Teaching Kids to Care for the Earth

MeMeTales Readathon Week 5: Green Earth 

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To highlight this week’s Readathon theme of Green Earth, I decided to focus on caring for the earth by combining the theme of enjoying and experience the outdoors in Let’s Go Chipper! with a practical lesson on recycling based on What Does It Mean To Be Green.
To experience the outdoors, we took our children to a family day at a local science center that emphasizes hands-on-learning about nature. My children are young (four and under), so we let them run, play, and learn through discovery. Even though I didn’t spend time trying to actively teach them about care for the earth while we visited the science center, I believe that allowing them to see, touch, and enjoy the natural world will equip them to understand why we should take care of the earth.

First, we visited the butterfly garden. Where incidentally, we did not see many butterflies, but we did see lots of bees and flowers. My preschooler spent most of the time running around the circular path, stopping every now and then to smell the flowers (literally of course). Don’t be fooled, the red object in his hand only looks like a water gun. It really is a freeze ray pistol for putting out the flaming faucets on Mars.

Nearby, the science center had a pond covered with lovely lily pads and nice green scum. This sort of pond would never be allowed in a housing association run subdivision, but a myriad of creatures happily calls the pond home. My children are too young to hate green scum, so they spent a long time gazing into the water which was a beautiful reflection of lily flowers, bees, and sky. (For the sake of safety minded readers, I did omit the photo that looked like my husband is dipping my children into the pond.)

Inside the science center buildings, my kids were able to see a wide variety of stuffed animals (which were NOT alive much to my four-year old’s surprise and disappointment.) They also touched a baby mouse, snake, sting ray, and human skeleton.  I almost had to drag my son away from the skeleton. We found out later that he thought it had been captured and stapled together so it couldn’t move any more.

Once outside again, we ate some locally baked goods, listened to local music (a bluegrass band), and toured the organically grown vegetable and herb gardens. We also learned about farm animals and early American farm life.

Later this week, I took advantage of my children enjoyment of the outdoors over the weekend to teach them about the importance of not throwing trash on the ground but instead recycling. For our activity, we took a bag of used plastic bottles and some crumpled paper and threw the trash across the yard.
Once we sufficiently trashed our yard, I asked my children some questions: 
  • Does the yard look nice now or messy?
  • How would this trash affect the animals?
  • What would happen to this trash over time?
  • What should we do when we see trash outdoors?
Then, we cleaned up the trash. My little kids loved picking up the trash so much, they threw it all over the yard again. Of course, we cleaned the trash right back up. While we cleaned up the trash, I explained how recycling works and why recycling is important. (In case you are wondering, the crown doesn’t have anything more to do with this activity than the freezer gun had to do with the butterfly garden.)
Later, we will take the bottles, wash them, and refill them with water to emphasize that the best way to recycle is to reuse whatever you can.
If your children are older, you may want to expand the activity by using different types of items (glass, plastic, etc.) that can be sorted into labeled bins.
If you would like to read additional children’s books that about nature, here is a list of some favorite books from the readers of No Twiddle Twaddle (plus some of my own):
I would love to hear more suggestions! Do you have a favorite children’s picture book about nature?

Bethany

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