Ways Kids Can Help the Environment
Happy Earth Day! While we should be protecting the Earth every day, Earth Day is a particularly good opportunity to talk to kids - even young kids - about why we need to save our valuable resources, and teach them ways they can make a difference!
About Global Warming
Most climate scientists agree that the main cause of the global warming trend we are currently experiencing is human contribution to the “greenhouse effect.” The greenhouse effect is warming that occurs when heat is trapped by atmospheric greenhouse gases and that heat is released again. Ultimately, global warming could have devastating effects on our planet, including the loss of animal habitats, a decrease in the amount of fresh water available, and the increased spread of some diseases.
Many of the activities we take part in daily, such as driving to work, turning on lights and appliances, and throwing away garbage, cause greenhouse gases to be released. It’s not possible to completely eliminate our release of greenhouse gases, but there are countless things we can do to reduce our impact on the environment.
How (and when) to Talk to Children About Climate Change
Many parents are concerned about how climate change will affect their children, and can see that the world their children will grow up in will be changed dramatically. It can be difficult, however, to know when and how to talk to young children about our environmental crisis.
The best way to figure out if your children are ready to talk about climate change is to listen carefully to what they say and the questions they ask. Most school-aged children, and even many preschool aged children, already know a bit about climate change and other environmental issues from school or the media. If your child never raises the issue, it may be because they know nothing about it, or perhaps because they are too anxious to raise the topic.
You can provide opportunities for conversation by explaining what you do to preserve the Earth, like recycling, reducing plastic use, and conserving energy and water in language your child can understand. Help them feel less anxious and helpless about environmental issues by talking to them about the environmentally-friendly things you do every day and help them learn to appreciate and care for the natural world along with you. Showing kids ways they can help the Earth empowers children, and educates them on the importance of 'living green' at a young age.
Get Kids Involved in Helping the Earth
Kids are naturally curious, and love projects and activities, so there are many ways you can educate your kids about how to help the Earth all while having fun!
Walk, bike, or take the train to an appointment or for errands and explain to your child how doing this instead of driving helps the Earth. Encourage them to walk or bike instead of asking for a ride when it's responsible and safe to do so.
Have your child help you sort items between trash and recycling. Talk to them about where the recyclable materials go and how they are reused. You can turn this in a game to make it more fun, even for a toddler!
Educate kids on the importance of conserving energy. Encourage them to turn off lights when they leave a room, or turn off unnecessary lights when they see them on. To create a feeling of enthusiasm, and reduce anxiousness about the environment, have them keep track of how many lights they turn off and give out prizes!
Volunteer to participate in river/beach cleanups with your kids. Seeing first hand how much trash washes up on our shores sends a powerful message to kids, and they can immediately see the results of their efforts!
Plant a tree or bush with your kids, and explain how trees and vegetation help the environment. Put them in charge (with your help) of watering and caring for it, and let them take pleasure in watching it grow!
Start a compost project in your backyard and get your kids involved. Composting can be done very inexpensively and keeps a lot of waste out of landfills!
Encourage kids to use less water when they are brushing their teeth and washing the dishes. Talk about how using less water helps the Earth and the animals; this gives them feelings of pride and accomplishment even while doing a chore they may not like too much!
Help your child be an environmentally-friendly artist by coloring on both sides of paper and making craft projects from items like used paper towel rolls and milk cartons.
Read About the Natural World
Kids love to read, and be read to, and books about the natural world help foster a love of nature at a young age. Kids are never too young to start learning about our amazing Earth!
Books help teach kids that all living things have an intrinsic value, and each plays a unique role in the complex web of life. The earlier kids learn about animals and the environment, the more motivated they become to help protect endangered and threatened species such as bees, elephants, giraffes, whales, and more.
We offer some beautifully illustrated, fun, and educational books that teach children about mammals and how they interact with their families and the environment.
Babies Nurse is an award-winning book with an overarching theme of breastfeeding inspires conversations about parenting, biology, habitats, survival, and more, making this book an engaging choice for young children as well as elementary school readers. The book’s luminous illustrations and lyrical text give children a glimpse into the worlds of 13 different mammal babies. Compelling childhood facts also broaden the reader’s knowledge about each animal. Also available in Spanish.
Cuddled and Carried
Cuddled and Carried's beautiful images introduce kids to attachment in the natural world. Watching mothers lend a paw, wing, flipper, or hand to care for their young fosters empathy, kindness, and compassion. The stunning images and gentle verse will capture the curiosity of even the youngest readers as they see how animal mothers tend to their cubs, pups, calves, and chicks.
If My Mom Were A Platypus: Mammal Babies and Their Mothers
If My Mom Were A Platypus teaches young children about how all mammal mothers feed, protect, and teach their young, even though these tasks can challenge their own needs for survival. But a mammal baby’s journey to maturity varies dramatically depending on whether it is a bear or a bat, a shrew or a seal, a hippopotamus or a human. This fascinating look at life cycles portrays the normalcy of birth and breastfeeding and explores how mothers help 14 different mammals navigate the path from helpless infants to self-sufficient adults.
What are some fun ways you teach your kids about the environment? Tell us in the comments!