Young children at home or in daycare, pre-school or kindergarten, can develop a love of the environment and commitment to recycling and composting through fun activities.
Many schools are implementing Ontario’s Full Day Kindergarten, a play-based education program. Within this curriculum are many connections to waste management. What’s more, these topics can be engaging and fun while supporting a child’s personal and social development.
Whenever it is time to recycle or compost, why not sing a song about the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle)? There are many great songs to choose from.
There are many crafts you can make using recycling materials. I love these examples of making penguins from plastic bottles, or animal masks made from recycled paper. A number of daycares and kindergartens have access to outdoor play space. One of my favourite craft ideas — perfect for a beautiful spring day — is to make a group totem pole using plastic laundry detergent bottles or large coffee cans.
You can also incorporate recycling and composting materials into various games that help children learn to count, spell, and identify colours and shapes. For example “count the metal cans in the Blue Box,” or “put food items that start with A in the GreenCart,” or “put all the green bottles in the Blue Box.”
Many children have play kitchens, where they pretend to cook meals. But does the play kitchen have a Blue Box and GreenCart to reinforce recycling and composting?
Reading is a valuable way to teach the values of reduce, reuse and recycle. Don’t Throw That Away by Lara Bergen is a delightful lift-the-flap book for ages 4 to 6. This Is Our World by Emily Sollinger also comes with a puzzle, also for ages 4 to 6.
All publicly-funded schools in Halton also participate in the Blue Box recycling and GreenCart composting programs. Incorporating many playful recycling and composting songs, craft, toys and books at home and at school can strengthen environmental education and responsible environmental behaviours.
What other activities have you used to teach your children about the importance of recycling and composting?