Children can develop an understanding of protecting our environment with the help of adults who make them aware of the fact that we are all interdependent. We can be guardians of the plants and animals in our surroundings. As parents, we can show our children how some things taken from nature can be returned to help it thrive. Below are several activities to help develop awareness for Earth Day and every day.
Take a litter walk together
Put some excitement into a clean-up litter walk by also making it a scavenger hunt. Together, make a list of various types of things that when thrown away becomes litter, such as soda cans, newspaper, paper cups, plastic or glass bottles, and so on. Children can become aware that certain items, although good in themselves, can become litter when discarded — and litter dirties up our Earth.
When walking, take a brown bag and the list. When the child finds an item on the list, check it off. See how long it takes to cross off each item. Of course, dump the litter in appropriate containers — some may be recycled.
A great way to save the Earth is to repopulate things that we eat. Many fruits and vegetables can be grown again by planting the seeds or stalks. Here are a few examples.
- Pineapple: Cut off the top and trim three rows of the bottom leaves. Let this dry for a few days and then plant the pineapple top into the soil, with the top above ground. Keep it moist and in a sunny place. Pineapples will repopulate into new plants that will eventually bear fruit.
- Onion: Find an onion that has already sprouted. Plant it in the soil and watch it regrow into a new onion.
- Carrot: Cut off the top and trim off any leaves. Place in a layer of pebbles in a low dish container. Keep it well watered and when the carrots sprout roots, plant in the ground.
- Avocado: Place three toothpicks into an avocado seed. Set this inside the mouth of a jar filled with water. Place this in partial sunlight. When the roots sprout about four to five inches, plant this in soil outdoors.
Learn to compost
If you garden with your children, you may want to start a compost pile. Composting takes time to break down, but becomes great fertilizer for a garden. Children can also see how some waste materials can be recycled. A compost pile uses vegetable scraps such as potato peels, carrot scrapings, cornhusks, lettuce, cabbage, and onion peels. It can also use coffee grounds, plant clippings and grass.
To make a compost pile, surround a small area with chicken wire. Place another small circle of chicken wire in the center to help circulate the air. Layer the vegetable scraps with fresh soil. Keep it moist and add some lime and fertilizer. Continue the layers, always covering with soil. You will have good rich mulch for a garden within a few months.
Recycle together as a family
Introduce your children to the recycle emblem on many products. Talk about why we recycle. Discuss the differences in packaging of goods — paper, plastic, and glass. Ask the kids, which would be better to use and why? Together, make a game of sorting product containers using paper, plastic, cans, and glass (do not sort glass with very young children). This is a good activity that teaches classifying as a math skill. Have a recycle center at your home and ask the children to use it daily.
After these discussions, brainstorm together ways that will help our Earth — like use cloth towels instead of paper towels in the kitchen, don’t let the water run needlessly, turn out the lights when you leave a room, and use both sides of the paper when drawing or coloring. Better yet, use junk mail for extra drawing paper on the clean side.
Source: Personal experience
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