5 Easy and Creative Ways to Green Your Kids this Summer

I love my kids and when they have time off from school and their activities in the summer, for me, it is like experiencing Nirvana.  Okay so maybe I'm not floating on clouds 100% of the time with them underfoot, but I am happiest when they are practically schedule free and we can all share long, lazy days full of cuddling and girl talk.  I find that summer is also an excellent time to continue their "green" education. Take a peek at the following 5 easy and creative ways I have found to green my kids this summer...

  1. Watch caterpillars become beautiful Painted Lady butterflies, then let them go - I may be a little behind the times on this as it seems that many of my friends have already done this, but if you have yet to do this with your kids, check out LiveButterflyGarden.com and order your caterpillars today.  For about $30 (including shipping) you get a butterfly garden habitat, 10 live caterpillars and food, a butterfly garden activity kit which includes stickers and a beautiful poster which my two youngest girls loved.  As another green teaching bonus, the butterfly garden came packed in  biodegradable corn packaging peanuts.  We put some peanuts in water, watched them disappear then talked about what a benefit this type of packaging is to our planet.  Even my youngest daughter understood this green message as it was right before her eyes.
  2. Show your children how other kids are making a green difference to our planet - A great place to start is with the 2010 International Young Eco-Hero Awards.  These kids will amaze and impress you and really open your kid eyes to the power they hold with their imagination.  Your children may not build a Lorax Lodge like 16 year old Sarah Jo Lambert from Texas, but they will certainly get the message that they can make a difference at any age.  My kids are going to give profits from a lemonade stand to The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.   They may not earn much money to donate, but the green lesson learned will be one that will not only give them pride, but also help them to understand they truly can help our planet and its people. 
  3. Ask your kids to workout with you or get them their own workout DVD's - Living green is about taking care of our environment and ourselves so helping your kids learn about exercise and its benefits can be a green lesson they will use for a lifetime.  My youngest daughter has her own workout clothes and 1 pound weights she uses to workout with me.  I obviously don't worry if she does any of the moves along with the instructor on the DVD just as long as she is having fun.  She also has a Barbie workout and another which is geared toward children that she gets a kick out of.  My two older daughters will do a complete workout with me and I can't tell you what a feeling of accomplishment they get when they are done.  We always give high fives to each other when we complete a tough workout and we all enjoy sharing this part of a healthy lifestyle together.
  4. Turn off the TV - Need I say more?  Set aside days or weeks where the TV does not get turned on and you will find that your kids will spend more time outside exploring their environment.  My girls find all kinds of things to do outside which helps them to develop an interest and desire to take care of our earth and its inhabitants.  Outside my girls dig for what they think are fossils, pick "flowers" (weeds really) and take care of the gopher turtles which find their way into our yard.   When kids have a chance to explore their outside world, they will inevitably grow to love our planet and develop a desire to do the things necessary to take care of it.
  5. Play green games and read green books - I dare say that everyone has a copy of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss but if you don't, get one from the library, pick one up at the bookstore or buy a used copy online for about $7.  This Eco-story is one of my kids' favorites and after reading it we always have great conversations about our planet, how we are ruining it and how we can find little ways to help save it.  There are tons of other green books for kids and a good place to start is at Green Kids Books.  Reading is a great, green conversation starter, but another way to get the green conversation going with your kids is to play one of my favorite matching games called I Cherish Planet Earth.  Including shipping it is about $25 and really good for kids 10 and under.  Don't forget to grab your kids and check out all of the fun, green online sites for youngsters of all ages that have plenty of crafts, educational resources and games.  I like The Little Earth Charter but a simple Google search will point you in the right direction for green online fun and learning.
I hope you will take these 5 Easy and Creative Ways to Green Your Kids this Summer to spend some time insuring a greener future for all of us.  If you have any other great, green ideas for kids this summer, please share with us here by leaving a comment or connect with me on Twitter!

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead