Even city-dwellers can learn to love nature with these earth-friendly ideas.
Spend some time with your child just sitting in your backyard or in a park observing the plants and animals around you. Talk about what you see. It can be fun to do this at different times of day and then talk about the differences. Try looking closely at a small patch of ground to see if you notice any insects hidden in the grass or just under the soil. Kids may enjoy looking through a magnifying glass.
Encourage your child and her friends to "adopt" an area that they care about. Cleaning up the local playground or park will make your neighborhood a better place and give kids a sense of environmental responsibility.
Recycling can mean collecting bottles, cans and newspapers to cut down on the waste we send to landfills. But it can also mean creating something new out of old materials like decorating a picture frame or pencil holder out of discarded buttons, greeting cards, wrapping paper, yarn, pennies, pasta or ribbons.
Lie down with your child under a tree and study the silhouettes of its leaves against the sky. What can you see in the shapes of the sky peeking through them? What shapes can you find in the clouds? Even babies will enjoy this activity because they are fascinated by strong color contrasts like those of clouds and tree leaves against the bright sky. Be very careful not to look at the sun.
Don't wait for spring to plant your flowers. Even the youngest children can develop green thumbs if they plant an indoor garden.
Teach your child that trees provide the oxygen we breathe as well as a habitat for wildlife. Visit the National Arbor Day Foundation to research which trees grow best in your area and how to plant them.
Encourage your child's interest in animals by visiting the local animal shelter and talking about responsible care of other creatures. Older children may be ready to work as pet walkers or host a neighborhood dog wash.
Become a backyard astronomer. Allow your child to stay up late one night and observe the moon and stars or an important celestial event like a meteor shower. The Cyberchase gang can prepare you for the fun with their cybertelescope.