Think Green: Recycling Activities Teach Kids to Protect Planet Earth

Photo by Rawpixel / iStock
Photo by Rawpixel / iStock

By Rachel Ward

“When I grow up, I’m gonna save the rainforest!” 

Many young children want to do the right thing—whether it’s becoming a doctor to help sick people or saving sea turtles. When you hear empathy in their future dreams, that’s something to celebrate! 

“These kind of ‘When I grow up…’ statements mean children understand they have the ability to take charge of their lives and that their own actions can affect others,” explains Meg Davis from KinderCare’s Education team. “That means their self-esteem and empathy are growing.” 

Four- and five-year-olds are already beginning to empathize with people around them, and now they’re learning how to extend empathy to the world at large—from animals to trees and flowers. 

This week, our Pre-K classes are focusing on the role people play in making the world around us healthier and nicer for everyone—starting with recycling activities.

We’re Teaching Recycling Tips Early so Kids Can Learn How to Protect Earth

As we separate items into a trash container and recycle container, we wind up having a lot of fun trying to decide what’s trash and what could be somebody else’s treasure!

Starting good habits like recycling and avoiding littering at a young age make it more likely that kids will understand the importance of these tasks. “Recycling activities help children practice being responsible citizens within their communities—and hopefully, as children grow and learn more about the world, they will become global stewards as well,” says Davis.

We make sure that we keep kids busy every day learning how to care for themselves, each other, and the world they live in. But kids are more likely to protect planet Earth if they truly love it—and there are lots of great ways you can nurture a love of nature at home. Check out our easy tips below!

4 Ways to Build a Love for Going Green in Your Child

Photo by Dejan Ristovski / Stocksy / 757351
Photo by Dejan Ristovski / Stocksy

1. Get out There!

There are a lot of ways you can get outdoors, even if you live in the heart of a big city. Take a walk to your local park, take a road trip to the closest arboretum, go camping in your backyard, or play some water-hose games to beat the heat. Don’t have much outdoor space to work with? Start your own container garden on your back patio!

It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you’re out in nature—after all, if kids don’t learn to appreciate and love nature now, then who will the next stewards of Earth be?

2. Look for Volunteer Opportunities in Your Community

There’s a lot you can do in your own community to get outdoors and help out. Try looking for a community garden in your area, volunteering to clean up litter, or joining a local kid-friendly hiking group!

3. Learn More about Nature

There are some awesome children’s books that showcase the beauty and wonder that can be found in the natural world, from animals and trees to rocks and the importance of recycling. Check out our top books on nature here. There are also some great apps that can get your child excited about nature, like the National Geographic Kids app.

4. Even on Busy Days, Look for the Nature Around You

Are you and your child driving to your KinderCare center before you head to work? Point out the colors on the trees or flowers you drive past, and challenge your child to look for birds or other wildlife along the way. Whenever you’re both outside together, look for ways you can show your child the nature around them—from a line of ants on the sidewalk to the clouds in the sky.

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