Learn To Recycle! Activity Kit from lakeshorelearning.com
You’ve probably heard that it’s never too soon to start teaching kids environmentally friendly habits, but how can you make them eco-conscious when they’re only just learning to talk? The truth is that most kids start picking up lifelong habits at a very young age, so starting them off on the right (carbon-free) foot is something you can do as soon as they learn to walk (or even earlier).
Providing a green environment and products and instilling a sense of responsibility towards the planet is something that every parent can provide from the moment their child is born, but once they get mobile, you can certainly push them onto the path of eco-friendly living, and recycling is an excellent place to start.
Kids like to mimic their parents. From speech to facial expressions to mannerisms, they have a lot to learn and you are their best resource. So when it comes to recycling, they will almost certainly follow your cues. This means that a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude will definitely derail the lessons you’re trying to impart. So you may want to go all out and set up a recycling center in your home. Provide bins for all of the items you will recycle (glass, plastic, paper, aluminum, etc.) and make sure they are child-accessible (not too tall or hard to open). Then have some fun by decorating them with your toddler (with pictures or photo-representations of the contents) so that they have a better understanding of what goes into each bin and how it helps the planet. You can probably even find color coded bins to help them remember what goes where. And don’t forget to give them plenty of examples that they can imitate (plastic bottles in the green bin, juice boxes in the yellow, etc). You may think that explaining the purpose of recycling to toddlers is a bit premature, but they are absorbing more than you think, so start the diatribe now and keep it up as they get older.
While they may not understand the value of money yet, they probably like shiny gifts. So get your child a piggy bank and start filling it with the money you receive from taking your items to the recycling center. Your child will become familiar with the facility over time and as they age, offering rewards will turn recycling into a natural habit, not a chore. And with kids becoming techno-savvy at younger and younger ages, you can even get them playing some age-appropriate games online to reinforce your lessons, like Recycle Roundup on the National Geographic Kids website or some of the many fun activities offered at Recycle Zone (a UK-based site sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences). You may want to have your toddler point out items to recycle while you manage the controls, but these interactive videos with neat cartoon characters will catch their interest and help them to learn. And in no time at all, they’ll be playing the games by themselves (not to mention recycling on their own).
You can even teach toddlers recycling with the Learn To Recycle! Activity Kit. As children place cute picture tiles into miniature recycling bins, they learn to reduce, reuse and recycle—and practice sorting! Available at lakeshorelearning.com for $24.95.