Video games and DVDs may entertain kids, but they’re hardly good for them or the environment, for that matter. Get your kids off the sofa and keep them occupied with healthy, eco friendly fun that will reduce your carbon footprint and help them experience the wonders of nature. There’s plenty to do around the home and in your neighbourhood even if you’re a city dweller.
You can’t beat plants and gardening, especially for young children. Novelty indoor plants like Venus flytraps are perennially fascinating for kids and help to teach them about the food web and environmental balance. A kids’ garden patch is a bit like playing in a sandbox, but will show results down the line. With large seeds like sunflowers your kids can see them sprout and form leaves in a matter of a few days. Plants kids can eventually eat are also a big hit, and a boost for healthy living habits. Cooking home-grown foods is another opportunity for learning about sustainable living and carbon footprints, as well as gaining skills.
Outdoor activities are the best for getting kids face to face with nature but it’s not always possible. You can do both – or combine the two. Most kids love collecting. Even urban environments offer opportunities for collecting and pressing leaves and flowers (just press them inside a heavy book) and making a scrapbook or album. Collecting things from the outdoors, from shells to pebbles, also provides materials for all sorts of eco craft projects that encourage creativity and manual dexterity.
Craft projects using stuff that can be recycled also help instil a sense of green issues and their importance in children. From old clothes and cardboard tubes to used wrapping paper, tin cans, and old magazines, kids can turn materials otherwise destined for landfill into fun objects and gifts. For making collages all you need is paper, scissors and glue for economical but creative entertainment.
Most kids love the independence a bike gives them. Cycling is great family fun and a way to connect with and enjoy green spaces that may be in your area while getting a little exercise. As well as aiding in keeping fit, cycling is an introduction to the serious environmental issue of sustainable energy, greenhouse gases and planet-friendly strategies and standards we can all live by.
It doesn’t all have to be low tech. Cheap, basic digital cameras are widely available, and kids can be encouraged to hone their environmental awareness by photographing and identifying trees and flowers, birds and other wildlife. Computer eco diaries, tracking your family’s carbon footprint with online tools and discovering green living tips to put into practice can all be great fun. The internet can be great for fostering eco knowledge and respect for the planet – as long as it doesn’t become another way for kids to sit staring at a screen for hours a day.
Going green means getting out there to see the beauty we all need to conserve. Check out non-profit organizations and local authorities for activity programs that combine kids’ entertainment with boosting eco awareness. These can also be great ways for kids to connect with people as well as nature, so they can grow and thrive on all sorts of levels.