Each month, topics in this column alternate between fun, new places to go and family-friendly things to do at home. This month, the YMCA shares an earth-themed art project for the yard and a yoga stance. Give both a try!


The first Earth Day in 1970 brought 20 million people together to learn about environmental challenges facing our planet. Now, every year on April 22, people all over the world celebrate Earth Day to raise awareness on issues like pollution, waste and deforestation. 

Students in Extend-A-Care YMCA afterschool programs engage in environmentally-themed activities all month long, and YOU CAN, TOO with your family. Activities such as picking up litter, planting trees and being active outside are great ways to be a planet hero and celebrate. Here are a couple of additional suggestions:

Recycled Plastic Art
Recycling is how we take trash and transform it into new products. This project teaches kids about the concept through a hands-on activity.

Materials Needed:
• Empty plastic water bottles, cleaned
   with labels removed
• Colorful permanent markers
• Scissors

Give each artist a water bottle. Make sure bottles are clean and dry on the outside. Once the bottles are ready, get to coloring them! Permanent markers are a must for this step. Washable ink will not adhere to the plastic.

After the coloring is complete, it’s time to turn your bottles into spirals. With the scissors, remove the flat bottom of the bottle and recycle it (or save it for a future craft project).

Starting at the cut edge, snip around and around, from the bottom of the bottle to the top, to create a spiral. Stop cutting when you get to the smooth, rounded “shoulders” of the bottle.

Take your art piece outside. Holding the lip of the bottle, watch your colorful wind spirals bounce and dance in the breeze.

Tree Pose
Nothing gets you in tune with nature more than finding a quiet spot outdoors where you can calm your body and mind and become one with the elements. Head outdoors with your kids and try this classic yoga pose – it’s easy and yet oh-so-challenging at the same time.

Begin standing straight with your hands at your heart.  Find a focus point with your eyes. 

When you are ready, shift your weight to your left foot and turn your right knee out to the side.  

Rest your right heel on your left ankle, keeping your toe on the floor.

If you are feeling balanced, try lifting your right foot up to rest on the middle of your calf. Slowly grow your arm branches up to the sky. Your arms should be straight with your shoulders. Relax your shoulders and pull them down away from your ears. 

You can bring your hands together over your head to make a pine tree or keep them apart to create an oak tree. Balance in the pose for 3-5 minutes, taking slow, deep breaths.



Families can enjoy nature up close at Family Play Day, Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at YMCA Camp Moody in Buda. Grab your friends and family for this free community event with everything from canoeing to family yoga and angler education to the challenge course! Visit Austinymca.org for details.

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