So far, we have focused on kindness for other people. This week, I wanted to expand my kids’ horizons to a different type of kindness and awareness. We also want to show kindness to Earth, to the environment, and to the world around us.
In thinking about how to tackle this week’s activity, I realized that I’ve spoken to my kids about litter. We are also aggressive recyclers and composters (thanks to our town!). And, my 7 year old’s primary weekly chore is to take out the trash, recycling, and composting when the bins are full. On trash days, he has to wheel three trash cans (larger than his body, I might add) down a hill to the side of the road. And, up the hill the day after. As a result, we’ve had lots of conversations about why we recycle and compost and how it’s good for the environment.
I realized, however, that we have not spoken at all about climate change. I’m not a scientist (far from it!) and though I understand and believe in the broad concepts of climate change, I had no idea how to explain it to my kids. So, where do I turn? Well, books of course.
I found a few books that I read to my kids this week. I was excited to find a Magic School Bus book on climate. My son devours these books and I literally just left it in his reading corner. The Lorax is another favorite in this household and we have watched this movie for years. It was great to read the book to them again this week. When I was at the library, I also picked up a few scientific books about climate change just to see what would stick. For kids that love a good story, I also came across a wonderful multicultural book called One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul. The best part about this story is that it is true, uplifting, and heartfelt. I highly recommend it.
The activity I am doing this week is pretty simple. Picking up litter. My older two sons are in all day camp, so we will do the activity this weekend. We did decide that we would focus on our community. My oldest son has gotten into kayaking and while out on some of our trips, we’ve both noticed the pile up of trash in certain parts of the lake. We will tackle that this weekend (pics to come!). My youngest and I have already been out picking up litter right in our own backyard. We decided to focus on the trail that runs by our house and actually, I was amazed at how much litter we pass by every day and haven’t even noticed it. It wasn’t big pieces of litter, but small pieces that are clearly visible and add up when you start to notice.
I think my biggest realization this week is that if I’m going to show my sons how to be more aware and intentional of what is going on in the environment, we need to do a couple of things differently than what we have done in the past. Here are the three big changes we will be making to our daily life:
Be More Prepared: We will start carrying small trash bags on our walks, when we go to parks, and are just out in our community. It’s so easy to see litter and say “I don’t have any place to put this, so I’m going to leave it here for now,” and then forget about it.
Educate and Explain: Climate change and science is complicated and frankly, scary. I don’t want to throw too much at my kids just this week. This week is about broad concepts, but I’m realizing we need to dig deeper. Instead of just saying “we compost because it’s good for the earth,” we need to take it a bit further to help them understand.
Intentionally connect how we live our life to climate change: My husband and I have made a lot of decisions to be more eco-friendly. You already know we recycle and compost. But we also have a geothermal heating system, buy energy efficient lightbulbs, make sure all the lights are turned off, we have a garden we eat from, etc. Our kids know about these things because we are constantly telling them to “TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!!”, but we have not connected these life decisions to how it impacts the Earth around us.
In the download for this week, I included a fun activity to make flashcards that help kids understand climate change through an amazing website from NASA. There are also links to other books, information and tips on how to talk about climate change to your kids, and a printable to kickstart the conversation with your child(ren). Sign up for the blog to receive your free download!
As you do this activity, I’d love to see and learn more through our Instagram and Facebook feeds or through #summerofkindness. What are some of the earth kindness activities you want to do with your kids? Share below!
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