The future of the earth ultimately lies in the hands of our children, which is why teaching them to love and respect nature is so critical.
This type of education helps foster a connection between our urban environment and the natural one that surrounds us. However, for a lot of young children, they just don’t want to hear it. Talking about nature can get boring pretty quickly. However, there are some fun and interactive ways to transform kids into little environmentalists.
First of all, take your kids out into nature. This isn’t something you can teach while indoors. Going outside for a nature walk or hike will show kids that the outdoors is beautiful and irreplaceable. Most Canadian cities are replete with natural destinations and parks (one of the best parts of living in the Great White North), and it is easy to include a walk in your weekend activities. Make sure to bring snacks and a re-usable bag to collect any nature items you may find. When you get home, make a collage with what you collected. To make the nature walk more exciting, turn it into a simple nature scavenger hunt. There are easy pdf print-offs or simply write a few items down for them to check off as you walk. Can your child spot a bird? How about a birch tree or a pinecone?
Another fun idea is to get kids to do a quick litter clean-up while doing a nature walk. Kids might not like this idea right away, but turning it into a game will make it fantastically fun. ‘Race to Recycle’ is a game where you separate kids into two groups and get them to race to see how many litter items they can collect on their nature walk. Whichever group has more pieces of recycling by the end of the walk wins. A picnic to celebrate is always an enjoyable past-time as well.
Environmental crafts are another teaching tool that can be used to help kids learn about the planet and how significant it is to care about green initiatives. An easy art project is to collect as many recyclables as possible and place them into a pile for kids to use for an art project of their choice. The kids could also work together and build a statue out of the recyclables to make something beautiful. After the project is complete, explain how up-cycling recycled items can create new and fun projects and it isn’t necessary to buy new things when you can re-use the old.
Don’t have access to a lot of recyclable materials? Try this simple project! Take a paper plate (made out of recyclables) and paint it blue. Glue pieces of green construction paper to it and make the planet earth. Get the kids to write their favourite things about nature along the edges of the paper plate, which will get the children talking about everything they love about the outdoors. Place the plates on the floor and get the children to take pieces of recycling and dump it on top of the ‘earth’ plates. Explain to the children that by covering the earth in garbage, it can ruin it. Then, take out labelled containers with cardboard-metals-plastics and get the kids to put their recycling into them. Now that their ‘earth’ plates are uncovered, get the kids to talk about how important recycling is to save the planet.
Lastly, gardening and composting with kids teaches them how to dig in the dirt and understand how special it feels when things grow. Throughout the wintertime, you can grow pea shoots and other easy-to-care-for plants in used orange juice cartons and then plant them outside in the spring. Starting a compost when the weather warms also helps create amazing soil quality and shows kids how food is not garbage and can also be re-used.
Making nature fun for kids will help them love it as they grow up. Some of the best memories children can make are outside hiking in the forest with their families or learning how to pull weeds in the garden. By using informative games to teach kids that they have the ability to change the world and care, it will help them go green and hopefully save the planet for future generations to come.