1. Join or organise a Tree Planting Program!
Planting trees or joining a revegetation project is a great way to get your kids involved in the outdoors and learning more about their environment. Not only will they learn about the importance of vegetation, and the dangers posed to the environment by erosion and ecological damage, they will also get the chance to learn more about our native flora and its key roles within the Australian environment. Bushfires have also had a huge impact on communities in recent years and the chance to help regrow what was lost and see their local environment recover can have great positive psychological impacts.
Best of all, most replanting happens in the cooler months, so it is the perfect way to get your kids out and enjoying the great outdoors even in Winter! You can contact your local councils to find out where any local replanting may be happening. Alternatively, Landcare Australia and Trillion Trees are great resources.
2. Organise a ‘Clean Up Day’ for your neighbourhood
A neighbourhood clean up is not only a great way to teach your kids about the importance of throwing away (or recycling) their rubbish, it is also a great way to create a community event and leaves you with a prettier, nicer place to live! While you don’t have to get your neighbourhood involved it can be a fun way to make some local connections and new friends.
Firstly, you will need to pick your area. Then set the date and start reaching out to see who can be involved. Your local council are always a great resource, as well as community pages on social media. Flyers can be useful but could just add to the mess that you are trying to clean up, so wherever possible we recommend trying to get the word out digitally as much as possible. Have people who like the idea but are unavailable/unable to attend? Include donations in your proposal! You will need all sorts of gear like gloves and rubbish bins, so every bit helps.
This article by National Geographic Kids is a good basic guide on how to set up your community clean up. Looking for something a little less community event, and a little more something for you and your kids to do together? Plog-a-thon by Clean Up Australia is a great way to go. Instead of working out one day of cleaning, you can incorporate cleaning your neighbourhood into a neighbourhood walk with your kids! Learn more here.
3. Start a Compost Bin
A compost bin is a great way to get your kids interested in recycling, the environment and the way fertiliser works. Not only can you teach your kids how to make the most out of household waste, encourage them to start and maintain great recycling habits, but you are also providing an activity that will last for years, needs to be maintained and can lead to fun additional projects, like looking after their own garden!
There are several designs of compost bin that you can go for, and we definitely recommend making sure that you get the compost bin that best serves your home set up. For information on how to set up and maintain your compost bin (and what should go in it) the ABC and Jim’s Mowing both provide informative articles.
Looking to go even further and really get the kids involved? Consider getting a worm farm! Not only can worm farms be friendly in size but they also need to be maintained, making your worms an extremely low-key pet for your kids and providing you with ultra-rich fertiliser.
4. Make a Vegetable Garden
Speaking of things to do with your newly created compost fertiliser… why not create a veggie garden! There’s nothing quite like freshly picked vegetables, and getting kids involved in planting and growing the vegetables themselves can be a great way to encourage them to eat them. Don’t have a lot of room in your backyard? No worries! Planters can easily be converted for vegetable gardens and there are a lot of types out of there that are designed to hang on your fence posts, ensuring they take up minimal space.
To really get the kids interested we recommend planting their favourite vegetables (when they are in season), and incorporating watering and weeding the plants into their things to do for the week. Start progress charts, track how the plants grow and include fun activities like measuring their size and taste. And include the kids in going to buy the plants, set up and researching where the best place to put them would be!
If you are looking for a good overall resource on setting up a veggie garden Bunnings has a great article. For people needing to work exclusively with planters you can read more here. Looking to take it to the next level? Learn how to use recycled bottles to make planters here.
5. Plant Bee Friendly Flowers
Another fun activity (and way to use your new compost made fertilizer) is planting bee-friendly flowers and plants in your garden or pots. Bees are a vital part of our ecology and the process of researching flowers and buying them is a great way to educate your kids on the role that they play. And don’t worry about it only being a Summer activity. Many species of bee harvest all year round and you can have some fun with you kids looking for plants.
A few keys things to keep in mind when buying for bees!
•Try to buy plants that flower at different times of the year so you always have something available for your bee friends.
• Select flowers with different colours and shapes. Bees can be particular both on what types of flowers they can harvest from and what colours they like!
• Try to plant each selection in a group so that your bees can harvest more than once.
• Wanting to find something a bit different to plant amongst your flowers? Why not look up plants that might be popular as nesting material.
Remember, there are many different types of bees so look up what species are native to your area. Some good resources include aussiebee and Ecrotek.
Bonus: Walk or Bike instead of Drive
One of the easiest things you can do with your kids, that is great for the environment and for that all important bonding time, is walking or bike riding to places instead of driving. Need to head down to the shops? Why not walk it. Visiting a nearby friend? Jump on the bikes and make it an adventure! Maybe your friends will be keen, and you can all go on bike ride together to a local park or nature walk. The possibilities are limitless!