Earth day—it’s a day we intentionally take note of the natural beauty of our world and choose to help preserve and steward it well. And what an expansive, exquisite planet we have!
I believe that to encourage our children to appreciate Earth and care for it, we should begin by instilling wonder in it. Especially so with our children who are blind or visually impaired, we must slow down our fast-pace in order to intentionally pay attention to and engage in the great outdoors.
For how can we truly care about which we don’t know and appreciate?
Three opportunities to increase the wonder of the natural world:
- Plant a sunflower seed in an indoor pot. Pay attention to how quickly sunflowers grow; investigate the seed, then seedling, and eventually the plant using the sense of touch, smell, sight (if your child has low vision), and even taste (with an extra sunflower seed). Older children can measure the weekly growth using an accessible measuring tool. My children measured a rapidly growing indoor plant every day for two months and recorded the growth; I couldn’t have predicted how wonder-filled they would be!
- Take a slow nature walk with the purpose of exploring various trees, flowers, and interesting objects such as rocks. Appreciate the variety of textures, sizes, scents, and colors. Utilize any low vision devices.
- Take a day trip to a nearby body of water. Explore the stream, creek, pond, lake, or ocean. Feel the water and discover its temperature; listen to the sound made when one throws a rock or stick into the water; splash and play.
As awe of earth takes root, we can establish habits that help us treat her well.
Three opportunities to steward the earth well:
- Take a neighborhood walk and collect litter; discard it together. Talk about the importance of discarding trash (or rubbish as they say here in the UK) in the proper receptacles. You may decide to make this act of community service a part of your family routine. Children, and even more so those with a sensory impairment, are often receivers of much help; it is important to establish ways they can be helpers.
- If your family doesn’t already recycle, establish a recycling bin and talk about/show your child what materials can be recycled. Talk about where the items will go when collected and how they may be reused.
- You can help your child go through their no-longer-fitting clothing and shoes; donate gently used items to an individual or thrift store. Landfills are ridden with clothing; donating items to be reused or repurposed instead of throwing them away is being a good steward of our belongings and planet.
Happy Earth Day—may we be filled with wonder for our beloved planet, and may we care for it in response.