Today’s children are tomorrow’s environmental advocates, so it’s really important to teach them about ecology as soon as you can. Celebrating Earth Day is a great way to get started. It may be hard to think of age-appropriate ways to get them started in their journey to be eco-advocates, but we’ve got a few ideas for you.
Read a book
There are lots of great environmentally oriented children’s books, including classics like Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. But you can find some other great titles in this post from Working Mother and this one from SheKnows. Most of these books are suited for children ages 2-8. A Mighty Girl has a longer list, including titles appropriate for older children and even teenagers; there are a lot of multicultural titles here, too.
Most little children love digging in the dirt, so teach them how to plant while they dig. Planting a garden can be a great springtime project for your kids. If you don’t have the space for a full garden, consider starting a container garden or using an indoor gardening kit. Beans, carrots, and radishes are easy to plant and grow, so you can set your kids up for success and enjoy some fresh veggies, too. If there’s a tree-planting event in your area, bring your children with you and let them help you plant your tree.
Teach them about water and energy conservation
Even toddlers can learn about basic conservation techniques like turning lights off when they leave a room, not running the water when they brush their teeth, reducing fuel emissions by walking or bicycling, and reusing or recycling items rather than throwing them away. This is a great way to help your kids develop good habits that they will carry with them into adulthood.
One of the best ways to talk about the importance of nature and the environment is to go outside and let your children see it for themselves. If camping is your thing, arrange a trip on Earth Day weekend. If not, just spend the day outside exploring. Whether you’re walking in the woods or examining tide pools on the coast, these activities can create great “teachable moments” about the importance of environmental preservation, not littering, and more.
Earth Day is a great time to volunteer as a family. Earth Day-themed volunteer work will help your children understand not only about caring for the environment but about giving back to the community. Participate in a neighborhood litter cleanup, raise funds for ecology or animal organizations or projects, donate time at the local recycling center, or even have your kids read environmentally oriented picture books to younger children.
Do you have any other ideas about how to teach your children about Earth Day or the importance of the environment? Please share them in the comments.