Want your kids to care for our planet and be environmentally friendly? Get them outdoors more often!
The reason being environmentally friendly is so important to me is because I have a close relationship with nature. I am not an indoors girl by any means and NEVER have been. I count myself lucky to be among the last generation that just roamed free during the day, coming home covered in dirt, sticks and bug bites. When people ask me what my favorite childhood toy was, I respond without hesitation: mud.
We don’t care for things that we’re not attached to or have no relationship with. And we’re not informed about the problems facing things we don’t care about. For example, if I told you that pangolins are going extinct, unless you were very familiar with them or have a deep love of animals, you might feel sad, but not necessarily compelled to do anything about it. It feels like a problem very removed from ourselves because we have no relationship with pangolins.
The same is true for the earth. If our children spend most of their waking minutes inside, they will have no relationship with the earth. When they grow up to become adults and hear about environmental problems, it will feel removed from them, like someone else’s problems.
Here are some fabulous ways to get your kids out and playing in nature!
- Grow a garden
- Go on nature walks- and let them get dirty!
- Free Forest Schools
- Go camping- in a tent!
- Take them to National Parks
- Go play at lakes, oceans or rivers
- Take them hiking
- Take them for walks and let them interact and observe natural things
- Schedule outside time each day, whether it’s in the backyard, park, or taking a walk
- Climb trees together
- Create art with nature
- Let them play in mud
- Play with worms
- Collect different types of flowers, press them and then learn what they are
- Go bird watching
- Skip rocks
- Raise a butterfly
- Jump in puddles
- Go on a walk in the rain
- Pick berries
- Collect leaves and sort them into different types
- Go star gazing
- Go sit out in nature and listen to the different noises you hear
- Build rock towers
- Roll down hills
- Make clover necklaces or flower crowns
- Build structures with sticks, rocks, mud, leaves and whatever else you can find
- Build a sandcastle
- Bury each other in the sand
- Play in the snow
- Have stick sword fights
- Look at clouds and talk about what shapes they look like
- Sleep under the stars
- Go on a picnic
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt
- Hunt for bugs
- Do some leaf rubbings
- Collect shells
- Make mud pies
- Collect acorns or pinecones
- Collect rocks
- Go bouldering
- Smell wildflowers
- Go to an orchard
- Visit a farm
- Make a pile of leaves and jump in them
Let your child feel dirt between their toes. Let them be freckled by the sun. Let their little bodies grow strong from running and climbing trees. These moments will be forever imprinted on them. And then as we try to teach them to be environmentally friendly by not having a million toys, or by loving hand me down’s, they’ll care and understand so much more because they won’t want anything to threaten the thing they love so much.