What can you teach children to help them respect the environment and live eco-friendly lives? This article offers some ideas on topics to use to start talking about the environment with young children. You’ll also find suggestions for inventing games and activities that will help children become more aware of the environment and develop healthier, more satisfying ways of living while respecting our planet.
How can I teach my children about the environment?
There are many ways that adults can teach children about the environment and respect for nature: activities, games, concepts and attitudes. This article contains several tips and ideas to put into practice immediately.
Why is it important to teach about living an eco-friendly life?
There are lots of reasons why it’s important to teach an eco-friendly life to children, starting with the fact that in most cases, a life lived with respect for nature is healthier, with good habits, a regular diet, and formative experiences that can be central to a child’s development into adulthood.
From the children of today to the responsible consumers of tomorrow
Environmentally conscious parents can’t help being aware that their children will have to make their own decisions about the environment one day. This means that children should start making conscious decisions of their own concerning the environment as early as possible.
Future commuters – by car or by bike?
Today’s children will have to decide whether to buy a plastic-wrapped product or a recycled paper-wrapped one. They’ll also choose which means of transport will best serve their needs (car, electric scooter, train, bicycle). Their decisions will be influenced by what they learn in their early years about the environment and the small (but important) daily actions that can help to reduce their ecological footprint.
Aware of the environment, aware of others
Teaching children why and how they should take care of animals and the environment, and making them aware of recycling and how to select environmentally sustainable products, will make them conscious of their actions and the consequences these may have on others. Teaching respect for the environment teaches respect for others, and educates children to take responsibility for others and the world.
Where do I start when talking to children about the environment?
Topics such as global warming, ecological footprints, and choosing renewable energies over fossil fuels are very complex concepts for a child. At least, they can be, if you don’t teach them using the appropriate language. In this article, we’ve collected some suggestions on how to start opening children’s eyes to the environment using activities, games, and experiments to do together with adults. As we’ll see, talking about nature is not enough: you have to live it, understand it, and love it. And since theoretical explanations are insufficient, we must involve children in activities and experiences related to the environment and respect for nature, so they can link concepts to practical activities and actions that are easy to implement and much more concrete than concepts such as “pollution” or “microplastics in the oceans”.
Spend more time outdoors with children
Experience nature with your children outdoors, walking or biking in a meadow, a forest, or the countryside. You’ll be able to explain many things to them: for example, that not using a car is a way to help the air to stay fresher, which is nicer for the animals and plants that breathe it. Moreover, meadows and woods give you an opportunity to talk about plants, fruits, and animals. At the end of the walk, you can even ask the children to draw what they have seen, or you can play an animal memory game with them. Finally, farms and fields can be excellent prompts for talking about fruit and vegetable cultivation and seasonality: eating fruits and vegetables in season is healthy and good for the planet.
Less consumption, more recycling, and even homemade toys
Reduce your family’s consumption, and explain to your children the reasons for this. For example, explain that tap water is good, but it shouldn’t be wasted. And make a cooperative or competitive game of turning off appliances not in use, so the planet doesn’t get too “tired”.
Recycle waste – and turn it (also) into stories
Recycle waste by teaching children where paper, plastic, and glass go. It’s an opportunity to explain how some materials can continue to be useful in different forms. Alternatively, play an educational game involving stories inspired by recycling.
Crafting and DIY: from waste to homemade games
Do a bit of DIY and enjoy some “do it yourself” activities, such as building a birdhouse with recycled materials. It will be a fun way to spend an afternoon with children and a great opportunity to explain that things don’t always have to be thrown away and can often come in handy in other situations or other forms.
The magic of composting and organic waste
Introduce the concept of composting and explain to children how some types of waste return to the environment more quickly than others, which could pollute groundwater or soil. An educational game is an excellent way to explain the importance of water.
Gardening and the wonders of nature
Entertain children with a gardening activity, which is useful for introducing concepts like the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, or to explain the importance of water. What’s more, gardening lets you help your children get in touch (literally) with nature. Touching flowers and soil, and watering and observing the growth of plants and fruits are educational and deeply formative experiences for tomorrow’s defenders of the environment.
Respect for nature is a game – but a serious one
Make respecting nature into a game; fun, but at the same time engaging and educational. We’ve been doing this since the start of Adventerra Games. We are convinced (and it’s been proven by scientific evidence) that play can perform an essential teaching function if intelligently designed and focused on serious environmental issues, and created to be fun and challenging. This conviction is part of our values and at the heart of every educational game we offer.
Respect for nature and children: sources and insights
If you’re interested in environmental education for children, you’ll know that this article has only skimmed the surface of a very broad and deep subject area. Extensive literature, studies, and reports have been produced on this topic. Many authoritative articles and videos are dedicated to teaching eco-friendly values and an eco-sustainable lifestyle. Here are some links to help you further on your journey as you and your children develop even more love for nature, respect for animals, and admiration for our beautiful planet.
- Find lots of new ways to live a healthy, eco-friendly life on Adventerra Games’ Instagram and Facebook channels.
- Read this article, dedicated to our values and educating the next generation about environmental matters and eco-sustainability.
- Discover a whole range of educational games focused on environmental values and respect for nature.
We wish you and your children a safe journey towards a more eco-conscious future.