hide them through the house.
(Here are some ideas of things to collect – a pinecone, pretty rock, geode, interesting shaped stick, clump of moss, animal bone, vanilla bean, turtle shell, antler, seed head, milkweed pod, dried rose petals or a seashell.)
•  Make a list of the items for your child
•  Have your child find them and bring them to you or if you have more than one child, have them make a drawing or checkmark beside each item and write a description of where it is.
•  When all the items are found, share a special treat together as you talk about each item.
~ Sources!  Another indoor game is to name different things in nature – wood, glass, paper, brick, wool, cotton, etc. and then ask your child to find as many things made out of these items as possible throughout your home.

~ I spy!  To play this game, one person spies something and the other person guesses what they are looking at. Make it nature friendly ~ I spy something wooden.  I spy something made out of sand.  I spy something that came from a sheep.  I spy something that came from a plant.  I spy something made from tree bark…

Every time your child recognizes another thing from Nature that is in your home, she will begin to realize that her whole life is supported by Nature.  This knowledge is a beautiful gift to give and one that will change your child’s worldview.

Finally, we hope that you will also remind your child the earth is inside of her.  We are all made of the Earth through the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink.  We don’t have to go anywhere to find her.  The sun and water live inside of every cell in our bodies.  We can thank our bodies on Earth Day because we are part of the Earth!

We hope you enjoy these simple suggestions of things to do on Earth Day – and really – every day!

From our home to yours ~
Blessings, love and starlit nights…
Grandparents of the Forest
Deb and Harry

Organized under Deb, Gardening, Spring.

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