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3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC, 20002
United States


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Kids Activities for the Colder Months: Eco-Friendly Furniture

Crystal Williams


By: Jackie Edwards

Teaching Kids How to Craft Eco-Friendly Garden Furniture

Building with blocks and other play materials helps children develop gross and fine motor skills while also improving cognition and creativity. Seeing as only 62% of high school students in DC complete their secondary schooling in four years due to lack of resources and creative outlets, this seems especially important. Why not turn construction play into real construction? Allowing children to craft their own eco-friendly garden furniture will add a special touch to the garden's atmosphere and help make the space more comfortable. When used as a learning exercise that incorporates the benefits of gardening, crafting eco-friendly garden furniture is a great way to develop life-long skills while also promoting sustainability.

What Kids Should Understand about Eco-Friendly Furniture

Teaching kids how to make sustainable furniture will not only lay a great foundation for construction skills, but it is also a good way to encourage an understanding of sustainability and recycling. Sustainable furniture is made from materials that may be recycled, re-purposed or easily replaced, such as bamboo, which grows back quickly. Once children understand this basic concept, you might ask them to go around the garden, yard or a nature reserve and try to find sustainable materials that could be used in the construction of furniture.

Deciding on the Perfect Type of Furniture to Build

After cultivating a thriving, vivacious garden, encourage children to take a look at the layout and ponder what types of garden furniture would fit within the space. You can make a lot of furniture out of semi-constructed materials such as pallets, which can be a more practical option if you are trying to do this activity with younger children. This is actually one important aspect of sustainability that children should learn about. Ensure that they understand that any furniture that increases efficiency by providing greater utility allows them to use fewer materials, take up less space and solve more than one problem.

Safely Constructing the Garden Furniture 

During this process, try to use as many natural materials as possible, since they will be safer for both the children building the furniture and safer for the environment. For a simple project, you can craft a “green railing” that uses slim planters to create a short railing around a patio or deck. If you are going to look for green building materials, you can ask around at local construction stores in order to recycle what they might be throwing out. You can also do things like making homemade lanterns that hold candles instead of using lights outdoors, or even create rainwater buckets to catch and save rainwater. Building eco-friendly furniture for a garden doesn’t always have to mean creating furniture to sit and lounge on; the more creative you can get, the better!

Like gardening, learning how to craft is a great way for children to participate in sustainable hobbies that benefit the environment and allow them to learn skills that benefit their development. Creating eco-friendly garden furniture can be a fun activity for the whole family or an after-school activity that fosters creativity and gives kids a chance to create something they’re proud of.

ANOTHER great SPROUT season!

Crystal Williams

We want to thank you for making this year’s trips possible, whether you helped facilitate trips or cheered us on behind the scenes. We completed 114 trips, serving 3,718 students!

Numbers aside, it was a season full of…

...happy taste buds

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...brave explorers

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...many renditions of the honey bee song

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...Berry Bird hugs

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…delicious harvests (THANK YOU GARDENERS)

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& amazing educators!

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Teachers & chaperones told us:

“It was our favorite field trip! The setting was so lovely, and we enjoyed… getting to see some of the rest of the arboretum as well.”

“I don't think my daughter would have picked up a worm otherwise”

In response to “Which aspects of the field trip did students continue to talk about or ask questions about back in the classroom or at home?  What most stuck with them?” here’s what teachers and chaperones had to say:

90% said “Eating Plants,” 60% said “Bees and Honey,” 30% said “Soil and Compost,” and 30% said “Worms.”

Thank you to all of educators, volunteers, teachers, supports and of course the students for making this an incredible SPROUT season. To reserve your field trip for 2019, click here!

Happy Hibernating,

Thea & Emma

Guest Spotlight: Bee Keeping and its Importance to Gardening

Crystal Williams

by Jackie Edwards


At least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive, making bees an important part of any gardener´s life. From the delicious, antioxidant-filled honey that bees produce to the pollinating they do all over the world to ensure we have enough food to eat and sell, bees are an important aspect to our ecosystem. Learning the importance and interesting aspects of beekeeping as part of a gardening activity is a great way to teach our Washington kids more about their own role within the ecosystem and how to make the world a better place.

The importance of Bees in Our Ecosystem

Three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators. Bees work hard to pollinate these plants in order for humans to have food, but for wild animals as well. Many natural wild animals in Washington such as raccoons, bears, squirrels and more depend on pollinators just as much as humans do. And, last but not least, with improved pollination management, crop yields could be increased by about 25%, meaning that your garden can grow faster and healthier. This is a great way to encourage children to continue gardening as they will see the fruit of their labor even faster.

More Opportunities to Increase Learning

One study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. By incorporating other learning objectives into the gardening experience, such as learning about the importance and life cycle of bees to our environment, children can learn while engaging in an activity that is helpful to the world around them. Take advantage of the fresh air to open their curious minds while incorporating other fun activities such as bee-friendly recipes, photo journal book creations, wildflower scavenger hunts and maybe even an environmental-friendly PSA that you can let the kids write and film themselves.

How to Get Started

Before you go anywhere near a beehive with kids for the first time, make sure they understand the importance of slow movements and staying calm. It might be a good idea to have them watch a silly bee movie beforehand so they understand that bees are friendly and not scary. You will also need to ensure you have the proper bee safety equipment on hand. From protective clothing to gloves and a proper hat, this will not only ensure their safety but also allows them to feel more protected the first few times they interact with the bees. As far as choosing a beehive, try to purchase bees from a breeder who is known for breeding calm bees.

The Future of Bees in the Hands of the Youth

Time spent gardening is a great way for children to disconnect from their digital world and engage in activities that foster communication and teamwork skills. Incorporating a beekeeping lesson or activity into your daily gardening routine and you will find that your children might feel an increased sense of responsibility as they continue to learn more about the interconnections of bees and the environment. This will help to raise ecologically conscious children that can better understand and contribute to the world later on in life.