By Jordan Ardoin
Children are the future. We use that phrase so often that we sometimes forget the weight of it. The seeds we plant in our children's minds now will eventually determine the future of our planet. You can teach kids to protect the environment with a few backyard activities.
1. Start a Garden
What better way to show children how to live in harmony with nature than to plant a backyard garden and watch it grow? You can grow vegetables to teach your kids about sustainable living or flowers to attract pollinators -- it's up to you. Whatever you choose, you'll open their eyes to the way Mother Nature provides for us if we do the same for her.
2. Collect Rainwater in a Rain Barrel
Even if your kids don't understand the concept of water as a limited resource, you can teach them to conserve water with a rain barrel. A rain barrel connects to your home's gutters through a downspout, then collects rainwater over time. You should be able to find all the supplies you need to install a rain barrel at your local hardware store.
You and your child can use the recycled water to wash the car, do the laundry, or, better yet, water your new garden.
3. Set up a Worm Farm
Start a worm farm with your kids to teach them that earthworms (and other creepy crawlies) aren't yucky; they're an essential part of our ecosystem. You can buy a simple worm farm designed for kids for around $20 or start a compost bin, depending on how much effort and money you're willing to put in.
Your kids will see firsthand how earthworms make the soil richer and help plants grow healthier. It's a great lesson in how all members of an ecosystem work together to feed the planet.
4. Learn about Pollution with Easy DIY Science Experiments
Even though your kids might hear about pollution at school or on the news, it can be a far-off concept to their little minds. Get hands-on with kid-friendly science experiments to show them how pollution affects their lives.
Some simple science experiments that can teach kids about pollution include:
Coat a clear piece of plastic with petroleum jelly and leave it outside where the wind can reach it. Wait 24 hours, then check to see what particles from the air stuck to the jelly.
Collect water and air samples from outside in clear containers. Add pollutants (such as smoke or bits of trash) to some of the containers so kids can see the difference between clean and polluted air and water.
Bury different objects in the backyard and wait to see which ones break down into the soil and which ones don't. Compare this to the materials that aren’t biodegradable in the landfill.
5. Plant a Tree
Planting a tree is one of the most popular activities for eco-warriors, especially on Earth Day or Arbor Day. It's also an easy and rewarding project that shows children how the actions they take now will affect the environment in the future. Start young, and your child can nurture the tree throughout their childhood and watch it grow up alongside them.
Why it's Important To teach Kids About the Environment
You don't have to wait until your kids are old enough to understand the science behind climate change and pollution to teach them how to take care of the world around them. Help them understand the importance of preserving the environment with fun, educational activities on their level. That's how Green Living Science has reached more than 300,000 Detroit students since its founding in 2007 -- by meeting those students where they are.
If we work together now to show children how and why to live green, we can breathe easier knowing their children, and their children’s children will also breathe easier.
Jordan Ardoin is a writer and indoor plant enthusiast hailing from Florida. She enjoys reading fantasy novels, cuddling with her bulldog, and collecting succulents (because they’re so hard for her to kill).