:: picnic in the park ::

Today was one of those magical, lazy kind of days. The kind of Sunday where it’s OK to eat chocolate for breakfast and munch on cold watermelon while grinning from ear to ear. When bike rides reign supreme and the sun feels like its shining just for you. For a brief moment, I felt like a kid again and then I felt even better, watching the day unfold through the eyes of my own children. It looked a little something like this:
Happy Earth Day!! Headed out for a #picnicfortheplanet Picnic for the planet Picnic . Lady bug, hey lady bug. Don't you know that you're good luck?

Tell me, how did you celebrate Earth Day?

Life in an Instant
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Found Things

Untitled The kids and I have found a new favorite activity. I know it is a favorite because every night when I lay them down to sleep and ask what their favorite part of the day was, they say FOUND THINGS!!!

We’ve been preparing for our Earth Day project. I knew I wanted it to be something we could all participate in and something that would really help the kids to understand what it was that we were doing and why we were doing it. We talk a lot about the environment and the various ways we can do our part, but these are usually things we do in our home or in our local community.

This brings us to the Found Things. The project we’ve been doing in all of our spare time — traveling to and visiting as many outdoor spaces as we can, collecting “found things”. Found things can be anything really, neat little doo dads we find on the ground — bottle caps, squirt bottle tops, shiny things, round things, square things, you name it. Anything we find in nature that is not natural. We keep one bag for found things we want to use in our art project and another for just plain old trash we find along the way. While we’re out, we talk about the birds and the trees and the soil and the Earth and how they all work together. How everything in nature has a purpose and a place and how these “found things” don’t really belong there in the first place. We make sure to emphasize how important it is that we never discard items outside that don’t belong there.

Nature is beautiful. i love the way they see this, but now they are starting to understand how it all works together. The dots are connecting because we started composting this year, it has turned out to be a great learning opportunity. They are starting to understand all the things that can and can not be composted, and it has really translated for them to this experience as well.
Untitled These quiet moments together, outdoors, seeking and sharing have really made a difference in the way we are interacting with one another at home too. Our forest walks have taken me back to another time and place, back when I was a child on the Carolina coast searching for shark’s teeth. This may have been my favorite activity of all time and I love being able to bring that sense of wonderment and calm and mindfulness to my children. We plan to keep up our favorite new past time and I hope as they get older they will think back with fond memories of our time in the forests searching for “found things”.

Do you think you’ll try a “found things” walk with your kids?

Next up, Phase 2 of Found Things — the art project. In the meantime, please take a few moments and check out all the incredible Earth Day activities my kid blogger friends have come up with and please feel free to share a link or story in a comment of your own.

Earth Day Blog Hop

Celebrate Earth Day Everyday

We spend a lot of time teaching our children the difference between right and wrong and how to take care of a home but there’s one area I believe we could all focus a little more attention on.

How to care for the planet.

Teaching kids to appreciate the Earth & all it does for us from a very young age is the most generous gift you can give their generation. Knowledge is power and if they are equipped with the tools to lead a more sustainable life than that of their parents or their parents’ parents, then the future will be nothing but bright.

Earth Day is a great time to start teaching kids the wonders of the world, but I hope you won’t stop there. Incorporate these tips in to your family time all year long.

Celebrate Earth Day Everyday!

Here’s a few fun ways to help you get started:

1. See New Lands

No matter what country you live in or how urban your lot, there are thousands of places you can take your child to experience the glory that is nature. Do some research, let the kids get involved and plan a trip to a natural area near you.

It just so happens, this is National Park Week (April 16-24). Plan a trip to your nearest National Park and enjoy free admission and all it has to offer.

Geocaching or Boatnical Gardens are great options as well.

2. Make something beautiful

Do something a little bit different this year and concoct some seed bombs using native flowers from your area. Make a day of driving around and tossing them in to empty lots or places you think could use a little pick me up. Guerilla Gardening is just the kind of thing to help you bond with older kids and fun enough to score high with the littles too.

3. Have a picnic for the planet!

Picnic
Picnic for the planet is an initiative started by the Nature Conservatory to celebrate the planet we live on, the food it provides us with and the people who live here. What a wonderful idea! Hit the farmers market, score some of the freshest locally grown grub and suround yourself with friends and loved ones. Doing good and giving back is what it’s all about.

There are meetups scheduled in 457 around the world!! Choose one to join or create your own. Pick any day of Earth Week since I know folks are having scheduling conflicts around Easter.

Share pictures of your event on Facebook, Twitter (#picnic11) or Flickr (tag picnic11) My family will be attending this event if you care to join us.

* Please make sure to recycle your waste and choose your utensils/paper products carefully

4. Grow Something

Go Little Garden Go!!!
The best thing you can do for you family, your yard, your stomach and your pocketbook is to plant a few things to perk up your family meal plans. Love eggplant, but hate how much it costs? Grow your own!! Wish you could add fresh herbs to your meals but aren’t willing to pay the steep price tags, herbs grow great in windowsills!! and are easily cared for by kids.

5. Clean in, Clean Out

The Clean Up Crew
No matter where you end up spending your Earth Day, practice a little game I like to call “Leave it better than you found it”. We do this a lot indoors, but the same rules apply for outdoor spaces as well.

I’d love to give you more ideas but I am having some issues with WordPress, please be patient I have no idea how long my site will be unable to update. Miss you guys :(

Earth Day for Kids

Hard to believe it’s Earth Day already, it feels like just yesterday when I wrote last year’s Earth Day for Kids post. It was such a big hit, I’m bringing it back again this year. Fast forward one year later and I find myself a more seasoned mother, with older, wiser children (they’re 1, 3 & 4) and our opportunities for interacting with nature and taking care of our planet have grown two fold. There are so many fantastic things parents can do with their kids it was hard for me to narrow it down to just 10. Since this is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, I think I might do a follow-up 40 things to do for Earth Month post as well … but for now, here’s my Top 10 Recommendations on how to spend Earth Day with your kids.

1. Take them on a Treasure Hunt they’ll never forget! – If you haven’t tried geocaching, then you have no idea of what your missing. This global phenomenon (did you know there are over 1 Million charted geocache courses!!) is the PERFECT family fun activity perfect for all ages and fitness levels. It’s like high-tech hiking (you’ll need a GPS or a really smart phone) and treasure hunting all at the same time. Kids will love the thrill of the hunt and the surprise at the end; parents can revel in the mix of nature, fitness and intrigue that comes wrapped up in this outdoor adventure. For more information on how to get started on your first Geocaching adventure, check out http://www.geocaching.com.

2. Pick Something – Visit http://www.pickyourown.org to find a nearby farm where you can pick something (strawberries are in their prime right now) with your little ones. Spend an afternoon collecting your bounty, give them a taste test over an old-fashioned picnic on the farm, then rustle on home and let them choose a few from scratch recipes to make with all their pickings. (Or just dip them in melted chocolate and whip cream, yum!!) Then rush on over and let me know how it went! Planning to do this with my kids next week (Yay!)

Strawberries (La Trinidad, Benguet)

{Image from MVI}

3. Leave your Mark (in a good way) – You don’t have to travel far to see the damage humans are doing to our planet. Just take a drive down your street or a trip to a nearby park. Litter is everywhere and just like forest fires :) , only you can prevent it. So grab some gloves, a few bags and head out with a mission to leave your patch of Earth cleaner than you found it. Children will see first hand why they shouldn’t litter and hopefully start a lifelong habit of cleaning up after themselves and others. What better way to tell Mother Earth how much we care than to spruce her up a bit.

4. Try Planting – Speaking of sprucing, why not beautify your yard by planting something new with your kids. Try something fun that has lots of color, or a bold foliage or better yet something edible you can share together later.

5. Get Crafty – Raid your recycle bin and create something fun together. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Check out the Eco Art Camera we made for some inspiration to turn your trash into treasure. I’ll post a link with some other great crafts I found on the web. Drop back by and leave a pic of an Eco Toy you made with your kids.

Eco Art Camera

6. See A Movie – I know, I know spending a day indoors is not my typical recommendation for what to do with your kids on Earth Day or how to spend your days period, but Disney’s Ocean movie opening on Earth Day is worth a little quiet time with your loved ones relishing in the majesty of the seas. Unless you have access to a major body of water and a brilliant tour guide, you probably won’t be able to teach your children as much in as little amount of time. It could be life changing for you as well. (Personally, I can’t wait to see it – but hey, I cry when I see whales at Sea World so what do I know) If you have older children, you can download an 8 page guide to be used to make the learning experience more concrete. (use the link above and go to the Educational tab)
EXTRA BONUS: If you see the movie this week, Disney will make a donation in your honor to save the coral reefs

UPDATE: This year’s Disney Earth Day movie is Bears, a portion of your ticket purchase during the first week will go to the National Park Foundation.

7. Go on a Bird Watch – Teach your children to appreciate the small things in life and marvel at the wonders of our flighted species.  Their songs, their resourcefulness (just take a look at those nests) and their amazing ability to soar above the heavens. Valid proof that someone is watching from above and is an almighty being. After you’ve identified as many types of birds as you can, make a lasting friendship by hanging some homemade birdie treats for your fine feathered friends.

8. Go Vegetarian – For a day, for a week, for as long as you’d like. Use this meatless period as a chance to teach your children about all the healthful benefits of eating a plant based diet, not to mention showing compassion for animals and the value of sustainable resources. We’ve been going meatless for 2 days a week all year, but this week we’re strictly no meat eaters. We’re really enjoying the Vegetarian Family Cookbook that we borrowed from our local library. (Here’s a pic of my almost perfect Honey Whole Wheat Pizza – as soon as I perfect the dough recipe I am totally sharing!)

Honey Whole Wheat Pizza

9. Go to a Garden – Botanical Gardens may be the hidden gems of the city, honestly I had never been to a Botanical Garden until last year and I am a total convert. They are a treasure trove for parents and children alike. The perfect place to get a little exercise, revel in the beauty of nature and share a picnic with someone you love. Plus, if you’re a mother to young children or multiples you MUST check them out. Nature at its finest pretty much toddler proofed just for you. It’s the only place I can go and let the kids roam free without worry. And they’re hardly ever crowded. EXTRA BONUS: Our Garden hosts all sorts of amazing outdoor concerts, festivals and get togethers year round. Our favorite so far was the Bootanical Halloween festival but Chocolate Day wasn’t too bad either. (I bought my entire family (6) an annual pass for around $60 – the best $60 I’ve ever spent)

10. Go Camping – Even if its too chilly to stay out all night, pitch a tent and spend at least the evening outside finding fireflys, roasting marshmallows and listening to all  the evening music nature has to offer. Heads Up: Sat. June 26 is National Great American Backyard Camp Out night, consider this time a practice run.

Hope you enjoyed this list, choose your favorite 2 or 3 and plan an Earth Day your kids will never forget. Be sure to drop back by and let me know how it went. Happy Earth Day!!!
better late to the party than never –> I’m part of the Earth Day Blog Hop

Earth Day for Kids

Looking for some wholesome ways to spend Earth Day with your family? Here’s KSW’s Top 10 list of ways to celebrate this valuable tradition with the ones you love.

1. Spend a few hours at home decluttering your belongings. Gather up canned goods, old clothes, magazines you’ve already read, toys your children have outgrown and more. Then take a road trip with your kids to several donation locations in your city to help make the biggest impact. You’ll all feel better after helping others and hopefully you’ll all want to do this together on a recurring basis.

Soup Kitchen or Homeless Shelter: Canned Goods, Non-Perishable Items, Old Blankets and travel size toiletries

Ronald McDonald House, Dress for Success, Red Cross, Salvation Army, or Goodwill: Gently Worn Clothing

Hospitals, Doctor’s Offices, Retirement Homes: Magazines and/or paperbacks

Women’s Shelters, Orphanages, Daycares: Toys, school supplies, jackets, shoes, blankets

2. Spend a day at the moviesDisney’s Earth Movie is opening on the oh-so appropriate Earth Day and is planting a tree for every ticket sold between April 22-28. They have already made plans to plant 50o,000 trees in areas identified as critical based on the advanced ticket sales they’ve had so far. Your ticket purchase will provide an afternoon of fun and education for you family, as well as piece of mind that there are several trees being planted in the rainforest with your families name on them.

disneysearth

3. Take your children to the Zoo or a nearby Aquarium: Focus your attention on endangered species and talk with your children about why they are in danger of going extinct and what you can do as a family to help.

4. Stop by a local Starbucks (be sure to bring your own coffee cup, and they’ll give you a cup of Jo for FREE – Free for all Canada locations and @ participating stores in the US. Check your local Starbucks to be sure) – chat about life with your kids and ways they would like to make an impact by going green. Are they interested in recycling, composting, carpooling … get their real opinions. On the way out, ask the person at the counter if you can have the old coffee grounds to start your own compost pile. If you don’t feel comfortable having an open compost heap in your backyard or a can in your kitchen, use a rubbermaid tote in your backyard. This will keep the smell/mess contained and the critters out and provide a warm insulator that will aid in decomposition. Fill it with items your comfortable with working with, mine will have:

- Coffee grounds

- Shredded paper

- Grass clippings

- Banana and Orange Peels

- Egg Shells

- Rich Soil

5. Organize a Say No to Litter March in your neighborhood or a Rubbish Game for just your kids. Bring along wagons, trikes, gloves, and plenty of trash bags, sing this song along the way:

Pick up Litter - From Everything Preschool
(Sung To: “If Your Happy And You Know It”)

If you see a piece of litter pick it up
If you see a piece of litter pick it up
You will make the world look better
If you pick up all the litter.
If you see a piece of litter, pick it up

6. Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt – As you collect items of all colors, talk with your kids about the beauty that exists in nature. Describe your favorite sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings that exist effortlessly in nature. Examples would be: Watching a beautiful sunset, The sound of the ocean bereeze, The smell of wisteria in my grandfather’s backyard, The taste of fresh picked blackberries, and the feel of water rushing between my toes as I stand on the edge of the beach where the water meets the sand.

7. Take a trip to your local Farmer’s Market – Have a blast picking out your own fruits and veggies. Let the kids pick all of the items that will be used to create their dinner. Your menu could include a nice green salad or gazpacho as a first course, homemade pizza as your entree and a delicious smoothie for dessert. (Click on photos for these recipes or create your own) Either way, I guarantee your kids wont complain about eating their veggies tonight.

8. Repurpose items meant for the trash into something wonderful, make something special just for grandma and grandpa. They’ll get the biggest kick out of what you create.

Younger kids will love this Bottle Cap Magnet project

Older Kids & even adults will adore this unique soda can jewelry how-to

9. Plant, pick, or tend to something outdoors. You’ll be amazed how much your children love playing in the dirt and giving something life. If you don’t have a garden, try planting a sunflower or some potted herbs for your windowsill. If planting isn’t possible, take a walk around the neighborhood and collect branches, leaves, and flowers to display in your home. Another option, trim some bushes or spend time weeding in your yard. By the end of this exercise, you and your kids are sure to be more relaxed and in tune with nature.

10. Feed the birds: There are several easy options for making bird houses with materials you probable already have in your home. Try a coat hangar + popcorn version you can style yourself or a pinecone + peanut butter + bird seed option you can whip up in a jiffy. The kids will love making these and will be delighted to see the fruits of their labor when the birds come round to taste their new treats.

Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful Earth Day. As for me and my home, we’ll be trying a few of these and thinking of ways we can make it Earth Day, Every Day at our house.

Fantastic Earth Day Finds

Earth Day 2009

Some fantastic finds to help remind you of Earth Day, Every Day
(All less than $60)

Everything Fits Gym Bag from Gaiam ~ $60
4-Pk Earth Day Aluminum Bottles from Walmart ~ $16
Girls Organic Tee from Walmart ~ $4
Sassy Cherry Tree Rattle from Baby Earth ~ $9
Demi Lovato’s Earth Day Tee from Walmart ~ $4
Soy Crayon Rocks from Nico & Zoe ~ $8
Women’s
Save Some for me Tee from Kmart ~ $13
Respect the Earth Flash Cards from Amazon ~ $12
Zac & Zoe
Daisy Frayed Skimmer from Payless ~ $20
Lola Eco-Friendly Starter Kit from Amazon ~ $34
Simple Combover Messenger Bag from Amazon ~ $51
Give a Tree Plush from PB Teen ~ $10

See more of my Earth Day 2009 list at ThisNext.

Crafting our way to a greener world

Earth Day Treats

Earth Day Bars – Ingredients from around the world – from Family Fun

Earth Day Cookies from Family Fun Corner (via ABC & 123)

Fun With Kids

Bottle Top Art

Can’t wait to try this Bottle Top Art project from Fave Crafts

Loving this recycled bead project made from plastic bottles – too bad the link no longer works :(

(Thanks Again to ABC and 123)

Egg Carton Owls from Cider and Faun

Super Simple Earth Day Coffee Filters from DLTK Kids

magazine_craft

Recycled Magazine Bowls using this photo tutorial from Abstract Octopus

Earth Day would be a great day to finally make the amazing egg carton fairy lights from Esprit Cabane

Killer Projects from Kaboose

Make your own compost bin from a rubber tote. I’d fill mine with grass clippings, coffee grounds, banana peels, orange rinds, shredded paper, and egg shells for a super rich mulch in just 2-3 months.

Paper Mache Globe

Love these Coffee Ground Fossils

DIY Spa Goodies

Photo from Crazytime Candles

Energizing shower scrub: Reuse 1/2c fine coffee grnds, 1/2c extra virgin olive oil, 4-10 drops peppermnt essence & tea tree oil – Stays good for up to 5 days (courtesy of Ecosaveology)

Don’t Forget to Take the Fun Outdoors

Got an Earth Day craft (or any upcoming holiday craft) you’d like to see added to our list? Shoot us an email at kidsstuffworld@gmail.com and tell us all about it. Pictures highly encouraged.