If you are a parent, you don’t need to be told that kids are resourceful and many find entertainment with just the smallest inspiration. However, even for the most resourceful amongst us, over a year of lockdowns and homeschooling has left many parents and kids fresh out of ideas for at-home activities.
If this is you, why not try out some of these home-grown eco-conscious ideas? From growing your own organic vegetables to creating a glitter jar, there is plenty of fun, eco-conscious ways to entertain your kids without leaving your front door.
Here is some activity inspiration to while away the hours at home with the children.
Set up a rainwater collection point
Anyone living in the UK knows just how much it rains, so why not use that as a way to entertain your children? Get your children to help set up water collection points around your home and garden. When it rains, the water will be collected and can then be used during the dry summer months.
This can help teach kids about water conservation. Collecting water can inform them about how we can store this precious resource and use it sparingly. For instance, the collected rainwater from the winter can be used to water plants in the summer, preventing the need for sprinklers or hoses.
A DIY rainwater collection point can be made by converting a bin into a barrel and setting up a system of gutters to lead the water into it.
Construct a kids’ vegetable garden
Growing vegetables throughout the year with your children will help teach them about seasonal growing and why some foods are more popular throughout the year. As a project for you and your kids, consider creating a vegetable garden just for them using sustainable materials.
Raised beds are easy to construct with untreated and locally sourced materials, such as railway sleepers or sustainable timber. Once constructed, it’s a case of choosing which organic vegetables your kids want to grow and filling the bed with the correct soil.
For winter months things like carrots and broccoli are great while the summer can be ideal for tomatoes and berries. Plus, tending to a little cabbage patch is a great mindfulness exercise.
Digging out and tending to a garden can be a peaceful experience for children and they have the end result of some food to show off and be proud about. Research by Weleda shows that 26.7 million people in the UK grew their own fruit, veg and herbs in the last year, so it’s certainly something you can involve your children in.
Build a bug hotel
Sticking with the building theme, a bug hotel or house is another great way to keep your children interested in nature. Bug hotels can be built using old bits of brick, wood and just about anything you have lying around the house or shed.
To ensure a bug hotel can thrive it requires plenty of chambers and hollow sections. Building a bug hotel in your garden can provide a safe hideaway for wildlife, protecting them in colder months. As soon as the bugs begin moving in, all of the hard work in constructing the hotel will have been worth it.
Creating an eco-friendly glitter jar
No matter how old your children are, they will enjoy making their own glitter jars. New products, like Eco Glitter, offer plastic and cruelty-free alternatives to other glitters that are bad for the environment. It’s also possible to find eco-friendly glue and paint to avoid using any harmful products.
Scientists found non-eco-friendly glitter to contain microplastics that can find their way into waterways like rivers and oceans. Using plastic-free glitter is a great way to help protect the planet and can serve as an opportunity to teach your kids about avoiding plastics too!
Not only do glitter jars bring a bit of jazz to your home but they also help to calm children down. Glitter jars can be used to help children deal with big emotions like anxiety, stress or anger.
The movement of the glitter in the jar helps kids to focus on that for a while and calm down. In the UK, anxiety disorders are estimated to affect 5-19% of all children and adolescents, and about 2-5% of children younger than 12. This ‘sensory awareness’ is particularly effective for children with autism or other disabilities.
Here are some easy steps to make a glitter jar:
- Find a jar or bottle that feels like it’s right, perhaps let your kids choose their own
- Get your child to decorate the outside of the jar using paint
- Fill the jar ¾ of the way with warm water
- Add clear glue, food colouring and glitter
- Mix the liquid around before sealing the lid
- Shake away and watch the glitter move
- You may also want to glue the lid to the jar to ensure nothing spills out
Play music together
Playing an instrument is known to be beneficial for children with music igniting all areas of child development. One of the great things about music is that you don’t even need proper instruments to make it.
Try getting creative with the items you have around your home to convert them into musical instruments. You can make a DIY guitar using a box of tissues, a handful of elastic bands and a wooden spoon. How your kids choose to decorate it is entirely up to them!
Why not go even further and create a whole group? Other homemade instruments include tin can drums, lollipop harmonicas and paper straw panpipes. Your kids could be the next Jackson 5, Hanson, Beach Boys or Corrs. That musical journey could begin with a homemade guitar, or maybe it’ll just be a fun afternoon for the children.
Teaching your kids about food from an early age will encourage them to try new things and not just stick to chips or pizza. What better way to introduce plant-based food to them than baking a batch of vegan cookies? There won’t be a shortage of volunteers to lick to bowl clean once the cookies are in the oven!
Vegan cookie ingredients:
- 200g dairy-free margarine
- 125g light brown sugar
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Pinch of salt
- 200g vegan dark chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp soya milk
Vegan cookie method:
- Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan, line two trays with baking paper
- Add margarine, vanilla extract and both sugars into a large bowl
- Sift in flour, baking powder, soda and salt – beat until combined and smooth
- Add chocolate and milk – mix until chocolate is thoroughly incorporated
- Place dollops of the mixture onto the baking trays, leaving space for expansion
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown
- Remove from oven and leave to cool on trays
- Tuck in!
Measure your carbon footprint
The weather in the UK is wonderfully diverse, which does mean the occasional rainy day. If your kids are pottering about at home then why not spend some time with them working out your family’s carbon footprint? We have to be cautious about how much screen time our children are getting but this is one exercise that might be worth it.
Once you have measured your carbon footprint, get the children to create ideas of how you can all reduce it. Even the smallest things in our homes use a surprising amount of energy, so it’s a great learning curve for everyone involved.
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