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Power down for Earth Hour 2011: 5 ideas for funThis Saturday, at 8:30 p.m., homes, businesses and landmarks around the world will go dark for one hour as part of a global campaign to raise awareness about energy use. Every year for the last five years, Earth Hour has challenged people to take off one full hour from electricity—no television, no computers and of course, no lights! Earth Hour 2010 reached 1.3 billion people and this year’s is shaping up to be the biggest one yet—the campaign’s website is reporting that a record-breaking 131 countries have registered to participate, with landmarks such as Times Square and The Eiffel Tower committing to go dark.

If you and your family haven’t participated in Earth Hour before, there’s no reason not to make this year the first of many to come. It’s a great way to start new traditions and to get kids thinking about howtheir actions can help fight climate change. Here, some electricity-free ways for you and your family to celebrate Earth Hour:

Enjoy treats by candlelight

Invite friends and family over for after-dinner, no-bake goodies, like chocolate fondue or ice cream sundaes. Have everyone you invite bring their own candle, and make sure they arrive in time to have an Earth Hour “countdown” to a lights-free hour.

Have a game night

Telephone, charades, hide-and-go seek—these classics all provide a great opportunity for families to let loose and spend time together. Have your child come up with a list of games they think would be extra fun to play in the dark, or, help him organize an in-the-dark scavenger hunt with friends.

Shadow puppet theater

Help your child write and put on her own shadow puppet play. Or, have the whole family write down some story ideas or themes and draw them out of a hat to make an improv night out of it.

Picnic in the dark

If it’s a nice, clear (and semi-warm!)  night, pack up and go for a picnic in the park or the backyard. Have your child print out a star chart to star gaze after dinner.

Make eco-friendly resolutions

Spend your hour in the dark making Earth Hour resolutions—invite the whole family to write down two or three ways they can reduce their carbon footprints, then hang the list up on the fridge as a reminder throughout the year to be kinder to the planet. Next year, review your lists to see if you stuck to your commitments, then come up with a new set of eco-conscious resolutions.

For more info and more ideas on how you can spend your power-free hour, visit earthhour.org. And remember the message behind the campaign itself—even though you’re just one family you can still make a difference, especially by making green efforts all-year around.

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