Service Projects for Kids: Tips for Cleaning the Creek

After countless times cleaning the creek, we have the tools and routines down.  Remember, our goal is to spend 15-20 minutes cleaning.  *Almost* every time, though, the boys spend longer.  This has been the case since we started cleaning the creek by the school when they were 6 and 4 years old.

Here is how we have a great experience:

Supplies We Like to Use:

  • Rubber boots are helpful.
  • Nets.  This helps the kids fish out trash from the water and is a handy way to collect a couple of things before tossing in the bag.
  • Rubber gloves for the kids.
  • Small rakes to reach for trash in the water and for poking the area to check for snakes.  (I live in Texas, Ya’ll.)
  • Use smaller bags for the kids to fill.  This works better than having them drag around big trash bags.
  • Wipes and hand cleanser.
  • A larger trash bag to collect smaller bags that are filled.
  • Bring extra supplies in case others seeing you want to join in on the cleaning action!  Yes, this has happened!
  • First aid kit.  Um, I’ve only had to use it on me.

Tips for a Successful Creek Cleaning:

  • Start with a snack.  We do this because we are cleaning the creek right after I get my oldest from school.
  • Take a “before” and “after” picture of the area.  This really helps the boys SEE the impact that they have made on the creek.
  • Sort the litter as you collect.  One bag for recycling.  One bag for trash.  One brother takes on the task of sorting.
  • Walk just ahead of the kids when cleaning to remove anything that you don’t want them picking up.
  • Live and enjoy those moments when they spot a lizard, frog, or a tiny fish.  Cleaning is only part of the experience.
  • Take your time.  You don’t have to clean the ENTIRE creek in one occasion.  Clean for as long as it is a successful experience for your kids.

Remember, service doesn’t have to be complicated or long to have meaning for your kids and make a difference to others.

What tips do you have for cleaning projects with your kids?