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Did You Hug Your Planet Today?

Though Earth Day is officially celebrated on April 22 each year, it is important for children to learn ways in which they can be environmentally conscious everyday. Activities like gardening, cooking, and crafts offer numerous opportunities to teach kids of all ages to respect and appreciate the planet's resources. These books, toys, and audio selections offer suggestions to get them started ...
Hugg-a-Planet: Earth Hugg-a-Planet: Earth
Ages: 9 months & Up
Hugg-a-Planet, $18.95

Hugg-a-Planet is a colorful stuffed globe covered in a soft but sturdy fabric that is patterned with a map of the earth. Children can play with it like a ball, study it like a map, and hug it like a friend. Its message - love our earth - was an early one in the spate of ecological toys.

It's a Big Big World: The Earth Needs You
Ages: 2 - 8 yrs.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $14.94 (DVD)   

It’s a Big Big World takes children into the heart of the rainforest, into the native habitat of sloths, marmosets, tree frogs, turtles, anteaters, and a wide range of other exotic creatures. In this DVD these animals are addressing matters close to their hearts: how to be good stewards to the environment. The animals, represented by state-of-the-art, true-to-life puppets in a world that’s a mixture of sets and CGI, are occasionally difficult to understand, but the episodes stimulated a range of discussion and was particularly educational to early school-aged children.

We Share The Earth We Share The Earth
Ages: 2 & Up
The Children's Group, $15.99 (CD)   

The newest CD from Toronto trio The Bees Knees We Share the Earth, takes a distinctively eco-friendly approach with songs about bees ("TheBumble Dance"), cowgirls ("Cowgirl Katie"), foot apparel (the bluesy "I Got No Sole On The Bottom Of My Shoe"), and some lovely songs about nature including "Brand New Season," the rocking "Penguin Shuffle," and "Five Senses Shuffle." The album ends with the world music influenced strains of "Peace Begins With Me." All the songs have catchy lyrics, about subjects you won't mind your kids singing, and the album's overall theme of respect and appreciation for the planet, environment and people is a message perfect for pollination.

Ages: 3 - 6 yrs.
Carus Publishing Company,

Click opens up a universe of wonder by introducing kids ages 3 to 7 to the world that's all around them. Click is about the sciences, nature and the environment. Click is written so that children will love the challenge of new learning.

10 Things I Can Do To Help My World 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World
Ages: 3 & Up
Author: Melanie Walsh  
Candlewick Press, $15.99 (Hard Cover)   

Melanie Walsh's green-themed new book is subtitled "Fun and easy eco-tips," and that truly sums it up. Her bottom line is that saving the planet isn't just a matter for scientists and Nobel Laureates---it comes down to advice that, quite literally, a child can follow. This book is full of simple, practical, common sense tactics to combat environmental issues such as global warming and wasteful energy policies. Her bold, cheery acrylic illustrations and simple shapes are similarly full of kid eye-appeal.

Music for a Green Planet Music for a Green Planet
Ages: 3 - 104 yrs.
Dots and Lines, $14.98 (CD)   

East Coast-based professional jazz saxophonist Hayes Greenfield, creator of the educational Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz music program, asks listeners young and old to think locally and act globally for the welfare of the planet we all share in this thought-provoking and very cool collection. (The biodegradable CD packaging reflects the same message.) Greenfield wrote and arranged these family songs with environmentalist Margo Schepart and performs with a host of noteworthy jazz, pop and world music vocalists and instrumentalists.

Ask the Planet Ask the Planet
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
The Biomimicry Institute, $14.98 (CD)   

Ask the Planet opens with the rave up "Get Out (side)" in which skilled adult musicians back the strong and joyful voices of the Missoula Coyote (children's) Choir. The equally ebullient "I Want to Be Like a Tree," features the lead vocals of project songwriter Amy Martin. Other highlights include the jazzy little title track, which spells out the many lessons that animals, insects and plants can teach humans; "Keep it Cool," a timely ballad about the dangers of global warming, and the rambunctiously rhythmic "School of the Wild," featuring guest vocals by Bill Sims Jr. and Laura Love. The environmentally friendly packaging is complete with lyrics, and lists a supporting website that includes tools for teachers.

Diary of a Worm Diary of a Worm
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Doreen Cronin   Illustrator: Harry Bliss  
HarperCollins Children's Books / Joanna Cotler, $15.99 (Hard Cover)   

Doreen Cronin turns her attention to a young worm making his way in (or under) the world. Among the lessons learned: The earth gives us everything we need, and in turn, worms care for the earth. Children will like the inherent yuck factor in a book about worms, and will appreciate the comic asides in many of the illustrations.

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Penny Chisholm   Author: Molly Bang   Illustrator: Molly Bang  
Scholastic, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

Children often have an innate interest in the natural world, but sometimes science books can be a bit dry and lessen rather than reinforce the magnificence of our planet. Living Sunlight is a lovely fusion of science and poetic language, a wonderful collaboration between an author-illustrator (Molly Bang) and an MIT professor (Penny Chisholm) that sacrifices neither accuracy nor style. The book focuses on photosynthesis and its critical role in sustaining all life, but it uses an elegant first person point of view from the sun's perspective.

It's Our World: The Green Album It's Our World: The Green Album
Ages: 4 - 11 yrs.
Myther Music, $15.00 (CD)   

Singer-songwriter Hans Mayer's message songs about community, diversity, and green power are hardly subtle, but they go down nice and easy with Mayer's mellow vocals, infectious melodies and deft, folk-flavored guitar and mandolin accompaniment. A few highlights: "Camp Abilities" emphasizing "can" over "can't" ("A loss of sight is not a loss of vision"), "Fields of Windmills" ("watch 'em go, round and round") and "The Other Side," a toe-tapping, critter-happy twist on why the chicken crossed the road.

One Earth So Green and Round - Songs of Nature One Earth So Green and Round - Songs of Nature
Ages: 4 - 12 yrs.
KT Music Productions Inc., $14.99 (CD)   

Singer-Songwriters Lydia Adams Davis and Kathy Byers have collaborated on this excellent, beautifully honed and much welcomed album of original songs about nature, recycling, animal habitats, global warming, conservation and environmental awareness. Highlights include the sprightly "Shy Raccoon," the appropriately tropical and lyrically transformative "Chameleon," and the easy picking tale of the great northern environment "In Alaska." The album closes with the lovely and spirited "Song of Life" which should become the theme song for every nature center and school. The CD comes in mostly paper packaging, with nature-themed illustrations, a full booklet of lyrics and credits.

Heart of The World by Sarah Pirtle
Ages: 5 - 11 yrs.
A Gentle Wind, $14.95 (CD)   

The well-crafted lyrics in these pretty folk-style melodies are about whale-watching, sharks, the lives of salmon, and how water cycles from clouds to earth and back again to the phases of the moon, the function of cells, DNA and quarks. It's storytelling wonder in Pirtle's educational melodies

The Riddle in a Bottle The Riddle in a Bottle
Ages: 5 - 11 yrs.
Sisbro Studios, $19.95 (DVD)   

Riddle in a Bottle teaches children about waterways (oceans, rivers, ponds), aquatic wildlife, while trying to solve a riddle about what connects all life on earth. This is done through songs, humor and remarkable video of the ocean and wildlife. The script is well written and the skilled actors are well suited to one another. They present the information confidently, and with clever age appropriate humor. The DVD includes educational activities, designed for children K-6.

Oceans Are Talking Oceans Are Talking
Ages: 5 - 12 yrs.
Oceans Are Talking: The Ocean Foundation, $15.00 (CD)   

The Ocean Foundation has created a CD and concert series to raise awareness of critical issues surrounding the health of the world's oceans. Collaborator and singer/songwriter, Sam Lardner is folksy, fun, skilled, and approachable as he encourages listeners to take a positive action to protect the planet's precious resources and inhabitants.

Close to the Sun: Songs of the Earth and Beyond for Children
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Performed By: Peggy Eyres  
Quercus Music, $15.98 (CD)    $10.98 (Cassette)

Folk singer Peggy Eyres succeeds in making educational songs lyrically polished and musical as she sings about the fascinating characteristics of such fauna as sand skunks, T-Rex, geese and geckos ("Animalia" ) and of the usefulness of such flora as cotton, trees, oranges and carrots ("Plant Presents"). Other well-crafted, wells-sung songs are about the weather, good health habits, and mountain climbing.

Endango Endango
Ages: 6 & Up
Elastic Earth, $19.99

Endango is a board game where kids learn about protecting the environment. Each player is assigned an ecosystem and is responsible for three endangered animals native to each habitat. By correctly answering questions regarding the environment, players are able to move their animals to the "saved" zone. Incorrect answers move the animals one step closer to extinction. Many questions test the players' environmental knowledge, but even if they don't know the answer, as they play the game, they think about the environment and learn something new.

Nature's Art Box Nature's Art Box
Ages: 7 - 12 yrs.
Author: Laura Martin   Illustrator: David Cain  
Storey Publishing, $16.95 (Paperback)

Whether it's a city park, a suburban backyard, a farmer's field, or the sandy seashore, there's a treasure trove of natural art materials out there. Twigs, vines, pinecones, flowers, leaves, rocks, shells, moss, feathers - they're all gifts of the earth. Add just a few inexpensive store-bought items, such as glue, string, and wire, and anyone can create beautiful, natural works of art. Product Description

Recycled Crafts Box Recycled Crafts Box
Ages: 7 - 12 yrs.
Author: Laura Martin   Illustrator: Lisa Adams  
Storey Publishing, $10.95 (Paperback)

Corrugated Castle. Fancy Foil Fish Mobile. Paper Bead Bangles. Braided Rag Coasters. Old Shoe Flower Pots. Puppy Dog Sock Puppet. With a little imagination, just about anything we think of as trash can be transformed into an art project good enough to give as a gift or to keep and treasure yourself. Product Description

Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Producer: WGBH Educational Foundation   Producer: Interactive Kids Group  
WGBH Interactive,

The first online-launched program developed by the same affiliate station that brought ZOOM, Arthur and Curious George shows to PBS television, The Greens is a Web site designed to educate kids about sustainability and green living. Through a series of animated episodes, the site explores green topics ranging from landfill concerns to water conservation and shares ways for users and their families to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Earth Matters Earth Matters
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: David Rothschild  
DK Publishing, $24.99 (Hard Cover)   

Any child the least bit interested in ecology, the environment, saving the Earth and the future will find this glossy-paged hardback to be a remarkable resource bound by its mission of conservation and protecting the environment. Its pages are packed with colorful graphics, photographs, maps galore, timelines and extensive information-even detailed explanations-about our planet, our climate, and survival.

Green Science - Enviro Battery
Ages: 8 & Up
4M Industrial Development Limited, $11.99

Enviro Battery is a science kit designed to demonstrate how natural materials like lemons or even mud can produce enough electricity to light a bulb, power a digital watch, or activate a music chip. It includes wire, copper and zinc plates, plastic and paper cups, 2-hole bottle caps, a sound chip, a plastic tower with LED lamp, and an LCD watch. A 12-page booklet provides safety instructions, the basics of battery operations, and procedures to conduct and record six battery experiments.

Green Science: Windmill Generator Green Science: Windmill Generator
Ages: 8 & Up
4M Industrial Development Limited, $11.99

In building a small wind-powered generator, youngsters learn about renewable energy sources and how energy can be harnessed from the wind. It is a miniature, working model of the gargantuan windmills that are becoming increasingly common on the US landscape.This is truly a "green" toy; it uses an empty bottle no longer fit for its intended use, it has an obvious benefit of generating electricity, and it produces no waste. The kit includes an instruction booklet and materials necessary to build the generator.

Xeko Mission: Costa Rica Starter Set
Ages: 8 & Up
Matter Group, LLC, KidStuff Public Relations, $29.95

Since ancient times, a secret order called Xeko has protected the planet from those who would do it harm. Join Xeko Masters on their latest mission to protect Costa Rica, a land where amazing animals live between the fiery volcanoes and tropical beaches. The land's future is in each player's hands and the power to save is in the cards! Game comes packaged in a collectible storage box that contains an oversized play mat with a poster on the back, 50 cards for a 2-player game, two learn-to-play guides, two limited edition sketch cards and a bonus CD that contains a Xeko screen saver and other goodies.

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