Growing Greener Kids: Get Learning

Hopefully you have all had the chance to read Lauren Kostantin’s first guest article this month, Growing Greener Kids: Get Curious!, and here is the next part about encouraging your children to take their curiosity to the next level. 



Growing Greener Kids, Part Two

Get Learning!
by Lauren Kostantin


Hopefully, after my last installment on Growing Greener Kids, you and your kids got curious about nature and how we can make an impact on it. With all of those gears turning in those young minds, it’s time to start up the green machine and Get Learning!

A great way to begin teaching and learning is to use those curious questions as a springboard, building off of those ideas that your kids have already showed an interest in. Typical questions, like “Why is the sky blue?” can become the perfect fodder for an eco-lesson. Whatever the topic, take the ball and run with it. Help younger children track down answers and direct older children to research on their own. And because it’s always nice to do things together, here are a few ideas of ways to get the whole family in on the action.

  • Start a mini nature lab. Fun items to have for a nature lab are magnify glasses, bug collecting jars (please set them free after observing them!) and some field guides to help identify local plants and animals. Store your nature lab in a bucket that can be used to collect whatever it is your little greenie wants to investigate. Start with those basics and add to your “lab” as needed. The possibilities are endless!
  • Learn while playing a field guide game. Make a list of certain of items from your field guides and then set out on a scavenger hunt adventure. Check off each item you find and maybe make a little note of how you identified it. Let the kids explain how they know it’s a maple leaf/igneous rock/American robin. This game can also work well with toddlers and preschoolers, just make the list a bit less specific. If you do a bit of searching you can find some fun and free printouts on the web for other field guide games. Leaf Bingo anyone?
  • Watch the process. Start with planting a seed (green bean seeds work great!) and have your child observe it’s growth. A couple of fun ways to keep track of the seed’s growth is with a daily photo or by having your child draw what they see from day to day. It’s a great experiment to learn that plants need healthy soil, sunlight and water to help them grow. You earn extra eco-karma if you repurpose a “throwaway” for your planter! I know you have a yogurt cup hiding in that recycling bin of yours.
  • Save it for later. Ok, so I know that we as busy moms and dads can’t always drop what we are doing to research and answer questions. A parent’s world doesn’t often have that luxury. The perfect solution to that situation is a topic box. A small notepad and pencil set up next to a box or bowl can harbor all of those questions that come up when you’re in a time crunch. Then when things slow down you and the family can pick one (or more of course!) from the box to investigate. So next time Jonny asks “How do they recycle our juice bottles?” while you’re on a conference call, you can casually whisper “topics box.” Supermom cape not included.
  • Green up your movie night! Next time you have family movie night pick a movie with an environmental spin. With older kids you can go the documentary route with favorites like the BBC’s Planet Earth series. Younger kids will love family approved films like March of the PenguinsFernGully:The Last Rainforest, and Free Willy just to name a few.

Use your imagination and I have no doubt that you can come up with countless green and amazing activities to share with your family. Do what works for you and follow your children’s lead. I can bet that sooner or later they’ll be teaching you a thing or two about living green.

In 
Growing Greener Kids: Part 3,we’ll Get Active! and share different hands-on ways you and your kids can become activists for positive environmental change and protectors of our home planet.

Green Reads:
Helpful natural science and eco-minded resources for young readers:

The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
, byNuria Roca and Rosa M. Curto
A Handful of Dirt, by Raymond Bial
Ecology (DK Eyewitness Book,) by Brian Lane and Steve Pollock
Kids in the Garden: Growing Plants for Food and Fun, edited by Elizabeth McCorquodale
The Energy Revolution series, by Niki Walker

About the Author
Lauren Kostantin lives in a small town in Western Massachusetts with her Husband and one year old son, Jackson. A former preschool teacher and now a self proclaimed wanna-be homesteader, Lauren is huge supporter of local agriculture and organic farming. She volunteers at a local draft horse sanctuary, working with rescued and retired horses, and also loves to crochet and sew.
{If you enjoyed reading Growing Greener Kids: Get Learning I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}
Emi

Emi

By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.
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Emi
Emi

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Comments

  1. trishden says:

    Thanks for these tips of things to do with youngsters. I have been a 4H leader teaching and maintaining a garden with them and it was very rewarding work until I got too sick to continue. Childen just love seeing their plants grow and produce. I plan on using some of your suggestions with my small nieces. Thanks!

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