By Sean Mortell
With the summer holidays kicking in, now is the time where parents come up with ideas and activities to complete with young children. Nowadays there are many different ways of keeping your child entertained while teaching them environmental awareness.
Watching and learning
The best way to get a young child thinking about the environment and the impact our actions have is through movies. Luckily, recent films in Wall-E and The Lorax are perfectly suited towards children, and have topical messages regarding conservation and sustainability. These movies can help start conversations around eco-friendly behaviour and get them involved in sustainable actions.
Craft activities with an eco-conscious tinge
Arts and craft are a well-known way of keeping children engaged during school holidays. From painting to sculpting, simple tricks and tools can stop boredom for hours on end. There has been a push to make these activities more eco-friendly. Instead of buying paint, brushes and canvases, use left-over cardboard or newspapers as a fun way of creating exciting art. You can cut off each end of used markers and soak them in water to create watercolour paint, and find old brushes to create. If you need a palette to store your different colours, find old ice cream container lids or other similar shaped flat surfaces to turn painting into an environmentally friendly activity.
Think simple: old used ice-cream sticks can easily be turned into 3D parts of a house or diorama, as well as people (if you desire to draw on them). Other wrappers and pieces of plastic can be turned into grass, roofs or any surface you envisage. When it comes to crafts, get creative and turn used objects around the house into thrilling parts of a project!
Get your hands dirty
Most children love to play with their hands and make a mess. So why not create a veggie patch or get planting? Little seedlings can be bought easily and are low-cost, while growing plants is a lifelong skill that takes time and can be incredibly fun for young kids. If planting isn’t possible, then create a compost bin for food and fruit scraps. This has a great impact on the environment and it can also treat your soil perfectly if you're looking to grow a yard of tasty fruit and vegetables over the summer.
But getting dirty doesn’t have to be a plant-related activity. Children love mud — if you are willing to clean them, mud-brick houses are a new way of building that doesn’t require plastic Lego or other products.
Take in the outdoors
Provided you stay sun-smart, get out for walks or hikes to take in nature. Make eco-friendly birdfeeders and then go spot the different variety of birds that flock to it. All of this can take afternoons away and give you rewarding family time with your children. When it comes to weekends, go to your local farmers’ market and pick up some fresh produce, or go on bike rides through the local tracks surrounding your home.