Bath time is the perfect opportunity to talk to your children about why water is a precious resource, and how they can help protect it. While they splash in the tub, you can tell stories and play games to encourage them to conserve water.
In this post, we’ll share some bath time ideas for teaching your children about the importance of water, and tips to help them develop environmentally friendly habits. It’s fun to show them that even though they are small, they can play a big role in protecting the planet!
Fun ways to explain conservation to children
We all know that kids love to be close to their parents at inconvenient times. (Can’t find your child? Just get ready for a shower, and they’ll start knocking on the bathroom door!)
We also know that children pay just as much attention to what we do as what we say. Since your child is probably next to you in the bathroom, why not talk about what you’re doing in there? You can explain your eco-friendly behaviors and why they are important. It’s even better if you engage your child’s senses as part of your lesson.
- For example, do you use a natural cleaner like vinegar? You can ask your child to spray the mirror with the spray bottle, then smell the air while you clean. You can talk about how vinegar is not dangerous to touch or breathe, and can even be used in cooking. This leads to a discussion of how some other cleaners are toxic, so they are dangerous to use and can pollute the water supply.
- You can also point out the water-saving features in your bathroom. For instance, you probably have an aerator on your faucet. While washing your hands, pour some water into a cup. First, have your child put their fingers under the running faucet. Next, pour the water from the cup over their fingers. Ask, “Did it look different than the water from the faucet? Did it feel the same or different?” Then explain that modern faucets have an invention called an aerator, which mixes air bubbles with the water. An antique faucet with no aerator (as demonstrated by the cup) and a new faucet with an aerator will both give you a nice stream of liquid to clean your hands – but the one with the aerator uses much less water. Ask your child what she might invent to help people save water!
Splish, splash, story time!
Here’s an activity for bath time: tell a story that has water as the main character. This is a chance to talk about how rare water is on our planet, and how important it is for plants, animals, and humans. Kids will love hearing a story while playing in a warm bath, feeling the subject of the story on their skin!
When telling the story, try to use simple words and metaphors that they will understand. Also, use proactive language, talking about solutions and eco-friendly behavior, rather than focusing on what harms the environment. A positive narrative will teach your child that they have the power to help the planet.
- For example, if you tell a story about how a person polluted water and that others couldn’t use it, your child may feel helpless and anxious.
- Instead, you can talk about the adventures of a drop of water as it goes down your sewer pipe to the treatment plant. There, it meets scientists who mix the water with helpful bacteria that clean up the soap scum. Now it is nice and fresh, so it can flow out to the river to play with the fish. Instead of feeling sad and powerless, your child can dream about becoming a scientist who cleans up the environment.
Saving water: seeing is believing
Let your child prepare the bath (under supervision). Challenge her or him to use enough water to get clean, without using too much and wasting it! Then, take the sustainability lesson a step further, and show him how to use leftover bathwater to water indoor or outdoor plants.
Or, if your family takes showers, you can explain that they will use less water in a shower than a bath. If you have a combination tub and shower, give your child a quick shower with the tub drain closed, just for fun. At the end, it will be easy to see the water used. This will give her a clear picture of how much more environmentally friendly a shower is than a tub full of water.
Getting good at saving water
Your family can make a game out of finding new ways to conserve. For example:
- While brushing your teeth, turn off the tap. Dentists recommend that we brush for at least 2 minutes – but it makes no sense to let the water run that long!
- Have your child fill her own drinking glass. Ask her to pay attention to how thirsty she is and try to pour only the water she wants.
- When your child washes his hands, have him turn off the faucet while he soaps up.
- Everyone in the family should use a towel to dry hands; it is more ecological than single-use paper towels. (If you’re worried about hygiene, some families assign each child towels in a specific color. This also makes it easier to teach your children to hang up their bath towels, so you only need to launder them once a week – which saves you time as well as water!)
For more ways your family can conserve water, we have games to help you! For younger children, check out Saving Water. In this fun set of puzzles for ages 2+, adorable sea creatures show ways that children can save water in everyday life. For school-age children, WaterGame is a bestseller. In this easy-to-learn board game for ages 7+, children roll dice, float down a river, and learn to cooperate to conserve this precious resource.
Environmentally friendly hygiene, thanks to natural products
When you buy and use toiletries:
- Explain to your child how organic products can help the environment, by reducing the toxins that can contaminate water.
- Point out that soaps, creams, toilet paper, and toothpaste are made by humans, and it takes energy and natural resources to make them. So, even if the products are produced sustainably, it’s still good to be careful and use only as much as you need.
- When that bottle of hand soap is empty… you ‘ll have the chance to talk about recycling and waste reduction! More companies are now offering greener products, such as plastic-free shampoo, conditioner, and hand soap bars wrapped in paper. Like all of us, children love to be asked for their opinion. Ask them to help you research the items you use, to see if there are more ecological options. An older child can read product reviews and make suggestions for what to buy next (Check out the Environmental Working Group’s excellent database, where you can look up specific bath and hygiene products to see how nontoxic their ingredients really are).
Tell us about your baths (and more)
Do you have experiences to share or suggestions for other families? Are you looking for new ideas to live a more eco-friendly life?