Tag Archives | kids projects

7 Simple, Fun Eco-Friendly Ways to Spend Fall with Your Family

Happy 1st Day of Fall! 

I love fall – it is my favorite season and my favorite time of year! What’s not to love? We are at our mountain home in North Carolina right now and it is fall perfection! The cooler weather, morning hikes, snuggles by the fire, chai tea, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin everything. Looking for some fall inspo?

Here are 7 simple, fun eco-friendly ways to inspire you!

1. Take a Listening Hike
One of my favorite fall activities is hiking! And one of my favorite ways to enjoy a hike is when we take what we like to call “a silent hike.” A silent hike is just that – we hike together as a family in complete silence. It’s amazing how the act of simply being quiet and listening can have a huge impact on your hiking experience. There have been many times that we come upon an animal grazing or fish swimming in a creek – it’s amazing. We also like to stop along the way to listen to the rustling of the trees, the chirping of the birds, or to watch leaves quietly wafting to the ground. It is a great time to reflect within too, while still being with the ones you love.

2. Take It Outside
Fall is the perfect time to take whatever you are doing – outside! The mister and I start every morning by taking the dogs on a hike right out our backdoor. It’s quiet and there are always a ton of deer and turkeys around every corner. I also LOVE to take my tea and blanket and head out to the back porch to snuggle by the fire table while listening to the bubbling of the creek. 

3. Slow It Down
Now that school is back in session, you have to admit that you are much busier than you were all summer. I know that if something isn’t on my schedule, it probably isn’t going to happen. This is why during the fall months, we really take extra consideration to slow things down at our home. We like to schedule extra time in the morning and afternoon, just to be. We usually spend this time snuggled up chatting about our upcoming adventures.

4. Get Centered
Along with slowing down, fall is a great time to get centered. Spend time each day doing whatever it is that makes you feel connected and centered. For the mister, this means yardwork – he loves to get outside in the North Carolina fresh air and work in the yard. For Eben, this means a hot cup of cocoa and a really good book on the back deck (it’s his happy place!) For me, I like to snuggle down with my iPad to pin my favorite eco-friendly things (usually on the back deck with Eben when he’s here with us!) or end the day with a soak in the hot tub! 

5. Plan Ahead
One thing that I have definitely learned along the way is that it is super important to enjoy the moment. To ensure that every moment of fall is enjoyable for my family, I like to plan ahead. I sit down with my journal and jot down things that I really want our family to do together during the fall. I include all of our traditional fall family activities, as well as new ideas that I can run by the guys (when Eben is home from college). The idea is that if I plan these activities ahead of time, we spend the time we have together doing fun things together without much thought – since everything was planned well in advance.

6. Find an Adventure
One of my favorite parts of fall is the cooler weather – which always equals more time outside. We always schedule a trip to our mountain home during the fall season. I HAVE to visit the pumpkin patches! We really enjoy the cooler days spent outside, followed by the crisp nights roasting marshmallows over the fire!

7. Get Cozy
Fall is a great time to reconnect with family and friends. Our best friends are visiting us next week while we’re still here in North Carolina. We have all kinds of fun things planned: bike rides, hikes (of course), visiting our surrounding small town, and peeping all of the leaves (they are already starting to turn colors!)

In what ways do you plan to spend fall with your family?

Teaching Your Little One About Sustainability Through Fun Projects

Taking care of our environment has become a top concern around the world. If you have children at home, it’s time to start teaching them about sustainability so they can grow up with knowledge on how to make the world a better, greener place.

Here are a few fun projects you can do as a family that’ll give your children a solid foundation for sustainable living.

Learn How to Care for Indoor Plants

If starting a vegetable garden in your backyard isn’t a task you’re up for just yet, you can teach your children how to care for plants in an easier fashion by adding indoor plants to common living spaces in your home. With over 28 million small businesses throughout the country, you can surely find a greenhouse or two in your area that sells an assortment of plants to choose from.

Start with plants that don’t require a ton of upkeep. Aloe vera plants, snake plants, cacti, spider plants, baby’s tears, and prayer plants are a few easy types of plants your kids can handle. Go over how to pot, repot, water, and care for the plants on a daily and weekly basis. You may have your kids write down which days they need to water the plants on their personal calendars so they can own the responsibility of caring for them on a regular basis. Once they’ve mastered the easy plants, you can move to plants that require more care.

Turn Cardboard Into Art

Between cereal, pasta, and other snacks in your pantry, you likely have a lot of cardboard boxes filling up your recycling can. While recycling is the best way to dispose of these boxes, you can also turn this “trash” into art.

Your kids can turn flat pieces of cardboard into their own board games, create a painting for their playroom, and even create themed pieces of art during the holidays. For example, you can create cardboard turkeys for Thanksgiving festivities and snowmen and reindeer for the December holiday season. By creating art with cardboard, your kids will learn how to make a product useful for something other than holding food.

Create Nature-Themed Picture Books

If your children attend one of the 87% of private schools that have fewer than 300 students, they likely have an excellent selection of kids’ books to choose from on a daily basis. Your children probably spend a good amount of time reading and writing at school, but how can they bring these skills home and learn about the environment at the same time? Creating handmade nature-themed picture books is a unique idea you can get started on right away.

All you need is your cell phone or another type of camera, a printer, empty scrapbooks from a craft store, glue or tape, and colorful writing utensils. Take your kids outside in your backyard, around your neighborhood, and to local parks. Have them take a bunch of pictures of the nature that surrounds them. Then, get their photos printed. Create a crafting station at your dining room table and let your kids get to work gluing or taping their photos in the scrapbooks. Encourage them to a write caption for each picture. Not only will your kids love their handmade books outlining their naturesque adventures, but they’ll get in some writing practice, too!

Encourage Your Kids to Become Leak Investigators

Did you know that fixing easy-to-fix leaks can save you about 10% on your water bill? Dripping faucets and worn toilet flappers are among the easy-to-fix leaks everyone in your family should be aware of. To help avoid water waste in your home, encourage your children to become leak “investigators.”

Show your children the signs to look for in a bathroom, the kitchen, and the laundry room that indicate there’s a leak. For example, if your children notice damp or damaged flooring, strange noises when the water is on, reduced water pressure, or water stains, there may be a water leak in your home that requires some further investigation.

Teaching your children about sustainability and how to better take care of the earth around them is a responsible parenting move. Consider these fun projects as you teach your kids the best ways to take care of our environment and reduce waste at home.

4 Fall Inspired Eco-Friendly Art Projects for Green Kids

I love fall – it is my favorite season. Have I mentioned that before? Ha! I love the colors, textures, and find myself crafting with Eben more during the autumn season. With that being said, the artwork really piles up around here. Many pieces get photographed and recycled, however there are pieces that we love so much we want to keep and display. Here are 4 fall inspired art projects that we have enjoyed over the year and thought they might inspire you this autumn:

1. Baker’s Twine Apple
Whenever I work with baker’s twine, it seems like I am left with a few scraps that I keep for craft projects. I recently came across an amazing baker’s twine apple project that would be perfect for those leftovers. I adore it!

+ Baker’s Twine Art
+ Domestically Speaking

2. Button Art
If you have a large button collection – this is the project for you! I love the different colors and sizes – I think it would be fun to do a set of four, one for each season, arranged on a wall together. This would be a perfect project for children of all ages too!

+ Button Art
+ Diane Payne

3. Leaf Prints
Eben loved this project because it incorporated a nature walk and pigment paints. This is a project that we tend to make over and over again each fall. It’s easy, a fun way to get our hands dirty and the perfect excuse for working together after school.

+ Leaf Prints

4. Alphabet Leaf Animals
Again, this is the perfect fall project for kids! It gets their creative juices flowing as they arrange the leaves into different animal shapes. I have to admit, Eben is much better at this than me – he is fantastic as seeing things that I never would. Are your kids like this?

+ Leaf Animal Prints

What fall inspired art project are you and your children working on?

Save the Planet, One Upcycle at a Time

upcycle

by Beth

I love recycling. It makes me feel like I’m doing my little part to help save the world. I also feel a little guilty whenever I drop my recycling off because I’m always thinking of ways to reuse things. A great spin on reusing your recycled and no longer needed goods is “upcycling” which you may have heard of before. Upcycling is upgrading something that would otherwise just be recycled. It’s so simple, saves money, and turns anyone into an artist!

I am an avid upcycler, and love to reuse anything I can get my hands on. A few years ago, I found an old, 70’s or 80’s style coffee table, and turned it into an ottoman with about $15 worth of supplies. It was super fun, and I got so many compliments! I also upcycle clothes, since I’m a huge thrift shopper. When I find something I can’t wear right off the rack due to size, I whip out my sewing machine, and get to work. All it takes is a few stitches to turn an old skirt into a dress, or make a quilt out of a bunch of T-shirts. Now, you don’t have to do anything complex to upcycle, all it requires is creativity and an ever-inspired mind.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to upcycle:
1. Turn old pallets into furniture, wall gardens, and more. I’ve even seen pallets turned into movie theater styled seating, how awesome!
2. Take an old rain barrel and turn into a composter for your biodegradable scraps and use the compost as fertilizer for your garden.
3. Wine glasses and glass bottles can be used for so many things. I used mine as wall decorations and a night light for my bathroom.
4. Turn bottle caps into tea lights with shoe lace and wax from used candles.
5. I’ve never done this one, but have always wanted to – turn an old TV into an aquarium!

I hope I got those creative juices flowing – it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be thinking about what you can do with all that stuff left on the curb on garbage day.
Have you upcycled before? If so, tell me your favorite or most memorable upcycling project in the comments section above!

4 Easy Ways to Help Kids Go Green by Teaching Community Awareness

Help Kids Go Green by Teaching Community AwarenessFor kids, who may not fully understand what a carbon footprint is or how their green choices today will improve everyone’s quality of life tomorrow, it’s helpful to begin teaching them to be environmentally-friendly by focusing on community awareness. Kids are naturally friendly, curious, social creatures who are constantly studying and interacting with their peers and adults around them. We routinely teach children how their emotions and words affect others, and by keeping the context on community we can easily show them how their environmental decisions affect others. Read on for 4 easy ways for kids to have fun while expanding their community awareness.

#1: Pen Pals
I remember my first pen pal. She was totally different than me! I lived in Colorado and she lived in Virginia, I lived in a suburban house and she lived in a mobile home on a few acres of beautiful, green land. She had siblings and I didn’t. While we could relate on some aspects of being a kid, my seven-year-old mind really hadn’t conceived of the idea that someone could really live in a different state with a different ecosystem and a different type of house and neighborhood than me. Pen pals, even if your child is simply writing to a cousin or grandmother, help kids build an awareness that there is a vast diversity among how people live and will show them we are all human and all connected at the same time. A feeling of ownership for one’s community is at the root of every good-hearted intention to live green.

#2: Clean Up a Park
Kids are usually too busy playing at the park to notice whether there’s litter or whether facilities are clean. By volunteering to clean up trash at a local park, baseball field, or neighborhood you can teach your kids to respect communal spaces and give them the opportunity to see what these spaces look like before and after they’ve been cared for.

#3:  Visit the Local Animal Sanctuary
Animal sanctuary’s often house an animal or two on the endangered species list. Visiting these animals gives parents the opportunity to explain why these animals are endangered and where they used to live. Visiting the animal sanctuary also connects kids with animals and widens their global view by teaching them about the ecosystems where animals once lived.

#4: Visit a National Park
National parks really are America’s treasure! There are so many beautiful national and state parks to visit, and taking a trip to one will allow your family to bond and remember why it’s important to protect natural spaces—especially when kids see how many other families flock to these natural havens to escape and enjoy the wild.

YOUR TURN: What is your favorite way to teach the kiddos about community awareness?