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Teaching Kids About Preserving the Environment

Sep 8, 2018 by

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

With nearly 60% of Americans “going green” teaching students how to be environmentally friendly and preserve planet Earth has never been more important. Between lessons on recycling, celebrating Earth Day, and simply appreciating Mother nature, teachers can instill lifelong lessons in students to help preserve the environment. And considering students are the future, these are important lessons to teach. Here are a few ways to show students how important preserving the environment is while also helping them understand why.

Lead By Example

Teachers, parents, and other authority figures are who children look to for guidance and an example of what’s expected. If you want your students to respect the Earth and all its wonderful creatures, you must do the same. This means throwing out your garbage in the proper trash can, treating plants and other parts of nature kindly, and conserving energy when possible. Your behavior is the first step toward environmental awareness.

Get Outside

How can students appreciate and care for something they know nothing about? Bring your students out into nature whenever possible. Nature walks, bird watching, even time spent on the playground or playing in the grass are all opportunities to discuss nature and how to treat it. Grass needs water and sunlight to grow. The birds, wildlife, and other animals call nature “home” and students must take care of that home, just as they would their own. This means not littering, disturbing wildlife, or its habitat. Not to mention, fresh air is extremely beneficial for children.

Turn off Lights and Save Water

One of the simplest ways to teach young students about conserving energy. If you have a sink in your classroom, show them how to turn it off correctly when they’re finished. This means not leaving the water dripping (and using a paper towel for hygiene purposes). Turning off extra lights and the main classroom lights when you leave for activities, lunch, and at the end of the day is also important. A great way to get kids involved is to make them classroom helpers. Have someone responsible for making sure the light is turned off and another student that checks the sink. Get the parents involved too by sending home a checklist of simple ways to conserve energy at home.

Build a Garden or Compost Heap

Building a classroom garden is beneficial in so many ways. From spending time in nature, showing students that there are alternative ways of getting and growing food and doing so without added preservatives or chemicals is a great start! But there are many other ways that gardens and even compost projects help students learn about the cycle of life. Plants require sun, water, and soil to grow. A compost garden shows students that worms and other insects can actually help break things down or “decompose” them. This is the perfect science lesson and a great way to help foster students love of nature, gardening, and the environment. If you don’t have access to an outdoor garden or compost, you can bring plants into the classroom. Students can still observe and learn about the life cycle of plants, including photosynthesis.

Volunteer

When possible, volunteer your students for community clean up projects. Students will have the chance to see what happens when people don’t take care of the environment. Cleaning up litter and other debris left on beaches and in parks is helping not only Mother nature but also your local community. Be sure that students wear gloves and other protective gear. Arm them with garbage bags and brightly colored clothing. Avoid contact with any hazardous materials. Leave this to the trained professionals who need to pass a WHMIS test online. Students will love being part of a safe, large group effort and you’ll be giving back to the community. It’s a win-win!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

This is one of the most basic principles when it comes to protecting planet Earth and teaching students about the environment. In fact, many schools teach entire lessons designed around this subject.

The first step in teaching this lesson is reduce waste. Here are just a few ways to achieve this:

  • Use canvas or cloth bags instead of plastic
  • Encourage the use of products with limited packaging materials
  • Take care of art supplies so you can replace them infrequently (place caps on markers, peel paper off crayons and use them even if they aren’t sharp, etc.)
  • Buy bulk products for the classroom

Encourage children to finish their lunch and snacks to help reduce the waste of food, as well.

Reusing materials can be a lot of fun in the classroom, especially in the art center. Get creative and reuse the following items for your next project:

  • Cardboard rolls (paper towel and toilet paper)
  • Egg cartons
  • Milk and water jugs
  • Bubble wrap
  • Tissue paper
  • Bottle caps

Keep a bin of scrap paper that children can use for drawing and doodling. If they use scissors to cut larger pieces of paper for a project, keep the scraps. These can be used later on for other projects. Did you know that many supply chains actually sell paper made of recycle materials? Some pencils and other writing implements are also made from recycled materials. If your classroom requires utensils, plates, or cups for lunch and snack, invest in reusable items that you can wash. Avoid plastic utensils, paper plates, and styrofoam or plastic cups that create additional waste and garbage.

Recycling goes hand-in-hand with reusing. Keep a recycling bin in your classroom for all snack and drink containers. Discuss what other materials are recyclable, including steel, glass, aluminum, and paper. If your community doesn’t have a recycling program, have the children write letters and draw pictures to send to local government officials, detailing the importance of recycling and its impact on the environment. You might even find local retailers that accept recycled items such as batteries, cans, plastic bags, and even cell phones! If possible, take students on a trip to the local recycling center where they can see the process in action.

Teach Respect

Respect is an important lesson for all children. Respecting each other, themselves, and authority figures. But respecting the Earth and environment is equally important. Teaching this concept to students will help them appreciate Mother nature and feel inspired to do their part to keep the Earth happy and healthy for years to come. Read students books that have environmentally friendly undertones like The Lorax. You can also find fun games and apps online that help reinforce environmental concepts and lessons.

We only have one mother Earth and by teaching the youth of today how to treat it kindly and preserve it’s beauty and health, we are building a better, brighter future.

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