Play-and-learn Games for Kids
BY: Marisa Belger
As a busy working mom, I’m big on multitasking. I want to clock some quality time with my little one while also having fun and teaching him a thing or two. Too much to ask? Not at all! These family-friendly eco-games will teach your kids about complicated environmental issues (e.g., What is climate change, anyway? Why are some animals endangered? How do I really reduce my carbon footprint?) while they’re having fun!
Make computer time together time with online eco-games that will keep fingers clicking and minds expanding. The under-6 set will enjoy PLANETPALS’ bright and simple graphics. Look for easy activities like “The Litterbug Says,” where little hands can scroll over pictures of everyday items -- magazines, a plastic milk carton, plastic and paper bags -- and learn a fun green fact about them (e.g., Magazines: “Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.”).
Older kids (7 to 14) can spend hours playing games on MeetTheGreens.org. The site features 11 animated webisodes about Izz and Dex, teens who take on everyday eco-issues. The coordinating games are just as cool. Thrifty Threads lets kids create new designs out of old clothes, Light It Right is a fast-paced exercise in using energy wisely, and Inconceivable delivers eco-stats in hip, kid-friendly language (e.g., “We get most of our energy from oil and coal, but we can also get it from wind, waves, the sun, corn, cow poop, algae and many other sources.”). Very fun!
Eco-friendly Board Games
Keep “Monopoly,” with its boardwalks and hotels, on the shelf. You and your gang are ready for a new and improved ’opoly. How about one that encourages participants to collect carbon credits and exchange them for clean air? “Earthopoly” is eco-friendly through and through: made from recycled paper and vegetable-oil-based ink, and chock full of eco-lessons. Complete the collection with “Garden-Opoly,” “Oceanopoly” and “Bug-Opoly” -- an ’opoly for every taste!
Younger players (4 and up) can join the fun with “A Beautiful Place.” This simple, cheerful eco-game encourages everyone to work together to make Planet Earth beautiful.
A Greener Deck of Cards
Traditional card games are fun and pretty eco-friendly. (Hey, you’re not using energy watching TV!) But Xeko is much more than a 10-minute hand of gin rummy. Players become Xeko Masters, with the goal of “restoring balance to the Earth’s ecosystems.” Children as young as 8 can play Xeko, but the game is recommended for those between the ages of 13 and 30. An added eco-benefit? The cards are made from recycled stock and printed with soy-based ink.