Eco – Friendly Activities for the Summer
By Melanie Melugin of Going Green with Noah
Summer is here and you either have kids that are not yet in school…..or kids that are out of school.
Trying to find great eco friendly activities for them to do?
Here are some ideas for a wide variety of ages of children.
1) Make a Homemade Bird Feeder
Once you finish your milk, whether it be a carton or a gallon, rinse it out and save it to make a homemade birdfeeder!
Basic Materials: Milk carton, string, bird seed
Difficulty: Very easy
Another option is to make a FULL milk carton Bird Feeder:
What you'll need:
• Empty quart sized cardboard milk carton
• String or cord
• Hole punch or pencil
• Bird seed
How to make it:
1. Cut a hole in the bird feeder – it should be big enough so a bird could come and sit and eat the feed, but not too big or the carton will become unstable. (See photo.)
2. Cut a hole using the hole punch in the top of the milk carton and put a string through the hole. Alternatively, you can poke a hole on either side of the flap at the top of the carton by poking a pencil through the top. (See photo.)
3. Tie a knot in the string. (See photo.)
4. Fill the carton with bird seed until it reaches the top of the hole. (See photo.)
5. Hang the cart on a tree branch and watch the birds enjoy their snack! (See photo.)
• A quart size carton works perfect as it isn't too large and holds a decent amount of food.
• You may choose to decorate the outside of the carton but keep in mind that it will be outside in the elements and decorations may wash off in the rain. Also, you wouldn't want the birds pecking at flaking paint!
Check your bird feeder regularly and refill as needed.
(Courtesy of Kiboomu.com)
2) Make your Own Paper
Don't throw away those old newspapers and magazines!
Recycle your own paper products to make your own paper at home!
A messy, but simple, project, this is great to do with or without kiddos
Paper from your recycle bin
Tear your paper into small pieces and place them in your bowl. Squares about 1 inch by 1 inch are fine. Add hot water and soak your paper for about 30 minutes.
Have and adult help you pour your paper-and-water mixture into your blender. Blend the paper until it becomes thick and pulpy.
Pour the mixture back into the bowl and take it to your protected work space.
Choose a color for your paper. I decided to make mine blue. Add paint to the pulp and mix with your hands until the pulp is the color you wish your paper to be. Keep in mind that the paper with look lighter after it dries.
Move a few handfuls of the pulp into your brownie pan. Cover with more water.
Cut a piece of screen slightly larger than you want your sheets of paper. You want to use a sturdy piece of screen. I choose a flexible piece of screen and it was difficult to keep the pulp on the screen.
Dip the screen into the mixture and cover with a thin layer of pulp. Allow the water to drain through the screen, then move your screen to a towel. Flip the screen so the pulp is directly on the towel and the screen is facing up. Fold your towel over the screen and let it soak up some of the water.
Remove the screen and repeat.
Your paper will need to dry for about a day.
Finally, cut the paper to the size you want, or leave the edges unfinished. You may wish to decorate your paper with a stamp at the top or bottom. Be sure to leave enough room to write on it.
Courtesy of Artsmarts4Kids.blogspot.com
3) Make Homemade Strawberry Fruit Leather
• Lemon juice
• Sugar (if needed)
**4 cups of fruit yield about one sheet of fruit leather
Preheat the oven to the lowest setting or 120 degrees...the lowest my oven would go was 170 degrees.
Rinse the berries and cut of the green tops. Cut the berries into quarters if they are large berries.
If the berries are sweet you will not need to add much sugar, but if they are tart you will need to add a bit more.
Place the berries in a covered saucepan on medium heat. Pour in 1/2 c. water for every 4 cups of fruit. Bring the berries to a simmer and let them cook down for 10-15 minutes until the fruit is soft.
Use a potato masher to mash the fruit that is left in the pan until fairly smooth. (Or wait for the mixture to cool a bit and put it in your food processor or blender.) If you kiddos are sensetive to the seeds, you could strain the mixture through cheesecloth to remove the strawberry seeds.
Add sugar 1 tsp. at a time until desired sweetness and lemon juice to taste I added 1/2 c. sugar and the juice from 1/2 of a lemon to give it some real zing.
Simmer fruit until sugar is completely disolved and the mixture has thickened (about 5 or 10 minutes more).
Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray and line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Pour the strawberry mixture onto the lined baking sheet until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick or so.
Bake in the low temperature oven for as long as it takes for the puree to dry out (between 8 and 12 hours) and not be sticky to the touch...ours took 6.5 hours since it was at a higher temp.
Let the fruit leather cool. Then as you take the leather up, tightly roll it, plastic wrap and all as you would do cinnamon rolls.
Then cut the leather into desired widths.
Store the homemade "fruit roll ups" in airtight containers or plastic baggies.
4) STAY AT HOME
Parents – Stay at Home whenever possible!
I’m one that is a busy bee, but think about the amount of emissions that we emit when we are driving from place to place.
Find activities at home, whether it be building blocks, planting an herb garden (in the shade to beat the heat), or even having a playdate with neighbors. Keep the car turned off, be creative with your children, while helping the environment at the same time.
5) Visit the Library
If you do need to get out of the house, take your child to the local library. Many have story times that range from birth and up. Noah and I attend each Thursday morning to the toddler time and he LOVES it. Then take time to search books and read to your child!
In addition to these great ideas, here are a list of resources that I use for additional ideas and inspiration to keep my little one active and entertained!
Melanie operates the blog Going Green with Noah. She is a stay at home mom with a 20-month-old son and expecting a baby girl in August...or earlier! You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter!