One of the best methods of spreading the "go green" message is to find ways to go green for kids and teachers. Kids spend a lot of time in school, and when they have a teacher who believes in protecting the environment, they tend to pick up lots of valuable tips and lessons that they can take home with them and share.
One of the easiest ways to go green for kids and teachers is to start a recycling program in the classroom. This can be as simple as providing a blue box for paper recycling. There are other ways to recycle in school as well, including:
- Separate blue bins for plastic and paper recyclables
- Green compost bins for food waste
- Collections of specific items, such as juice boxes, in clear recycling bags
One of the real benefits of classroom recycling is that the kids can physically see how much trash they are saving from the landfill by avoiding the garbage can.
If there is room on the school property to plant trees, this can be a terrific way for kids to learn about the importance of trees and other plant life. Teachers can present lessons on the various benefits of trees and the disadvantages of deforestation. Then, the kids can get together and plant their own sapling right there at school. Many garden and landscaping companies will donate trees to schools, and some city or town councils also have free young trees available.
Start a Classroom Container Garden
Container gardening is catching on in popularity. The beauty of this is that anyone can grow their own vegetables and flowers in any location, and any climate. Gardening can transition into lots of different learning topics, from the stages of plant life to sustainability and environmental issues.
For younger children especially, it's best to use a variety of different seeds for container gardening, with an emphasis on those that sprout and grow quickly. Here are some good ones to try:
- Pole beans
- Morning Glory
- Sweet William
- Mexican Marigold
At the end of the school year, the children can take their plants home and nurture them there, along with their parents' help.
Ways to Go Green at School on Earth Day
Earth Day activities can be small, or you can plan out events and activities for the entire day, or even spread out for the week leading up to Earth Day. In-depth projects can be taken on this way, or you can create shorter lessons with games and activities built in. Here are some ideas:
- Create a rain barrel
- Learn how to compost
- Calculate your carbon footprint
- Compare standard light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs
- Decorate an environmentally-friendly t-shirt
Visit a Recycling Center
If there's a recycling center nearby, teachers can contact them and see if they offer guided tours. Many kids will learn better with visual stimulation, and there's no better way to offer this than to see how recycling works first hand. This type of trip can tie in with classroom recycling, so the children will find out what happens to their paper and other recyclables after they land in the blue box.
Getting the kids outside for some fresh air and exercise is always a good idea. While nature walks are fun and stimulating, it can also be beneficial to combine these with a neighborhood cleanup. Students can take trash and recycling bags with them, and collect the garbage they see lying around.
If your classroom or school has a compost bin, you could also go out and collect leaves in the fall for the bin.
Discuss the Issues
It's important to create an open atmosphere in the classroom for students to learn about and discuss all of the important issues facing our planet. Even elementary school students have a great interest in energy and where it comes from, recycling, and all kinds of environmental topics. Open discussions will bring out enthusiastic ideas as well as a better understanding of what we can all do to help save our planet.