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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- A plastic soft drink bottle
- Some soil
- A few leaves
- Peels and scraps from fruits and vegetables
- A water spray bottle
- 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.
- 2 similar pots
- Regular soil
- Seeds of the same variety
- 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.
- Citrus fruit peels
- Plastic needle (or anything to pierce the peel with)
- Bird seeds
- 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.