little boys playing with pond water

Although your children may be thrilled to be out of school for the summer, they may have a lot of unstructured time on their hands. If you aren’t stuck in the office this summer, try these green parenting tips to help your children connect to nature, learn, and conserve resources.

Unplug & Get Out of the House

Many children spend hours a day on digital devices. Limiting screen time and getting kids outdoors helps them connect with nature, stay physically fit, and even improve their academic performance. Set time limits on screen time and encourage kids to get outdoors. Inviting friends over and creating fun outdoor activities can help get them out the door and engaged.

Go to U-pick Farms

One of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors is by harvesting and eating seasonal foods. This helps kids establish a sense of rhythm throughout the year as various crops ripen. Many farms have u-pick hours for apples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, pears, and cherries. Either eat the fresh fruit or make it into baked goods, smoothies, jams or preserve them for a delightful winter treat. If possible, make annual traditions for certain fruits or crops.

Explore the Great Outdoors

In past generations, many kids spent hours outdoors exploring. Children today spend less time splashing in creeks, climbing trees, and biking around than ever before. If your children need a nudge to enjoy the great outdoors, create fun activities that encourage nature exploration. Kids can collect found objects in nature and make a collage, enjoy a rope swing, or a eat picnic lunch in a forest. Planting a garden and then having children harvest veggies is a way for them to discover the cycles of nature and make themselves useful.

Enjoy Nature Study

Most children enjoy learning about the world around them. Tap into their individual interests to create games, activities, and projects. Combining book learning with hands-on activities helps engage children in the world around them. Learn about how rivers work and then sail a homemade boat to watch how it responds to the current. Study bugs and then create a collection. Get a plant or bird identification book and teach children how to identify local plant, tree, and bird species. Learn about edible and medicinal plants and create salves, teas, and salads.

Plan a Staycation

Although it might be tempting to explore distant lands this summer, why not enjoy your neck of the woods? Staycations involve having a vacation at home to enjoy what your local area has to offer. Are there parks, restaurants, hiking trails, museums, and other attractions you have wanted to discover but never have? Staycations create this opportunity while saving both money and resources.

Go to Garage Sales

An easy way to conserve resources is by buying used items instead of new ones. Summer is a great time to explore garage and yard sales. Although it might be tempting, avoid purchasing things that you are unlikely to use just because of the low price. Teach your kids to love a good deal and to recirculate the products they no longer need!

Feature image: HaiRobe at This article was originally published on July 30, 2018.

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.