We can all agree that it’s a good idea to learn to care for our planet—and that our children are the ones who will really be able to make a difference. Here are five ideas to celebrate Earth Day, which officially falls on April 22.
1 DO GOOD
Pick up litter at parks in the Fox Valley Park District. It gives a whole new meaning to “spring cleaning.” Spring Spruce Up. Free. 9:30 a.m.-noon. April 26. (630) 892-1550, foxvalleyparkdistrict.org. Or collect your old bikes and take them to Whole Foods Market in Deerfield. Working Bikes Cooperative will collect the bikes for restoration. Anyone who donates a bike will receive a $5 gift card. Plus, sample products from some eco-friendly vendors or bring the kids over to the café to make Earth Day crafts. Free. April 26. Whole Foods Market, 760 Waukegan Road, Deerfield, (847) 444-1900, wholefoodsmarket.com. Or head to Joan’s Studio for the Performing Arts, 1438 E. 57th St., Chicago, for Marsha’s Music Earth Day Fam Jam. The event includes family music-making, crafts and refreshments, with all proceeds supporting Marsha’s Music Scholarship fund. $10 per family. 4-5:30 p.m. April 26. (773) 493-9288. joansstudioinc.com.
2 WALK IT OFF
Now that our long national nightmare of winter is over, take advantage of the sunshine. At Chicago Botanic Garden, check out McDonald Woods, the 100-acre oak woodland that’s being restored. Earth Day Walk. Free, $20 parking. 1 p.m. April 26. 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe. (847) 835-5440, chicagobotanic.org. Or set out with a naturalist and learn about the birds and wildflowers in the forest preserves around the Trailside Museum of Natural History. Woodland Walk for Earth Day. Free; registration required. 1-2:30 p.m. April 26. 738 Thatcher Ave., River Forest. (708) 366-6530, fpdcc.com.
3 PARTY ON
Mother Earth is worth celebrating. At Brookfield Zoo, the focus is on endangered African painted dogs, which you can see at Habitat Africa! The Savannah. Plus enjoy special Zoo Chats, crafts, an Eco Expo and green entertainment. Party for the Planet. Free with zoo admission. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 27. 8400 31st St., Brookfield. (708) 688-8000, czs.org. Bartlett’s annual celebration includes exhibitors, activities and live animal shows. Earth Day Celebration. Noon-4 p.m. April 27. James “Pate” Philip State Park/Bartlett Nature Center, 2054 W. Stearns Road, Bartlett. (847) 608-3100, bartlettparks.org. And at Cosley Zoo, enjoy a slice of Earth Day cake after learning how you can help with conservation efforts. Party for the Planet. Free with admission. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 26. 1356 Gary Ave., Wheaton. (630) 665-5534, cosleyzoo.org.
Learn how the ancient Egyptians cared for the Earth and the ancient Egyptian names for animals and hieroglyphs for nature. You can even create one of ancient Egypt’s favorite games (make sure to bring an empty egg carton.) This program is recommended for ages 5-12. 2-4 p.m. April 27. Oriental Institute Museum, 1155 E. 58th St., Chicago, (773) 702-9514, oi.uchicago.edu. Free parking half a block south of the museum on University Avenue, Chicago. Or head to the free Green Metropolis Fair, which will feature more than 100 sustainable, free trade and organic exhibitors, conference topics covering all aspects of green living, family-friendly activities and entertainment include barnyard petting zoo, Mikey’s Big Shopping Adventure puppet show, a rain barrel giveaway, the Bug Brigade and Ask A Master Gardener help table, author book signings and organic Gardening Seminars. Many local businesses will be part of the Green Metropolis Fair’s Retail Marketplace, plus local food and drink and local services. Yoga, other wellness activities and ways to make your home healthier and more energy efficient year round will be spotlighted. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 27. Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave., Chicago. greenmetropolisfair.com.
5 MEET CRITTERS
Get to know Jim Nesci’s Cold Blooded Creatures at the Oak Lawn Park District’s Earth Day Celebration April 26. There also will be a tree climbing demo, tree planting demo, education on green living, gardening and composting, kids’ activities and more. Free. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 10444 S. Central Ave. Oak Lawn. (708) 857-2215. Or learn fascinating facts about the critters that live around the Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie and you may get to meet some in person, too. Activities and earth-friendly food will be available for sale. Free. Noon-4 p.m. April 27. 4650 Brummel St., Skokie, (847) 677-7001, skokieparks.org.