Raising Green Kids: Nature Activities
Being an environmentalist, I'm always looking for ways to help teach my kids about green living issues as well. We go about this in a multitude of ways, such as reading green topic books, recycling together, saving water, not using plastic bags at the store, talking about caring for the planet, cleaning up garbage on the beach, and much more. I try to get them excited about taking care of the planet just about any way that I can.
Kids love to get involved in creative activities and letting them do so helps them learn about the issues. There are so many activities you can do that are nature-related or nature-themed that they will gain from. Whether it's making homemade seashell jewelry (from shells you personally found on the beach) or spreading peanut butter on pine cones, rolling them in bird seed and hanging them out in the yard as bird feeders, there are some great activities you can do with your kids to help get them close to nature and keep them learning while they have fun.
Here's a few that I have done with my kids over the last few months that you may want to try with yours:
- Nature walks. Not only is it good exercise, but it's fun to be out in nature. Pick a spot that has a good nature setting and take a walk. Talk about what you see, hear, smell, etc. Point out animals, insects, flowers, and other things you see along the way. You can even have a scavenger hunt list that you take with you of things you want identify along the way (e.g., pine cone, squirrel, butterfly, etc.). Just getting the kids out in nature benefits them. You may discuss a lot of the things along the way and they may not absorb it all, but that's okay, they are still benefiting!
- Bag the bag. If you aren't familiar with how bad plastic bags are for the environment now is the time to find out. They are dreadful and should be banned, if you ask me. Anyway, get some kid-sized canvas bags and eco-friendly paints. Then, let them decorate their own re-usable bags they can keep (this is great for an eco-friendly birthday party idea as well). As they work on the bags, discuss with them how bad plastic bags are for the planet and how they end up killing sea turtles, among other damages they create. Then, encourage them to use the bags when you go to the store. Alternatively, you can use shirts and instead of paints you can use natural coloring from boiling down and straining a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Seed planting. Kids can learn how the plant life cycle works with this project. Get some small terra cotta planters and some paints or things they can decorate them with. Let each child decorate their own as they would like. Then, using organic potting soil and seeds, plant the seeds and then water (choose seeds that you will want to use the goods of later, such as cilantro, etc.). Then, let them do the watering and caring for the plant as it grows. Once it grows, let them participate in snipping and preparing the food that has grown. As an alternative, you can create an outdoor garden or herb garden with them.
There are so many ways that you can get kids involved in learning about nature. One of the most important ways is to lead by example, by living a green lifestyle yourself. The more they learn about the planet the more they will grow an appreciation for it and take care of it...and the better off we all will be!