Raising the next generation of conservationists means encouraging a love of nature in children. Helping children get outdoors and explore is a large piece of this puzzle, as is providing them with resources like music and books that nurture this spark inside them. I’m happy to share with you new music from an Grammy nominated artist and a lovely new children’s book perfect for budding environmentalists. And you could win a free song, see details at the end of this post!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the songs and book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources
We can offer children facts about conservation and its importance, yet in order to really influence them, we must also speak to their hearts. This is where art in all its myriad forms can help.
I’m excited to share that Grammy nominated pioneering indie children’s music artist Katherine Dines has just released two new songs celebrating the planet and a love of nature (watch for a full album release in the fall!)
The songs are very gentle and upbeat, something you and your children will both enjoy listening to! I love the incorporation of sounds from nature and how the use of international instruments underscores the lyrics’ message of harmony and global awareness. “Thanks to the Earth” especially borrows from Middle Eastern music traditions to create a beautiful love song to the planet.
“Thanks to the Earth, Mother of life, wake up from Heaven’s embrace. … let springtime warm every face.”
Both songs are now available for purchase, plus five lucky readers will win a free song! To enter this giveaway, which is open internationally, just comment on this post letting us know what brings you closer to nature! Entries accepted through Sunday, June 17, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner will be chosen by random selection.
Another great resource for encouraging a love of nature is the beautiful new picture book Agua, Agüita/ Water, Little Water. This bilingual book is filled with gorgeous illustrations that perfectly complement the poetic tribute to the life-giving force of water. Tracing its origins deep within the earth, the book follows water through its entire life cycle, celebrating its dynamism and the interconnectedness of the natural world.
I also love that this book celebrates the indigenous heritage of El Salvador, where author Jore Tetl Argueta (now Poet Laureate of the San Francisco Public Libraries) grew up. Illustrator Felip Ugalde Alcántara includes native themes and symbols in his paintings, and the complete poem appears at the back of the book in Nahuat, an indigenous language of the region. Beautiful work children and adults will love!
Go green this Easter with these easy and environmentally-friendly ideas! Easter is such a fun holiday for kids, but unfortunately many of the products associated with it are meant to be disposable and so produce a lot of garbage. For example, each year more than 8,000 tons of waste results just from Easter egg packaging. Since Easter is a spring holiday, let’s show a little kindness to green and growing things by being mindful about what we use and buy. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with this huge collection of eco-friendly Easter ideas for kids, from upcycled Easter baskets to adorable Easter crafts made with recycled materials.
Eco-Friendly Easter Ideas for Kids
Go green this Easter with these fun eco-friendly Easter ideas!
Fall is such a beautiful time of year for getting outdoors with your kids, so why not have some fun that is (shh!) also educational by doing these fun nature crafts? This a no-prep outdoor learning activity for preschoolers is a hands on way to reinforce their knowledge of the ABCs plus explore natural materials. Not only does it nurture their budding literacy skills but encourages STEM thinking as well: Which material is easier to work with, bark or grass? How can I make curved letters? Why do my leaves keep blowing away, and how can I stop it??
We had so much fun playing and crafting outside, as we tried different ways to make letters using found materials. I’ve also included more fall nature crafts at the end, so now you have no excuse not to get out and get creative with your kids this fall!
N Is for Nature Crafts: Outdoor Learning Activity
To do these nature crafts, all you need is an outdoor space and your imagination! Simply look for materials like leaves, stones, or bark, and use them to make letters.
Take a break from those worksheets and get outside – See where your creativity can take you!
If you have a very active child like I do, this is a great way to engage their hands and minds.
Not shown here is what my preschooler decided the next step should be – creative ways of destroying the letter shapes!
More Fall Nature Crafts for Kids
Here are more fall nature crafts you can do with your kids this season!
It’s time again for another fantastic month of alphabet fun with the 31 Days of ABC! All this month you can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet.
I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their ideas with us in the coming days. So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October!
Now that the school year is halfway over, it is easy to get in a rut with lunches for the kids. Want something fun to pack for them that you can feel good about? Here are some great healthy and fun lunchbox ideas for you!
As the links above show, “healthy” doesn’t have to mean boring or even complicated to make. There are also a lot of healthy, ready made snack options these days. One recent discovery is Deep River Snacks’ HONCHO Organic Tortilla Chips, which come in fun flavors like Nacho Cheese, Ranch, and (my favorite) Peach Habanero. These tasty chips are gluten-free and use 100% organic ingredients – no GMOs allowed!
I also love supporting businesses that are passionate about giving back to the community, which is why I was so happy to discover that Deep River Snacks helps raise awareness by featuring charities on their snacks, giving in-kind donations, and donating 10% of their net profits to charity.
But enough about why I love them – the real test for the lunchbox is what the kids think! Let me just say this was a difficult photo shoot because, well, we could hardly stop eating long enough to get pictures! We got to try all three varieties, and none of them lasted long in our pantry.
When it’s so good you just want to eat your hand
I asked the boys which was their favorite flavor, and they really couldn’t decide. Try doing a taste test with your kids and see if they have any easier time making up their minds! They are all so flavorful, your kids won’t miss the junk food they could be eating instead!
There are many things that a baby uses intensely during its first year, then never again. Think of all those adorable onesies that your baby uses in abundance, then quickly outgrows. Another such item is the receiving blanket. They are perfect for young babies – soft and snuggly and just the right size – until they are suddenly too small, and you are left with a stack of blankets you can no longer use.
Until now! Here is an idea to use an old receiving blanket to upcycle a basket into a cute DIY Easter basket for baby. I’ve also collected fantastic basket filler ideas, plus other creative uses for old baby blankets.
Disclosure: This article was inspired by a complimentary gift basket I received from Gifts.com.
DIY Easter Basket for Baby
I started with this amazing gift basket from Gifts.com. They have a great selection, including the one above, which was full of yummy, organic fruit!
After we had devoured the fruit, I was left with a basket that was just the perfect size for an Easter basket! Since we are all about natural parenting and green living, what better way to make an DIY Easter basket than to upcycle materials we already had on hand?
It couldn’t have been easier! All you need is an old receiving blanket, a basket, and a hot glue gun.
Receiving blankets are perfect for upcycling because of their even, regular shape; their soft material; and their adorable patterns. Plus you have a bunch sitting around the house already! And after Easter, it is great for storage in the nursery or as part of a baby shower gift. (Thanks to a reader for that last suggestion!)
I used this “faux sew” method, in which you basically just drape the material over the basket and hot glue it in place. I love the fullness of the draped material, plus it neatly sidesteps the need to make a hem! (If you do want to make a hem, you can either cut, fold, and hot glue one; or you can use hem tape). This no-sew tutorial is a bit more precise, plus I borrowed its idea of how to tuck the extra material under at the ends. If you want a liner that fits more snugly against the basket, here is a tutorial that includes how to measure material for a round basket.
So pretty and so easy! Now what do you put in that cute basket? Here are some ideas:
Cooking with kids is such a fun family activity, plus it’s a great way to teach healthy eating habits! We love sweets in our house, so when possible I try to choose healthy desserts and have my kids to help me make them. They are always surprised to see how healthy ingredients can make such sweet treats!
Disclosure: I received a Personalized Creations cookie jar for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
When we finish, into the cookie jar they go (at least what we haven’t eaten already!) And what fun when that cookie jar is personalized with their names! I love our Heart Full of Love cookie jar from Personalized Creations. The design is gorgeous, and the jar itself is high quality: beautiful and very durable, a winning combination for a mom with three kids!
Heart Full of Love Cookie Jar from PersonalCreations.com
Looking to fill your cookie jar? Here are some wonderful recipes for healthy desserts that you and your kids will love!
Living in California, we are lucky enough to have orange trees in our backyard, and recently my husband and Little Monkey gathered up a huge bag of juicy oranges for us to enjoy. We had to many, I decided it would be a good time to try my sister-in-law’s recipe for Costa Rican orange pudding, or atol de naranja. It is delicious! Little Monkey and I ate big bowls of it before I remembered that I really should save some for the others!
Atol can be translated different ways. Often it means a thick, sweet drink, as in atol de avena, the vanilla oatmeal steamer I adore. In this case, it is more like a pudding, though depending on how you like it, you can also make it even thicker, to the consistency like jello. It is easy to make and will turn out well even if (as in my case) you don’t really know what you are doing! It is a fun recipe to experiment with, by either changing up the spices or adding more or less cornstarch to vary the consistency. However you decide to do it, you’ll have a delicious, all-natural treat to share with your family!
Warm orange juice and cinnamon stick on the stove. While it simmers, mix the cornstarch into the water until it dissolves. When the juice begins to boil, add the water-cornstarch mixture, taking care to stir constantly. Add sugar or honey. When it begins to thicken, remove from heat. Cool in refrigerator until thickens completely.
And if you have small children, the idea of spending time thoughtfully selecting your produce at the store will likely seem a bit far-fetched!
Enter Farm Fresh to You, an easy way to go organic! This wonderful service brings local organic produce right to your doorstep. You set up your deliveries on their easy to use website, picking and choosing exactly what you want in your box.
It is so easy – and fun! – to use. I love that it is so easy to customize your service and modify it as your needs change. You choose not only the frequency of your delivery, but also the type of box. For example, we chose a small box of fruits and vegetables. I love the option of a “snack” box filled with ready to eat produce, designed for offices! (Wouldn’t you love to work somewhere that had organic fruit delivered for you to munch on??) If you are the more adventurous type, you can choose the traditional CSA box, with the best seasonal local produce – including some you probably wouldn’t find in your grocery store!
I have seen other services that say you can customize your box, but really just within limits. (You can remove the carrots, but not the kohlrabi!) But Farm Fresh for You really lets you pick and choose exactly which items you want to include – and you can change your mind up to just a few days before your next delivery!
Monkey had a blast helping me customize our order. I think it was like a computer game for him, except with organic fruits and veggies – score! It was a fun way to get him involved in the process, which of course meant he was much more likely to actually try the food when they actually arrived! Thanks to Farm Fresh for You, my picky eater tried pomegranate for the first time – and loved it!
I must say the quality of the food we received was exceptional. The taste of the apples, for example, was out of this world! This is even compared to the organic apples we purchase from our local grocery store. Much of the fruit we ate right away, while the kale I used to make muffins and the pumpkin was made into pie!
Does organic produce delivered to your doorstep sound like something your family would enjoy? Now is a great time to try it out and go organic! My readers can use the code LEAN4714 to get $10 off your first box!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!
The holiday season is a great time to splurge on those that you love and to show them that you know what is important to them. So if you have a “crunchy mama” in your life – that is, someone who appreciates sustainable gift giving and wants to indulge the planet at the same time as she indulges herself – then this is the gift guide for you!
These days there are thankfully many options for environmentally friendly gifts – here are some of my favorites!
Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas
You don’t have to sacrifice quality to be environmentally friendly! Here are some of my favorite gifts for the special “green” mama in your life:
Organic clothing and goods
I love Tender Sapling for so many reasons – especially their focus on encouraging kids about virtues, world citizenship, and environmental sustainability. They have wonderful organic products for all members of the family. Treat your mama friends with a beautiful T-shirt (including maternity!), or a sampling of their cards, made from recycled paper.
In the kitchen I’m especially conscious of the products I use, as I know they will can a direct impact on the health of my family. That’s why I love to find all natural products like these beautiful Bambu Kids In The Kitchen Utensil. And what better way to start your little one off on his eating journey than with this Bambu Baby Feeding Starter Set?
And if don’t want to feed your family junk – but want to make food they will actually eat – then you must check out the Weelicious cookbooks! I adore all of her recipes, which are both practical but also stretch your ideas about what your kids will try. She has two cookbooks – one with a range of family recipes, and her new one that focuses on kid lunches! Both highly recommended.
I’ve partnered with 30+ fabulous bloggers to bring you a special holiday series packed with crafts, activities, and festive family traditions. We’ve put together a phenomenal giveaway to help knock out your holiday shopping. From 11/3–11/17, you will have the opportunity to win 1 of 4 prize bundles for men, women, kids, and babies! The 4 prize bundles, valued at over $1,800, include gift certificates, toys, jewelry, and more!
For more details on these amazing two week holiday series, be sure to visit the main page on Bare Feet on the Dashboard, the creator and host.
Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary review copy of Spirit Bear; however, all opinions are my own.
When introducing young children to any serious subject, such as endangered animals, it is hard to overemphasize the influence that endearing storybook or animated characters can have. After all, many of us first began to think about the importance of protecting the natural world because of a love of a particular fictional character.
What will Bambi and Thumper do when their forest home is destroyed? Who will speak for the trees if not the Lorax?
The new children’s book Spirit Bear by Jennifer Harrington fits squarely into this tradition. It is the story of Annuk, a white bear cub (a “spirit bear”), who one fateful day is swept away in the river and must make his way back home through the rainforest to his mother. In his journey, he must face the dangers of the forest, with help from an unexpected new friend – Kaya, a sea wolf pup.
It is a story of perseverance and bravery, of friendship and trust. Moreover, the beautiful wildlife illustrations introduce children to 22 animals from the Great Bear Rainforest in Western Canada, many of whom are endangered. Of course, Monkey’s favorite picture was the last one, when Annuk is back home with his mama and siblings!
This gorgeous picture book is recommended for children ages 5-8 years old. And this week you can win a copy of Spirit Bear in our giveaway – along with a FREE Teachers’ Package, an additional $9.95 value! The Teachers’ Package is filled with learning resources, including an animated version of the book and a short educational film that shows children real spirit bears and other animals from the Canadian wilderness.
You can find out more about Spirit Bear on Eco Books 4 Kids, a new “green” Canadian publishing company dedicated to creating fun picture books to engage and educate children about the nature world. Spirit Bear, the company’s first publication, is printed in Canada with vegetable inks on 100% recycled paper with an FSC cover for a reduced eco-footprint. Eco Books 4 Kids is the latest endeavor of children’s author Jennifer Harrington. Born and raised in British Columbia, she is passionate about educating children about the natural world and inspiring in them a desire to protect it. Illustrator Michael Arnott, of mixed European and Ojibway descent, shares this deep love for Canada’s natural environment, having grown up in the rugged wilderness of Northern Ontario.
Enter our giveaway below to share Spirit Bear with a child in your life!