Ways to Get Involved in Nature And The Environment With Your Family

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We are so lucky to have such amazing parks available to us right in our own backyards. Getting kids involved in nature is so beneficial to them and to the future of these parks. The programs that the Geauga Park District put on are educating the children on why it is important to take care of our planet. Check out their event calendar for more info.

There are a number of things that you can do with your family to help the environment.
Here are some examples:

Park clean ups – contact your local parks to find out if they are planning a park clean up event. If not, gather up the family, grab some trash bags, and take a hike. You can clean up as you go. Doing this, you are getting exercise, spending quality time outdoors with your family, and keeping our parks clean. Make it into a treasure hunt and give a prize to the person who collects the most on their list.

Earth Day events –  Take a look at this site for more information.

Plant a tree for special events – family reunions, birthdays, weddings, Earth Day, etc. are all great times to plant a tree. Do you really need an excuse to plant a tree though?

Plant a garden – give kids their own section to take care of. There is nothing better than fresh fruits and vegetables and seeing how excited kids become knowing they grew them.

Recycle – make it fun. Stock your kids art table with used printer paper and empty cereal boxes for them to color on the unused sides. Line up plastic jugs and aluminum cans for kids to jump on then sort into recycling tubs. See the craft projects listed below.

Recycle symbol with planet earth

Compost – Build a bin. Most table scraps can be put into the compost bin to reduce waste. Grass clippings and leaves can be composted. Click here to watch a slideshow on composting with kids.

Rain barrel – set up a rain barrel to collect rain water. You can reuse the rainwater to water your garden or houseplants.

rain barrel

Crafts – Kids love crafts!
Here are some great ideas for activities you can do with your kids.

Toad abode – Decorate a terracotta flower pot. You can paint it, glue small rocks on it, or anything you want. Dig a shallow hole in a shady spot, lay the decorated pot on its side in the hole. Put some soil and leaves back into the pot so that it is partially buried. You can keep the saucer for the pot nearby filled with water. Toads absorb water through their skin but do not swim. Toads need to stay cool and damp. This toad abode will provide them with shelter from predators and from the hot sun. Here is an example.

Toad Abode

Do a Google image search for “toad abode” to get some ideas.

Self watering seed starters – Cut a two liter bottle in half. Drill a hole through the middle of the bottle cap. Cut a piece of thread about 12” long, double it over and tie a knot. Thread it through the hole with the knot on the inside of the bottle cap. Screw the cap back onto the bottle. Nest the top of the bottle (upside down) into the bottom of the bottle. Fill the top will soil, plant your seed, and water it. You can also put a few inches of water into the bottom of the bottle. As the soil dries, water will be sucked up through the thread into the top section. Click here for more detailed instructions and photos.

Self watering seed starter

Milk jug/carton bird feeders – cut a hole in the side of a clean plastic jug or cardboard carton. Leave enough space in the bottom to put the bird seed in (about 4” from the bottom). You can even poke holes in both sides and run a stick through it to create perches for the birds to stand on. You can paint and decorate them any way you like. Make sure to poke some small holes in the top and the bottom for drainage and ventilation in case it rains. Poke a hole in the top, put some twine through, and hang it in a tree. You do something similar to make a birdhouse. Look online to find out how big of an opening to make for certain types of birds, and put some dried grass or small sticks in the bottom of the jug. Paint it with natural colors.

Jug/carton feeder

You can feed the birds all year long, but it is especially important to feed them in the winter. Check out these two articles to find out why.

For the Birds Part I
For the Birds Part II

Do a Google Image search for “milk jug bird feeders” and you will see some great examples.

“Teaching children about the natural world is not just a nice thing to do – it is vital for the future of our children and the future of all life. Children are naturally curious and open to learning about nature, but in an increasingly urban society we often need to consciously create opportunities to help children bond with nature and learn about the environment.” ~Australian Psychological Society. 

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