Summer has officially started and my kids could not be more excited. About day number two though, I heard the dreaded “Mom, I’m bored.” Now I’ve already told my kids it’s not my job to keep them occupied all summer, but to help us stay busy (and me stay sane), I decided to look for some fun, economical, eco-friendly activities. Here is what I came up with:
Museums and exhibits – These are always a great learning experience, and generally economical too. For those of you in the Orange County area, there is a new traveling eco-exhibit at The Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana. Called “Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, Home Sweet Home”, this exhibit helps kids learn about protecting the Earth and its many ecosystems. We previewed it last week with a group of five kids, ranging in age from 3 to 9, and there was something to keep them all occupied. Here’s our group hanging out in the tent having a “campout”.
If you are interested in visiting the Discovery Science Center, here is an admission coupon good through the end of June.
The library – what could be more economical and green than a trip to the local library? Borrow some books, read and return. Now that’s a sustainable activity. While you are there, look for these great green summer reads, recommended by the Mother Nature Network. My kids favorite from this list is “The Lorax” by Dr. Suess (which is it just me, or does that Snuggie advertised on TV remind you of a Thneed?).
Green TV – I admit it, when I need to get some work done, or just want some peace and quiet, I let my kids tune in to TV. Here's how to turn it on guilt-free. Avoid useless programming that fills the time without offering any real benefit (yes Sponge Bob, I’m talking to you). Instead, tune in to Discovery’s “Animal Planet”; “Stuff Happens” with Bill Nye the science guy on Planet Green; or "Zoboomafoo" or “Sid the Science Kid” on PBS. Or, rent the “Planet Earth” DVDs – a beautiful, fascinating series for kids and adults. If you have not seen it yet, please go rent it today. You will not be disappointed. You can also rent “March of the Penguins”, “Wall-E” or other movies for kids with uplifting, planet-positive messages.
Plant some seeds – It’s a bit harder to grow things in hot weather, but your local nursery can help you find some good summer seeds to plant. Or, plant the seed inside in a clear glass jar with a paper towel and water. Add more water every day and watch how the seed grows roots, gets taller, and changes over the summer.
Organize and Donate – a great activity for kids during summer is to organize their school supplies, rooms and closets. Take any outgrown clothes and toys and donate to charity. Let your child carry in the donation and get the receipt. It will help them feel good about their hard work.
Remember, you can make virtually any summer activity greener by packing your own healthy, organic food in reusable containers, filling up your reusable water bottle, and protecting your skin, with all natural, mineral-based sunscreen. Small choices like these can ensure your kids have a green summer, all summer long.