Eco (Kid) Friendly

April brings school vacation and Earth Day, the perfect combo for helping your children appreciate the environment

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In honor of Earth Day (April 22), here are 22 fun and educational ways to teach your kids that it's easy being green.

1. Your kids could spend April vacation inside, playing video games – or they could spend the week learning about global wildlife and ecology at ZooCamp. During the week of April 16-20, the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence offers all-day camp that includes learning activities, zoo tours, arts and crafts and animal encounters. This year’s theme is “It’s All Connected,” and it focuses on interdependence between animal species. The zoo also offers programming for toddlers through teenagers year round. See website for more details. 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence.

2. Arcadia Management Area is the state’s largest recreational area with over 14,000 mostly forested acres. This Earth Day, celebrate by simply taking your kids outside. Boat, hike, bike the Brook Trail, picnic, ride horseback at Reynold’s Horseman Area, canoe, fish at Breakheart Pond, or just stroll down Arcadia’s miles upon miles of gravel roads and well-marked, maintained trails. No entrance fee, open 5am to sunset. 260 Arcadia Road, Hope Valley. 401-539-2356.

3. There’s no better way to teach your kids how important it is to preserve clean water than by showing them the life that depends on it. The Biomes Center (pictured above), the private aquarium in North Kingstown, offers weekly public education about local marine life. Every Sunday, bring your kids for a day of feeding and learning about everything from seahorses to Ruby the octopus. They can even pet a shark. 221 Shady Lea Road, North Kingstown. 401-295-4690

4. Kermit the Frog may have been right about a lot of things, but he couldn’t have been more wrong when he sang, “It’s not easy being green.” On Saturday, April 7 from 10am-1pm, being green means shopping local (and sustainable) at Coastal Growers Winter Farmer’s Market’s last market of the season. All your kids’ local favorites will be there, from Susanna’s Ice Cream of Middletown and Matunuck Oyster Farm to South Kingstown’s Poblano Farm salsa. Lafayette Mill, 650 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown

5. Being green isn’t just about protecting the environment – it’s also about protecting yourself from pollutants. Even the clothes you wear can contain harmful chemicals. Think Outside, a sustainable children’s clothing and accessory company based in Richmond, wants to change that. Their kids clothes are made from organic cotton and natural vegetable dyes. Eco-friendly accessories like reusable water bottles and backpacks are made using recycled materials and an “upcycling” pro- cess that eliminates all unnecessary waste. Available at Most Naturally in Narragansett Pier Marketplace and Mills Creek Natural Market in Charlestown.

6. University of Rhode Island’s Kingston campus is now offering a Learning Landscape Environmental Education field trip for children and groups. Held at the Botanical Gardens, the field trip covers everything from the water cycle, ecosystems and climate zones to seed diversity, native mammals and birds. Ever wonder what happens to recycled materials after you put them in the bin? Longing to know how worms work their decomposition magic? You’re not alone. Find out at the URI Botanical Gardens. See website for details. 3 East Alumni Avenue, Kingston. 401-874-2900

7. Go on a real-world outdoor treasure hunt adventure in South County this spring. Do you have a GPS-enabled device? Do you have a child who enjoys pretending he is a pirate? By navigating to a specific set of GPS coordinates, you can find hidden geocaches (containers, AKA, treasure). If you or your child finds this game way too cool to be true, visit www.geocaching.com and register for a unique way to explore nature.

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