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How to Get Kids Outdoors and Teach Them the Importance of Trees and Our Environment

Including Activities and Experiments You Can Try At Home

I feel fortunate to live where I do, in British Columbia’s West Kootenay’s. We’re surrounded by old growth forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, wildlife, glaciers, natural hot springs and everything nature has to offer right outside our front door. Having lived in Vancouver for two decades I’ve grown to love and respect the astonishing wonders that surround me every day here in Nelson. Not only that, but I feel very fortunate to have been able to raise my son here and instil in him the importance of our environment. I feel this has allowed him the opportunity to respect nature.

I don’t think a day has passed since we moved here, that we haven’t embarked on some sort of journey outdoors and into the forest. Having our big, mixed breed dog, Ollie, has certainly helped with this. He simply won’t allow us to skip a day in the forest.

Now that my son is getting older, he definitely has other interests, yet he still finds the time to join Ollie and I on our daily adventures in the forest. He has grown into a kid that loves hiking and is very aware of global warming. He’s gone to protests about logging old growth forests at Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island with his friends and has even become vegan to exercise his ethical beliefs.

He built his own water filtration experiment to see how trees filter water with their root systems.

Make Your Own Water Filter

Water Filtration Experiment

Materials:

Small Gravel
Sand
Coffee Filter or Paper Towel
Cotton Balls
Charcoal
Plastic Water Bottle
Clear Glass

Cut the top off the water bottle and turn it upside down into a glass, like a funnel.  Layer your filtering materials into the bottle. Think about the order you want them in, bigger materials filter bigger impurities.  Write down the order that you layered them in. Use some dirty water and pour it through. Set a timer and watch how long it takes to filter through. Did it clean your water? Write down your observations. Try changing the order of your filteration materials and restart your experiment
Consider that the longer it takes for the water to move through your filter, the cleaner it's getting.
*The water you use for this experiment shouldn't be  used for drinking but it would be great to use for your plants.. 

Slow Mo’ Water Filtration System

Slow Mo’Water Filtration Video

Make a Nature Weaving

The other day, we collected some specimens on our winter walk in the forest and made these little nature weavings. My son and I both enjoyed creating them. They would be neat to make during different seasons. I found that kids of any age embrace making these in my work in the schools.

nature weaving, weaving made out of specimens collected from nature and the forest to create a natural piece of art. kids, teens, adults
Nature Weavings

Make a Native Tree Book

Take your kids to your local forest or around your neighbourhood and identify the native trees. Then, go back to the classroom or home and create your own Neighbourhood Tree Book or Regional Tree Book. Go to the library to borrow resource books for identifying the trees in your area. Once you’ve created your own, you can leave copies in your neighbourhood book nook or give them out as gifts, etc.

You could try doing rubbings for needles or leaves in your book as well as/or instead of drawing pictures. Bark and pinecones work as well.

See below for ours.

Simply place a piece of paper over your specimen and shade in the paper with a coloured pencil crayon until the outline shows through darker. 
Kids love the outcome of this.

If you enjoyed this blog post check out my shop for other activity worksheets and workbooks full of ideas like this.

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