The Earth is an incredible planet. Teaching your kids just how amazing it is may convince everyone in your household to go green.
Step 1: Create a frame of reference Have your kids draw a timeline and fill in the major events of the past year. Explain that in the same amount of time Earth traveled 1.6 million miles around the sun, lost 50,000 acres of forest, and expanded its population by 211,000 people.
Step 2: Get dirty Start a compost bin. Include a banana peel and an aluminum can, noting that the peel will decompose in about four weeks, while the can will take 200 to 500 years.
TIP: Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for three hours, or a TV for two hours.
Step 3: Look around you Take a walk and see how many different animals, insects, and plants you can spot. Tell your kids that at the current rate between 20 and 500 plant and animal species will disappear from the planet in the next year.
TIP: Look for different types of insects, Earth's most diverse group of animals.
Step 4: Create an analogy Measure off 6 percent of your house with your kids. Have half your household stand in that area and explain that this is comparable to the rainforest, which covers just 6 percent of the Earth but provides a habitat for 50 percent of all living things.
Step 5: Take action Have your kids write down things they can do to help the planet. Tell them that even simple changes can make a big difference -- just turning off the faucet when they're brushing their teeth can save 240 gallons of water a month.
FACT: About 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water.