It can be difficult to teach kids about sustainability and caring for the environment. But it’s a good idea to start instilling little ones with a sense of responsibility. After all, they’re the future stewards of the earth. Educate the next generation of earth advocates with some of these fun ideas and tools:
Animated Movies and Cartoons:
Not all television-watching rots your brain! There are some movies and cartoon series out there that have environmentalism as their central message. Your tot will surely be entertained, and make sure to watch these with him or her and explain the underlying message and why it’s important.
- FernGully (1992): A man shrinks down to roughly the size of a mouse in the middle of a magical forest populated by fairies and adorable furry creatures, including an exceedingly silly fruit bat voiced by Robin Williams. From this new perspective, he is able to truly see the damage to the environment caused by humans and deforestation.
- Once Upon a Forrest (1993): When there’s a chemical spill in the forest, Michelle the tiny badger gets terribly ill from inhaling the fumes. Her friends must make an epic journey to find herbs to save her. Humans and their machines present scary obstacles, until a group of compassionate humans at the end of the story come to clean the mess up and give the forest creatures new hope.
- The Lorax (2012): Based on the 1971 Dr. Seuss book, “The Lorax” follows the story of Ted, a young boy who wants to win over his dream girl by bringing her the gift she desires most – a tree. Unfortunately, in Ted’s community everything is made from plastic and the air is artificially piped in. When he goes to find out what happened to all of the trees and where he might find one, he learns from the Once-ler all about how the manufacturing of a product called a thnead wiped out all of the trees and how the Lorax, a furry mustachioed creature voiced by Danny DeVito, had once attempted to advocate for the trees. The message is that unless individuals stand up for the trees, they might all disappear.
Reading books to your child is a great way to bond and encourage reading as a healthy habit. Read them books with some substance:
- That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: Vegetarian or vegan parents might have a difficult time explaining to their child why their lunches don’t include deli meat like their pals’. Author Ruby Roth’s beautifully illustrated children’s book takes little ones on an adventure from the barnyard to the sea and on to the Rainforest, explaining why it’s important to extend compassion to our animal friends.
- The Curious Garden: Peter Brown’s book “The Curious Garden” tells the story of a little boy named Liam. Liam goes exploring in his gray, smoggy cityscape and stumbles upon a small ailing garden. He cares for the plants until they flourish and start to grow all over his city. A great book for introducing children to gardening and environmentalism.
Kids love using the computer for playing games. While there are undoubtedly many adults out there who have never heard of sustainable architecture, here’s a game to introduce the concept at a young age with a bit of fun:
- My Sustainable House: This is an online children’s game out of the UK. Players are given a budget and asked to improve the sustainability of their house while staying under budget. It has a handy introduction that explains exactly what sustainability is and there are 3 games to choose from. Kids can play at mysusthouse.org
These movies, books and games are great tools for encouraging your child to start thinking about his or her relationship to the environment. However, one of the best teaching methods is to set a good example. If your child sees you making an effort to recycle, make organic choices and love the earth, they’ll be more likely to adopt healthy, compassionate practices themselves!
If you have some great ideas for fun learning material related to environmentalism, please leave a comment with your suggestions!