This post is the third installment of the Easy Green series by guest contributor Jo Hegerty of Down to Earth Mother.
Green living may mean making do with less, but it doesn’t mean you should skimp on the fun. Good, green fun is anything that connects children to the natural world and while most eco-friendly activities will take place outdoors, even when you’re stuck inside there are opportunities to learn and talk about the environment.
Fun & Games for Green Families
Get Out and About
In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv says nature not only provides children with a sense of wonder and awe, but natural settings improve balance and co-ordination, boost creative thinking and can ease the symptoms of attention-deficit disorders. Some pretty compelling reasons to go outside!
The great outdoors doesn’t have to be a park or a rainforest, it can be your backyard or the scrubby reserve at the end of your street. Making mud pies or magical potions is loads of fun and it gets kids down on ground level, digging up worms and mixing leaves with sticks. Planting things in pots is just as fun, try cuttings from trees, seeds or seedlings, or even rocks to see if they’ll grow!
Throwing down a rug for a picnic is a great way to have a meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Doesn’t the garden look different from down here? Take time to notice any insects that come to investigate. My kids love to play camping in the backyard, making a fire out of sticks (or toys) and building a tent out of a sheet (usually fresh from the line!)
And a walk around the neighbourhood is much more fun when you’re busy collecting leaves or interesting seed pods. Occasionally we organise a mini clean-up at the park on our walk, racing to see who can pick up five pieces of rubbish the fastest. Look for opportunities to get the kids regularly active and moving.
Weekends are the perfect time for family adventures! Next time you’re planning an outing, consider making it carbon neutral by going for a bike ride. The earlier children become familiar with bike-and-road safety the better. When you head out, have a destination in mind so your trip shows kids there are car-free ways to get around.
Bushwalking is another fabulous family adventure, just remember to choose a track appropriate for the age of your children. Or join the global treasure hunt known as geocaching if you have older children.
Our local tip has a market on weekends and we love to take the kids on treasure-hunting trips. This teaches them the value of things and gives us the opportunity to demonstrate the arts of reusing and recycling. You could also visit some local garage or yard sales on your hunt for treasure.
It’s also a great idea to take children to attractions that teach conservation in a fun way. Our local favourites are Australia Zoo, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Seaworld.
I’m also a huge fan of farm tours. Not only is it fun to see the animals, vegetables and tractors up close, it’s a great way to help children connect with their food sources. And considering 27 per cent of Aussie schoolkids think yoghurt grows on trees, this is pretty important.
Save for a Rainy Day
There are plenty of ways to continue sharing the eco-living message whilst spending time indoors. Some of our favourite books include the classics Uno’s Garden and The Lorax, both of which teach the importance of living in harmony with our natural environment. Herbert Peabody and his Extraordinary Vegetable Patch is the lovely tale of a farmer who teaches his niece and nephew where their food comes from (ages 4 to 9).
The Yuckies is a fun story app about nasty polluting creatures that feed on our rubbish and there are some great online resources for kids, including the games Clean Up the River by Clean Up Australia and The Deep, where kids can explore the deepest depths of the Southern Ocean.
Finally, why not get crafty with recycled and natural materials. We particularly love making nature glitter and using Makedo fasteners to create robots and other creatures from items stashed in our the recycling bin.
What are your favourite earth-friendly activities? Share below!
Check out the other posts in the Easy Green series – simple suggestions for reducing your family’s impact on the environment and saving cash at the same time!