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Spring officially started March 20th and we are all happy about that!!  When April comes around, we all think flowers (some showers), the Easter holiday, warmer weather, and the start of enjoying the outdoors again.  This month we bring to you ideas and reviews on Eco-Friendly toys, activities, and crafts.

Toy Reviews:  There are many “green” toy companies that make toys and products that are eco-friendly, are free of toxins, and made from recyclables.  Here are just a few that we’ve come across.

–        Green Toys (http://www.greentoys.com/) This Company’s products are made 100% in the USA and are from recycled products, including the packaging.

  • One of their tops toys is the Recycling Truck ($27.99)

truck

–        Plantoys (http://www.plantoys.com/) All toys made by this company are made out of sustainable wood from rubber trees that no longer produce latex.  They also use non-toxic paints and dyes.

  • A major hit from this is the Dancing Alligator!!! ($23.00)

crocodile

–        Hape Toys (http://www.hapetoys.com/us/en/)  Hape is the worlds largest producer of toys using only all sustainable materials.  They have a vast collection

  • One of their top sellers is the Quattro; a connect four type of game where two can play.  For ages 3 and up!! ($39.99)

beads

Activities

Bridget say’s:  There are lots of great ways to get your child thinking about the environment.  These are some fun activities that will get them to realize that they can use so many of the things that surround them in a fun and new way.

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/earthday/

Stand-Up Tree Craft – In this simple project, cardboard from a cereal box and a toilet paper tube are turned into a cute free-standing tree that is great to use as an Earth Day decoration.

tree Supplies needed:

  • Green cardstock or cardboard from a cereal box (or other stiff paper)
  • A tube from a roll of toilet paper
  • Green paint
  • Brush
  • Scissors
  • Optional: red paper circles and glue, glitter, markers, tiny pom-pom spheres, etc.

Directions:

  1. Make the tree trunk:  Cut two ½ inch slits in the tube, one on each side (this is where you will insert the paper treetop).
  2. Using stiff green cardstock, cut out a large treetop.  If you cannot find green purchase white and green paint.
  3. Add decorations to the tree.
  4. Insert the tree into the slits in the tube.

Pine Cone Bird Feeder – An easy to make pine cone bird feeder could be a really fun way to get your child involved in their environment and to learn the importance of caring for animals.

 pinecone_birdfeeder8-2

For each bird feeder you will need:

  • A large pine cone
  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Oats or corn meal
  • Bird seed
  • A few feet of string

Tie a few feet of string to a pine cone. Cover the pine cone with the mixture below. Roll the pinecone in birdseed and then suspend it from a tree branch outside.

Food mixture: Mix 1/2 cup Vegetable shortening, lard or suet with 2 1/2 cups cornmeal or uncooked oats until well blended. Optional: add dried fruit (chopped up), chopped nuts, seeds (especially sunflower and millet), and/or suet, which are high-energy bird foods.

Planting a Tree Outside – Bring your child to a local nursery and purchase a small tree that they will then plant in your yard or on your lawn.  Let your child name the tree and give them the responsibility of helping to care for it.

Recycling Game – Teaching your child the importance of recycling is a huge deal but it can also be fun! Use the following link to find some great projects and crafts that teach your child to use recycled items from around the house.  This could lead to some great projects!

 springy-spoon-folks-craft-photo-420-FF0402ALM3A03 cando-robots-craft-photo-420-FF1108EFA01 carton-wallet-craft-photo-420-FF0209EFA15

http://spoonful.com/create/recyclable-crafts-gallery

Flower Pots – Children love to paint! Take them to the craft store and let them purchase paint or make your own paint! Then let them get some pretty flowers or seeds and get to work decorating their beautiful flower pot and planting their own flowers!  Lots of fun!

How-to-make-your-own-paint-for-kids-for-hours-of-fun-step-by-step-DIY-tutorial-instructions-400x400 flowerpots

Another great link for some crafts and activities

–       http://www.planetpals.com/recycle_crafts_kids.html

Crafts:

Rakijah say’s:  I have been looking for a few new projects to do with my son this Spring that are fun but not too complicated.  My favorites are below!!

crayons

Ever wonder what to do with those broken and old crayons?  Look no further, because No Time for Flashcards (web link below) has an eco-friendly solution, Sun melted recycled crayons.  This is a great activity for your little ones that’s reusing something old and turning it into something new.  It only takes a few quick steps:

  1. Find and place a bunch of old crayon pieces together (use a cookie cutter if you’d like to make a fun and cool shape)
  2. Place it on a piece of foil or a plate outside in the sun
  3. And now you wait!
    1. Wait for it to melt
    2. Then let it cool                                               i.     (The length of time will vary depending on how hot it is)
  1. Voila!!  You have brand new crayons!!

http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2009/07/crayola-heatwave-fun.html

Looking to do a hands on craft that you and your little one can do to celebrate Earth Day?  Why not make a Soda Bottle Terrarium?!?!  I love this idea and so will your toddler.  You are creating something from scratch and are able to watch it grow and the directions (link below) given by the “Terrarium Man” are awesome!  All you need is a few items and it takes about a half hour to complete:

–        You will need an old two liter soda bottle, some small pebbles for drainage, potting soil, seeds or small plants, and a pair of scissors.

–        All you have to do is cut the bottle in half, place the pebbles on the bottom of the lower half, then the soil, then your seeds or plants, and then water it!!  When finished fit the upper portion of the bottle over the bottom and you are done.  Watch your terrarium come to life!!!

  • P.S.  You just recycled a bottle!! (more detailed directions can be found at the link below!)

dirt 1 dirt 2

  The final product!!

http://www.stormthecastle.com/terrarium/soda-bottle-terrarium.htm

Trying to find an eco-friendly way to create Easter Basket’s?  Here are a few ideas that I’ll be trying this Easter and you should too!!

  1. Using natural ingredients for dying eggs:  To dye the eggs, place raw white eggs in a pan with one of the following natural dyes, add a tablespoon of white vinegar, bring to boil on the stove and let simmer for 15 minutes and then cool.  For the following colors, try using some of these ingredients that we can all find in our kitchens. :
    1. Yellow- saffron or turmeric
    2. Purple- red wine
    3. Blue- red cabbage leaves or blueberries
    4. Brown- grape juice or coffee
    5. Orange- yellow onion skins
    6. Pink/red- beets or raspberries

eggs

  1. Alternatives to Easter basket plastic grass:  The usual plastic grass used to fill the bottom of the baskets is not that earth friendly, taking “forever” to biodegrade.  Try the following alternatives below:
    1. Grow your own- Growing grass indoors for your basket is easy and would be a fun activity for everyone; in short just line your basket with plastic and add pebbles and potting soil and then plant your grass seeds.  Cover it up for a few days with a paper bag for germination.  Once sprouted, place your basket in a sunny place and water regularly.  In a few weeks, your living Easter basket will be ready to display dyed eggs!!!

grass 2 grass

    1. Recycle- Do you have old Christmas wrapping paper lying around?  Shred it up and now its Easter basket grass!!! Or use old yarn and fabric scraps.  My Grandma has tons of that stuff!!

basket 1 basket 2 

    1. Earth friendly Easter basket wraps- Cut the cellophane wraps and try fabric instead.  This way you can reuse it year after year!!

treats 1 treats 2

  1. Healthier, organic, and fair trade basket treats:  I’m always looking for better snacks and we all know that the usual delicacies are not that healthy for us.  Try out some of the goodies listed below.  Not only do these companies use organic, non GMO, and/or vegan ingredients… they also promote and support to various charities and fair trade organizations
    1. Rose City Chocolates

chocolate

                        http://www.rosecitychocolates.com/

    1. Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans

 surf sweets 2 surf sweets

http://www.surfsweets.com/causes/

    1. Annie’s Homegrown bunny snacks

annies 1 annies 2 annies 3

http://www.annies.com/giving-back/

Remember, Earth Day is on April 22nd and we all want to raise our children to be mindful of our Mother Earth so that they can live a happy and healthy life and sustain her for their children and generations beyond!!

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