Happy Birthday, Earth Day!

Earth Day turns 40 on April 22. This is a perfect opportunity to team up with your grandchild in an environmental project.

Here are some ideas from the Earth Day Network on the “Get Active with Your Kids” page.

Write a story

Together, write a short story of an imaginary trip through the jungle; then research how deforestation and animal poaching are damaging the rain forest.

Make a poster

Create an environmental slogan and decorate a poster.

Recycle

Make a recycled flowerpot from a 2-liter soda bottle. Make a tire swing. Go through the house and talk about which products are recyclable or reusable.

Plant a tree and enjoy nature

On Earth Day clean up trash at a stream or nature setting, or plant a tree. Trees create oxygen for us to breathe.

Watch “Polly Bear’s Earth Day” (for younger kids) at Earth Day TV or “Learn about Earth Day” (for older kids/adults) at Mashable.com.

•  Joan Collins: Closet Cookie-Baker

According to columnist Liz Smith, the glamorous Joan Collins (our GRAND cover celebrity in issue #14) ended a recent interview saying, “Liz, do you mind if we cut this short? See, I’m babysitting my 5-year-old grandchild, and we just made sugar cookies!”. It’s good to know Joan has her priorities straight!

•  Wearable Heirlooms

I love these soft, sturdy ForeverAlls® that protect my grandbaby’s tender little knees while she’s crawling on hard floors. They’re from Hammie-Downz®, founded by Tim Dinan to honor the tradition of handing down quality clothing from generation to generation. A keepsake metal box keeps the coveralls safe for the next recipient, and tucked inside the box are several extras, including a storybook, a plush Hammie pig and a framable family tree. A just-right gift for both girls and boys! -CB, California

•  Huggable, Snuggable

How cute are these My Pillow Pets?They’ve won several awards and are washable-which we grands will appreciate-but our g’kids will treasure them for their appealing faces and soft chenille cuddliness. Two sizes and many styles to choose from: lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And bunnies and unicorns and….

If you order online, at checkout you can designate 50 percent of the very affordable price to go the Family Reach Foundation, which helps support families fighting pediatric cancers and life-threatening diseases. Makes a gift-giving grand feel even grander.

•  Get Well Soon…

Nothing soothes a sore throat and an iffy tummy like a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Our testers sampled the excellent Spoonful of Comfort soup and almost wished we were under the weather so someone might send us more.

The soup has only natural, carefully prepared ingredients, and it was delivered to us safely cold-packed in a 64-ounce glass jar that will be transformed into a fun coin bank for the first g’kid to claim it. You also get a silver-metal ladle (cookies and fresh rolls are optional). Next time you want to send some love to someone, hold off on the flowers and send soup. Ummm, good!

•  Jam-Packed Jars?

Packed, yes, but not with jam. These Kind Notes [www.kindnotes.com] are tailor-made gifts for any occasion. Inside each glass jar or tin box are 31 notes in decorative mini envelopes. You can customize the jar, filling, envelope design, decorative ribbon, and messages to make your gift just right for that special someone. Imagine the smile on your grandson’s face when he opens an envelope and reads, “I’m bringing you a special hug next time I see you.”

•  Go bananas and Win!

The freshest contest on the block is the Super Bananza Sweepstakes from Chiquita Bananas and SEGA®, maker of the Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll® game.The Grand Prize is a 50-inch HDTV and a roomful of gaming fun. If you win, you’ll have the rapt attention of all your grandkids, plus every kid in town. The sweepstakes runs until May 1, so enter at chiquitabananas.com.

•  Treasure Trove

Looking for ideas to help you bond with your g’kids? Aren’t we all? In The Really Useful Grandparents Book by Eleo Gordon and Tony Lacey, you’ll find hundreds: from the tried-and-true (card tricks, camping out) to the very “today” (creating rap songs and iPod playlists). Some favorites are the conversation starters from natural science and history. Fully illustrated. On sale April 6 from Broadway Books: pre-order at Amazon.com.

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