Saturday is Earth Day. In schools across the country, kids are learning about the environment and global warming and how important it is to take steps now to protect the future.
They will read books, watch short videos, and participate in activities designed to foster awareness, promote activism, and encourage conversations.
They will also worry. They can’t help it. Kids have a natural tendency to worry about things that are out of their control: meteors headed towards the planet, war, and the possibility that someday the earth might overheat or animals could go extinct and it could be the fault of humans. That’s a lot to lay on a small child.
One thing that helps children manage their anxiety is being able to take action. You can get them involved in your household recycling efforts, and explain to them why recycling is so important and how it is helping the planet. You can donate no longer used toys to charity, and explain how sharing resources is good for the planet.
And, if you don’t already, you can start a backyard composting pile. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. There are many options to choose from, whether you want to DIY a compost bin, use a trash barrel, or purchase one from either a gardening center or your local cooperative extension. All you need is compostable materials, layered between “wet” (think food scraps, tea bags, etc), and “dry” (think dry leaves, saw dust, shredded paper, and wood ash). Occasionally you’ll want to water your pile to keep it moist, by either letting the rain get at it, or using a hose, and more often you’ll want to turn it with a garden shovel or a pitchfork. Keeping your pile covered speeds up the process by allowing moisture and heat to accumulate in the pile, and prevents rain from making a soggy mess of things.
In your house, you’ll want to keep a small pail or other container to gather food scraps. Let your kids help with this part. After meal preparations are over, let them put any compostable scraps into the pail, and return it to wherever you keep it. Under the kitchen sink is usually a good location. When the pail or container is full, let your kids take it out to the compost pile. With your help to remove the cover, and maybe providing a stool if they aren’t tall enough, let them empty the container or pail into the larger pile.
Once your compost is established, have your children do an experiment to see how it helps plants and flowers grow. Purchase a six pack of flowers, vegetables, or herbs at your local garden center. Divide them up so that some will grow with added compost, and some will not. You can do this right into your garden, or in small containers in your house. Make sure to mark which are which. Let your children tend to the plans (with your help if needed), and see which plants grow the best.
There are great resources you can use to talk to your children about composting, and why it is important:
Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe For the Earth – a book about what you can and can’t put in the bin
Composting for Kids with Peppa Pig – a cute video all about composting
How to Create a Worm Bin – kids love this
A Curriculum for grades 2-6 – great if you want activities or homeschool
Activities from the Toms of Maine website – fun things to do with your kids
Teach your children to be good stewards of the earth, and enable them to feel empowered towards saving their future.
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