It has been a year since our children experienced the first shutdowns. In some ways, they’ve learned to adjust. But we can’t go back to normal because normal is not working for our children’s future. Climate change is already threatening their health.
In 2013, a little girl named Ella, in London, died after suffering from an asthma attack. The official cause of death was air pollution. The Western US has been dealing with dangerous air pollution due to wildfires. The Northeast saw a 30% drop in air pollution in March 2020, illustrating just how polluted the air had been before the pandemic. The pollution rate will rise as we continue to open up.
This Earth Day let’s double down on our resolve to raise a generation of eco-champs. Our little environmental stewards will inspire and demand change to ensure they have a healthy planet.
What does it take to create a generation of eco-champs? Contrary to what we might think, it’s not hard. It’s as easy as this:
- Taking your kids outside and experiencing what nature has to offer.
- Having short conversations about the state of our environment.
- Doing this frequently.
The research is clear: Kids who spend time in nature are more likely to conserve and advocate for nature as adults. And as we look to raise a generation of eco-champs, we need to instill a love of nature early in their lives and through deliberate actions.
When we are outside with nature, magical things happen. Stress, anxiety, and depression levels fall. Studies have shown that being outside helps kids become more creative and better problem solvers. Children also learn important lessons about our interconnectedness and our dependence on nature.
Here are 3 low-tech “be with nature” activities to do with kids. These activities are designed to get your family active, spark conversations, and build memories with nature!
Eco-Tip 1: Smell the Roses
Take a moment to stop, smell the flowers. Kids love daffodils, lavender, or whatever wildflowers you come across in your backyard, neighborhood, or park.
Stopping to smell, or even just look at, flowers can make a great learning experience. Ask:
- What sort of flower do you think that is?
- Why do you think bees are important to flowers?
- When you get back home, draw a picture of the flowers.
Did You Know?
The phrase “stop and smell the roses” didn’t come from a famous poet or playwright. It was golfer Walter Hagen, who said in his 1956 book, The Walter Hagen Story, “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”
A Big Question: How did stopping and smelling the flowers make you feel?
Eco-Tip 2: Make Your Own Bird Feeder
A bird feeder gives children the opportunity to observe the wonders of nature, right at home. Backyards with bird feeders have more and healthier birds than backyards without bird feeders.
You don’t need to buy a fancy bird feeder; our favorite bird feeder is homemade and uses a classic kid snack staple – peanut butter!
- Smear peanut butter onto a leftover toilet paper roll, then roll it in bird seed made for your local birds.
- Go outside and slide it onto a branch for your new bird friends to enjoy!
- Bring out your binoculars and enjoy some backyard bird-watching to learn about the local birds in your yard.
Did You Know?
Take bird-watching one step further. Join hundreds of thousands of bird enthusiasts with over 100 million sightings and start recording your own sightings. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird project uses this data for science and conservation. Plus, you can see what other birds are in your area!
A Big Question: What bird would you want to observe in the wild?
Eco-Tip 3: Make Rock Art
Rocks are one of nature’s oldest and simplest canvases! They are easy to find and come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. Plus, they make for a fun kid (and adult) craft activity.
- Find rocks in your yard or at your local park.
- Using water-based paint, decorate, paint a picture, or write a kindness message.
- Distribute the painted rock art around your neighborhood and put a big smile on a neighbor’s face. And because you used water-based paint, you don’t need to worry about dirty chemicals leaking into the ground when it rains!
Did You Know?
Over thousands of years, rocks break down into soil. You might not think that soil would be important, but did you know that 95% of our food comes from soil? The healthier the soil is, the healthier our food is! Research your local soil quality and soil health.
A Big Question: Is your area covered with healthy soil? If not, what can you do to improve soil health? How is soil health impacting you?
Please read Kat Kid Adventure Post, a free magazine for eco-champs packed with Earth Day history and fun activities to open the eyes and broaden the minds of kids and parents alike. It’s a great way to get your kids started on creating their own eco journey!