Spring just has this way of making you feel hopeful. The flowers which only a few short months ago wilted in the chilling air are peeking up from the ground to remind us that this planet we call home is full of such extraordinary things. Even when we are in the harshest of environments, life is not over. It too shall pass and life will, once again, be vibrant and wonderful. There is a lot to be learned from nature, and I feel like as a species we are becoming so detached from it. Not long ago I was sitting on my front porch on a beautiful sunny day while my oldest ran around asking me how tall the trees were and my new baby stared up at the sky in amazement. It was such a wonderful moment for me – both of my kids enjoying their environment. Then a woman went jogging past with an infant in a stroller whose face was buried in an electronic tablet. I always try to think positively, but this made me so sad. I realized that given the option, I think my own son might even choose to play video games over taking a walk. I’m not ok with that. So I started looking for things to do that would capture his attention, and help him appreciate nature and all that is has to offer.
There are SO many wonderful things you can do to teach your children how to appreciate and take care of the planet, but here is a list of 6 that we will definitely be doing this spring!
1. Start a garden. If you don’t have one already, plan and start a garden of flowers, fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies. Let your kids help you pick what to plant to get them excited about it from the get-go. Cameron’s favorite fruit is watermelon and his favorite flower is sunflower; so, I made sure I planned for both of those. Include them in every bit of the process from picking your seeds to watering them every week. Not only will this teach them about how plants grow, but it will also teach them about caring after things…and you get fresh produce out of the deal!
2. Make recycled paper and art. Remember making your own paper in grade school? Messy, yes, but so much fun! The internet has all kinds of ideas for how to make recycled paper. Find one that includes things you typically toss in the trash/recycling or have lying around your house and make something beautiful.
3. Get a bird guide. Stop for a second and listen outside. Just close your eyes and really listen for at least one minute. Even if you live in the busiest of cities, you will hear many different chirps. Then open your eyes and try to look for the birds you hear. Now you know what a blue jay, a robin, cardinal, finch, etc. sounds like! Use a bird guide to help your children do the same. Identify exactly what type of finch you just heard. Not only will they learn about the different birds, but it also teaches them how to be resourceful!
4. Volunteer to plant trees. Most areas organize at least one tree planting around Earth Day (April 22), and all you have to do is sign up or even just show up at the location. A great way to take care of the planet and help your community at the same time!
5. Go camping and hiking. And I don’t mean giant RV camping. Even if you just camp in your backyard, leave the electronics in the house and spend at least one night under the stars. Cook dinner over a fire, go on a hike before sunset, tell scary stories, listen for animals, and if the sky is clear, identify constellations. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
6. Go on a collection walk. Have everyone grab an eco-friendly bag and set out for a walk and collect litter. Have one person collect trash, one collect recyclables, and one person collect things that might be reusable for art or home projects (such as paper towel rolls and newspaper). Make sure everyone wears gloves and instruct kids to let you pick up anything that is glass or sharp.