Are you running out of ways to keep your kids busy while their schools are closed? Or maybe you’d like to beef up their science curriculum by helping them connect to the “real” world? Either way, now could be the perfect time to teach them about climate change, a topic that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves in most science curricula. These fun hands-on tools for kids can help:
- Start with science. National Geographic Kids does a great job demystifying what climate change is and how it impacts our lives. NASA’s Climate Kids website “tells the story of our changing planet through the eyes of the NASA missions studying Earth.” It offers easy-to-grasp answers to questions like, What is climate change? And, How do we know the climate is changing?
- Experiment. Nothing cements “book learning” as much as “hands on” projects. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has compiled descriptions for fun and interesting science experiments that kids of all ages can do. If you have several children at home who are a few years apart, have each of them do a different experiment, then stage your own home science fair. It’s fun to video each of the kids’ presentations. They can share the videos with teachers and classmates.
- Build a bird feeder. Because the seasons are getting warmer earlier, many migratory birds are showing up in our backyards sooner than they normally would. Here are a few DIY bird feeders from Audubon. Use this online bird guide to identify the birds that show up. Keep a DIY bird journal, so you can compare it to the birds that come back next year.
- Download an activity. The Energy Ant activity book, produced by the EIA and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, includes fun drawing activities, stories to read aloud, and a board game you can cut out and play as a family. Download The Lorax Coloring book, produced by EPA’s ENERGY STAR office. The book encourages kids to “save energy at home and at school, to keep pollution out of the air and keep the earth cool!” It includes a crossword puzzle, fill-in-the-blanks story, a word search, and a maze.
- Plant and watch. Kids can help plant a garden. Getting kids outside and involved in gardening is a clear path to environmental stewardship. KidsGardening provides the resources to help kids grow healthy food and discover the joy of gardening.
- Roll up the car windows. Want to help kids understand what “greenhouse” effect means? Park your car in the sun. Using an outdoor thermometer, take the temperature inside the car. Then, roll the windows up. In an hour or so, when the air inside the car has heated up, take the temperature again. Depending on how much sun the car has gotten, the temperature inside should have risen noticeably. This is a good experiment to use to explain what the greenhouse effect is and how it works, with help from NASA if you need it.
- Communicate. Older kids may have heard of Greta Thunberg and student activists who have been raising awareness about climate change all over the world. Watch “The Secret to Talking About Climate Change”, a terrific 4-minute video that provides guidelines aimed at students who want to learn how to have a civilized conversation about climate change.
- Watch. The Day After Tomorrow dramatizes climate change head on. It’s a story about a climatologist who tries to save his son after a climate-related debacle threatens to immobilize the planet with ice. The movie does a decent job of explaining the science, and will definitely keep your child’s attention. Maybe afterwards, your child can write and publish a movie review!