You know that irritating thing kids do at dinnertime?
The thing where you slave in the kitchen for hours, making them something you just know they are going to love? But when you call them to dinner, you’re met with a charming chorus of “ewwwww” and gagging noises.
So you try a different approach the next time. You let them help make the ravioli and this time you call it “Pirate Squares” or something. Now that’s a different story, folks. Suddenly they are wolfing it down, begging for seconds and announcing that it’s their favorite food ever.
Make Earth Day Fun
Teaching your kids about the environment – specifically Earth Day – can feel a little like that. Preaching to them about ozone layers and global warming is a sure way to set eyes rolling and attention wandering. But when you get their little hands dirty…that’s when Earth Day really starts to matter to them. That’s when you start them off on a lifetime of true environmental awareness. But how do you make Earth Day real (and real fun) to them? Below, we’ve listed just a few Earth Day activities that should make learning about the environment child’s play.
Caterpillar Castle: A Naturally Cute Lesson
Capitalize on your kid’s love for all things squirmy. (Check out our funny little bug house kit, for instance.) Show them how caterpillars can transform into butterflies right before their eyes. While you’re at it, explain how this amazing “magic trick” actually is an important part of the ecosystem. Caterpillar habitats are a fabulous jumping off point to talk about ecosystems, lifecycles and even explaining how butterflies aren’t just beautiful, but hard working pollinators too! Creating a caterpillar “castle” couldn’t be easier. Simply outfit a large container of just about any kind (2-liter plastic bottle, gallon-size jar, etc.) with soil, leaves for food, plenty of water and a branch for the emerging butterfly or moth to cling to. Make sure you tuck the leaves in some water so Mr. Caterpillar’s food stays fresh!
Compost: Feed That Dirt
Kids dig dirt. They also dig gross things. So show them how gross stuff can actually be good for the earth. Help them create their own little compost bin! It doesn’t need to be elaborate or technically efficient. It just needs to be theirs.
Every night, they can scrape dinner plates into their “Dirt Food” box. You can empty it into your real compost bin later. Here’s the 3-gallon container we used in the photo. We poked a few holes into it and let our little guy paint his name and some garden imagery on it using 8 oz. paint samples (low VOC, of course!) from Behr in Limeade and Majestic Purple. Tuck it into a corner of the counter, or even outside next to the recycle bin…wherever works for your family!
(Compost Bin Tips: Want to make your own “grown up” compost bin? Check out some helpful step-by-step instructions. If you’d rather shop for one ready-made, we carry loads of great compost bins online. Here’s just one unique compost bin and we offer dozens of other options.)
My First Bird House
Bird watching is a peaceful way to get your kids invested in and caring about their natural surroundings. Wild birds can provide some of the important “taking care of animals” lessons without all the pesky vet bills.
So provide them with their own birdhouse that they have built themselves, or even decorated themselves. You’ll catch your little one more tuned into birds in general once he or she has seen a few stop by for a snack. Then together you can have fun looking up which species are visiting.
Before you fill your birdhouse, remember to do a little research and stock your feeder with regionally appropriate bird food. Also make sure you keep your birdhouse clean to prevent the spread of diseases.
(Birdhouse Tip: Here’s the birdhouse we painted in the photo.)
Happy Earth Day!
Top image: D Sharon Pruitt