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Nature and Animals Sparkling Stars

Fun Activities to Teach Kids about Recycling

We all know that our planet is in danger, but not all of us know that we can help. The good news is that if we start getting our children interested in recycling and composting at a young age, it will stick with them and become a habit. Then, we can have a whole generation of little people who know how to keep our planet healthy and happy.

Recycling projects for kids don’t have to be boring or like a task that they have to complete, whether they like it or not. With the right information and fun activities, children can develop a genuine interest and fondness for all things green. Here are some fun recycling activities for kids that will make them appreciate and understand how they can protect the environment.

Segregation Station

This is one of the most educational and fun recycling activities for toddlers as it gives them an understanding of what happens to our trash once it leaves our home. It also teaches them how to recognize biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. You can first talk to them about what happens to the garbage we throw away. Kids love looking at the garbage truck but do they know what happens after the truck leaves? Explain how all our wet waste and some other kinds of waste (paper and biodegradable plastics) decomposes and is biodegradable but the other things (plastic, metal, glass, e-waste, etc.) don’t decompose naturally, which means they stay in the rubbish dump forever. These substances are non-biodegradable.

Materials needed

Let your kid collect all the rubbish the family generates over the course of a day. This will be food wrappers, packets, cardboard boxes, tins, leftover foods, fruit and vegetable peels, etc.

Activity

Label two bins or boxes or just create two piles titles ‘biodegradable’ and ‘non-biodegradable’. Help your child separate the rubbish into the two piles, while discussing which items can be recycled, re-used or composted. You can then look at the rubbish that cannot be reused, recycled or composted and figure out ways to reduce that particular pile.

Bottle Composting

Once children understand the term ‘biodegradable’, this activity is a really fun and clear way to demonstrate composting. Here’s how to make a compost bin for kids with basic supplies at home.

Materials needed

  • A plastic soft drink bottle
  • Some soil
  • A few leaves
  • Peels and scraps from fruits and vegetables
  • A water spray bottle

Activity

  • Remove the label and rinse the bottle. Cut the top off the bottle.
  • Put some soil into the bottom of the bottle, followed by food scraps. Repeat this layering cycle until the bottle is full but make sure that the last layer is soil.
  • Spray the bottle with water (just enough to make it damp but not completely wet).
  • Place your mini composer in a sunny spot.
  • When you notice that the soil on top dries out, spray with water to preserve a constant level of moisture.
  • After completing this composting activity for kids, watch the bottle carefully over the course of the next eight weeks and take photos. You will be able to see the food scraps decompose and turn to soil.

Reap what you Sow

Once you have created your own compost, this activity will demonstrate the superior quality of compost when it comes to growing your own food and plants. If you have completed the above ‘composting for kids’ activities, this will also complete food/compost life cycle for your kids.

Materials needed

  • 2 similar pots
  • Regular soil
  • Compost
  • Seeds of the same variety

Activity

  • Fill one pot with regular soil and the second pot with your compost. Label them accordingly.
  • Plant a seed in each pot (if you plant something edible then you’ll also be able to taste-test the produce to compare)
  • Place the pots next to one another in your balcony, terrace or in your garden.
  • Watch your plants grow and notice the difference between the two plants. You can see the size, rate of growth, the quantity and quality of produce.

Build a Bird Feeder

This is an excellent way to show your children how old items can be used to create something new and useful.

Materials needed

  • Citrus fruit peels
  • Knife
  • Twine
  • Plastic needle (or anything to pierce the peel with)
  • Scissors
  • Bird seeds

Activity

  • Cut the citrus fruit (mosambi or orange) in half. You can eat or squeeze it and remove the fruit from the peel.
  • Cut four 10-inch pieces of twine for each of the half peels. Then tie a knot at the end of each twine and thread your plastic needle.
  • Poke the needle through the side of the peel (a little below sides because if you poke too close to the edge, the weight of the bird will break the peel) and your feeder will fall. Do this on all four sides of each peel.
  • Tie the other end of the strings together in a knot so you can hang the feeder.
  • Hang this in your balcony or garden where birds can visit.

Here are more fun ways to teach children to respect and appreciate the environment :

1. Neighbourhood clean-up: Gear the kids (and yourselves) with gloves, masks and trash bags and head out to clean up a particular area. It can be the neighbourhood park or a section of the beach.

2. Candlelight dinner: Have a (safe) family candlelight dinner and talk about saving electricity and how it’s good to turn off appliances, lights and fans when not in use.

3. Movies and books: Pick books about recycling and composting and watch movies (like the Lorax, Over the Hedge, Wall-E, Free Willy or Avatar for older kids) with a green theme.

4. Crafting with recycled materials: Like the bird feeder we spoke about above, there are many useful things you can create with recycled materials. Keep a recycling bin for supplies and save pieces of old cloth, old paper rolls, bottle caps, bottles, egg cartons, etc. Look up DIY recycled crafts for kids which you can make with these items or let them use their imagination.

With these activities on recycling for kids, they learn to generate less waste, the correct way to separate it and even how we can put it to use, all so they can build a better, more sustainable world.


Categories
Mindspace

How to Teach Gratitude to Tweens

Gratitude is powerful and can change perspectives. Here’s how to teach gratitude to tweens and instil this positive habit.

In the digital era, where choices are infinite and the imbalance between haves and wants continues to grow indefinitely, it can come across as a great dispute in teaching and showing kids (particularly pre-teens) the importance of practicing gratitude. But there are creative ways to teach gratitude to tweens.

Adolescence isn’t an age that appeals to many (particularly the ones experiencing it) and all those hormonal and physical changes tend to make tweens the opposite of calm and grateful.

However, no matter the road taken or the obstacles faced, the final destination is always worth it. This will be, too!

Evident Results or Research

According to the research conducted by the Journal of School Psychology and Psychological Assessment, “children practicing gratitude tend to follow a more optimistic approach to life, score better in academics, develop long-lasting relationships and are much more sociable than their apparently ungrateful counterparts.”

Moreover, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology declares gratitude as a better indicator of happiness and optimism than other relevant qualities like endurance, self-control, and forgiveness.

Seeing all that, the value of teaching, and having tweens practice gratitude until it gets twined in their lives can’t be stressed enough.

Here, we talk in detail about some of the most effective ways to teach tweens the significance of gratefulness.

Model Gratitude

Children get the first and most impactful schooling of their lives through imitating their parents. So, if the parents take a firm stand and represent themselves as role models for their troubled tweens, they can change the game completely.

This quote sums it up: “Children are great imitators. So, give them something great to imitate.”

There are dozens of ways you can present yourself as a role model for your kids. Some basic yet powerful ones are:

  • Saying ‘thank you’ at even the smallest kindness such as someone holding a door for you or serving you a meal. 
  • Saying ‘thank you’ at even the smallest kindness such as someone holding a door for you or serving you a meal. 
  • Saying ‘thank you’ at even the smallest kindness such as someone holding a door for you or serving you a meal. 

Teach the Art of Saying Thank You

Teaching gratitude does not have to be stressful. You can try to go for a much subtle approach and praise them whenever they say “thank you,” to anybody, for anything. 

Everybody likes being praised and adolescents are no different. When you compliment a good quality, it grows further and bears fruit. On the contrary, when you criticize a bad quality, the situation may worsen and makes room for hatred to grow.

Ask Gratitude Queries

Got your tween into the beneficial hit of saying thank you? Great.

Then, it’s time to dig further into the surface. Whenever you hear your child express gratitude towards a certain kindness, ask him/her the reason behind those words. According to the Raising Grateful Children Project at UNC Chapel Hill, there are four fundamental components that build up gratitude.

  • Recognition: Paying heed to the things deserving appreciation.
  • Conception: Guessing the reasons as to why that kindness was done upon you.
  • Analyzing: Paying conscious thought to the emotions you feel.
  • Reaction: The way you react or express gratitude.

Pre-teens become conscious about the conception and analysis when you ask them questions about the same in simple words. A fun way of doing this is making it into a playful discussion.

Commit Gracious and Kind Acts

Teach your kids the different ways they can appreciate the things their family, friends and neighbors do for them. For example, helping an old neighbor when they are watering plants and so on. 

Along with showing them the instances, you may do these yourself. Being the excellent imitators that the pre-teens are, they will pick these up themselves.

Here are  70 Simple Random Acts of Kindness You Can Do Everyday.

Gratitude Project for the Entire Family

A great way to practice mutual gratitude in the family is through creating projects. One of such engaging projects that can arouse enthusiasm among family members is by telling each member of the family to write down deeds they’re grateful for and dumping them in a jar.

After a month (or even a week later) you can extract all those gratitude slips and spend some quality time together while reading those. Sounds fun?

Looking for other Fun Family projects? Here’s a list of ten.

Daily Gratitude Rituals

Make it into a routine habit to express gratitude for everyday things and encourage your tween (and other family members) to do so as well.

Now, you may say that gratitude should be intuitive and natural instead of being researched everyday like a movie script. But believe it when I say, when practiced daily, noticing the acts of kindness and being grateful becomes second nature to them.

You can also encourage your tweens to maintain a gratitude journal and write 3 things they’re grateful for every day. 

Searching for the Silver Linings

Whenever anything bad or awful happens in your tween’s life, ask him or her whether there was any upside (bright spot) to the situation. This approach will stimulate your child’s brain to look for and emphasize the positive aspects and abandon the negative ones.

You may have discussions on articles like this and ask your pre-teen to try and add more points to it.

Closing Thoughts

Incorporating gratitude as a keystone habit into your kid’s life will affect not only him or her but everybody who comes into personal contact with them on a regular basis. The significance of gratitude makes it important to apply different tactics and strategies to make your kid cultivate the habit.

Tip:

If your tween ever acts out at a time or refuses to appear as grateful, don’t lose confidence. Give them the space to vent out their frustration or anger. On the bright side, you may use these occurrences as meaningful lessons and further improve your approach for the next time.

Categories
Curious Comets The Cozy Indoors

Bring Nature Home: 8 Indoor Activities for Nature-Loving Kids

My pre-schooler loved going to the park every day. Not for the slides and swings. Not necessarily to play and interact with other kids. He loved picking up fallen flowers, talking to (and unintentionally startling) the pigeons, and looking at the different colors in the evening sky.

When the mandatory lockdown started, it was easy to keep him occupied at home but it got me thinking – do I really want him to lose that ability to find happiness in nature? And lose that connection he has with it? Of course not.

There’s a reason why children (and even adults) are drawn to natural environments – the sights, sounds, scents, and textures of the outdoors are the perfect gateway for boundless exploration while promoting creativity, and increasing attention span while reduces stress. This high level of curiosity doesn’t last forever – so if we don’t let our kids experience nature while they are young, it might just become an invisible backdrop.

With the pandemic, letting children play outside is risky for them and scary for you. So here are some indoor activities for kids at a time when we have to be careful about the time we spend outdoors.

Indoor Gardening

Help your child create a kitchen garden or grow some microgreens. Just grab a handful of any of seeds from your kitchen (fenugreek, mustard, coriander), soak them and sow them in a container. Let your child sprinkle water every day and watch its progress. There’s something magical about watching a seed grow into a plant and it’s even more magical seeing your child’s face light up when they experience it.

Make Nature Faces

Thinking of outdoor activities for children is easier than coming up with engaging indoor activities, but you can blend the two with this one. If you do take the kids out for a walk – have them collect twigs, leaves, pebbles, etc., and use them later to make faces, animals, and other drawings on the floor at home.

Match the Rock

Trace the outlines of a few rocks and pebbles on paper and have your child match the rock to its outline. Once you start with this activity, you can encourage your child to pick up a different rock during every outing, and soon you’ll have your very own rock collection.

Scent Jars

This is one of my favorites, and it’s a great sensory activity for children. Have them close their eyes (or you can blindfold them) and let them guess what spices and herbs you present before them – one by one. I usually include basil leaves, a stick of cinnamon, some pods of cardamom, a few cloves, and even a slice of lime. You can talk about each after they smell it and tell them the names of the spices in different languages and how they’re used.

Paint with Nature

Remember those flowers, leaves, and twigs we collected earlier? Here’s another use for them. Tie some of these leaves and flowers to the ends of strong twigs and let your child use them as paintbrushes.

Leaf Threading

Tie a piece of twine to a thin twig and have your child thread some leaves with it. It’s a great gross motor skill activity and the outcome looks very pretty!

Stone Balancing

Lay out stones of different shapes and sizes and see how many they can carefully stack up before they all come tumbling down. This activity helps improve concentration and focus, hand-eye coordination, patience, and creative processing.

Bonus Benefit – it will also help them become champion lagori (or seven stones) players!

Float or Sink – Water Sensory Bin

Yes, this one involves water, which means there probably will be a little mess, but it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun. Just fill a little tub with water and leave some light and heavy items out for them to experiment with. You can include leaves, dried orange or lemon slices, pebbles, shells, etc. Have them feel the object and guess beforehand if it will float or sink and then let them find out for themselves.

A Few Tips

Nature stories: Pick storybooks books about animals, nature, and the great outdoors

Relive experiences: Keep talking about certain trips or experiences like the last visit to the zoo or the beach

Nature on TV: Instead of just cartoons, let TV time include some nature and animal documentaries

Get a pet: Having a pet is always great for a child to develop non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy. Give that it’s a lot of responsibility, you can consider something small to begin with – like a fish or a hamster

These tips will come in handy (even in the years to come) when it’s not always possible to take the children outside or let them participate in outdoor activities. If your child is already an outdoor-enthusiast, these fun nature activities will help nurture that connection, and if your child isn’t particularly fond of the outdoors yet, hopefully, some of these suggestions will help foster a love for nature!