Birds, bears, cows, dogs, fish, humans, a vegetable garden, and trees. What is the one thing they all have in common? They all need water to survive. Annually, the National Wildlife Federation dedicates a week to educating kids about wildlife, and this year’s theme for National Wildlife Week is a celebration of the wonders of wildlife and its connection with water. The Wildlife & Water theme wants to teach children about the importance of the need for water by wildlife living in all types of environment out in nature.

While National Wildlife Week is a time for kids to learn about animals and nature, there may be some challenge as a parent, care giver, or teacher when it comes to holding a child’s attention and making learning fun. First, start by helping kids to associate with their need for water throughout life, then jump right into some fun and hands-on educational activities like these!

1. Go on a hike

Take kids on a hike to learn about nature first hand. For a scrapbook, have them take photos and notes about the birds, bugs, fish, flowers, trees, and everything they come across. Find the perfect trail for the family online at American Trails.

2. Join conversations on social media

Supervise kids while they are on the Internet learning and spreading the word about National Wildlife Week. They can search for sources on wildlife and water, share links, and upload their own nature photos to share with the world. For Twitter, use hashtags like #wildlifeweek #nationalwildlifeweek #wildlifewater.

3. Supply backyard animals with water

Creating a small pond or waterhole for wildlife to drink from is helpful not just for animals like squirrels and birds to get a drink, but also for frogs and turtles who will be provided with a safe and clean habitat. Kids will love watching animals around their little pond!

4. Prepare vegan and vegetarian meals

The largest user of water is the livestock industry. It takes a lot less water to grow crops. Consider including vegetarian family meals weekly to help save the Earth and our water. Check out OGP’s awesome plant-based recipe database to find meals that will suit you and your family’s tastes!

5. Family fun with games and puzzles

Family time is important for bonding and to learn new things. Find some fun National Wildlife Federation game suggestions, like trivia and crosswords at National Wildlife Week Family Fun, to make your family time both fun and educational.

6. Organize a community event or school project

Teach kids about environmental health by hosting an event, like cleaning up a lake area, river, stream, or beach, that will both benefit wildlife as well as improve the community’s knowledge on the subject. As a teacher, start a school garden to grow food that attracts wildlife like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

7. Take a field trip to a pond

All kids love going on field trips! For parents and teachers, take students to observe a local pond, aquatic ecosystem, or a pond on a farm to study the wildlife that uses the water source as its home.

8. Change your landscape to be drought tolerant 

Have a weekend home project where you add to or convert to drought tolerant plants that also attract nature’s pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Include your kids in planting and teach them why what you are doing is good for the environment and our water supply.

9. Take the dog for a walk

Teach your child about the importance of picking up after your dog so that their droppings do not wash away into lakes and streams and contribute to the pollution of waterways that local wildlife call home.

10. Adopt an animal (symbolically)

The National Wildlife Federation says their “Wildlife Adoption program lets you symbolically adopt your favorite species and at the same time support our important work protecting wildlife and connecting people to nature.” Choose from a diverse list of wildlife, then have your child or classroom learn everything about that animal, how it lives in nature, why it needs protecting, and the types of threats against it.

Don’t forget to celebrate March 17 – 23, National Wildlife Week 2014, Wildlife and Water–From the Mountains to the Rivers to the Oceans!

Image source: Seattle Municipal Archives / Flickr