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Fun ways to get your class excited about the environment

From the Extinction Rebellion marches, to this year’s climate strike, children across the country are becoming more involved in environmental issues. But for younger pupils in particular, it’s important they understand why it’s relevant to them. Here are some fun ways you can bring the wider sustainability discussion into the classroom.

1. Turn recycling bins into a sorting game

It’s a simple place to start but sorting rubbish into different recycling bins can be a fun way to get younger pupils to start engaging with the environment. You could turn it into a game at the end of every day, with them calling out which box each object should be in. On a practical level, it gives them some guidance as to what should go in which box or bin, but it also helps pupils to be more aware of the materials and amount of waste they use and produce every day.

2. Look into other recycling schemes

Some common school rubbish items – such as crisp packets and stationery – cannot currently be recycled in normal schemes. However, TerraCycle has a number of free schemes for recycling these items, such as Walkers’ Crisp Packet Recycling Scheme. There are more than 14,067 drop off points in the UK, or you can get your recycling picked up by UPS and receive £2 per kilo (about 200 crisp packets). Keep track of the amount you raise and you can get your class to vote on what environmental cause they want to donate to.

3. Using the power of plants

Not only do plants help brighten up a room, they are proven to improve air quality, concentration, mood and behaviour. While growing plants is already part of the Primary curriculum, you could go further by talking to your class about seasonal foods and grow seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs in classroom window boxes. This will help them to become more aware of where their food comes from, get them thinking about why we see certain foods at certain times of the year, as well as giving pupils something tasty to take away with them.

4. Encourage a ‘reuse or recycle’ policy

Pens, pencils, rubbers… these often get thrown out well before the end of their life. Encourage students to take care of their belongings – especially if school resources are in short supply. Designate a space to share scrap paper for rough working and another for pencils and pens. You could have a quota-per-pupil of resources, and reward those who hold on to their stationery the longest.

5. Share green ideas

Encourage pupils to share their ideas of how they are being greener – from reusing water bottles, walking to school or eating more plant-based lunches. Get your class to collaborate and make a Green Ideas poster, which they can add to over the year. To inject an element of competition, you can reward the ‘greenest pupil’, who has made the most changes or sustained their change the longest, with a small prize.

6. Hand power to the ‘Green Team’

Help your students take responsibility for leaving the classroom ‘green’ as you leave each day, including turning computers off, closing windows to save energy and making sure the recycling is sorted. You could have a monitor for each task or nominate a ‘Green Team’ each half term to take responsibility – even giving them special badges to show who is in the green team that term. This inspires the kids to collaborate as well as take responsibility for their own classroom environment.

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