Getting Kids Involved in Conservation

May 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Featured, Green Living

Today as I cleaned up my office and sorted through an ever growing stack of paperwork, I opened my door and let in fresh air from the outside world.

First, there is a dollhouse in my office that is a constant source of stress relief and a great model for all of my designing ideas. (this is a great thing as it keeps me from moving furniture into odd arrangements and then moving it all back when I decide I don’t like it!) What I hadn’t counted on is the influx of neighborhood kids who stared longingly at my little world of miniatures. It wasn’t long before I had to give a play session to the kids (and to me). This is the one little disruption I enjoyed.

As we played, I began thinking of what to do a blog entry on for the night and realized that I had never asked a child what they thought living green was or how they thought one should go about living green.

“We can be like bunnies and eat the grass,” Chelsea, a four year old responded.

“No we can’t. That’s just dumb.” Her six year old and very sophisticated sister Jordan replied.

Logan, a little boy who lives just a few doors down from the girls, chimed in “It means we can’t pull up Mommy’s flowers ‘cuz they’re alive too and that would be killing.”

I chuckled but decided that perhaps a little experiment was in order. I pulled out the habitats I have for butterflies, ants, and frogs. I let the children decide which one they wanted to have for the experiment. Next, we collected some unsuspecting lizards, ants, and moths. I let the kids put in whatever they thought the animals would like in a natural world and got another surprise.

For those parents out there who don’t think your kids listen, please read on.

The children all chose vegetables for their new little friends. Unfortunately, the vegetables were the worst choices for food for the animals. I explained that the diets of their new “pets” were indeed many plants and foods that are not good for humans. The veggies, though, were like the pollution we put in the air with cars and the pesticides we use on our foods. They would slowly kill the very animals that the children had collected.

After a bit of research to show them using sites such as national geographic for kids, the children changed the natural world back to the way it should be for their pets. Then, we talked about how we could really do the same thing for ourselves.

I explained what organic meant and that it was kinder to the planet than any of the chemicals we used in a large portion of our foods. I discussed the experiments both NASA and Disney were running concerning how to grow food without water or soil and how to help the plants produce more fruits for eating.

They were most amazed with Disney’s 9 lb lemons. This lemon makes one gallon of lemonade and is grown organically. The sheer magic of this to them was that Disney created it so it had to be something from the fairies of Pixie Hollow and worth remembering.

By the time the afternoon was complete, I had gathered the mothers of these children and volunteered my teenage daughter and her friends for an outing to a local park this weekend. We are going to set the little pets free there and then work on teaching the children all about living green by helping to clean up the park.

I think if more of us did this just one weekend a month, there would be more understanding in the younger generation of what green living is and a better level of health in the older generations. In the middle of the conservation, you get some real quality time with the kids.

Our plan is to visit the science center as they have an area for kids to plant trees and flowers. Then, we’ll spend some time making a game of gathering the trash from the ground to make the park more beautiful. In return for their efforts, all the parents are giving the kids a pizza party. They’ll learn the beginnings of recycling and conserving our planet and we’ll be making memories to last into our golden years.

The idea is to get them involved. Kids will be more apt to be passionate about that which includes them than that which they are told they have to do without any input of their own. In the process, you will steer them toward a greener lifestyle without any resistance as they will be a part of it.

I think I’ll try to keep this as a monthly activity and get more children to join us as we begin teaching a little planet conservation to the next generation.

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