In today's “green” conscious society, it's increasingly important to teach kids about items made from our environment. Many parents work hard to encourage an all-natural lifestyle for their kids. But for literal-minded kids, it's a stretch to understand how many of the manufactured products we use everyday could have started out in nature.
Here's an activity that can open the door to conversation with your kids about how things are made and what exactly they're made from. How amazed will they be when they learn that glass comes from sand and books come from trees!
What You Do:
- Show her several manufactured items you have collected from around your home. These could include such items as a paper bag, a metal toy car, a wool mitten or hat, a cotton sock, a wood ruler, a glass jar, or a book.
- As you show her each object, ask her what she thinks the object is made from. Ask if she knows where the material they named comes from. Many children will know that wooden items come from trees and woolen clothing comes from sheep. Explain to her that paper comes from trees, cotton fabric comes from plants, metal comes from mineral in the ground and glass comes from sand.
- As you identify the source material for each object, write a "master color code" card, and make a different color label for each kind of source material: plant, trees, animal, metal, or sand. Emphasize that all the source material comes from our environment.
- Now it's time to introduce some new vocabulary! Go on a tour of the house with your child, and identify at least 25 different source materials you can see. Place a color dot on each one as identification (for example, you might use green for trees and red for animals). Tell her she may use her own clothing to label as well, and it's also okay to raid the kitchen! As you go, bring a clipboard. After your child has picked each object, list its name on your paper, and leave some room between each item.
- Once you've labeled the house, you're ready for a fun scavenger hunt that also supports first grade reading skills. Invite your child (and a friend, too, if she likes), to go find every object on your word list, and then put the appropriate sticker or stickers next to the object name. Milk and cookies for the scavenger who can read each word and recapture every sticker around the house!
This activity can also be joined with many books that discuss how things are made from objects found in nature. The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall and Kids’ Clothes From Start to Finish by Samuel G. Woods & Peter Casolino are just two examples of many.
Victoria Hoffman, M.A., is an elementary school teacher, writer and mother from Leonardtown, Maryland. She has taught grades K-5 in both regular and special education classrooms.