6 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids the Importance of Protecting Animals

@davep via Twenty20

@davep via Twenty20

It’s never too early for kids to learn the importance of doing good and taking care of the planet. Many children have a natural affinity for animals, which makes learning about the importance of protecting endangered species a great place to start. Read on for six fun, easy ways to teach your kids about the importance of protecting endangered animals and help them start taking actions that will make a real difference!

  • Take a Field Trip

    @wcywendy77 via Twenty20

    From wildlife refuges and national parks to sanctuaries and nature centers, chances are pretty good that there’s an animal-centric destination near you. Look for somewhere that offers children’s education and activities in addition to opportunities to see the animals. Getting up close with unfamiliar or exotic creatures, whether or not they’re on the endangered species list, helps kids truly understand the majesty and importance of the natural world. Look at the animal list together in advance and pick out a few endangered species that you’re especially excited to see, then take some time to learn a little bit about the animals before you go. This will help your kids get more out of the experience than just oohing and aahing over adorable animals. 

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  • Choose Fun Gear That Also Does Good

    Chances are, most kids won’t get to pet most wild animals, so how do you help them build a connection with creatures that can seem so distant? For kids who love gear, getting them something printed with their favorite furry friend is a perfect way to build that bond. A toddler who cuddles a beloved stuffed panda or chimpanzee every night is bound to develop a positive association with the species. As they get older, you can gradually introduce more information about the animal’s endangered status and the steps we can take to help protect them. The bond your child has already established will definitely deepen the importance of this message. Similarly, brands like Munchkin offer products like their No. 1 selling toddler cup, the Miracle® 360°WildLove Cup, which features critically important and well-loved species like lemurs and orcas. These adorable — and totally spill-proof — sippy cups provide great starting points for conversations with kids. Munchkin has partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Whale Sanctuary Project to create this special line, which highlights important species and helps protect them for future generations. Even better, the packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable and expands to teach little ones about each animal and its beautiful, at-risk habitat. Buying goods that do good help kids learn at a young age the importance of ethical shopping- and the ways we can make a difference through the way we consume. 

  • Adopt an Animal

    @jenn.questel via Twenty20

    Many wildlife foundations offer the opportunity to adopt or sponsor a species or far-off animal. Let your kid select the type of creature you’ll be supporting to help them feel invested in the project. Then, work together to find ways to raise the necessary money. Let your kid take ownership over the ideas so that when you reach the goal, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Most foundations send some sort of animal-related thank-you gift, which is also a nice bonus. After this experience, your kid will be connected with their chosen species far into the future. 

  • Check Out a Livestream

    @ispy via Twenty20

    If you aren’t lucky enough to live close to your favorite endangered species, don’t worry! There are still ways to help your kid feel a connection with their animal of choice. From panda cams to elephant cams to tiger cams and beyond, if there’s a species your child wants to learn more about, chances are you’ll be able to find a wildlife livestream of it pretty easily. Check out the animal in its daily routine and use this opportunity to spark a conversation about the importance of conserving habitats. 

  • Make Story Time Count

    @MaioOoi via Twenty20

    Whether you go with a fictional or a true-to-life tale, books (and movies) about endangered species are a great way to introduce your kids to the concept. For all of us, stories are a way to forge connection. Through picture books and kid-friendly documentaries, children of any age can learn about the challenges and dangers different sorts of wildlife are facing and get inspired to make a difference in the lives of the creatures they’ve come to care about. Work together to brainstorm ways you can take action to help your kid develop a sense of agency and possibility. 

  • Explore Your Neighborhood

    @makenamedia via Twenty20

    The welfare and survival of animals is closely intertwined with their natural habitats, and destruction or threats to those environments are often a major contributing factor to species becoming endangered. Help your children learn about this dynamic by showing them how it plays out close to home. Head to a nearby park and look for birds, squirrels, deer, and other wild creatures, and talk about the pieces of the ecosystem that help them survive. Then, think together about what would happen if any of those elements were removed. Through this conversation, your child will start to understand what can feel like a far-removed concept in a more granular way and start to build empathy for creatures facing extinction due to environmental destruction. (Plus, it’s always nice to get outside and spend some time in nature!) There are endless small actions we can take every day to preserve the world’s ecosystems and protect endangered species, and this experience will help build your child’s motivation to contribute to these efforts.