Growing Greener Kids, Part Two
- 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 Penguins, FernGully: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.
Helpful natural science and eco-minded resources for young readers:
The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, byNuria Roca and Rosa M. Curto