Resourcefulness is the ability to make the best use of materials you have, even using things that are old or seem to be of little use. Teaching your child to use resources wisely can encourage gratitude and may enhance creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.
In the Kitchen
Make your first resourcefulness activity a kitchen experiment. Pull out some foods that are about to expire from your refrigerator or pantry. Ask your child what you might make from these foods. For example, you could make muffins or quick bread and add canned fruit or applesauce. Your child can add a handful of raisins or the leftover crumbs that form along the bottom of a cereal box. You can bring stale bread to feed the ducks or birds in a nearby pond or park, or use graham crackers, a school-sized cardboard milk carton and leftover candy to make a gingerbread house.
Create New from Old
Explain that part of conservation -- keeping the Earth clean -- is to reuse old materials. Give your child glue, tape, paint and glitter to create something new from empty bottles, paper or other items you might otherwise throw away. For example, your child can paint old shopping bags to make wrapping paper or glue toilet paper rolls to a stiff piece of cardboard to make a pen organizer.
Use Nature in New Ways
The great outdoors is the perfect place for your child to test his ingenuity. Head to a park or wooded area and ask your child to use what's around him to build a shelter. He might use long branches balanced over logs for a roof and leaves to make the floor soft. Explain that the 19th-century pioneers had to be resourceful, because they had few materials to build homes. In the mountainous regions, pioneers built log cabins. Along the prairie, where few trees exist, pioneers built homes made of sod.
Use Your Imagination
Activities about resourcefulness don't need to be all hands-on. Invite your child to use his imagination by posing what-if scenarios. This is particularly useful when you're in heavy traffic or are waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. Ask your child to think of how to use kitchen utensils to make musical instruments or how to communicate with the next door neighbor without a telephone. Ask your child think what she would do if she got lost in a park or found herself in a neighborhood where she didn't know anybody. Tell your child to never talk to a stranger and to never, ever accept help from a stranger. Tell your child to find a police officer or park employee or to find a store and ask to use the phone.