One of the greatest honors in parenting is the chance to teach kids about life -- how to properly function in society; how to treat others with compassion and respect; how to take care of the planet where we live. Earth Day's a great time to talk to kids about recycling, energy conservation and other ways they can contribute. Tory, Aden and I happened to have an empty calendar on Earth Day this year, so I planned a few educational activities for the three of us to do together.
First, I assembled a garden sensory tub including potting soil, rubber bugs, gardening tools and plastic fruits and vegetables from the kids' existing play kitchen. Tory was beside herself with excitement as she pretended to plant seeds and harvest crops of vegetables from the "garden." She's very interested in how plants grow these days, and loved the chance to get her hands into the soil. We had a nice conversation about the life cycle of plants and what types of foods we could expect to see growing in soil. Aden ate a few chunks of dirt (yes, of course he did!) and decided playing ball nearby was more exciting. Oh, well. Can't blame a mom for trying ...
Normally this activity would've been perfect outdoors, but our Minnesota weather wasn't permitting this week. I can't wait to involve Tory in planting flowers in the yard later this spring, but in the meantime this indoor sensory bin worked wonders in exposing her to gardening and opening the door to conversation about planting fruits and vegetables.
The kids and I also made noise makers using plastic bottles from the recycle bin. I pulled together items I already had in the cupboards such as brown rice, dry pasta noodles, M&Ms and jelly beans, and encouraged Tory and Aden to fill the plastic bottles. This turned out to be a little messier than I'd anticipated (maybe rice wasn't such a good idea ... ) but both Tory and Aden loved filling the bottles and shaking them afterwards.
During Aden's nap, Tory and I also made wind chimes using old tin cans. I knew my artistic little girl would love this activity as she begs to break out the paints most afternoons. We used washable paints with Q-tips and cotton balls to decorate the cans, then I had Andi drill a hole in the top of each one. I threaded a piece of twine through each hole and hung the cans on a hook outside our kitchen window. Recycled cans have never looked so adorable! I'm going to love looking at this masterpiece every day while I'm washing dishes.
While most of the Earth Day messaging was lost on Aden, I know Tory took away some meaningful pieces of information about recycling and conservation. She was also really impressed with my level of fun activities and said, "Whoa, Mom, you have lots of good ideas!" Some days, I win at parenting. Chalk one up for the home team.