It was a stinker of a day. The sun was blazing. The kids played outside with the dinosaurs and lego when the power went out. Conversation between adults centred around the disappointment of not being able to have a coffee or toasted sandwich for lunch. The burning question from the 4 year olds “Can we still play with the dinosaurs”?
This question makes me think about the world from a different angle. The most important thing for the kids was whether they could still play with their dinosaurs without needing the electricity. Their play was about being in the moment with their friends using their thinking and the power of imagination to fuel their fun. Our adult thoughts centred around the negative aspects of not having connected power -The how-can-we-manage-without-power approach.
For Earth Hour, let’s be “em-powered” by the kids. I would like to take their lead to think about how we can live and play without relying so much on power. As a family, use Earth Hour as a time for being together and playing. It just happens to use less plugged-in energy, money and power.
Celebrating Earth Hour With Younger Children
In New South Wales Australia, Earth Hour takes place during daylight savings. The weather is usually beautiful with warm to hot days and easy-to-sleep nights. It doesn’t become dark until about 8pm. The official one hour Earth Hour time is 8.30-9.30pm. Easy peasy step 1- Bring your family’s Earth Hour celebration forward to a time when your younger ones are awake.
Ways to Reduce Energy Consumption at Home
Your little ones will have a better understanding of your family’s energy consumption when it’s obvious to them. As a visual for children, reducing energy usage in your house means:
- Turning off the lights
- Turning off the fans and air conditioning
- Turning off all forms of technology – phones, computers, devices, TV
- Not cooking on the stovetop, oven or microwave
- Not putting on the dishwasher
- Not putting on the washing machine
What to Do For an Hour?
Let’s go back to the children’s train of thought about the impact no electricity will have on their dinosaur and lego playing. None. So as a family think about ways you can be together, play and use your imagination without relying on power sources.
In 2017, Earth Hour is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary as a global phenomenon. Earth Hour is something that really brings communities together. Here’s what you can do as a family to celebrate Earth Hour.
Out and active Earth Hour activities in the outdoors are:
- Play at the park
- Go for a body board swim at the beach or lake
- Have a backyard camping adventure
- Go for a family bike and /or scooter ride
- Enjoy a family walk
- Jump on the trampoline
- Play kick and catch with this wonderful earth ball or beach ball
There are plenty of games that young children love playing as a family that don’t rely on electricity. Some ideas for games to play with no power are :
- I spy
- Simple card games such as Uno
- Imagination games – use dress ups or play toys that spark creativity
- Sidewalk chalk games
- Backyard family games such as wooden Uber, traditional Quoits or colourful Bocce
Reading books together is another wonderful unplugged way to enjoy Earth Hour as a family. These children’s picture books are some of my environment-themed favourites for 3-6 year olds:
- The Earth Book by Todd Parr
- 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World by Melanie Walsh
- I Can Save The Earth by Alison Inches
The next couple of ideas aren’t particularly environmentally friendly. But they are super fun for young children and provide lots of powerless entertainment.
- Glow in the dark products such as glow sticks.
These are always a hit. Even though it may not yet be fully dark for your family earth hour celebration, bring them into their room when your little ones go to bed. A handy hint I picked up along the way is to freeze them whilst they still glow strong, ready for another night.
- Sparklers are heaps cool too.
Earth Hour is a fantastic initiative to show us how much energy we use in our everyday living. Enjoy your family’s Earth Hour. Enjoy it again as adults with natural beeswax candles as your light source when it’s actually dark at the official 8.30pm time. Enjoy being together. Enjoy playing. Enjoy using your imagination. Without relying on power to fuel our fun, it’s amazing what we can do.
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