It may be second nature to us to turn off the faucet while brushing our teeth or turn out the lights when exiting a room, but not for most kids. We’re usually lucky if we can get them to tie their shoes or comb their hair before they run out the door! Still, there are some creative ways to teach them about saving water and energy at home. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Use Coloring Books
Energy.gov has a Get Current coloring book
available for download in English or in Spanish that’s perfect for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade. While little ones fill in shapes in hot magenta or aqua green, they’ll learn about energy-efficient habits and renewable energies.
Have a Scavenger Hunt
This is fun, and you might learn something, too! Download the Energy Hog Scavenger Hunt
from the Energy Hog website managed by the Alliance to Save Energy. As the kids run around the house checking on light bulbs, window types, and whether appliances are ENERGY STAR certified, your whole family may discover ways to improve energy efficiency.
Plant a Garden Together
Planning a vegetable garden or getting ready to add new flowers and shrubs to your yard? Bring your kids to the nursery with you and pick out plants together. They’ll learn from you which ones take less water to grow and why it matters.
Reward Them for Good Behavior
If your kids are making an extra effort to take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing their teeth, or put their laptops in sleep mode, there’s nothing like a little present to let your kids know you’re proud they they’re pitching in. Ideas include extra cash, a gift card, or a fun family outing.
Get Them to Play Online
Open your laptop and bring up some great interactive websites that will entertain your kids while teaching them valuable lessons. While most of these sites aren’t mobile-friendly, they’re still worth visiting from a computer:
ENERGY STAR Kids
: Designed just for kids, this terrific little website from the Department of Energy has a graphic of a typical child’s bedroom where you can click on the animated “stars” that hover over light switches, ceiling fans, windows, and monitors to get more information on how to save energy on each item. The website also has a page with characters such as Lightbulb Larry and Bulby that provide fun facts and clever stories about their energy-saving features.
Water Use It Wisely
: Children can click on any of the 100+ tips on saving water and find out what impact changing their behavior might have. Did you know that taking a shower in less than five minutes will save 1,000 gallons a month? Bet you didn’t!
WaterSense for Kids
: Created by the Environmental Protection Agency, this simple website with a water droplet as a cartoon character shows kids five basic ways they can save water, explains why it’s important to save water, and even has a little game they can play (requires Flash).
Show Them Your Energy and Water Bills
This is one for the older kids or young adults who may have moved back home with you. Show them your energy and water bills so they understand your family’s usage and the costs associated with all those TVs, stereos, showers, loads of laundry, and landscape irrigation. If you’ve noticed a spike in either bill (and it’s not due to a water leak or watching March Madness), involve them in the decision to reduce energy or water consumption. You might be surprised at the ideas they come up with!
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