- Keep several bins in your kitchen or garage. Small children as young as 18 months can be taught to separate trash from recycling. Toddlers love to help and picking up things to place in bins is one of the easiest ‘green chores’ a young child can do.
- Composting is another easy job for green toddlers. Allow your child to place food scraps into different containers. Teach them to place vegetable trimmings in one container, meat scraps in another. Let them carry the vegetables to a compost bin or pile. Little kids can wet down compost or even stir it with help.
- Recycling old paper into new paper is another easy and fun way to teach young children about recycling. Tear old paper into strips, then into even smaller bits. Kids love to tear things! Pour all of the paper into a big bowl of water and let the children mush it up into pulp. Spread the resulting pulp onto old window screens and let dry. Voila – recycled paper.
Lead your child by example. Children learn by watching the adults in their lives, that includes the choices you make. Every move you make is watched by a child! Do your best to teach your child to go green by making the best green decisions you can for your family. Each time you need to choose between a green option or a non-green option in front of your child, try to reason out loud the pros and cons of each choice. This will help your child learn how to make good choices.
More ways to lead by example:
- Bypass processed foods. Instead of buying a boxed dinner (like the burger helper-type meals), tell your child(ren) that you can make your own. Keep seasonings in your pantry and mix up your own versions. All it takes is your favorite pasta, some lean hamburger, and a sauce. There are many recipes available on the internet if you look up ‘homemade hamburger helper’.
- Bake your own breads, pastries, cookies, pies – any baked good! Homemade tastes so much better than storebought and you know exactly what goes into it.
- Hand in hand with baking – try out a solar oven. Cooking with the power of the sun is not only easy, it is fun. A simple solar oven is easy to make. Two boxes, one lage, one small enough to fit in the other, some newspaper, black paint, and glass or plexiglass is all you really need. Paint the inside of the smaller box with black paint. Place that box inside the larger one. Fill the space between the two with newspaper. Put it in the path of the sun, add something to bake or roast to the inside (in a pan!), and top with the glass or plexiglass. You can use aluminum foil as a reflector to keep the sunlight shining inside of the oven. In a few hours you’ll have dinner!
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