Today’s modern mom is faced with a plethora of tasks and challenges each and every day. As if all the work you do in caring for your toddler or preschooler, plus working and doing household chores weren’t enough, there’s the demise of the environment to worry about. As a responsible parent, you want your child to care for the earth as much as you do. Make your earth-friendly message part of your child’s activity time and check two things off your to-do list at once. Use these ideas for simple rain-forest preservation-themed activities.
Your toddler or preschooler is too young to understand all the global implications of rain-forest destruction. But, you can start by showing him photos of rain-forest and the animals that live there. More than half of the world’s species live in tropical rain-forests, along with millions of human beings. Rain forests give us oxygen, stabilize our climate and provide food and medicine. Explain that forests are torn down to make room to grow food. Agricultural expansion accounts for 70 percent of the world’s deforestation. It is the biggest threat to tropical forests like rain-forests. Besides destroying animal habitats, farms cause water pollution and soil erosion. Humans have already destroyed one half of the world’s tropical forests.
Walk in the Rain-forest
While you probably don’t live near a rain-forest, you can invite your toddler or preschooler to imagine the sights and sounds of a tropical forest. Get outside and use your senses to explore what the rain-forest might look and sound like. First, show your little one some pictures of rain-forest leaves, noting whether they are triangles, ovals or circles. Cut out the shapes you see using construction paper. As you walk outside, carry the shapes with you and play a game of “I Spy,” looking for leaves or other items that have the same shapes. Have your child make suggestions about what the rain-forest might sound like. The leaves might squish underfoot, the rain might patter on leaves and monkeys might howl in the trees. As you walk outside, mimic the sounds you would hear in the rain-forest.
What’s in the Box?
Cut two circles next to each other in one long side of a shoe box so your toddler or preschooler can put both of his hands inside. Repeat with a couple more boxes. Set the boxes up in a row on your kitchen table. Place one rain forest-related item in each box. It could be a banana, a lemon, a coconut, a cinnamon stick, some Brazil nuts or a piece of soft wood. Have your little one put his hands in each box. Ask him to describe how the object feels. Is it smooth, rough, round, hard or soft? Have him guess what the object is. Once he has tried all of the mystery boxes, remove the lids and see if his guesses were right.
Here’s an activity a toddler or preschooler will love. Make your own rain-forest animal, like a toucan, a monkey or a frog. Have your little one choose some tissue paper in a suitable color for his chosen animal. Glue tissue paper squares onto an empty coffee can or plastic bottle, depending on the shape of your animal. Repeat until you have three layers of tissue paper. Cut out felt pieces for tongues, eyelashes, hands, feet and the bright yellow beak of the toucan. Use Styrofoam balls for googly eyes. Use pom poms on top of your monkey’s head or use a small black pompom to represent a fly on your frog’s tongue.