Wednesday, July 6, 2011


How do you teach kids about sustainability without being too heavy handed? I remember some parts of being a child pretty clearly...and I do remember the blinders you have where you really mainly worry about how things are going to affect YOU. But I know our kids are inheriting a pretty big mess here (I mean the earth in general, not just my house)... and I want them to grow up with compassion, with a sense that the world is a big place with room for lots of other experiences than those they have.

We were walking to an activity today, downtown-- a little over a mile from our house. It was hot (for here). I fielded several complaints, and Adam said, "When we get there, I need to wet my mouth." I saw a teachable moment there, and said, "Did you know that a lot of people in the world walk farther than we are walking today to get the water they need to drink and cook and clean?" Rachel said yes and Adam said no.
So we talked about it a little and then did some imagining about it.... "What would we do with Sam if we were walking to get water? Would we have a jogging stroller? Who would carry him?.... how would we carry the water back to our house?" We thought about several different possibilities (would Adam be the one to carry Sam? Would he be strapped to Rachel's back? How would we get the water home?). Then Rachel just shut down. "I won't talk about this any more and I won't answer your questions." I tried to explore that a little, but she just said she was done. I said it was okay to feel uncomfortable about it, and it was important, too, because it helped us realize how much we have, and how we need to help others. But she was done. We arrived at the activity, both kids drank from the fountain, and I headed home with Sam.

I spent the walk/run home thinking about what we could do that would be fun, but also make the point without me being so when we get home this afternoon on this very hot day, we are going to do some water games. We need to water the garden, anyway. Here's what I'm thinking: we will do a race from the front yard to the garden with different sized containers of water on our heads-- fastest time and  least spillage wins. I figure we can start small and work our way up to a milk jug. Instead of taking showers tonight, we'll clean up in the back yard in our bathing suits.... with one bucket of water to use. When we come inside I've bookmarked some computer games and activities that focus on water.

We'll see how it goes.


  1. Um, can I still shower? I'm biking home.

  2. I think that would probably be a really good idea!