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Around The Internet: Plant It Forward

While perusing the blogosphere this week, I came across a link to an interesting site:  Plant It Forward.  This site is dedicated to the preservation of forests for generations to come by planting trees to replace the ones harvested each day. 

Plant It Forward has a great database of ideas for moms, teachers, grandparents, and kids.  You can find ideas for homemade, recycled gifts, projects, and home improvement ideas.  Look for information on recycling and reducing the amount of “stuff” you throw away each day.  Most of the activities are easy enough for everyone to try and enjoy.  Plant It Forward also gives information on planting your own trees and boosting your own recycling program (or even getting started with recycling).

Go check out the Plant It Forward site and post your favorite idea here!

Knock Before Entering!

Here’s an easy and fun project to try with your kids this week…especially if your children love their “privacy” or simply want to mark their “spot”!

Doorknob signs are easy and practical projects that kids of any age can create.  Older kids can cut their own out; for younger kids, cut a rectangle out of heavy paper, then cut a slit from the side to the middle with a hole cut out for the doorknob (like a “do not disturb” sign at a hotel).  After that, anything goes!  Provide your child with crayons, markers, stickers, stencils, extra craft supplies – the sky is the limit!  Your child can make a door sign that is personalized with their name, something funny (“Beware of Guard Hamster”), or something more serious (“Caution: Messy Room…enter at your own risk!”).  Have your child make several for various places around the house or even for a few neighbors!

Are You Green?

You have probably noticed that “Going Green” is all the rage right now with celebrities and major corporations. Meanwhile, we regular Joes and Josephines have been doing our part in reducing, re-using, recycling, and composting without cameras following us around (thank goodness). Think about what you are doing to help conserve Mother Earth. What do your kids know about being conservative with electricity and water? Do they know about renewable and non-renewable resources?

Wind is one of the most promising sources of clean, renewable energy available today. So, how would one obtain power out of thin air? We have toys that can help parents explain the Sun and Sustainable Living in the 21st Century. Power House provides an introduction to regenerative energy sources and sustainable living. Children will learn about energy we get from the sun, wind, plants and electrochemical reactions.

Outside of these engaging experiments, parents need to take an active lead and discuss with their children the importance of being environmentally friendly. Little changes in everyday life can help save the Earth from becoming the garbage dump of the Milky Way. Since everyone tries to stay healthy by drinking water from those handy plastic bottles, just think of how many you put in the garbage can – knowing it can be saved to recycle.

I know that the Recycling Man comes around at least once a week where we live. I’m sure he gets bored with just driving his route and keeping a look-out for houses with recycling bins set at the end of the driveway. Make sure you give him a reason to stop, get out of his truck and do his job! You don’t want your tax dollars going to someone who doesn’t have to work, do you? (I’m sorry Mr. Recycling Man, please don’t take this personally.)

Alliant Energy Kids has a website that can help your children understand the importance of “renewable” and “non-renewable” energy sources. Parents need to lead by setting an example by conserving water. Also, explaining to kids why fresh water is important helps immensely. Tell your kids that we need fresh water to drink, cook and bathe with, and water plants. Ask your children serious questions about what they know about water conservation… Ask them to tell you which ways they waste water. Keep the questions going. What do they think would happen to the world if we ran out of fresh water? Ask them open ended questions that will get them thinking about the Earth and how naturally beautiful and important it really is. After having an open discussion, they will understand conservation better. This will help your kids stop wasting water and electricity – which will help lower everyone’s utility bills.

So your older kids already know about power and water conservation? That’s awesome. Try getting them to think outside the aspect of conservation and progress to Alternative Energy Sources. We at WonderBrains have added new Alternative Energy and Environmental Science kits. Power House introduces kids to regenerative energy sources and sustainable living, while teaching basic concepts in physical science. Learn the physics of force and motion as it applies to Wind Power.

Your kids have now been briefed on Alternative Energy, Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources. The next step is Fuel Cells, Solar Cells and Electrolysis. Help you and your children learn how solar cells turn sunlight into energy with the Fuel Cell Car. Learn how fuel cells work, how to use alternative energies for automobiles, and about reversible fuel cells with Fuel Cell X7, a hydrogen powered car. You never know, you may end up with the next generation’s most influential Green Environmentalists!

Recycled Projects

My second grader came home last week with a small note stapled to his take-home folder.  It seems that a project is to be created for a parade his class is having.  This project could be an instrument, a flag or a banner, but the idea is to make the entire thing from recycled materials.  Use things that you would normally get rid of in a new way.

Naturally, my son’s idea was to take an empty water bottle and put some pebbles in it for a shaker.  I, however, swayed him down a more involved path than rocks in a bottle.  We ended up making a banner.

We took a torn pair of jeans that my husband had in a pile of clothes of which he needed to dispose and cut off a leg.  We split the leg open down the seam to make a long, denim banner.  Since this parade was in preparation for a big, statewide test the older children at my son’s school would be taking, we came up with a slogan and wrote it in large letters on the material with glue.

Then, the fun began!  We took shredded paper (I had spent the weekend, purging old tax documents) and sprinkled it in the glue.  Since I had been shredding various types of papers, everything from old checks to colorful brochures and documents, we ended up with a myriad of colors in our banner.  It was quite impressive!

This entire process reminded me that, while recycling is a valuable and (should be) necessary part of our lives, reusing is even more important.  Being able to take something that is no longer being used and finding a new job for it is even better than simply recycling.  Look around your house, your trash can, your recycle bin.  Are there things you are getting rid of that might be used for something else?  Giving new life to something is the best way to improve our environment.  See what you can come up with today.

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?

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