Earth Day this year seems a bit pushed to the side of the major happenings in the world. Ironically, with so many of us staying home, the day will probably bring nicer air and skies than usual. Staying home with kids is in no way a vacation, but it can allow us to rethink parts of life to be better or more efficient. We have a chance to make lifestyle changes that work for our families and the Earth. It might also give you unique activities to engage your children’s knowledge, problem-solving, and creativity. You might be surprised at how many academic subjects you can touch on through these supplementary activities. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Plant a Victory Garden
Spend some much needed time outdoors and plant a garden with foods you will later eat. It’s great for your mental health! Even if you just grow a few things in pots, it will give your kids a great ongoing project that rewards responsibility and persistence. There’s an obvious academic lesson in the science of growing things, how plants mature and what they need to do well.
You can also “dig into” history by talking about why food planted in times of crisis has been dubbed “Victory” gardens. Back during the World Wars, home and community growing plots provided people with extra food when so much was being sent to the front lines.
Gardens also lend to conversations around geography. Talk about where produce comes from, like most of our strawberries come from Mexico. Discuss growing seasons in your area. And build in math by calculating how much gas and emissions that could cause for each box of fruit!
Reduce and Replace
Ask your kids to really think about what they use around the house and then toss right after. A major contributor to this category is, of course, plastic, but we also use disposable wipes, paper towels, plates, and utensils. Start to plan small changes that will have big effects on how much you throw into the trash.
An excellent lesson in both math and going green is to put all of the plastic containers you can find into a box. How many boxes would you fill in a year? How many boxes would the neighborhood fill in a year? If you follow that revealing lesson up with the science of decomposition, you can truly motivate your kids to make changes.
First, look into how things are broken down in nature and then try it out yourselves by putting things out in the elements to see which decomposes fastest. From there, brainstorm together ways that your family can reduce waste that makes sense for you. What can you reuse instead of tossing? Do some research into DIY cleaning solutions or companies that use green packaging and decide what will work. Our family takes a lot of enjoyment from the new soap we use that comes as a tablet you add to water in a reusable glass bottle. Introduce more science by creating solutions and mixtures of your own.
Expand the Menu
Normally, I have every intention of introducing new foods and recipes into our embarrassingly limited meal rotation. Especially since many people have pointed to particular foods like beef as major contributors to global warming. A plant-base diet is also known to be better for you.
This extended time at home can offer more opportunities to not only improve the health and the carbon footprint of your meals, but get the kids involved in making them. Making new recipes is always a mathematical experiment utilizing skills in precision and following detailed instruction. You can incorporate the foods you’ve grown as well as research the impact of animal husbandry on the environment for a well-rounded educational experience.
This time remains unprecedented and none of us knows exactly the best way to approach it. Your time in close proximity with your kids might look a lot different than your friends or neighbors. Hopefully, whatever shape your weeks take, you can find inspiration in learning new things and trying those things you always meant to try!