Earth Day may have been in April, but we can celebrate our planet and all it has to offer every day of the year! There are so many fun ways for kids to learn to value the beauty in nature. Here are 5 important lessons to work on teaching children about nature and how to respect our planet year-round.
- Connect your children with real food sources. It sounds simple, but young children do not always make the connection between what they find in the grocery store and what occurs in nature. Teach your children that strawberries can be picked off plants, milk comes from cows, and eggs are from real chickens. Visit your local farms and farmer’s markets to help children respect real food. To locate farms near you, visit PickYourOwn.org.
- Grow plants from seeds. The process of clearing a space in a garden or planting seeds in small pots is both fun and educational for children. Children like to dig in the dirt, plant the seeds, water them, and check each day to see if they have grown. Mary’s Heirloom Seeds offers organic, non-GMO seeds and information about when, where, and how to plant them. Even within a tight space, you can plant an herb garden or small flowers. Search Pinterest for all different types of garden set-ups.
- Observe nature. Take your children outside and show them the beauty of nature. We recently observed caterpillars transform into chrysalises and then butterflies on the milkweed in our front yard. Children enjoy making observations about the color, size, texture, and shape of both living and non-living objects in nature. You can even let your children take photos, print them, and make a nature book together.
- Minimize waste. Whenever possible, be cognizant of the amount of waste you create as a family and remind your children to focus on reusing items. For example, buy reusable water bottles and fill each day to take on outings. Teach your child to use both sides of a piece of paper for art projects. When grocery shopping, bring along reusable shopping bags. Use hand towels instead of paper towels to clean up messes.
- Reduce the use of chemicals in your home. Whenever possible, opt for more natural cleaning products, hygiene products, baby care products, and food. Teach your child, even at a young age, to look for certain labels on products that indicate the ingredients are more natural. Healthy Child, Healthy World is a great resource for natural alternatives for common household products. You can even try making your own natural products with your children so that you know exactly what is in each one.
What activities do you do as a family to work on teaching children about nature?