Caring for the environment is everyone's responsibility. No child is too young to understand her importance in the world and to begin to take charge of her surroundings, and most preschoolers are naturally inquisitive about the world around them. Design lessons that are age-appropriate to help kids understand our world and participate in hands-on activities to sustain it.
1. Nature Walk Collage
Take a walk in a park or nature trail. Explain to the kids that it's not time to play, but to pay attention to everything surrounding them. Move quietly along the trail to listen for animal sounds and the crunch of leaves and rocks beneath feet. At the end of the walk, ask each child to gather two items from the path to create a nature walk collage. Closely monitor what each child picks up. You don't want anyone going home with poison ivy! Place the natural items on poster board to represent the group's walk.
2. Clean Air Activity
Read Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax," which discusses the environment in a child-friendly way. Talk about air being all around us and how it's necessary for people to breathe. In order to breathe air and not get sick, the air needs to be clean and fresh. Demonstrate the power of air by letting kids blow paper and cotton balls with straws to watch the materials move. Even though we can't see air, it is constantly working and moving.
3. School Garden
Discuss the importance of growing your own food that's fresh and free of unnatural residue. Section off a small plot of land or grow the garden in containers. Assign a vegetable or flower for each child to contribute to the garden. Once everyone brings in the seeds or sprouts, pass out gloves and small tools to start preparing the soil. After the garden is complete, design a chart to give each child a certain duty to manage the garden. Children will have ownership and feel success when they taste what was grown with their own hands and labor.
4. Earth Day Cleanup
Explain that Earth Day comes in April and it's a time when people clean up the outdoors. Display pictures of polluted areas and explain negative effects of pollution such as destroying animals' homes, causing sickness and not being nice to live in. End the lesson by going outside to clean up any trash you find in the school yard.
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