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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Preschoolers Can Help the Environment Too!

I have been waiting for Sid the Science Kid to produce some episodes about the environment. I am so glad they did. The topic really got me thinking about how we can help preschoolers to learn to be respectful of the environment. In my mind, I believe we should start small with our little ones. I want to build the foundations in our home and teach the boys how that applies to our broader community and world. Like a Preschool version of Think Global/Act Local.
Recycling is an everyday thing at out house. I try to be quite diligent about it. We have recycling pick up every week, so it is easy to sort and take care of recycling. I have been teaching the boys about it their whole lives, so they know to recycle paper, cans, and plastic. It is amazing to me how much has changed in just one generation. When I was a kid, we never recycled. Littering was the big thing back then. I vividly remember the commercial depicting a crying Native American looking out over a littered landscape. It really scared me and to this day I never, ever litter. My boys will never know a world without recycling and they already do it without thinking. Sometimes they ask about certain items, but for the most part, they know where the trash goes. If only I could start composting…
Speaking of composting, I also believe that growing a garden, visiting a farm, or shopping at farmer’s market is another good way to teach children about the environment. We have a great farm in our town where kids can pick many different kinds of fruits, veggies, and flowers. We talk about how our food grows, where it comes from, and the work that goes into caring for the land and feeding a community. When Henry asked about pollution and what the word meant, I was able to use a familiar location (the farm) to talk about the impact of direct air and water.
Henry’s school also does a great job teaching awareness about the environment. Henry’s elementary school does a plastic recycling drive every month where each class competes for prizes based on how much they gather. Henry’s teacher did a great project with the kids too. She had us all collect gallon milk jugs for several weeks. We even enlisted the help of local cafes to collect the jugs. Then she and some other moms made the jugs into an igloo for the classroom. The kids were thrilled to have a cozy reading nook. When it began to fall apart they piled all the jugs into bags and their class won the recycling drive that month.
I feel like I have a responsibility to provide Henry and Leo with a running narrative about how to be environmentally conscious and care for our planet. Last year Henry was really struck by the oil spill disaster in the Gulf. He was captivated with trying to come up with a way to stop the leak in the ocean. Every day he came up with new ideas how to plug the leak, like a little engineer. Henry knew it was a terrible tragedy and was moved to think of solutions. I also think it is about teaching compassion for the earth, animals, oceans, and air. The boys and I also take nature walks where we observe animals, trees, bugs, and flowers up close. I try and build in a narrative about keeping nature clean and picking up our trash when we leave. I have been known to hug a tree every now and then. The boys think it’s funny and join right in. I try and give them the right vocabulary and the understanding of the consequences of human action. I weave it into our every day lives, much like I am trying to do with nutrition, in the hopes that it becomes a part of the fabric of who the boys are as people and good citizens.
How do you teach your preschoolers about the environment? I would love to hear about any tips or activities that work for you!

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
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