- 2 mins
5 Activities for Kids to Give Back to the Planet
Inside the walls of our houses, it can be easy to forget how deeply connected we are with the natural world. Summer draws us outside and reminds us that we are a part of it all. We head to the beaches, mountains, and lakes to splash about, climb, and bask in the sunshine. In addition to our own appreciation and enjoyment, we can try teaching our kids awe, reverence, and care for the earth as we move through these outdoor spaces.
Try these five practices to remind your kiddos (and yourself!) about how connected we actually are, and our responsibility, to this world.
How often do we stop and remember that we need trees to breathe? On your next walk in a forest (or your backyard . . . or even down the sidewalk), invite your child to find a tree they like. Stand in front of the tree and ask them to take some deep breaths. Share with them how trees breathe out the oxygen we need, and then take the carbon dioxide that we exhale to create energy. When we breathe in, we are actually inhaling tree breath! In this way, we need one another.
Invite your child to name a plant near your house. Then, each time you pass, they can greet the plant, potentially give the plant a gentle high five, and/or even weed around it. Help your child see that plants are beings we can connect with rather than just something pretty to look at.
A few weeks back, my two-year-old and I noticed that an ant had found some hummus she spilled on the driveway. And then another ant came along. And another. We sat there and watched these ants do their thing for a very long time. Whether it’s ants, worms, or beetles, getting low to the ground and watching tiny life go about its business is magic.
Whenever you take your kiddos out into the world, the backpackers’ credo “Leave no trace” can be a helpful guiding principle. Make a big deal about the cleanup process, and make sure all dropped granola bar wrappers, apple cores, and flip flops make the trip home with you!
Choose a natural spot that you like to visit that might need some love. Bring a trash bag and some gloves (or even those cool trash grabbers). Then, clean it up. My husband took our four-year-old out for a neighborhood cleanup last month, and she couldn’t have been prouder.
Teaching our kids to connect with their natural environment by recognizing its importance, developing rapport, and delighting in the magic will help them develop the ethos of care very much needed right now.