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Lessons in Sustainability: 3 Kid-Friendly Summer Activities

July 3, 2018
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By Lori Melton

Helping kids understand the impact we make on the earth and ways in which our actions can help preserve our planet for future generations is important. If you’re debating how and what to teach kids about sustainability, there are plenty of kid-friendly activities that can make learning easy and fun. Here’s a look at three summer activities that teach valuable sustainability lessons.

Plant a Garden and Help It Grow

Cultivating plants, flowers, and vegetables in a garden and watching them grow is a wonderful way for children to learn about nature. Growing your own organic food helps conserve gas and energy used to travel to a store to buy produce.

  • Plan the size and type of garden around your available space and your child’s age. If possible, give your child his own small section of soil to maintain and let him decide if he wants to plant flowers or food.
  • Keep in mind that kid-friendly plants should germinate rapidly, produce a good crop and be low maintenance (beyond watering and feeding). Some kid-friendly options include cherry tomatoes, snap peas, marigolds, sunflowers, green beans, and potatoes.
  • Collect rainwater in a barrel, tub or pitcher and save it for watering the garden on sunny days is another great sustainability lesson.
  • If you’re short on land space, you can create a patio garden by growing and caring for plants in a container garden using repurposed buckets, kitchen pots, flower troughs or a wheelbarrow.
  • Harvesting crops can be fun, too. Play a counting game while snapping and picking green beans, for instance.

Praising kids for a job well-done and thanking them for contributing to a family dinner with their carrots, beans and other crops will help children foster a life-long love of growing and harvesting things from the earth.

Form a Neighborhood Clean Up Team or Volunteer Outdoors

  • Band together with neighbors to help clean up or maintain natural spaces in your community. The project will make your neighborhood nicer while preserving and beautifying the earth.
  • Give kids gloves and a bag and lead them on a walk to pick up trash which may have blown or been tossed in your neighbors’ yards. Bring a recyclables bag for any plastic bottles, paper, or other recyclable items.
  • Check online or in local papers for outdoor volunteer opportunities in your community and pledge to get everyone in the neighborhood to sign up together.
  • Have kids plant or maintain flowers at a local school or park, help plant trees, pull weeds, walk animals at an animal shelter, or volunteer at a wildlife refuge.

Create a Soda Bottle Compost

Composting has many environmental benefits; it returns nutrients to the soil, stimulates plant growth and reduces landfill waste. Kids can learn about the process by creating their own soda bottle compost mixture inside a plastic 2-liter bottle.

  • First, remove the label from a 2-liter soda bottle (so you can see clearly through it), then cut the top off.
  • Place a layer of soil at the bottom, then alternate with compostable material (e.g. leaves, grass, spoiled fruit and veggie scraps, newspaper).
  • Next, add water so the contents are damp throughout but not drenched. The compost should sit in a sunny place for several weeks and kids can monitor the progress.
  • Once fully composted, spread the mixture in the garden, plant seeds, water and watch the new plant or crop grow.