Earth Day 2021 – Teaching Children the Importance of Caring for the Planet

“The futures not yet written but I’ll make sure that it’s ours”.

Quote from ‘There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom’ 

Over the last term, we have been focusing on the topic of the Jungle. The children have thoroughly enjoyed this theme, learning about a range of different animals and the ecosystem; we also continued to explore the importance of caring for our planet by linking with many of the animals we looked at this term.

By Julia Wolfe, Principal of Southfields Preschool

Many of us are conscious of our environmental footprint, and actively take steps to care for our planet – I am sure many of you have started to pass on these good habits to your children. It is also important that we begin to teach our children why we do these things and the impact that we can have on the Earth as individuals.

One of the ways that we introduced the idea that humans have an impact on the world around us was by reading one of our favourite books, ‘There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom’ by James Sellick. We are sure many of you will have heard of this book, which was turned into a Christmas Advert narrated by Emma Thompson.

‘There’s a Rang-Tan in my bedroom’ video by Greenpeace

The children really enjoy this story, and it is a very engaging way to start a conversation about deforestation, palm oil and orangutans losing their habitat. After reading this story we showed the children products that they may use or encounter everyday: toothpaste, shampoo, nail varnish, chocolate, and crisps…

We then had a discussion that if these products use palm oil in their production, and do not come from a sustainable plantation, then that leads to the cutting down of primary rainforest, and in particular, the habitat of orangutans.

The children agreed we should try our best to check that items we buy from shops use palm oil sourced from sustainable farms. Another way is to purchase Fairtrade items which is a fun activity to do with your child in the supermarket. During the term, many of our children have enjoyed spotting the Fairtrade logo while out shopping and also collecting stickers from the produce!

You can also use the Ethical Consumer website to check produce and companies:

https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/palm-oil/palm-oil-free-list

This term, we have also discussed with the children the idea that animals can become endangered or even extinct. We have spoken about the ways that this can happen, from Global Warming to poachers.

So, what can we do to help?

Adopt an animal

Adoption packs for the under 12s come with a cuddly toy and helps raise awareness and fund conservation efforts. Places that you may have visited, like Chessington World of Adventures, have boards showing all the children who have adopted a tiger, but you can adopt so many different animals such as a warthog, moon bear, jaguar, turtle, orca and many more. If there is an animal that is special to a member of the family then you will be able to support them.

Just some of the many adoption pack available! These orangutan and sea turtle ones are available from the WWF

Choose recycled tissues and toilet paper

Many products contain paper from trees that have been cut down from rainforests. Cutting down forests can destroy the homes of animals.

Most UK supermarkets offer recycled alternatives and their are also monthly delivery subscriptions so you can get recycled loo roll straight to you front door! 

Make sure products have certifications – like palm oil free, Fairtrade, or Rainforest Alliance Certified.

You can check through some of the products you already have at home and see if your child can spot any of these badges on them.

Ask your local grocery stores and businesses to stock products with these certifications.

As much as we can do on a personal level, we need corporations to do their part too! You and your child may wish to write a letter to the shops you frequent.

Keep the conversation going after Earth Day!

This poster (Caring for the environment) is a great way to keep the dialogue open about ways you can help the environment. Ask your child to choose a colour leaf and read the suggestion, is this something you would like to do together?

Our challenge to you!

Replace one single-use item in your life with something reusable. (Common single-use items are plastic water bottles, plastic grocery bags, and paper plates and utensils.)

We would love to see any ways that you already care for the environment at home or any changes you plan to make! Please share any of your pictures with us at Seahorse Nursery!

Some more recommendations:

‘My Friend Earth’ by Patricia McLachlan

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/book/m/my-friend-earth/

A gorgeously illustrated book, our friend Earth does so many wonderful things! She tends to animals large and small. She pours down summer rain and autumn leaves. She sprinkles whisper-white snow and protects the tiny seeds waiting for spring. A book for slightly older preschoolers, but even the youngest children will enjoy looking at the beautiful pictures.

‘There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom’ by James Sellick

 https://www.booktrust.org.uk/book/t/theres-a-rang-tan-in-my-bedroom/

One of our favourites at Seahorse Nursery! A cute but rather badly behaved little orangutan has appeared in a little girl’s bedroom, throwing away chocolate and howling at the shampoo in the bathroom. The little girl asks the Rang-Tan why she’s behaving badly and Rang-Tan explains that there are humans in her forest, destroying trees.

‘Clem and Crab’ by Fiona Lumbers

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/book/c/clem-and-crab/

Clem loves going to the beach, where she collects an assortment of objects in her bucket and plays with a little orange crab, who scuttles among the rocks. As she sorts through her treasures at the end of the day, deciding what to recycle and what should be returned to the sea, Clem discovers Crab, tangled up in a plastic bag at the bottom of her bucket. She carefully releases him into a rockpool, although she worries about his safety on the litter-strewn beach.

‘Somebody Swallowed Stanley’ by Sarah Roberts

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/book/s/somebody-swallowed-stanley/

This thought-provoking picture book charts the eventful journey made by Stanley, a discarded plastic carrier bag, who is swept into the sea. As he drifts through the ocean waves, he is mistaken for a jellyfish and swallowed by a series of unsuspecting animals.

CBeebies Explains the Environment

Some of our favorite CBeebies characters, like the Octonauts, Mr. Bloom and Maddie Moate explain ways we can help care for the environment, from recycling and composting to the problems with plastic.

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