Toy Blog - Toys, Parenting, and Kids

EARTH DAY 2008

April 22nd is Earth Day!  In actuality, every day should be Earth Day as we strive to make our environment a better place for everyone and everything.  Here are some fun, quick, and easy activities you can try with your child in celebration of our Earth:

  • Walk.  Take a walk around the block, or make a trek to the school or a store.  You will find that the time you spend walking (and talking) with your child is more valuable than the time spent in the car.  And, you will be saving a bit of gas by not running the engine!
  • Recycling Treasure Hunt.  Choose an area (building sites are great for this activity) and see how much recyclable material you can collect.  Our town has curbside recycling, so my boys and I hit the new home construction sites in our neighborhood at least once a week for aluminum cans and plastic drink bottles.  Several crews know about our “quest” and will even pile or bag their recyclables for us!
  • All Natural Bird Feeder.  Cover a bagel or a piece of toast in peanut butter and roll in bird seed.  Tie with string to a tree and watch the birds flock!  Our feathered friends will appreciate the treat.
  • Here Comes The Sun.  Utilize natural light by opening the blinds and curtains and flooding your home with sunlight.  Turn off the overhead lights and save on electricity.  Find other things to occupy your time besides the television…puzzles, books, board games, and even playing outside are all better for the environment and for you!
  • Plant A Tree (Or Something Else).  Give back to the earth by planting a tree, bush, shrub or other plant today.  Create a container garden of tomatoes or beans to grow your own vegetables.  Plant flowering plants to grow and cultivate for your own home decorations.

Post your ideas and thoughts in our comment section.  How will you celebrate Earth Day?

An Ecological Balance

As a preschool teacher, I spend a great deal of my time testing stuff out on my kids at home.  My poor boys are subjected to bad playdough recipes, craft projects gone bad and leftover broken crayons.  They also get the benefit of the good stuff, too.  We spend a lot of time talking about science and history, reading a variety of books, and playing with every kind of math manipulative known in the Northern Hemisphere. 

I have found, though, that many kids tend to be a bit wary of our natural world.  And it is of no surprise.  Many times, our focus on subjects like science on pollution, the need for programs like recycling, endangered species and other natural issues.  I am a huge believer in raising my children to be aware of the environment and to take care of the world in which we live, but I am also very keen on teaching my children about the fun and beauty that can be found outdoors.

Children should be allowed to play and experience the world around them.  Playing in mud and sand, dirt piles and with sticks is all part of growing up.  Digging for worms and collecting bugs encourages respect and care for our little critter-friends.  Take a nature walk and collect treasures along the way.  Let kids walk in the rain with galoshes and umbrellas (provided it isn’t a thunderstorm).  Find an earthworm and watch him wiggle when you touch him.  Ask questions.  Find answers.  But, above all, teach your children that our environment is FUN.  It is our natural playground.  And, as long as we take care of it, we can enjoy it.

As kids get older, they will take an interest in the world, wanting to care for and stand up for their big playground called Earth.  Encourage a love of the environment and you’re raising your own nature lover.

I’m Bored!

These were the first two words out of my older son’s mouth after a mere 2 days into our summer vacation.  Frankly, I am surprised he lasted that long!  This is definitely my child that blossoms with routine and structure.  There must be a schedule, an expectation, an upcoming activity or an event or he cannot fully function.

Even on summer vacation.

Lucky for him, I am much the same way.  I thrive on routine (gee, wonder where my children get that trait?).  I am a to-do maker, a scheduler, a list follower.  And, when that routine isn’t in place, it is easy to have the old feeling of the doldrums settling in for the long haul.

Over the years, though, I have equipped myself with some quick and easy ideas to keep my child in check on those “boring” summer days.  They involve little preparation, and most of the supplies can be found around your house.  Best of all, they are perfect for summertime.

*PAINT THE TOWN!  Grab a brush (the bigger the better, and I always knew I’d find another use for the roller brush I couldn’t stand when I was painting the living room) and a bucket of water, then head outside.  Paint the car.  Paint a fence.  Paint each other!  And cool off at the same time.

*SCAVENGER HUNT!  This is definitely tops with my son.  Create a list of things for your child to find in and around your home.  You are only limited to whatever is in your area.  We’re keen on finding worms and roly polies outside, while our top inside choices are paper clips, small toys, and dryer lint!  Drag out those magnifying glasses and thinking caps and get hunting!

*LEARN A CLASSIC GAME!  Pick Up Sticks was one of my favorite games while growing up, primarily because of the challenge and the thought process involved in uncovering each stick without disturbing any others.  And, you aren’t limited to the actual game set to play the game.  Use whatever you have around the house: straws, toothpicks (with older children), and even crayons, pencils or markers.

*MAKE YOUR OWN POPSICLES!  While these do take time, anyone can make a popsicle.  All you need is a container and a stick.  We have been known to use ice cube trays, egg cartons, and paper or plastic cups.  And, as for sticks, plastic spoons are fun (toothpicks also work for older kids in small containers).  And, what to put in it?  Kool Aid is always a hit here, but even a water popsicle is great, as long as you and your child are making them together.  Add a couple of drops of food coloring to make them more exciting. 

As we all kick off summer, I hope your days are filled with more YAY! moments and not so many I’M BORED ones.

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