Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 31, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.
It’s cold out there! You might be wondering about how to keep the kids busy, active, and productive. While remaining tucked away in the warm, cozy house, you can occupy them as they get ready to be Climate Superheroes! The hope of spring can inspire everyone to dig in and prepare for the near future, a future made better because you are helping fight climate change.
What’s the heart of the matter?
Climate change demands our attention now, and the new administration is on board. Discussing his executive actions on climate change, President Biden confirmed his commitment. “It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that is now facing us, climate change, with a greater sense of urgency.” Every person is needed in the fight, adults as well as children. Utilizing fun, creative activities, we can guide the younger generation to a great appreciation of trees, plants, and soil.
How does this impact you personally?
Engaging children in climate activities early on will help them internalize the message that they can make a difference in the world. Composting is one activity that allows children to get their hands dirty, literally. From placing food scraps in a jar to turning over compost in a barrel, each step draws youngsters into the process. If you are short on outdoor space, consider gathering food scraps for the community. Your town may have a drop off spot nearby. Composting is more than just a way to keep the kids busy during frosty winter days; it also educates them about the importance of cultivating soil so that it can store more carbon.
Some quick facts:
- Adding compost to the lifeless dirt transforms it into microbe-filled soil, which stores a giant amount of carbon.
- Not only does compost increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil, it boosts the nourishment of plants that feed off the soil, enabling the plants to store that much more carbon.
- Now more than ever, the soil needs more microbes, especially if the US is to be the climate role model for the world, as Mr. Biden hopes.
- One of the main goals of the Paris Climate Agreement is soil health. Increasing carbon storage in the soil is the way to achieve this. As countries around the world strive to reach the target carbon neutrality goals set forth in the agreement, composting becomes even more important. The only way to hit our targets is if every household composts.
- Remember: compost nourishes plants and prevents pests.
- Compost can be donated to your community for fertilizing common areas.
What can you do about this?
Start by talking about composting as you make a salad or chop vegetables for soup. Specific elements of compost are right at hand! Reading age-appropriate books about the life of plants, from seed to fruit, will grab the attention of some children. Helpful videos are also available, if your children aren’t maxed-out on screen time.
Hands-on activities make time fly. Building a climate change project using long-forgotten resources in the attic or garage can lead to a meaningful learning experience for your child. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Primary age children could write and illustrate a book explaining composting. (Your compost jar provides a helpful visual aid.)
- Challenge your eight to twelve-year olds to create a game board about composting and its benefits for the climate. Game pieces can be made of card-board or even repurposed barrettes, action-figures, thimbles and who knows what?
- Young writers can compose a poem or song about composting.
- Budding scientists can keep a record of what goes into the compost bin, carefully observing the color, texture, and smell over time.
- Young teens might make a documentary explaining the importance of composting in the fight against climate change.
These types of projects challenge young people to use 21st Century skills of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration and they might have fun along the way!
- Start gathering your veggie, fruit and other food waste for composting
- Investigate compost collection methods in your area
- Find high-interest resources to engage your child (See below)
- Plan an activity your child will find fun and engaging
Climate Change for Kids website:
NASA website for kids:
Video: Why all life depends on plants (3:06):
Video about composting for young children (5:00):
SciShow Kids video for kids 8+ (5:00)
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