1. Get cozy with nature
Kids thrive outside, so set aside time in April to explore the great outdoors together. Almost any location works: farmlands, beaches and coasts, meadows and grasslands, bogs, and woodlands. Create a list of things you’d like to see, download images online, staple the pages together, and hand the homemade books to your kids so they will know exactly what to look for.
Be sure to put land animals of all kinds on your list, along with birds and their nests, spiders and webs, worms, butterflies, bees, trees, and plants, and harder-to-find things like frogs, newts, grasshoppers and praying mantises. Memorialize your trip. Take pictures to post online to share with friends and family.
Or try this idea: Choose one day this month to show your kids how fast nature changes. Find one tree to “study”; take pictures that day and intermittently throughout April. At the end of the month, upload the pics and teach your kids to look for details. Ask them what’s changed from photo to photo. Is the afternoon light brighter? Are the leaves bigger? Does the ground look dry or soggy? If they’re into the activity, try it again with soil and explore what’s beneath the earth’s surface.
2. Save the planet
Wake up early on Sunday, April 22, dress in earthy greens and browns, and celebrate Earth Day together. Start with a bit of history: Tell your kids about the fine example U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson set in 1970 when he pushed his concerns about harmful environmental practices onto the national agenda. Millions of citizens hit the streets nationwide to voice their support of a healthy, sustainable environment. If your kids are information driven, add a civics lesson on the power of grassroots political action.
Another idea: Adopt a family project. Introduce your kids to reusable fabric bags as an alternative to plastic or paper. When you recycle, divide and conquer: let your kids collect cardboard and paper products while you gather glass and plastic.
Or try these eco suggestions: Plant a tree near your house and nurture it. Pull weeds around the yard—they rob soil and plants of important nutrients and water. To save energy, set the household temperature lower in the winter and higher in the summer. Inform your kids that the best way to reduce waste is by not creating it in the first place!
3. Make dining in fun again
Give up big-box stores and supermarkets for now and let your kids enjoy the first spring fruits and veggies at your local farmer’s market. Your children will thank you.
Encourage them to explore the grounds (with you nearby), and hunt for in-season items, including arugula, asparagus, beets, chives, leeks, oranges, papayas, and strawberries.
Stop by the stalls, ask questions, taste free samples, and invite your farm-to-table converts to select two or three items they've never tasted to cook and serve for dinner. Nominate one day to go vegan. Serve a kid-friendly baked oatmeal and berries for breakfast, an orzo fried rice with veggies for lunch, a fruit-smoothie snack, and a veggie lasagna for dinner.
4. Put mind and body front and center
Chill with your kids yoga style. Yoga boosts concentration and confidence, and it’s a great way to exercise and spend time together. Grab some mats, and choose a spot on the lawn to strike a table pose or a downward-facing dog, for starters. Enjoy the moment as your kids find their way to a more relaxed and peaceful mind and spirit. Keep it up. It’s Stress Awareness month!
5. Combine activity and artistry
Do your kids a favor and help them explore their childhood interests. Got a budding artist, an athlete, or a chemist? Look for ways to smoosh several interests in one. For example, kids can have a blast making sidewalk chalk, using powdered plaster, paint, and water. With their science interests satisfied, open the doors and let them go wild outside, where they breathe in lots of fresh air and burn off energy. They can write their names, draw pictures, design courts for a competitive game of hopscotch or four square, or conjure up a mystery story and a sidewalk path for their friends to follow.
Originally posted 4.7.17; updated 3.29.18
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