Starting Young: Sustainable activities for kids

With the school holidays starting most parents are trying to avoid the inevitable holiday cry of “I’m bored!!!” Here are some activities that will not only pass the time, but help get kids thinking about sustainability too!  

Written by Claire Spencer


The truth is, explaining the concept of sustainability to kids can be complex and often a bit scary for them too. Introducing sustainability doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though, starting off with fun and actionable activities that “teach by doing” is a great way to empower your kids for years to come.

Have a planting day

What goes together like a pie and sauce? Kids and mud!

There’s nothing quite as beautiful as seeing kids learn about growing their own food. Showing how the perfect ingredients of rain and sunlight combined with healthy soil create the conditions for growing is a great way to start. Learning about growing, nurturing and dealing with waste also creates the foundations for understanding the more complex issues of cause and effect within the environment.

So how do you start? Visit your local nursery for some expert advice, and let your kids select their own herbs, flowers or vegetables based on what will grow in your area. You can assign everyone their own pots, which provides a great opportunity to get artistic and decorate them, or make your own plant markers with your kids’ names on them.  


Make sure you grab any unused containers and place them outside to collect rainwater too, then make sure you pick a sunny day to plant and keep checking in every dew days for watering and growth. 


Save your ears and up-cycle at the same time

So, it’s day two and the constant chaos has you staring at your watch wondering how long until they go back to school…sorry, that may just be me!

We all know that parents need a little quiet time, so how about banishing the kids outside to create their own outdoor DIY sound system? Why, yes thank-you. All you’ll need is some old household items to up-cycle. Find old ice-cream buckets, tins, baking trays or anything that has an interesting sound to it, and then attach it with a nail and hammer to an upright board. 

This can also be used as a great way to teach kids about “inside and outside” noise.

Image sourced from Fun at Home with Kids 

Feed the birds

Encourage local wildlife to visit your home and teach your kids about sharing our space with local fauna by creating these homemade bird feeders.

All you’ll need is a paper plate, wicker paper plate holder, some string, peanut butter, bird seed, fruit loops and a hole-punch. To get more details on how to build this, see Happy Hooligans.

Create rewards cards for making sustainable choices at home

Once you’ve laid down the groundwork for great environmental choices, it’s time to sweeten the pot. Why not create a rewards system for making sustainable choices at home? It can be as simple as a star chart for each great choice like below:

  1. Water the garden using rainwater collected outside
  2. Turn off lights and appliances that are not in use
  3. Close doors to rooms you don’t use, and keep doors shut to keep heat in.
  4. Keep your shower under 5 minutes
  5. Recycle items rather than throwing them out and separate recyclables from waste. Compost your food scraps
  6. Wearing a jumper or grabbing a blanket instead of turning up the heating
  7. Using a fan instead of an air conditioner on days when it’s not too hot.

With a few fun activities and a system set up for making better choices, the whole family can get involved in reducing, reusing or recycling for a more sustainable future.

For more ideas, check out our energy efficiency tips


About the author

Claire has been with Origin for 9 years and working in Digital for 20 years. A self-confessed lover of food, travel, tech and all things mindful, she also runs the Lojong Meditation school with her husband Tamkey, a former Tibetan Buddhist monk. Together they have a 3 year old son and are currently building their eco-dream-home in Daylesford.

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