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6 July 2014

Eco Summer Activities For Preschoolers

Eco Summer Activities
Preschoolers love a tactile experience. Summer activities that involve touching and feeling will grab their attention and stimulate their mind more than activities that do not involve their sense of touch. Below you will find several ideas for eco-friendly summer activities for preschoolers that include tactile experiences.

Little kids LOVE to finger paint! Half the fun is how messy it is but this messiness can make Mums cringe when it's done inside. Summertime is the perfect season to take this fun activity outdoors and let your tots have a messy good time!

As we all know, preschool kids often put their fingers in their mouth. Since many paints are petroleum based and/or have other toxins in them, they can inadvertently ingest these toxins. If you have pets around, they may accidentally ingest paint toxins too if they get their paws in the paint and then clean themselves. To counter these ill effects, here is a recipe for homemade finger paint that is totally non-toxic and eco-friendly:

2 cups organic flour, 4 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, natural plant based food colouring in a medium sized pot, get the water really warm but not quite to boiling. Slowly stir in the flour and salt until you reach a smooth consistency. Remove the mixture from the heat source. Split the mixture into different finger bowls and stir in drops of natural plant based food colouring until you get your desired colours. Natural plant based food dyes are made with ingredients like red cabbage (blue), beets (red and pink), spinach (green), carrots (orange), and saffron (yellow). 

As you can see, none of these ingredients will harm your little one in any way should they decide to "sample" the paint nor will it harm the environment in any way. You could also let them make "paw print" paintings without harming your pets! Dress your little ones in some old clothes and let them have a blast! Preschoolers are at that age where they love to imitate so they'll enjoy this activity even more if you do some finger painting alongside them and/or you can get their older siblings or other family members involved. You can combine finger painting outside with nature studies by encouraging them to paint flowers, trees, animals, or a pretty sky. Of course, kids are masters of abstract expression too! You can hang their masterpieces on the refrigerator or bulletin board to give them pride in their accomplishment.

Gardening Activities
Preschoolers love to dig in the dirt. They also enjoy the wonderment of watching plants emerge out of the soil from seeds they plant themselves. They are fascinated with watching the plants grow and change shape.

You do not have to be a master gardener to get your preschooler started on gardening. Some edible plants grow from seed very easily and quickly. All you need is a recycled container and some organic potting soil or dirt taken from the compost pile -- and a little water of course. Some of the easiest edible vegetables to grow from seed are parsley, cilantro, lettuce, and kale. Many young kids get so excited about seeing how much a plant grows overnight, the first thing they want to do in the morning is run to see the plants. You can also purchase starts of the same plants so your tots can see the plants at two different stages simultaneously. 

Small children also get a big kick out of watching flowers grow. Sunflowers are always a favourite since they get so big and cheery. Gardening is also great way to introduce your preschooler to the concept of recycling. You can start a compost pile with kitchen scraps and yard waste. As it matures, let them dig in it to show them how things decompose. Encourage them to look for earthworms and explain how earthworms help turn the food scraps and yard waste into dirt. You could also take your preschooler on a field trip to see a garbage dump to show them where trash goes if it doesn't get recycled. You could follow this up with a mission around town to rescue containers from going to the land fill. Walk around on trash day or ask restaurant for containers they may otherwise throw out. Your child may not fully grasp every detail of recycling at this age but they will begin to get the general idea. To use a fun pun, you will have planted the seed!

Petting and Feeding Animals
The most popular place for young children at any zoo is almost always the petting zoo. Again, kids love tactile activities and stroking the fur, feathers, and scales of animals is pure joy for them. They love to explore the differences in the fur of a woolly sheep versus a goat or llama. Ostriches and ducks are always popular too. The most popular place for young children at an aquarium is almost always the touch pool. They can feel the coarse texture of a star fish and let the little suction cups of a starfish's tube feet stick to their fingers. 

Likewise, they love the tactile sensation of touching a sea anemone's tentacles and watching it quickly close up part way. Some areas have petting zoos open during the summer with barn animals and some exotics like lizards and snakes. Even though these petting zoos are not in nature, they give young children more respect and fascination for the animals they encounter in nature.

Eco Summer Activities

You can also look for other safe opportunities for preschool children to touch and feel animals. For example, animal shelters are always looking for volunteers to take the dogs and cats out of their cages and keep them "socialized" as this improves their health and it makes them more adoptable. Many animals that have withdrawn from adults will respond to a small child. There is often a tender connection that is immediately experienced. You could potentially volunteer one day a week with the understanding that your toddler would be helping out too. Connecting with animals, especially when they get to touch and feel them, will foster a love for nature.

Discover eco toys - made of natural materials and painted with non-toxic colours.