Raising an Eco Tot - 10 Environmentally Friendly Activities for Toddlers

I want my 2 year old to value the world beyond the walls of our home and to treat all living things with respect.  Is this to much to ask of a toddler?  I don't think so.  In fact, I think that with our support and guidance, this it is entirely possible.

The earth and our environment is here for us to take care of and that the choices we make affect the future of the environment.  Children who develop a heart for their natural world and environmentally friendly habits as young children, will be better equipped to making environmentally friendly decisions as they grow.

Compassion for the natural world doesn't always happen instantaneously, rather is developed through a course of conscious family decisions.  So what can we do?

1. Plant peas, carrots, potatoes or any other vegetable with your children. Gardening with your children develops an appreciation for the natural world as well as an understanding about how things grow and change.  We have found that gardening helps our children develop a sense of pride, ownership, and responsibility. For more ideas - or to share yours, we have even have a page dedicated to kids in the garden.  You are welcome to browse all of our kids in the garden posts for inspiration or stop by our Pinterest Gardening Board for more ideas!

2. Make a craft or activity using recycled materials.  Here is a great post with a whole bunch of ways to re-use the baby-food pouch lids!

3.Have your child set the table using real plates and cloth napkins.  If you do this every day for the next X amount of days, this will become a routine and paper / disposable will become a thing of the past!

4. Go on a nature walk.  Talk to your children about different types of plants and animals you see and hear.  Take time to lay on your backs and look at the clouds.  Enjoy being outside.  Smile often!

5. Allow your tot to take out each piece of recycling for the week.  This will not only teach your tot what can be recycled, but also allow him to have an active role in the family responsibilities.  Nicholas says, "RECYCLING - my job!" when the milk jug has been emptied.  He waits for us to rinse it out and runs it to our big recycling bins.  He is so proud of helping!

6. Visit a waste management facility.  Every one has these folks.  If you haven't visited yours, it is time to do so.  Call ahead to schedule a tour.  Our nearby facility offers kid tours and explains how and where the recycling and garbage goes.  It is an eye and nose opener and makes you want to reduce, reuse, and recycle!  Here are 2 pictures we took on our tour.


7. Climb a tree.  Oh, you do this every day?  Great - KEEP CLIMBING, if not, find a great climbing tree in your community and climb away.  Our children need to connect with nature in order to fall in love with it!  And yes, I am deeply in love with the trees, gardens, flowers and more. I'd like to think my kids are too!

8. Use both sides of every paper before it gets recycled.  Ok - so we have toddlers.  Toddlers tend to make a LOT of process art, meaning they are learning by coloring or painting.  This sometimes means mass production.  It is time to get into the habit of painting, coloring, or writing on every possible side of every paper before recycling it.  If your kids get into this habit, using scrap paper (what we call it) will become a natural thing to do!

9. Visit a U-Pick farm and harvest fruit or vegetables.  This month strawberries are in season.  Although we get a few in our garden, I make a point to take the kids to our local u-pick farm.  We talk about how all the food we buy is grown somewhere and the process of how food gets to our plates. 

10.  Make or add to a natural playscape in your backyard.  We have our tiny yard divided into the garden, a natural playscape area and the swing set.  The kids spend, by far, the most amount of their outdoor playtime in the natural playscape are.  This area is continuously changing as the children pretend and build.  There is a small area for music, wood for building or climbing, a weaving station, bell bush, sensory herb garden and more.  My tot learns about the environment by moving water, digging dirt, and just listening to the wind.  I have a Pinterest board with some ideas of things I would like to add or have been inspired by that may get your creativity spinning!

Last, but not least, here is a FREE printable of the above activities so that you can download it, print it out, and hang it on your fridge or classroom bulletin board to use as a checklist!  When you have completed one or more (or even if you already do all of them), we would love to hear about it!!!


small + friendly said...

Great suggestions!

Marnie @ Carrots are Orange said...

love the printable!!

Growing a Jeweled Rose said...

Great ideas! Love all the pics!

Jenny @ The NY Melrose Family said...

I'm stopping by from UBP 12. I love your site! I'm a teacher mommy of a spunky two year old girl. I'm following via gfc and liked on facebook. If you get a chance stop on over to www.thenymelrosefamily.blogspot.com.

Trisha @ Inspiration Laboratories said...

Love this list! It's so important to teach our children when they are young. (Sharing this everywhere.)

PinkOddy said...

What really great ideas. I still haven't taken them to a fruit farm because the only fruit they can all agree they like is bananas lol.

Didi said...

This is a great collection of activities to teach young children to be stewards of the environment. I especially appreciate the tree climbing and garden to table ideas.

Sandra J said...

Great post! I found it very useful. Love the final result. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips.

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