Advice for Starting a ConversationHow can you begin a conversation with younger children about the environment? How do you help kids think more consciously about energy conservation? What do you tell children about reusing materials? Or recycling?
If you’re interested in engaging your kids around these issues, the following are some simple ways to start:
1. Start by modeling behaviors related to energy conservation and recycling. Turn off lights when you leave a room or put newspapers in the recycling bin instead of the trash. Your children will learn from what you do.
2. Involve young children in sorting activities. Children can help you sort scrap paper for recycling.
3. Reuse materials for craft and/or educational activities with your children, such as toilet paper rolls to create owls, scrap paper and newspapers to make paper airplanes, plastic bottles and juice containers to make planters, plastic containers to conduct science experiments (mix oil and water and see what happens), etc.
4. Talk with children about the products you buy at the grocery store and what decisions you are making based on product packaging. For example, talk with kids about why you might choose to buy apples from the produce shelf instead of prepackaged in a plastic container. If you put apples from the produce shelf in a plastic or paper bag, talk with children about ways you might reuse that bag.
5. Help kids understand what happens to your household garbage. On trash collection day, take children outside to observe what happens when the trash and recycling is picked up. If possible, talk with the garbage collector about what s/he is doing.
6. Explore with your kids the different energy sources people use (coal, oil, natural gas, solar power, wind power, etc.). Talk with children about how we get the heat or electricity we use.
7. As you’re out with your children, notice products that have been created with reused or recycled materials, such as rubber tires on playgrounds, running tracks, etc.