Educating your child -- or a classroom full of students -- about eco-friendly practices is an effective way to introduce kids to the importance of environmental conservation. Rather than relying on statistics and lectures, teach children about green issues by playing games that are stimulating and age appropriate. Children will enjoy playing them, and they will learn a valuable lesson at the same time.
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Recycling Matchup Game
Teach younger kids about recycling, what it is and why it is important; then, educate them about what types of materials should be recycled, and which ones should not. Provide kids with a worksheet that has multiple pictures of recyclable and non-recyclable items mixed together, such as egg cartons, cereal boxes and glass bottles. The objective of the worksheet is for the kids to identify all of the recyclable items by circling them in a green marker. The children should cross out the items that are non-recyclable with a red marker. Check the children's work to ensure they got the answers correct and to help them understand a little more about what things to recycle.
Energy vampires are fictitious characters that use up a lot of wasted energy. Turn the concept of energy vampires into a game for kids. Give them vampire capes and fangs and send them on a journey around your home or school to look for examples of wasted energy, such as a computer that was left running or a hallway light that is turned on during the day. Make the activity educational by asking kids what people can do differently to save energy.
A brief search on the Internet will lead you to a variety of electronic eco-games for kids to play. For instance, Lose Your Excuse is an interactive website game presented by the U.S. Department of Energy. This child-friendly game teaches kids to not use excuses for wasting energy by forcing them to identify poor energy choices and correcting them in the activity. The Environmental Protection Agency also hosts online interactive games for kids, such as a water sense game about water conservation.
Have kids make their own games and activities out of reusable materials that would have just been thrown away, such as old cardboard boxes, pieces of paper, plastic straws and other household or classroom items. This lesson teaches kids that they can use their imaginations in an enjoyable activity that will not use up more of the earth's natural resources. Prompt kids to turn a cardboard box into a stage for a puppet show or vocal performance, or show children how to play draughts with bottle caps. You can even show them how to use toilet paper rolls to make crafts such as party favours or finger puppets.
Word Games and Puzzles
For a simple, quiet game, have kids solve word puzzles related to environmentally friendly issues. Word searches, crosswords, word scrambles and picture puzzles are all options for kids to do individually or in small groups. As a twist, in a mixed group, have the older children create the word searches or simple crosswords for the younger kids.
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