Checking out celestial bodies at the Jasper Dark Sky Preserve photo:

Environmentally Friendly Fun for Earth Day, Family Day and Beyond

By Joanne Elves

Enjoy a triple whammy of sustainable fun with Earth Hour, Earth Day and Family Day activities

WAYS TO STARGAZE
Before powering down for Earth Hour at 8:30 p.m. on March 27, take a minute to install an astronomy app like Stellarium, Star Walk or SkyView on your family’s phones or tablets. The augmented reality apps let you see the position of constellations, planets and even the International Space Station—no matter where you are! To scope out the real things, visit a light pollution–free Dark Sky Preserve in Jasper, Elk Island or Waterton Lakes national parks, as well as Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, or just head to any rural area where ambient light is at a minimum.

FAMILY DAY MEANS FAMILY FUN
Three ways to spend some quality time together on February 15

1 Bundle up for an invigorating day of outdoor skating at Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park or Henderson Lake in Lethbridge. Or make a date for an evening skate at Sylvan Lake or Lake Louise.

2 Fill a thermos of hot cocoa and go on a hike in the city. In Calgary, trek the Douglas Fir Trail or the Weaselhead at Glenmore Park. Or brave the “Legs of Fire” stairs on the Devon River Valley Trail, southwest of Edmonton.

3 Grab your binoculars and embark on an afternoon birding expedition in the Whitemud Creek Ravine. Edmonton’s Wild Birds Unlimited store lists local birds to aid your identification efforts.

Infographic with illustrated Alberta-native trees and bushes
illustrations: Cindy Lubinic

MAKE A SCENE
Earth Hour is about turning lights off, but it’s also a great time to shine a figurative light on your family’s creativity. Hang a white sheet safely in front of a single source of illumination, leaving some space so budding thespians can take turns making shadow art or acting out skits and movie scenes. The rapt audience on the other side can guess what they’re seeing: Is it a giraffe, a cobra or perhaps Harry Potter casting a spell?

tomato sauce being spread over uncooked pizza dough
photo: Léa Jones/Stocksy

A COOK’S TOUR
Bring the kids into the kitchen and make some multicultural fare as a family

• Make pizza night more interactive. Take the kids to an Italian Centre Shop in Edmonton or Calgary and let them pick the toppings. The locally owned markets have all the ingredients, including fresh pizza dough.

• Chuen May Food Products in Calgary’s Chinatown has provided frozen dim sum favourites for more than 20 years. The little kitchen makes everything fresh daily, but it sells out fast. Create your own menu with selections like dumplings and sticky buns.

• Go beyond nachos for your next Mexican family fiesta. Instead, try ceviche tostados. Your local grocery store should have all you need to make some zesty, no-cook seafood nibbles. Get Alberta food writer Julie Van Rosendaal’s recipe here!