Earth Day reminds us of our shared responsibility to take care of the environment, and it’s the perfect opportunity to teach your child lessons in good citizenship. While conservation can be a difficult concept for young children to grasp, parents and caregivers can help little ones begin to understand it by talking about the importance of protecting the earth and engaging them in fun activities that encourage environmentally friendly habits.
How to Introduce Conservation to Children
- Make it relatable. The idea of saving the planet can be daunting – especially for little ones! Start with a topic that children can relate to, like littering, and explain how where they leave trash impacts the environment.
- Use everyday opportunities. Find opportunities in your child’s normal daily activities to point out the importance of conversation. For example, teach your child to say, “One dot will do it!” when using glue, or encourage her to use both sides of sheets of paper when drawing pictures. Don’t forget to explain the reasoning behind conserving each material.
- Model good habits. Environmentally friendly activities that are practiced by the whole family every day or on a regular basis helps foster the same good habits in little ones. Here are a few ways your family can “go green”:
- Turn the lights off every time you leave a room.
- Always turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth.
- Take reusable shopping bags to the grocery store.
- Unplug your cell phone charger and hair dryer when not in use.
Fun Ways to Practice Conservation at Home
- Turn recycling efforts into crafts for kids. Try upcycling an empty tissue box into a feel-and-find box or dress-up “shoes,” making a quilt of old sports jerseys or outgrown clothing, or making animals out of empty toilet paper rolls.
- Incorporate conservation into story time. When working on your child’s reading skills, you can learn about recycling at the same time! Read books or poems about the importance of conservation, and then talk about how your child’s actions impact his neighborhood, community and the world. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:
- “Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Earth” by Linda Schwartz
- “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out” (poem) by Shel Silverstein
- “Recycle: A Handbook for Kids” by Gail Gibbons
- “Recycle Every Day!” by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
- “The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest” by Lynne Cherry
- “The Great Trash Bash” by Loreen Leedy
- “Where Does Your Garbage Go? (Let’s Read and Find Out)” by Paul Showers
- For additional book recommendations to help teach responsibility, check out this blog post.
- Turn recycling projects into sorting and math games. Have your child help you sort bottles, cans, paper and other items. Before putting them into the appropriate recycling bins, encourage your little one to practice his counting skills, group objects together by color and compare the different sizes and/or feel of the various objects. It’s an easy way to incorporate math into your everyday activities!